Kids and AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego), you’re in for more block-buster entertainment this month with Warner Bros’ new animated flick The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part! The sequel to the Oscar-nominated (Best Original Song for Everything Is Awesome) The Lego Movie sees Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and the heroes of Bricksburg face a new threat: space invaders.

When Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Benny (Charlie Day), Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie) and MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) get kidnapped by General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) of the Systar System Army, Emmet sets off an intergalactic quest to save his friends. Aiding him on his mission is Rex Dangervest (also Pratt), a “galaxy-defending archaeologist, cowboy and raptor trainer”.

The Lego Movie was notable for its almost entirely anthropomorphic cast of minifigs (save for Unikitty and two human characters revealed at the ending) and charming stop-motion-inspired animation. But this movie and its sequel aren’t the first films to bring toys to life – here are five other, well, awesome movies based on or featuring dolls, action figures and everything in between.

1. Trolls

The Trolls got this feeling inside their bones. Credit: IMDB

The Lego Movie wasn’t the only animated film based on toys to get a Best Original Song shoutout at the Oscars – Trolls‘ Can’t Stop The Feeling also got the nomination at the 2017 edition and was performed by Justin Timberlake to open Hollywood’s biggest night. Like The Lego Movie, the 2016 DreamWorks flick was met with cynicism when its production was announced. But the film, based on the Danish-originating toyline, eventually won over critics and filmgoers with its colourful aesthetics and catchy music.

Songbirds Timberlake and Anna Kendrick (who also starred in the a cappella musical Pitch Perfect) were the perfect choice for the crabby Branch and sanguine Poppy, two of the film’s eponymous critters who are being hunted by the miserable Bergens. The Bergens believe that eating the Trolls would give them joy, but as they learn in Timberlake’s peppy pop ditty, true happiness comes from within.

If you’re more of a fan of the Troll dolls themselves, you can see one in the next movie on our list…


2. Toy Story

Buzz Lightyear’s hairdressing skills go to infinity and beyond. Credit: IMDB

No list of movies featuring toys would be complete without the 1995 buddy comedy Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-animated film in history and the inaugural feature film from Pixar, a studio in Emeryville which started off as a computer hardware company. Disney, one of its biggest buyers, would subsequently become its film partner and later, parent company.

Then-studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg advised director John Lasseter to watch odd-couple movies like 48 Hrs. The resulting storyline classic buddy-cop dynamic can be seen between cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) and space ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), two toys competing for the affections of their owner Andy. They learn to get along and eventually become good friends. Pixar’s technologically-groundbreaking film made US$373 million at the worldwide box office and spawned three sequels, videogames and theme park attractions.

The latest instalment, Toy Story 4, is set for release this summer, and its Super Bowl ad on Sunday featured Bo Peep, a returning character from the first movie, and Woody waiting for Buzz, who is trapped at a carnival game booth.

One of Toy Story‘s most memorable scenes is when Andy’s toys break their rule of not coming to life in front of humans, in order to scare the mean next-door neighbour Sid. Another 1990s movie that had living toys terrorising juveniles in a suburban-home setting was…

3. Small Soldiers

Kirsten Dunst is held hostage by little weapons. Credit: IMDB

Some kids from the 1990s and viewers of a certain vintage may remember this 1997 sci-fi action-comedy starring a then-teenage Kirsten Dunst. Two factions of sentient action figures equipped with military chips turn a quiet neighbourhood into a warzone. On one side are the evil Chip Hazard (Tommy Lee Jones) and his Commando Elite soldiers (voiced by The Dirty Dozen cast members like George Kennedy and Jim Brown). On the other are the noble Archer (Frank Lagella) and his feral Gorgonites (voiced by This Is Spinal Tap cast members like Michael McKean and Christopher Guest). Caught in the middle are teens Alan (Gregory Smith) and Christy (Dunst).

Director Joe Dante said he was originally told to make the film for a teenage audience, but “when the sponsor tie-ins came in, the new mandate was to soften it up as a kiddie movie”. Ironically, the film got a PG-13 rating. Fast-good giant Burger King, which was supplying the tie-in merchandise, had to rework its ad campaign for an older crowd and include a disclaimer in its kids’ meals that read: “While toys are suitable for children of all ages, the movie Small Soldiers may contain material that is inappropriate for younger children.” The movie made a tidy US$71.7 million worldwide and went on to become a cult classic.

Speaking of classics, who could forget…

4. Child’s Play

Talking about killer dolls, one cinematic horror icon is only 29 inches tall, but has slayed countless victims over three decades. Don’t play play – Chucky, the ginger-haired Good Guys doll (inspired by Hasbro’s My Buddy line) possessed by the spirit of dead serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), is a force to be reckoned with. In his debut 1998 film Child’s Play directed by Tom Holland (not to be confused with Spider-Man’s current actor), Chucky wreaks havoc upon six-year-old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) and other unsuspecting people while trying to find a way to transfer his soul to a human body.

Chucky goes on to stalk and slash victims in six more films, and an announcement last month said the SYFY network has placed an order from character creator Don Mancini for a TV show. “Chucky” offered his own statement: “In these troubled times, I believe it’s my obligation as a horror icon to reach the widest possible audience, on TV. For over thirty years, I’ve been scaring the sh*t out of you. But now at SYFY, I look forward to really making a difference.”

The upcoming remake’s teaser poster. Credit: IMDB

The mini murderer is also going to get a new life as a “Buddi” doll this summer in a remake of the first film by MGM and Orion, as MGM still retains rights to that title. Mancini, who is continuing the original franchise with Universal, has voiced his displeasure over the rival studios’ move, calling it “very personal”. While Chucky may have been burned, shot and blown apart, it seems he’s one deadly dummy that will never die. And he’s not the only one. You might have heard of this doll in…

5. Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle is one doll you don’t want to hug. Credit: IMDB

Another petrifying plaything that haunted the big screen is Annabelle, a porcelain doll that was featured in two spin-off films from James Wan’s The Conjuring and is set to return in an untitled sequel next year. The demon-possessed porcelain doll was briefly introduced in director Wan’s 2013 critically acclaimed film, the first instalment of what would become the Conjuring “cinematic universe”. Most critics and fans felt Annabelle’s first solo outing, Annabelle (2014), was underwhelming compared with The Conjuring, but its second solo, Annabelle: Creation, had a warmer reception. The 2017 prequel revealed how the doll became possessed and the horror that it inflicted upon its first victims at an orphanage.

Helmed by David F. Sandberg, who made his directorial debut with the equally well-received Lights Out, Anabelle: Creation pushed The Conjuring franchise past the US$1 billion threshold, making it only the third horror series to cross that mark, after the Alien franchise and Resident Evil series.

Annabelle also reportedly made a cameo in Wan’s Aquaman (2018), in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. Interestingly, Patrick Wilson, who stars as the villainous Orm in Aquaman, played paranormal investigator Ed Warren in the Conjuring films. Perhaps it isn’t a stretch to consider the DC Extended Universe and The Conjuring Universe as one and the same?

Speaking of Aquaman, if you want to see more of the Ocean Master, you can catch him as a Lego minifig in The Lego Movie 2, voiced by his live-action actor Jason Momoa! You can also look out for a few other DC superheroes and a certain action-movie star in Emmet’s out-of-this-world adventure. Can the Master Builder and his very like-sounding friend Rex save their buddies before everything, uh, falls apart? Does General Sweet Mayhem’s evil plan come as an instruction manual? Will the sequel’s new theme, Catchy Song, be as huge an earbug as Everything Is Awesome?

The suspense is building! (Okay, we’ll lay off the brick puns now) You can find out the answers to these questions in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, now showing in cinemas.


Sources: Golden Village Cinemas, @TheLEGOMovieIMDB, YouTube, Den of Geek, E! OnlineSyFy Wire, Alternative Press, Forbes, CinemaBlend


Follow The Popping Post on Facebook and Instagram for more fun and exciting reads!