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What to stream: 'The Lego Movie' edition

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 20 2014 5:55 p.m. MDT

A scene from the Cartoon Network series "Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu."

Cartoon Network

So far, 2014 is turning out to be a surprisingly good year for families at the movies. Along with the continued theatrical success of “Frozen” — which, after 18 weekends among the top 10 is still tearing it up at the box office — the year has also seen a handful of new releases aimed at younger moviegoers that manage to appeal to adults at the same time.

In particular, “The Lego Movie” blew people away when it turned out to not just be watchable, but a favorite with critics and audiences. Currently, it has a 96 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com and a 93 percent Worth Your Time rating on OK.com. Not too shabby for a movie based on a 65-year-old Danish toy.

For fans of the little minifigures, Netflix Instant and Amazon Prime Instant have a variety of things to keep you busy until the 3-D feature eventually makes its way to Blu-ray later this year. That includes everything from animated Lego shorts to a TV series to a full-blown movie.

So, without further ado, here’s a look at what’s available to stream and where you can find it:

“Lego: The Adventures of Clutch Powers” — The original feature-length Lego movie, this straight-to-DVD romp should appeal to fans of, well, “The Lego Movie,” but also things like Indiana Jones and Tintin. It follows the exploits of the awesomely named hero, a daring explorer and natural loner, as he’s forced to team up with a group of Lego City’s best and brightest (all with equally great names) to unravel a mystery that could have ties to his past. It might not feel quite as geared toward parents as the recent theatrical movie, but there are still enough clever gags to keep adults smiling.

Rating: TV-Y7-FV

Available on: Netflix Instant

“Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” — Comprised of two 22-minute mini-movies and a 26-episode series that originally ran on Cartoon Network, “Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” is already slated to get a big-budget movie adaptation, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The series was written by Dan and Kevin Hageman, who also received “story by” credit on Warner Bros.’ recent film. At its core, it’s pretty standard martial arts fantasy stuff with dragons, mystical weapons and special moves, but it’s still pretty fun — particularly for fans of things like “The Karate Kid,” “Kung-Fu Panda” and that classic of ‘90s cinema, “3 Ninjas.”

Rating: TV-Y7-FV

Available on: Netflix Instant

“Lego: Hero Factory” — Pretty much the Lego version of “Transformers,” “Hero Factory” is based on one of the company’s toy lines for older kids and is much more action-oriented than the other titles that feature the classic Lego minifigures. Altogether, “Hero Factory” is divided into several mini-series. So far, only three of them are available to stream, though, and not all on the same site. The first two (“Rise of the Rookies” and “Savage Planet”) can be found on Amazon Prime Instant; the third (“Breakout”), on Netflix Instant.

Rating: NR and TV-Y7-FV

Available on: Amazon Prime Instant, Netflix Instant

“Lego: Marvel: Maximum Overload” — If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing heroes like Spider-Man and Wolverine fighting alongside the Avengers in the same movie, this one’s for you. Even though it’s probably not quite what fans had in mind for such an epic team-up, “Marvel: Maximum Overload” is worth a watch. For one thing, it’s only 22 minutes long. In that time, it manages to cram in tons of references to the movies and comics, poking fun at things like the Mandarin’s bizarre accent from “Iron Man 3” and Andrew Garfield’s angsty portrayal of Spidey in “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Of all the Lego stuff on Netflix, this one is probably the best.

Rating: TV-Y7-FV

Available on: Netflix Instant

“Lego Atlantis” — Another episode-length short, this one is pretty obviously a tie-in for a series of toy sets, but it’s not without some charm. As one could probably guess just by the title, the plot follows a group of marine scientists and explorers searching for the lost city of Atlantis. Along the way, they encounter all sorts of weird sea creatures and mystical artifacts. A very small amount of bathroom humor notwithstanding, kids could do worse. Afterwards, though, parents might end up having to make a trip to the toy store.

Rating: TV-Y7-FV

Available on: Netflix Instant

“Lego Friends” — Finally, “Lego Friends” is the only show on the list that targets girls specifically. Like the others, it’s based around a set of toys — in this case, a new-ish “mini-doll” line that launched in 2012. Unlike the others, though, it ended up sparking a minor controversy for allegedly promoting gender stereotypes, even prompting a change.org petition. The 22-minute short itself is unlikely to offend. It follows a group of five girls in the fictional suburban town of Heartlake City as they deal with ordinary things like building friendships and helping out with an animal shelter. But while pleasant enough and well animated, “Lego Friends” doesn’t really stand out as a Lego property.

Rating: TV-G

Available on: Netflix Instant

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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