The first LEGO Movie was a surprise hit for many reasons. The animation style was new and refreshing and the film took an unexpected twist towards the end, showcasing that everything we’re seeing on screen is actually the projections of a little boy’s imagination. Couple that with the direction of super directors Lord and Miller and you have a hit. Since then, we’ve seen two spinoff films, Lego Batman and Lego Ninjago hit the screen but it’s finally time to return to the core Lego Movie setting. So, is everything still awesome?
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part opens up right where the first one left off and sees an army of cuteness attacking the city. Chris Pratt’s Emmet, the master builder from the first game tries to win over the Duplo invaders with the power of friendship but is quickly overwhelmed by the destructive nature of cuteness. Five years later and it’s essentially the Lego version of Mad Max: Fury Road. Things get worse when the fear of “Our-mom-agedon” looms and central characters from the last film, like Lucy and Batman, are captured by the mysterious General Mayhem. This causes the not-so-tough-Emmet to venture out to try and rescue his friends from the sinister powers of cuteness. Along the way, meets up with Rex Dangervest, an archeologist, raptor rangling, cowboy, guardian defender super dude, who’s so tough and cool and manly that he must surely be the way to stop all this cuteness and pop music and unlike the rest of society, who have hardened themselves in the sandy apocalypse, Emmet remains upbeat and happy, which may not be what our heroes need right now.
I quite enjoyed the 2014 Lego Movie as I thought it wholly original, funny and did the unexpected. Now, the novelty has worn off a bit. Since we know these films take place within the imagination of two children, we end up watching the film through a different lens than what we did during the first one. So a lot of the subtext in the story because a bit heavy-handed and obvious as time goes on. The script, which is written by Lord and Miller, pulls a lot of the same tricks from the first film, such as creating new but familiar words to represent everyday earth objects, such as the “Kragle” in the first movie (which was crazy glue in case you forgot). Lord and Miller may be the writers and producers of the film, but they’ve opted to let Mike Mitchell (Trolls) take the director’s chair this time and the quality of the direction just isn’t as good as Lord and Miller’s own directorial features. The action seems to get abruptly thrown into the narrative and, forgive the pun, it can feel a little pieced together at times, rather than flowing smoothly.
The film also isn’t quite as funny as the first one, but it works in a different way. While the original film relied on pop culture, nostalgia and the unexpected, the humour in this film seems to be targeted more towards children. So while that isn’t a bad thing, as they’re clearly the target audience, I did find this one only made me smile and chuckle a few times as opposed to laughing out loud. There are a few song and dance numbers throughout the film, ranging in success and a new, sinister pop song that will, ahem, get stuck in your head.
The story and message of the movie is endearing though and kids with siblings should come out of the film with something to chew on. Thankfully, the story in the movie picks up as it goes and continues to pick up steam towards the end of the film and Emmet learns new and important lessons. Do things get a little convoluted along the way? Yes, they do, and the film actually acknowledges it, but it never actually detracts from the pacing or the narrative. The animation is always a fun treat though, even if we’ve seen it before. The level of detail is impressive, with tiny chips and bumps being presented in the plastic on these characters. The sun-soaked desert with its monstrous vehicles or the imaginative worlds of the Systar System. The clever cutaways to the real world, especially in transit scenes, are always a fun way of reminding the audience how things are really going down.
Chris Pratt does a great job with both Emmet and Rex in the movie, getting to play two very different characters at the same time. Emmet is, well, Emmet, the kind, warm and fuzzy character who sees the good in people and may not be the best or brightest of the lot. He’s worried that he’s not tough enough for Lucy and seeks guidance from the grizzled Rex, who has his own mysterious origin story. Elizabeth Banks also gets a lot to work with when it comes to developing Lucy. Will Arnet’s Batman is largely there as the comedic relief and newcomers to the series Tiffany Haddish plays the ultra-sassy Queen Watevera-Wa-Nabi while Stephanie Beatriz of Brooklyn Nine-Nine plays General Mayhem.
Overall, The Lego Movie 2 is a fine, fun time at the movies that are more suited towards a family day at the big screen. It’s lighthearted, warm and fuzzy and doesn’t take as many risks as the first film. The novelty of the universe has worn off a bit and watching the film knowing that all of it is just an imaginative projection definitely changes how things are viewed. The film just didn’t impress or resonate the same way the first one did and that’s largely thanks to watching the film knowing it’s all imagination, rather than having it come off as a twist. For that, all the story beats take on a different meaning as we evaluate what’s really going on, which leads to some quick and obvious deductions. Still, despite its familiarity, it remains a fun time at the movies and kids will have a blast with it as it’s made more for kids this time around. Just don’t let them play that song too much at home, for your own sanity. Before you go through, why not check out our latest work on a cartoonist’s tribute to John Carpenter and what’s going on with the Ghostbusters franchise?