Lego 2 isn’t a master-piece, but mostly everything still locks into place.
If there’s any value to building a movie franchise based on the mere prospect of selling more toys, then the Lego movies are as good as they come. Hasbro could learn a thing or two from Warner Animation’s blockbuster series inspired by building blocks, the very same which have served as a catalyst for creativity in both children and adults for decades. After the original Lego Movie delighted audiences worldwide five years ago, two spin-offs arrived to stave off fan hunger, but now viewers can finally revisit the expansive world that first introduced Emmet and Lucy.
The first Lego Movie was pure wizardry, an inventive work of craft that utilized the bare essentials of Legos and their usage for some impressive world-building evocative of the same level of imagination that the bricks are capable of stimulating. The movie even managed to work in some sharp social commentary as well, weaving in themes exploring conformity, and even politics and capitalism (just look at the foresight in the character “President Business”). The following spin-off The Lego Batman Movie was nearly as exceptional, with astute riffing on popular comic-lore.
The following spin-off, The Lego Ninjago Movie was neither as innovative nor as successful at the box office as its two predecessors, but with the primary creative team back behind the scenes with the likes of 21 Jump Street helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller as co-writers, as well as Trolls’ Mike Mitchell on board as director, the Lego movies are back to their frenetic and exuberant best. Cheekily titled The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part isn’t quite as ingenious or as rife with cultural satire as the first, but the dazzling animation and the fast-paced hilarity is right on track.
After the earth-shattering events of the previous film in which “The Special” Emmet (Chris Pratt) defeated the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrel), alien invaders have leveled the city he and Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) once called home into what is now referred to as “Apocalypseburg.” Reminiscent of the sun-scorched wasteland featured in the Mad Max franchise, the Lego denizens have become hardened and savage, and yet comically, our beloved Emmet is as happy-go-lucky as ever as he strolls the streets still singing his favorite pop song Everything is Awesome.
Lucy, also known as Wyldstyle, on the other hand, prefers to brood and narrate the bleakness of the desolate situation, and gets frustrated with Emmet’s cheerful nature. Meanwhile, General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) of the alien army abducts Lucy and several other master builders to attend a wedding between Batman (Will Arnett) and the alien queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). Emmet then builds a space ship to give pursuit, and after crossing a rift in space and time, meets the galaxy-trotting renaissance man Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt).
If that doesn’t sound child-like and imaginative to you, I don’t know what does. Like the first, the plot of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part mirrors the first in its ability to mimic the frantic nature of a little kiddo’s mind at work. And also like the first, every storytelling tidbit is an extended metaphor brought to life by actual children at play with the Legos in the “real world.” There isn’t as much clever application here of the elementary aspects of Legos, or as much implicit meaning born of societal observations, but there is still plenty here to love for both children and adults.
The visuals, as always, are a brick above the norm. State-of-the-art CG animation renders these toys fully life-like, and the rich detail allows each locking stud on every brick to be visible, constructing yet another eye-popping graphic experience from Warner Animation. With the early portion of the film mostly restrained to the barren, war-torn Apocalyspseburg, the color palette doesn’t quite offer the same expansive range as the previous film, but thankfully that all changes once our characters hit the stars, as there are soon plentiful dimensions of vibrant hues.
Also like the original, the film boasts a dream team voice cast that fans of content like this could only wish for. While the first offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear an actor like Morgan Freeman uttering lines like “why are my pants cold and wet” and “cover your butt,” the second includes recent stars Jason Momoa and Margot Robbie in cameos, as well as the perfectly cast Tiffany Hadish as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi. Ferrell’s character is mostly out of commission in this one, but Will Arnett’s impeccable Batman parody still gets plenty of screentime.
Crafters of the original Phil Lord and Christopher Miller fall back to focus on writing and producing duties, leaving the director’s chair to Dreamworks vet Mike Mitchell. Mitchell is an animation/family director with both some solid work as well as some stinkers on his resume, with films including the likes of The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water to bear his name, but also some commercialized stinkers such as Shrek Forever After. Thankfully, the second Lego Movie signifies his strengths, even if he furnishes it with sugary pop songs similar to his film Trolls.
There’s even a song that, hilariously, is composed of repeating the sole lyric, “This song is gonna get stuck inside your head,” and believe me, it will. That’s just one of the priceless touches that Mitchell, Lord and Miller embed in a film that is laced with them, as these filmmakers have shown in the past and again here how they excel with humor that is totally random and almost always uproariously funny. While mostly relying on the brilliance of the first, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part isn’t as ingenious as the original, but it’s just as fun and just as exhilarating.
THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART
Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Animation Group, Lego System A/S, Rideback, Lord Miller Productions, Vertigo Entertainment.
Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Antonio Banderas, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Maya Rudolph.
Released February 8, 2019.
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