Bringing the original gang back together, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part sends the characters out of the basement to new worlds – will a more expansive adventure still capture the magic of the original?
There are minor spoilers for The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ahead – anyone avoiding anything and everything should click away now.
The last time audiences saw Emmet (Chris Pratt) and his friends, they were coming face to face with DUPLO invaders from another world – courtesy of Finn’s (Jadon Sand) sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince), who was now permitted to join him in the LEGO packed basement. Five years later, “everything is bleak” as the blocky characters endure a new life in the “heckish” place that is Apocalypseburg in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.
Just as Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) is encouraging Emmet to toughen up, General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives and kidnaps the gang – taking Lucy, Batman, Unikitty, Benny and MetalBeard to the Systar System. Emmet sets out to prove he can be as tough as Lucy needs to him to be, seeking tutelage from archaeologist, space exploring raptor trainer Rex Dangervest (Chris Pratt again). It all leads to a planet hopping adventure from more than one imagination.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part manages to be as inventive and wild as The LEGO Movie, packed with wonderful characters, locations and turns of phrase. As with the original film, it rollicks along at such a pace that it is hard to think too much about anything as it whizzes by. So much in the 90 minute run time is a smile inducing delight – the talking ice cream cone, skateboarding raptors and post-apocalyptic Alfred Pennyworth to name just three examples.
There is a little too much plot going on and it perhaps could have benefited from being streamlined. A couple of twists at the end, that are well set up, mean that most audience members will get at least one surprise. Whether this film really needed a prophecy is debatable, with it feeling like a reason to ape the original unnecessarily.
Without spoiling anything, there are multiple cameos and references – one or two really do land well, and a joke about a Disney character suggests there was little chance of any Star Wars characters popping up this time around.
As with the original, LEGO fans will get an extra kick out of this film thanks to some inspired sight gags – Fabuland characters turn up in an unexpected place, the walking motion of a mini-doll is rather limited and three versions of Wonder Woman turn up at once. This will once again be a film worth freeze-framing when the Blu-ray arrives.
Directors Mike Mitchell and Trisha Gum have served up a visual treat of a film, with each location just as visually arresting as the last. Apocalypseburg and Central Systar both look fantastic, but the plantimal planet and Rexcelsior interior also deserve shout-outs. Not only has the animation come on a very long way since the release of The LEGO Movie, but the use of “camera” makes this film feel vast in scope and truly cinematic.
Musical numbers were a risk that could have been a mis-step, as Everything is Awesome worked in context but was not a great song in and of itself. This time around, the film includes several songs, all of which are enjoyable, but Queen Whatevra (Tiffany Haddish) sings the best two. They are nothing like those that come up in a Disney animated film, fitting well within the established LEGO movie style.
The live action scenes in the film work well, aside from a momentary comedic blip in which the filmmakers consulted internet memes rather than their better instincts. As well as having Maya Rudolph play the mother, with Will Ferrell staying off-screen as the father this time, the young actors playing Finn and Bianca pitch their performances just right. Everything stays emotionally real rather than veering into over-sentimentality.
Where the live action aspect causes confusion is it leads to the audience questioning what is taking place in Finn’s mind, what is taking place in Bianca’s mind and what is playing out in both. Are certain scenes representing different sides of Bianca’s personality? Or are they representing the sibling conflict? It isn’t always clear, and one plot twist certainly confuses what has happened in the “real world” earlier – although one of the characters brushes that off, presumably encouraging the audience, as well as Emmet, not to overthink it.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part probably does not need every single scene dissecting to determine whose point of view it is being told from, but it does deserve some thought to be given to its ideas – what a hero looks like according to traditional ideals, how to resolve conflict with someone you disagree with and the difficulty of growing up while indulging in childish things. Ideas are thrown out there and are not always resolved, or particularly neatly explored, reflecting the way that such concepts were treated in the original film.
Although the LEGO characters may only exist in the minds of the children, who are going through the frustration of navigating a sibling relationship, Emmet and Lucy do grow throughout the film and have character arcs. Other characters do not get as much screen time – Batman and Queen Whatevra Wa’Nabi provide great comic support, but the other new characters, along with Unikitty, Benny and MetalBeard, do not have much to do.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a consistently funny, ambitious and slightly messy film packed with charm – just like the 2014 original. It might not hit the comedic heights of the original quite as consistently, but it is a more than worthy follow-up that will hopefully not be the last LEGO inspired film.
Rating out of five stars: **** (four)