I have made no secret of my love of The LEGO Movie. When Phil Lord and Christopher Miller brought what was initially seen as a shallow cash grab made solely to sell merchandise into the world, it shocked the entire world by being funny, heartfelt, and most importantly, great. 5 years and 2 spin-off films later, we have a sequel to the surprise smash of 2014.
The LEGO Movie 2 opens immediately at the end of the previous film, with the invasion of the Duplo brick monsters brought onto Bricksburg, and its eventual descension into a post-apocalyptic wasteland now known as Apocalypseberg. We then jump 5 years into the future, with everyone newly Mad Max’d to fit in with their new world – apart from Emmett (Pratt), who remains his happy go lucky self. When a mysterious visitor appears and takes several of Emmett’s friends hostage – including Will Arnett’s Batman and Elizabeth Banks’ Wyldstyle – Emmett must rediscover the master builder inside him to save his friends and the world.
Despite Lord and Miller only returning in a writing capacity, The LEGO Movie 2 still holds a true sense of creativity and wonder in its abundance of worlds and areas to visit. Right from its newly christened Apocalypseberg, with some hybrid buildings and a central tower with the head of a toppled Statue of Liberty, through to its spaceships and castles and towns we visit, there’s detail in every frame to be pored over and admired. The number of people who worked on this film no doubt worked tirelessly on every frame to match the creativity of the first.
Further, all of its cast have returned to reprise their roles from the first, and though some characters were not as well used as they were previously (Charlie Day’s 1980s Spaceman Benny and Nick Offerman’s MetalBeard are sadly mere bit part players in this one, taking a backseat to the main story between Emmett, Wyldstyle, and Batman), they all have their moments in the sun and deliver some of the hilarious lines we’ve come to expect from Lord and Miller. One of the best additions to the franchise is the existence of velociraptors, which are now subtitled, in what I will happily describe as a stroke of genius. As Emmett adventures across the galaxy to save his friends, he meets an adventurer named Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Chris Pratt) and his army of trained, helpful, tennis-loving velociraptors. These wonderful creatures are the source of so many laugh out loud moments, and it made me want to watch Jurassic Park again with the knowledge that velociraptors can talk so comically.
One of the biggest challenges this sequel had to overcome was one it gave to itself. Despite not being dealt with in both The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie, the LEGO franchise introduced the real world into itself. When this was revealed back in 2014, it blew my tiny mind. All its LEGO creations were real, the entire plot that was unfolding before us was thought up by its real-world child and adult owners, played by Jadon Sand and Will Ferrell respectively. It’s one of those twists that improves the film in every possible way – the out-of-place objects, the amusingly terrible names for things (the Kraggle in the original, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi in the sequel) are suddenly given a meaning and a purpose by its real-world creators.
In The LEGO Movie 2, Lord and Miller stretch that idea out as far as they possibly can. The LEGO world seeps into the real world more and more often, calling into question the idea of whether the LEGO figures are, in fact, sentient. This was alluded to in the original with Emmett being able to wiggle himself around, but here they begin to gain use of their limbs and even sing. I found myself wondering these questions more and more as the film raced towards its conclusion, and I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I don’t think the film wanted me to think this much about it.
The film does have an effective real-world plot strand to deal with which held together with success by Maya Rudolph, playing Finn (Jadon Sand) and Bianca (Brooklynn Prince of The Florida Project)’s mother. While I felt a connection to this section of the film, it doesn’t have the wild creativity and surprise factor of the first, and it doesn’t retroactively improve the film in the same way. There are some strong elements to the story, and it manages to pull some strong heartfelt moments, but the impact wasn’t as lasting as it was with The LEGO Movie.
A lot of these issues can be boiled down to me, a 26-year-old man, thinking too much about a film whose target audience is children. I will also say that one of the film’s defining set-pieces, in which a song is played whose only purpose is to get stuck in your head, got stuck in my head immediately and quite literally hasn’t left my brain since, so they had me in the palm of their hand. When you write a film that deals with the complex elements that this one does, it isn’t impervious to criticism and flaws with its execution.
All in all, The LEGO Movie 2 is a very enjoyable time at the cinema. While it doesn’t have the impact of the original, it’s a nice course correction for the LEGO Franchise after the bore-fest that was The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and it will have some elements that will live long in the memory, most notably a shoo-in for another Best Original Song Oscar nomination in the shape of its end credits song. A lot of the people I’ve spoken to since have said that the end credits are the best part of the film, and while that may be true, don’t let it dissuade you; The LEGO Movie 2 is a very fun time at the cinema.
Directed by: Mike Mitchell
Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Stephanie Beatriz, Tiffany Haddish, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman