The Lego Movie was a huge hit. The 2014 animated film was a visual delight with a crazy plot, a bucket load of lovable characters, and a constant stream of jokes. And so, after attempting to reuse the formula with two spin-offs (to varying degrees of success), so arrives a direct sequel to the film that kicked off the franchise.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part sees Emmet (Chris Pratt), Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and their friends fighting off an invasion of Duplo blocks (larger style bricks designed for toddlers). Audiences are clued in early on as to what’s going on, as the events play out in the mind of adolescent human Finn (Jadon Sand) and the “alien” invaders being the result of his younger sister’s attempts to play with him. Our lovable mini figures end up being unsuccessful and the once colourful Bricksburg turns into a Mad Max-esque wasteland dubbed Apocalypseburg. When the mysterious General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives and kidnaps several of Emmet’s friends, our hero gives chase and travels to the Systar system to save them.
The voice work from the cast is uniformly excellent, especially Pratt, who pulls double duty as Rex Dangervest, a galactic hero/archaeologist/cowboy Emmet meets along his journey. The interplay between the two characters is funny, with Dangervest’s over-the-top characterisation providing some memorable moments. At one point he uses a gadget called a C.P.D. (“convenient plot device”) to get himself and Emmett out of trouble—something that goes hand-in-hand for a character whose spaceship is in the shape of a giant fist and has a crew of raptors.
Like the first movie, The Second Part is all about the details. Australian-based Animal Logic once again handles the animation for the series; their inclusion of minute scratches on the plastic pieces an example of the care that’s gone into every element. Lego enthusiasts will also find plenty to appreciate; the sheer variety of actual Lego parts that appear on screen provides a lot of ‘spot the toy’ framing. The multi-generational appeal of the toy brick is again carried over to film nicely, ensuring that plethora of pop culture references delivered will also land with older crowds. Combine this with the zany writing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the 21 Jump Street creatives directed the first film; Shrek Forever After and Trolls director Mike Mitchell is at the helm this time) and you have another wacky, imaginative ride through a colourful world of plastic bricks.
That being said, the sequel doesn’t quite have the same magic that made the first so memorable. We already know the events are imaginary in nature, and so the film relies on overloading us with all the things audiences responded to from the first to keep us entertained. Liked “Everything is Awesome”? Well, now there’s a soundtrack full of obvious earworms you must try to get out of your head (good luck trying to forget the aptly titled “Catchy Song”). Liked the numerous meta jokes? Well here are a ton more. The result isn’t bad, not at all, but the bombardment of fan service and box ticking doesn’t elevate the film or make its message any more impactful.
Thankfully, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part does nicely deliver on its theme of unity. Antagonism between Finn and his sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) interestingly parallels the rift among some AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego)—those that staunchly prefer the traditional mini figures (the kind Finn owns) and those that embrace the newer mini-doll figures (the kind Bianca plays with). The film’s lesson of unity through creativity then could be seen as being directed at both grown-ups and children, albeit in slightly different ways. After all, every Lego piece is designed to be compatible with one another, so why shouldn’t everyone get along?
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★★☆
‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ opened in US cinemas on February 8 and opens in Australia on March 21.