The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, 2019.
Directed by Mike Mitchell.
Featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Margot Robbie, Jason Momoa, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Arturo Castro, Jadon Sand, Brooklynn Prince, Ben Schwartz, Noel Fielding, Ike Barinholtz, Will Forte, Ralph Fiennes, Jimmy O. Yang, Jorma Taccone, Todd Hansen, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell, and Bruce Willis.
It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild.
In 2014, The LEGO Movie became a surprise hit that was more than just a 2-hour toy commercial, but actually delivered a pretty impressive message on the imagination of children secretly wrapped in a story about family. Its sequel, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, attempts to strike the same level of depth in its story as it examines the challenges of growing up and remaining a kid at heart. Though it is not as nuanced as its predecessor, The LEGO Movie 2 succeeds in its message while delivering an entertaining story with nice character development for Emmett and Lucy as they each struggle in their own ways to survive in a gritty and embittered world.
Picking up right where the first left off, the heroes fight an invasion of DUPLO LEGOs, but numerous fights with these foes have left their city destroyed and turned it into Apocalypseburg, a desert wasteland not far off from something out of Mad Max or Blade Runner 2049. The constant battles have hardened the citizens of the LEGO world, all except for Emmett who remains his chipper and rather clueless self. From there it doesn’t take long for the sequel’s story to kick in as General Sweet Mayhem from the DUPLOs army kidnaps several of the city’s heroes, including Lucy ‘Wildstyle’. It’s obviously enough for Emmett to take matters into his own hands and rescue his friends, forcing him to mature into a tough and hardened warrior.
LEGO Movie 2 moves along at a nice pace as it follows Emmett and Lucy on their separate adventures. As with the first film, there’s a very healthy balance between the story’s movement and amount of comedy in a scene. While Chris Miller and Phil Lord didn’t return to the director’s chair, they did write the screenplay and fans will be happy to know their voices can be fully heard throughout the film. The comedy is witty, clever and fires on all the right notes that rarely miss the beat. Director Mike Mitchell conveys their style well without diluting the story or its messages. As said, its not as nuanced as the first film, but Mitchell knows exactly what to focus on in a given scene and plays with the themes on a meta level for the audience. There is a fair bit for fans to dig into as the story goes on and examines the character’s preconceived notions on the DUPLOs and their own identities.
The one element that gets a little more play in the sequel is that of the real world concept. Whereas the father/son relationship proved to be the core of the previous entry, the sequel delivers on the promise of allowing the boy’s younger sister to play and the resulting sibling rivalry that would evolve, especially as the boy gets older. While the real world elements are still in the background of the story, they’re utilized much more that have a direct impact on the characters. There’s a certain aspect of the story involving the real world that fans will either go for or be confused by given how outlandish it is, at least in the confines of reality. Aside from that, the real world’s story of the brother and sister overcoming their differences allows the film to explore the need to grow up and abandon childish notions to be seen as ‘cool’ and ‘edgy’. It also examines it from a meta perspective on several levels, such as young fans who grow up and are no longer attached to their childhood heroes because they aren’t dark and gritty and can’t relate to them any longer. The most notable meta theme, however, is older fans acting as gatekeepers to new young fans, choosing what is and isn’t cool and shutting them out, particularly if its boys vs. girls. The film focuses on the difficulty of opening up one’s heart to let new people and ideas in rather than turn into or remain a cynical person. It manages to avoid the usual tropes found within a message like this by giving viewers something a bit more tangible and realistic than just ‘be yourself’ that is most often in children movies.
This theme is most apparent with Emmett and Rex Dangervest, a cool and maverick character Emmett aspires to be, but believes in a tough go-it-alone attitude. It also works for Wildstyle, who tries her hardest to stamp out any cutesy feelings and keep her image of a hardened fighter intact. Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks both do well in their roles as they convey the complicated feelings their characters are going through. Will Arnett once again shines as Batman and is, funny enough, the center of the film’s messages as Mitchell uses him as a prime example for fans’ desire of something grittier as they grow up. Stephanie Beatriz delivers an intimidating and funny presence as General Mayhem that shares some great banter with Banks. Tiffany Haddish is also a standout as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, the shape-shifting ruler of the Systar System who wants to wed Batman for unknown reasons. Charlie Day, Alison Brie and Nick Offerman also return from the first film and while they have less to do this time around, they still deliver on their comedic moments, especially Day as his 80s Spaceman is finally taking a trip through the cosmos.
The film’s animation is top-notch and much improved from The LEGO Movie. The characters and their vehicular transformations look great, particularly in the opening act that feels straight out of Mad Max: Fury Road. One of the big differences between the two films, however, is The LEGO Movie 2 feels much more vibrant with its imagery. This makes sense given that the characters are surrounded by toys designed for a younger age group as well as a different gender and the attention to detail on the worlds of the Systar System, Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi’s shapes and the musical numbers (of which there are several in entertaining fashion) makes the film feel like a fresh experience compared to the original. It would have been easy for Mitchell and company to do more of the same, but they really did put in the work to make The LEGO Movie 2 unique from its predecessor and the other films of the LEGO franchise.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part delivers on many of the levels it strove for. The story is well constructed, the jokes and self-referential humour are great, the cast does a great job with what they are given and the film has some deep and realistic messages about growing up and accepting change that sets it apart from other kids movies. The vibrant colours and smooth animation of the characters and action scenes really make the visuals standout in this franchise. While it may not quite reach the height of the original, that’s okay as it is a more than worthy entry on its own.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★