The Lego Movie 2 Review
This song IS going to get stuck inside your head.
Everything is (almost) awesome as the band get back together for the first proper Lego Movie sequel.It feels like a long five years since the release of The Lego Movie, a surprise gem of a film which blindsided audiences by delivering much more than anyone would expect from an ostensible toy tie-in film. Writer/directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord worked some serious magic first time around, emphasising the world-building strength of the versatile and imaginative brick-building universe, developing superior characters (Batman was such a standout he earned his own much-deserved spin-off) and cleverly tying it into the real-life fun that kids actually have playing with Lego.
Colourful, vibrant, fast-paced and hilarious, the duo did the largely unthinkable - at least outside of Pixar - and provided a feature which appealed to adults and kids in equally effective ways, attracting a broad spectrum of audience members and remaining watchable and memorable beyond its spin-offs and successors. Whilst the dynamic filmmaking duo didn't initially return to helm (or even write) the spin-offs (the hilarious Lego Batman Movie and the surprisingly effective Lego Ninjago Movie), and whilst they don't reprise directorial duties here, their screenplay work is certainly still evident here, with franchise newcomer director Mike Mitchell (Trolls) fashioning a solid sequel which lacks the originality of the first, but still has much of the charm.
A solid sequel which lacks the originality of the first, but still has much of the charm
The story organically flows from the end of the first movie, picking up as Will Ferrell's dad reveals that, if he's going to finally let his son play with the lego set, he's also going to have to... let the younger daughter in too. Cue an invasion of duplo and an ongoing struggle which, over the next 5 years, sees the Lego universe turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Enter: General Sweet Mayhem, who kidnaps those she perceives to be the Lego leaders, including Batman and former Wyldstyle, Lucy, with a view to taking them to a wedding event that will change the world as they know it, discarding the first movie's hero - Emmet (who she considers far from leadership material) - who in turn decides he's going to have to journey to the 'land beyond the stairgate' to rescue Lucy and save his friends.
Although it could be argued that you can feel the absence of Lord and Miller behind the vision of this sequel - which gets off to a good start but, at least visually, doesn't have quite the same imagination as the first film - the same can't be said about the script, where their wit and carefully worked story manages to both organically develop the original tale whilst also providing its own distinct Toy Story 2-esque dynamic.
It's their stamp that leaves us with the fabulous nods to Mad Max: Fury Road, He-Man (Alison Brie's Princess Unikitty can now turn into Battle Cat), the Lord of the Rings, and the Justice League ("Marvel won't return our calls"), bringing arguably two of their best characters even more into the fore this time around - Will Arnett's Batman and Elizabeth Banks' Lucy - whilst Chris Pratt gets his own multi-faceted character arc involving Looper-style time travel, and references to just about every single one of Pratt's major roles (from Guardians through to Jurassic World, with even a future-hint at Indy thrown in for good measure) as the film tries to continue the trend of appealing to adults as much as kids, and largely succeeds.
The film tries to continue the trend of appealing to adults as much as kids, and largely succeeds
Sure, as with Incredibles 2, some problems come largely in the form of well-crafted villains (neither Stephanie Beatriz's General Sweet Mayhem nor the uber-villain, Tiffany Haddish's Queen Watevra Wa-nabi really stand out as much of a threat), but that's perhaps more to do with the twists in store than the construction of bad characters, signalling colourful attempts at misdirection which don't quite deliver the payout you need. Yet, despite these shortcomings, the result still births some excellent sequences along the way to the clever finale (involving Bridesmaids' Maya Rudolph on scene-stealing form filling the void from Ferrell's absence), not least the "this song's gonna' get stuck inside your head" Catchy Song sequence, a sing-off with Batman and some galaxy-hopping insanity for Emmet involving a hilarious nod to him befriending Raptors.
Yes, sure, Batman isn't as good as he is first time out (or in his standalone film for that matter), and, sure, some of the jokes get over-rinsed - although even the cynical attempt at pre-advertising for the upcoming Die Hard prequel/sequel doesn't completely rob the Bruce Willis scenes of adult-directed charm - but there's far more hit than miss here.
The Lego Movie 2 gets enough momentum from an excellent opening salvo to navigate the slower middle before it hits its stride in the end run, and, as sequels to amazing original movies go (look at the Despicable Me sequels, Toy Story 2, or even the aforementioned Incredibles 2), even whilst it can't quite match up to the "everything is awesome" first salvo, it does a strong enough job delivering the goods to keep franchise fans cheerily entertained and more than happy to wait for what's next in store with this wonderfully realised universe, likely with a brand new song stuck inside their head.
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