The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Phil Lord and Chris Miller seem unable to do any wrong. They are filmmakers capable of turning material that should be tepid and flat into something electrifying and original. It was the case when they jumpstarted the franchises of 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. They also broke ground with The Lego Movie in 2014, creating an entire studio in the process (Warner Bros. Animation Group), and just last month they were nominated for their first Oscar for Best Animated Film thanks to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse. They’ve now released their follow-up to the first Lego Movie, although this time only returning as writers.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part picks off where the first film left off, with a similar ending to that of The Incredibles, where an exterior threat (in this film baby Legos) is threatening our newly proven heroes. This sequel follows that thread as Emmet’s (Chris Pratt) group of seemingly more capable leaders (Batman, Wildstyle, etc.), are kidnapped and taken to a Galactic Queen Whatevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). Emmet thus must prove himself to be capable enough to leave his world and save his friends.
The first film had a distinct vibe similar to Toy Story in its melding of the imagination of children playing with toys with the actual consciousness of said toys. The 2014 film had a touching ending of playing together with others, and the surprise factor of mixing real-world actors (Will Ferrell) with animation, was part of what made the first film so great. With the expectations much higher this time around it was always going to be harder to electrify viewers.
The result is that Lord and Miller’s script maintains much of the charm and humor that the first film had, but with less creative shock. The film essentially borrows much of the structure and even the message from its first film and recycles it with new jokes and IP. The experience is enjoyable enough, but it isn’t breaking ground the way that Lord and Miller’s greatest hits have. The use of meta and pop cultural references continues to bring hilarity, but as with other recent Lego films, you find that the filmmakers are starting to rely on these aspects as the crux of their story rather than as added sparks. It’s obviously hard to maintain an intense level of creativity, but with Pixar showing us that it is possible, viewers have brought certain standards.
The animation is still wondrous to behold (it’s all stop-motion) and there are new catchy and hilarious songs to tap your foot to. However, The Lego Movie 2 is very much riding on the shoulders of the first film, and while that might not be a bad thing, it doesn’t beckon the level thrills and emotions that the original had set.