I won’t say that I didn’t need this sequel (I did), but I also won’t say that it’s the sequel I necessarily wanted either.
Taking place five years after the events of the original film, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part immediately reminds us that everything is awesome…or at least it used to be. After finally transitioning into the Master Builder role that he was always meant to play, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), is now living the “awesome” life in an abandoned, desolate, post-apocalyptic world along with fellow Master Builder, Lucy aka Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and the denizens of Bricksburg, now redubbed Apocalypsburg. As usual, Emmet seems to be the only one looking on the bright side of things, so when an invading force of child friendly Lego Duplo bricks sent by the villainous Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) from the distant Systar System arrives to abduct Lego Batman (Will Arnett) and a handful of other returning characters, it’s up to Emmet to remain upbeat and courageous as he sets out in the hopes of saving his friends. But before he can even properly get to where he’s going, a new character by the name of Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt), a cooler, more intense version of who Emmet believes he should be to impress Lucy, inserts himself into Emmet’s journey to help his cause. Now, in order to help him get his friends back, save Apocalypseburg, defeat the Queen and her minions, and of course, get the girl, Emmet must look inside himself to find out who he truly is before everything he has worked for comes tumbling down like a tower of (Lego) bricks.
Suffering from a very mild form of sequelitis, The Lego Movie 2 is an obvious follow-up to a film that arguably surprised everyone when it was first released five years ago. With the original, the filmmakers were able to bring a sense wonder and fun to a children’s product that many people believed would not work up on the silver screen, let alone launch a successful film franchise, and now, after so many years of twiddling our thumbs and stepping on Lego bricks, instead of giving audiences a film that was entirely worth the wait, we ended up with a sequel that feels a tad rushed (if a five year wait can be considered a rush job) and slightly uninspired. Fortunately for this film, the script holds enough charm, emotion, humor and wit to make this sequel slightly better than your average follow-up, but not nearly as good as what came before.
As with the first film, The Lego Movie 2 still carries the same through line in regards to the idea that Legos, at their heart, are not only tiny little plastic bricks that can be snapped together to build pretty much anything, but also a portal into the world of imagination where pirates co-exist with astronauts, superheroes fight dinosaurs and stories that only live in the mind can become real. Like the original’s reveal that the entire story has been taking place inside the imagination of a child, the sequel tries to replicate that beat, but only half succeeds in its attempts at bringing that same relatable wrinkle to what we see onscreen. More attention is paid to the idea for better or worse, and while the original found a thoughtful and inspired way to tie everything together in the end, it seems like this sequel was trying to rehash something that felt new and unique at the time, only to end up feeling like a copy of a copy. Centered more so around the relationship between a brother and his sister, the idea is still entirely worth exploring, but as it stands in this film, it’s not worth the amount of time the filmmakers awkwardly use to try and explain it all. I liked it better when the audience was left guessing as to how the “real world” factored into the story as opposed to the quick inserts that seem more like a means to an end to eventually get to a proper reveal later on in the third act.
As usual, the visuals are as top-notch as ever, the effective blend of a stop-motion-esque style of animation mixed with a traditional computerized look still holds strong at every level. With the addition of even more cameos by Lego inspired characters and scenarios, the visuals more than anything are the reason to see this film. And while I do love the characters littering this Lego world, they are noticeably side-lined for most of the movie, resigned to fill in the B-story plot points while everyone waits for Emmet or Lucy to do something. It’s not that big a deal, but with the original film and The Lego Batman Movie doing wonders for their ensemble cast, I can’t help but feel a bit short changed once everything was said and done.
When it comes down to it, there’s nothing overtly wrong with this film. Most of its pitfalls and problematic issues stem from the feeling that the script doesn’t take a step forward in regards to the world, characters and ideas set up by the original, but rather a step to the side, something that isn’t necessarily bad, but not super exciting either. Instead of a sweeping shake-up that opens the franchise up a bit more in order to tell new, more interesting and effective stories, like, for example, how The Lego Batman Movie expanded on Will Arnett’s take on The Dark Knight and made him more than just a simple spin-off character, The Second Part settles by giving us more of the same. By not dressing said sameness in anything exciting or new (the overall idea of the invading Systar System characters is good but not fully realized until the third act comes around), this film suffers from the fact that there was clear potential laid out in front of it, but not enough effort put forth to take that potential and make something better with it.
While not as thoughtful or original in its execution as the first film, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part does just enough right to make this film worth the watch, even if my overall impression was a solid “meh” once the credits rolled. This movie feels safe and slightly derivative in spots, the overly used setting of a post-apocalyptic backdrop not helping the proceedings much, and after creating a fantastic world in the first film that was ripe for exploration and potential, the filmmakers just couldn’t meaningfully move past those events in a way that works best for the story and characters in the sequel. Once Emmet’s doppelganger in Rex Dangervest arrives, the movie thankfully returns to form in the best way possible, but with a lot of familiar beats and a wandering sense of purpose, this movie is a solid sequel to a film that deserved a bit more. All this being said, I’ll take another sequel to round out this trilogy, just don’t forget another Lego Batman movie while you’re at it!