The first Lego Movie was, quite simply, awesome. A stunning mix of a hilarious unpredictable script, a great cast and fun metafictional elements all wrapped up in an amazing animation style that brought the Danish construction bricks and minifigs to life like never before.
The only thing that could be more awesome would be a sequel, right? Well, there’s the problem; how do you improve upon “Awesome”?
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part picks up immediately after the first film, with the “invasion” of the “aliens” from the planet “Duplo”. No matter what Emmet, Lucy aka “Wyldstyle”, and the rest of the inhabitants of Bricksburg do, these invaders from the “Systar system” keep coming and trashing everything they try to build. 5 years later and they’ve all settled into semi-chaotic normality in “Apocalypseburg”, an angsty teenage take on Mad Max, when a new alien appears and kidnaps Lucy, Batman, Benny (spacehip!) Unikitty and MetalBeard.
With no help from the rest of the Apcocalypseberg-ians it’s up to Emmet to toughen up and journey to the Systar system to rescue his friends.
Building a Better Mousetrap
Accepting the role of director for The Lego Movie 2 must have felt like something of a poisoned chalice for Mike Mitchell, director of Trolls, Sky High and …um … Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo. If the film is a success, then the credit will most likely go to Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s input on the script. If it’s a failure, then the blame will land squarely at his feet. Lucky for him then that it’s neither. It’s…fine.
As far as sequels go it’s enjoyable but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s just more of the same. A lot of the success of the original came from its freshness and originality and after the enjoyable Lego Batman Movie and underwhelming Lego Ninjago Movie, it’s doesn’t quite recapture the magic of that first viewing of the original.
The returning cast is all great and despite the kidnapping plot, most of them aren’t sidelined in favour of the new characters, as is often the case with sequels. Those new characters manage to hold their own too, with Tiffany Haddish relishing her role as Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and it’s a nice, if odd surprise, to see a mini Mighty Boosh reunion of sorts in the form of Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade cropping up. Brooklyn 99‘s Stephanie Beatriz feels slightly wasted as General Mayhem, however. As with the first film the sequel is littered with cameos, one of which is the best joke in the movie. Twice (keep an eye out in the vents). I’d highly recommend steering well clear of any cast lists to avoid spoiling some of the better cast-based gags.
Sing When You’re Winning?
The jokes are pretty good but again, proceedings don’t quite “hum” as well as the first movie.
It seems like the filmmakers realised they needed to add something new to the sequel, as it feels like there are far more songs this time. This isn’t just the diagetic music the characters play in world like “Everything is Awesome”. At times the film goes full musical and at least one of these songs overstaying its welcome. Also filmmaker’s note: it also doesn’t matter how many times your main cast complains about someone singing or asks “Are we in a musical” if you still go ahead and have a musical number! That said “The Catchy Song” is a weaponized ear-worm that will work its way into your brain much like “Everything is Awesome” did, and the plot even manages to come up with a reason for a ridiculously catchy pop song.
For those who loved the metafictional aspects of the original, don’t worry they haven’t been ejected. Finn returns along with some new live-action characters, building on the, dare I say lore of the original in a very smart way. From the synopsis above anyone with siblings will figure out where things are going very quickly and while the film does have a great message for kids about growing up, it’s yet another area where the sequel takes what the original does and just repeats it, in a slightly different fashion. There’s even a vision early on that hints where the plot is going later, just as the first film did. It’s the original but with a just little bit more of everything.
The sequel can’t quite recapture the joy of realising that the sea under Cloud Cuckoo Land is made up of individual Lego bricks, or that the fire in any scene is created using only Lego fire pieces.
When I went to see the first movie my expectations were in the toilet and I was completely blown away by the skill and care that went into every element of the film. While I try to temper my expectations going into every movie, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part still felt like just more of the same. That’s not a bad thing in anyway; it’s still very enjoyable, but like eating too much sugar, once you get used to it, you need more and more and just can’t maintain that high.