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. (adapted from IMDb)
Five years ago, a (seemingly) ridiculous concept came to fruition: a movie was released about the beloved toy, LEGO building blocks. Any time a non-documentary film is announced based on something as random as a specific toy or board game or even a video game, expectations are usually met with cynicism and skepticism. It's understandable, too; do we need a movie about LEGO toys? How could that possibly work? But thanks to incredible animation, a brilliant script, fast-paced humor, a hefty dose of nostalgia and lovable new characters, The LEGO Movie was not only good, it was awesome. (And yes, we DID need it!)
Its success was followed by news of a sequel and its first spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie. The latter released three years later, in 2017, and proved to be nearly as enjoyable as its predecessor. Warner Bros. and the brains behind the films seemed to have found a winning formula. And, now, half-a-decade after the series launch, we finally have a continuation of The LEGO Movie in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.
Although the occupants of the director's chair has changed, the guys who delivered the first film--Phil Lord and Chris Miller--served as story writers and producers for this second outing, which helps recapture most of what worked so well the first time around. But don't expect a retread of The LEGO Movie with The Second Part. This next chapter literally first picks up where the original film ended, and then fast-forwards 5 years to a post apocalyptic LEGO world (not unlike something you'd see in Mad Max). The one and only thing that hasn't changed is our hero, Emmet Brickowski (voiced by the now-superstar Chris Pratt), who is still as cheerful, simple-minded, and wholesome as ever, even though the world around him has hardened beyond belief.
What's interesting to me about how The Second Part has been marketed is that it makes it evident that there's more of a space element to the story, and Emmet needing to rescue his friends, but it doesn't really spoil much of the plot (which is good--and surprising). As such, I felt like I was going into seeing the film with only a vague idea of the plot, so most of it felt fresh and like a surprise. Without giving too much away, it's neat to see how much this film continues what the first movie established. The live action element that was certainly an unexpected surprise in the first film plays a part in this one too, but also continues to break the so-called "fourth wall" a bit, taking the Toy-Story-esque real world interactions of the toys a bit further. Still, it's all done in fun and is pretty neat, leaving the viewer to guess what might happen next (even if it ultimately is ridiculous and doesn't make much sense--but that's also part of the fun). If you've ever exercised your imagination with a pile of LEGO building blocks, you'll understand what this film is doing (or trying to do) here.
The core story follows, basically, what happens when the multiple LEGO brands converge with each other--whether it's the regular toy line, the more girl-oriented "Friends" line, or the toddler toys, Duplo. It's a silly, fun, and imaginative story that finds an outside alien force kidnapping a few of Emmet's friends and taking them into space, while Emmet has to work up the courage to go find and rescue them. Along the way, he meets Rex Dangervest, another character voiced by Chris Pratt who is a fun amalgamation of characters Pratt has played in other feature films, which also finds him piloting a spaceship that is powered by a team of velociraptors... yeah, it's pretty great. Without spoiling anything else, it does miss a little bit of the world/genre-hopping that the first film had, but The Second Part still merges brands and various LEGO-themed elements really well, giving the movie the kind of more mature story themes you might expect in a sequel to a more live action film, while giving children some serious themes to chew on--like playing well together. There's a lot for the parents and kids alike. (And the 80s pop culture references certainly won't be lost on today's parents... even if some will be lost on the young viewers.)
The first film introduced the ridiculous--and ridiculously catchy--theme "Everything Is Awesome." It was one of those songs that was a fantastic joke within the film and a fun one to revisit afterwards, even if it wasn't usually a type of music you enjoyed. It wonderfully represented the blissfully happy world that LEGO people lived in. The Second Part not only offers a new take on the idea of the song (a more realistic one), but also introduces several new songs, with characters surprisingly breaking out in song a couple times during the film (which the movie also pokded fun at). Thankfully, the songs are fun, funny, and enjoyable once again, so while it may border on one (or two) song(s) too many at times, they're all pretty entertaining. Composer Mark Mothersbaugh even subdues his usual electronic-leaning score for a more grand, epic space action/adventure style that had me assuming he didn't return for this film, and had me wondering if it was someone like Michael Giacchino doing his best John Williams impression again. But while it feels a little less "LEGO-Movie-ish," it worked great for the feel and style of this particular story.
The content is on par with the first film. While The LEGO Batman Movie used a few inappropriate plays-on-words, The Second Part doesn't, and, at its worst, uses the word "heck" several times, especially in a comedic way when referencing how hard and desolate the post-apocalyptic LEGO world has become. The creepy Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi may freak out a few younger viewers--or some moments where a character menaces another character--but it's all relatively mild, especially considering these are all LEGO toys.
If you enjoyed The LEGO Movie, you're almost guaranteed to enjoy The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. While we've had five years to enjoy and process the first film, I don't think one viewing of The Second Part is quite enough to judge this one as better or not-as-good, but at the very least, it's a blast... and you're likely to have some iteration of "Everything Is Awesome" lodged in your noggin yet again... and you won't mind it one bit.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 2/8/19)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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