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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Movie Review

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) movie poster The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Theatrical Release: February 8, 2019 / Running Time: 107 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Mike Mitchell / Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller (screenplay & story), Matthew Fogel (story)

Voice Cast: Chris Pratt (Emmet Brickowski, Rex Dangervest), Elizabeth Banks (Lucy/Wyldstyle), Will Arnett (Batman), Tiffany Haddish (Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi), Stephanie Beatriz (General Mayhew/Sweet Mayhem), Alison Brie (Unikitty/Ultrakatty), Nick Offerman (MetalBeard), Charlie Day (Benny), Will Ferrell (President Business, Dad), Channing Tatum (Superman), Jonah Hill (Green Lantern), Richard Ayoade (Ice Cream Cone), Ben Schwartz (Barnarar), Noel Fielding (Balthazar), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Cobie Smulders (Wonder Woman), Ike Barinholtz (Lex Luthor), Ralph Fiennes (Alfred Pennyworth), Will Forte (Abraham Lincoln), Jimmy O. Yang (Enthusiastic Zebra), Jorma Taccone (Larry Poppins), Bruce Willis (Bruce Willis), Gary Payton (Gary Payton), Sheryl Swoopes (Sheryl Swoopes) / Live Action Cast: Maya Rudolph (Mom), Jadon Sand (Finn), Brooklynn Prince (Bianca)

 

In a matter of five years, The Lego Movie has evolved from one unforeseeably great winter surprise into a franchise that exists as the cornerstone of Warner Animation Group. There's risk in such evolution. Not commercially, since a sequel to a beloved movie is bound to fare well regardless of quality. But there is a plethora of artistic and creative risk that results from turning a superb original movie into an ever-expanding universe.
The line has already experienced such challenges when the third movie of its kind, The Lego Ninjago Movie, opened in the fall of 2017 to tepid reviews and downright weak box office numbers. That was a spin-off and it lacked the direct lineage of the previous spin-off, The Lego Batman Movie, released in early 2017, which got great reviews but still failed to reach the lofty numbers of the original Lego Movie.

That original 2014 movie, whose omission from the Best Animated Feature nominees at that year's Oscar drew gasps from those following the race, finally gets an official direct sequel now, five years and a day later. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part finds the original film's writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller returning as writers but passing off directing duties to DreamWorks alumnus Mike Mitchell (Trolls, Shrek Forever After). This sequel retains the colorful characters, irreverent spirit, and anything-can-happen brand of storytelling from the first movie. It also seeks to match the original's cornucopia of ideas. It has a good amount of success in all these regards, but the results are more like a fun adventure than another flat-out masterpiece. If The Lego Movie was on the order of Monsters, Inc., Lego Movie 2 is comparable to Monsters University: enjoyable, but definitely not better than our previous outing in the universe.

Bricksburg has changed since we last saw it as a industrial city of cheerful conformity. Nowadays, it is a wasteland called Apocalypseburg, the product of both of the children of the original universe's builder (Will Ferrell, who only returns vocally here) getting their hands on the playthings. Our everyman-turned-hero protagonist Emmet (voiced again by Chris Pratt) is taking these drastic changes in stride, but his hardened best friend and quasi-love interest Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) wishes he would grow up and get with the times.

In "The Lego Movie 2", Emmet is saved by a hunky intergalactic adventurer named Rex Dangervest.

Our principals, which also include Batman (Will Arnett), 1980s spaceman Benny (Charlie Day), and the increasingly short-tempered Unikitty (Alison Brie), find themselves in the Systar system. There, Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), whose claims she's benign seem dubious at best, announces she's going to hastily marry Batman, a plan he needs some reverse psychology -- in song -- to get on board with. Emmet, meanwhile, gets separated from the group and has his eyes opened to what appears to be the classic evil brainwashing and manipulation the others are undergoing. Emmet is saved from death by Rex Dangervest, a cool, stubble-faced traveler with raptors for pets.

While Lucy and the others are being subjected to "Catchy Song", an original tune that unquestionably lives up to its title and approaches the high bar set by the original film's comparably infectious "Everything Is Awesome", Emmet and Rex try to hatch a plan to stave off the apocalyptic vision Emmet had that increasingly seems to be where we're headed.

For an animated feature film that will count children as its primary audience despite broad appeal, Lego Movie 2 is quite heady, dark, and out there. But we've come to find that such qualities are not to be feared. Daring and inventive works like Inside Out, Wreck-It Ralph, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse flourish. Those without bite tend to falter and be forgotten immediately. It seems to be a good practice to push the envelope and think outside the box, not just artistically but in terms of return on investment. No kid is going to want The Nut Job bed sheets or Ferdinand pajamas.

Most of Lego Movie 2's ideas, including a couple of big twists, are pretty good. You expect as much after a wait of five years. Warner could have just turned around and churned out a sequel in two years and even replaced the busy Lord and Miller (producers on Spider-Verse and still credited as executive producers on Solo: A Star Wars Story, from which they were fired as directors). Instead, they took the time to create something every bit as complex and thought-provoking as the first movie. That was the same approach Disney took in making Ralph Breaks the Internet and that appears to be the right one, although it didn't seem to have a significant effect on the bottom line there.

The shape-shifting, squid-like Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) welcomes her visitors and tries to assure them she's not evil.

Much like the second Ralph, Lego Movie 2 just doesn't have the wow factor of its predecessor. We've already met these characters and none of the new ones except Rex really makes a play for our sympathy. The songs, which include a melancholic update on "Everything Is Awesome", are fun (and push this close to musical status),
the visuals (per tradition resembling stop motion befitting the universe) delight, and there are enough great verbal and visual jokes to sustain a number of repeat viewings.

Lord and Miller and presumably Matthew Fogel, who shares story credit with them, really try to strike emotional chords by exploring the universe immediately outside our featured universe. The first film did that with the arresting and unexpected live-action sequence featuring Ferrell in the flesh. This time around, it's nearly a given that we're going to have to address that layer. Maya Rudolph plays the kids' mom and the narrative is a tad belabored on this front. It feels a little bit like the filmmakers rewatched Pixar's Toy Story trilogy and took notes on every mention of children playing with toys. Such moments do give the Toy Story movies some emotional weight, but they seem to flow naturally from the narratives of those adventures. The Lego movies want to set the bulk of their films in the play worlds of the Toy Story opening sequences, but they also want to give the silly intergalactic shenanigans a real world connection and that isn't as smoothly or easily accomplished.

Such complaints are minor and not something that will enter the mind of the average viewer, but they do factor into Lego 2 falling a little short of its predecessor (and The Lego Batman Movie, for that matter). At the same time, you probably won't even need two hands to count the number of movies with as much entertainment value as this appealing diversion into which much thought, wit, and effort has gone.

Related Reviews:
Warner Animation Group: The Lego Movie The Lego Batman Movie The Lego Ninjago Movie Teen Titans GO! To the Movies Smallfoot
Recent Animated Films: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Incredibles 2 Ralph Breaks the Internet Zootopia Dr. Seuss' The Grinch
Now in Theaters: The Kid Who Would Be King | Directed by Mike Mitchell: Sky High
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Toy Story 3 Inside Out

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Reviewed February 8, 2019.



Text copyright 2019 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2019 Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Animation Group, and Lego.
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