The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (Denmark / Canada / Norway / Australia / USA / G / 107 mins)
Directed by Mike Mitchell, Trisha Gum. Starring Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie.
The Plot: Having been invaded by child warriors from outer space, the inhabitants of Bricksburg find that their beautiful city has been destroyed. They set up a new city in a Mad Max-style wasteland. Naive construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt) has dreams of a new home with Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), but that’s interrupted by the arrival of General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) and her army. They take Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett) and others into space to meet Queen Watevra (Tiffany Haddish). She has a plan to marry the lonely, despair-ridden Batman and unite their tribes. Emmet sets out to rescue his friends from the certain doom he has dreamed of, with the help of ultra-macho hero Rex Dangervest (also Pratt) …
The Verdict: When The Lego Movie arrived in 2014, it was feared that it would be the ultimate feature-length example of dastardly Hollywood product placement. Instead, it was an anarchic and hugely enjoyable film, with a sharply witty sense of humour and a handmade feel given what was actually going on behind the bricks. A sequel was put on hold for five years in order to pursue the spin-off films, with varying results. Now that The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (ha-ha) is here, has it been worth the long wait? Yes… and no. While it maintains that anarchic sense of humour and the characters are as charming and colourful as before, there’s a distinct impression of diminishing returns.
It may be that the Batman and Ninjago films have stolen this film’s thunder somewhat. Familiarity with this brick-based world on the big screen has set in, with the result that the bricks have to be upped for each successive film. The original’s directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, are only on scriptwriting duties here, passing the Lego megaphone to Mike Mitchell and Trisha Gum. The script is based around an invasion of cutesy Lego Duplo toys, which happens blindingly fast in a hectic opening sequence. Thereafter, it’s about the countdown to an intergalactic marriage involving the brooding Batman (eh?) and an ever-changing chirpy Queen. If that sounds loopy, then it’s meant to be. Logic goes out the window here, along with the chatty Velociraptors and the kitchen sink.
Being crazy is not really a substitute for upping the bricks though. The script doesn’t have the clarity of its predecessor. Some jokes hit (a cameo from a well-known action hero) and miss (Ruth Bader Ginsburg?), often rushing by too fast. Instead, Mitchell and Gum rely on coasting on the sequel’s charms. Of which it has many, enough to get it over the line and into acceptably fun entertainment for all the family. Emmet is still as loveably dim and easily distracted as before, Lucy is heroic and level-headed and Batman… Well, it’s enough to say that he’s gone all gooey and soft in this one, but still keeps reminding everyone of his awesomeness. Pratt has a lot of fun with his dual voice roles, even poking fun at his other films from other studios (which somehow snuck their way in).
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part may have been hurt by the long wait between films, but concerns that the new directing team are simply bricking it and are attempting to please all are mostly unfounded. It’s not as awesome or as laugh-out-loud funny as its predecessor, but it still has buckets of charm, day-glo nightmare new characters and a playful sense of real-world fun. It’s even got another catchy earworm tune. Three slightly wobbly bricks out of five.