The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) Review
EVERYTHING IS (STILL) AWESOME
Back in 2014, Warner. Bros. Pictures (under the name of Warner Bros. Animation Group) produced a surprising smash with The LEGO Movie. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind 21 Jump Street (and its 22 Jump Street sequel), The LEGO Movie dropped viewers into an imaginary cinematic constructed world of LEGOs, telling a creative tale that was full of humor, talented voice-actors, dazzling animation, and some heartwarming drama. Surprisingly, The LEGO Movie was met with overwhelming positive reviews from fans and critics, garnishing nearly $470 million at the box office against its $60 million production budget. The success of The LEGO Movie fueled Warner Bros. with the idea that a cinematic universe could be formed around the property idea of the popular toy brand. However, in a somewhat unorthodox way, the studio, instead of developing a sequel to The LEGO Movie, decided to create two spin-off feature LEGO films in 2017, with The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie. While The LEGO Batman Movie, which was directed by Chris McKay and continued the cinematic LEGO representation as well as introducing new elements such as rifting / playing on the lore of Gotham’s “cape crusader”, was met with critical / positive success from its viewers (and critics), The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which was directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan, was met with mixed reviews; citing that the movie (though fun playing with their Ninjago property as well as the voice talents) was just sub-par and, mediocre, and that the franchise movie formula had lost its edge. Now, two years after the two spin-off LEGO Movies of 2017, Warner Bros. Studios (under Warner Bros. Animation Group) and director Mike Mitchell finally return for the much-anticipated sequel to the original 2014 film with the movie The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Does this long-awaited sequel succeed or does it fail to “reconnect” with its moviegoing audience?
Five years have passed since the events of “Taco Tuesday”, which saw the defeat of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and by saving the world of Bricksburg, but also saw the sudden appearance of the Duplo alien invaders; declaring war on the LEGO citizens and decimating their cities. Now, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) find themselves in the harsh / apocalyptic wasteland that once was Bricksburg (renamed Apocalypseburg), and all of their friends have become tougher and grittier to combat with their new normal, which includes the reoccurring return of Duplo alien attacks. During one such attack, a new enemy named General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) kidnaps all of Emmett’s friends, including Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), Benny (Charlie Day), Unikitty (Alison Brie), and MetalBeard (Nick Offerman) and whisking them far away to the Systar System; a place far beyond the realms of Apocalypseburg. Wanting to save his friends, Emmet follows General Mayhem’s ship to the Systar System in attempt to rescue them, and runs across the intergalactic hero Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Chris Pratt), who agrees to help Emmet on his quest as well as to help him learn how to be tough and grow up. Meanwhile, Lucy and the others are brought to the meet the presiding ruler of the Systar System, Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), who seeks a marriage with one of the Apocalypseburg citizens that she captured. Though Queen Watevra attempts to “woo” and win over all the members of the group, Lucy remains suspicious of the queen’s intentions; believing the matrimonial ceremony will lead to armageddon-like event for them all. With Emmet and Rex attempting a rescue mission, and Lucy trying to save her friends from being brainwashed by Queen Watevra, it remains to be seeing if the team of Master Builders could overcome the challenges (both physical and from within) to win the day.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
As I’ve previously stated before in my other LEGO Movie reviews, I grew up playing with LEGOs and I definitely had fond memories playing with some of the original sets, especially the ones that were released during the late 80s to mid-90s. Like most everyone, I grew out of LEGOs and became more interested in other toys and fascinations in my teen years. Still, I wasn’t lying when I heard that there was gonna be a LEGO Movie of which I totally geeked out on childhood nostalgia. Thus, as you can imagine, I absolutely loved 2014’s The LEGO Movie. It was definitely filled with plenty of childhood memories of myself playing with LEGOs (all the various pieces and creations), but the movie also was definitely a well-made feature length animated feature that had plenty humor and heart as well as solid voicing talents (i.e. Pratt, Banks, Freeman, Ferrell, etc.). Plus, I loved the film’s song “Everything is Awesome” ….so darn catchy and nonsensical fun to sing (always got stuck in my head). Like I said above, given the universal success and popularity that the movie received, it was almost a forgone conclusion that a sequel to The LEGO Movie would be on the horizon shortly. However, that would be take some time to materialize as we (the public) got two spin-off LEGO Movie sequels. Much like what I said in my opening paragraph, I really liked The LEGO Batman Movie as did the general public reception for the feature (definitely love all the Batman references), but The LEGO Ninjago Movie I felt was bright “meh” …. I don’t even own it on Blu-Ray. To me, it showed the franchise formula seem pretty stale and felt very predictable. Plus, while all the voice talents in the film were good, the story itself was pretty weak; proving that The LEGO Ninjago Movie is definitely weakest installment in this film franchise.
Of course, this brings me back to The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, the fourth film in the LEGO Movie franchise as well as the direct sequel to the 2014 animated feature. Like I said, The LEGO Ninjago Movie definitely left a somewhat “unsatisfying” and “disappointing” way, feeling that the series was growing stale. Of course, I was definitely pretty excited to finally see the sequel to The LEGO Movie, especially since the movie kind of sort of ended on an amusing cliffhanger-ish ending. Naturally, all the promotional marketing for the sequel (various movie trailers and a cute holiday short) fueled my anticipation to see this movie, which I did have a somewhat high expectation. Plus, I did like that almost all of the original voice cast would be returning to reprise their roles. So…. what did I think of it? Well, I liked it. Of course, while it didn’t surpass the first one, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part still had plenty to offer in humor and heart and continues to be a hilarious animated blast in the process (for all ages). There were some problems with the movie, but this sequel still proved to be a fun and entertaining endeavor (and that’s a good thing).
While Hangover directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller directed the first movie, they pass on the baton to director Mike Mitchell, whose previous directorial works include other movies like Sky High, Shrek Forever After, and Trolls, in helming The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Given his film background in directing more kid-friendly motion pictures, Mitchell seemed like a suitable choice in directing such a project like this. To his credit, he does succeed on that front, finding the director capable of stepping into Lord and Miller’s directorial LEGO shoes in crafting this sequel. Mitchell makes the feature very much like the 2014 version, easily finding a way for his feature film to somewhat “harmonize” with the original 2014 was able to achieve. This is clear represented in the film’s opening sequence, which picks up immediately where the first movie ended; keeping in line with the same narrative tone, dazzling (yet colorful) action sequences, and humor-based dialogue lines that mingled with a heartfelt message. Thus, the actual movie (and how it “ebbs and flows”) feels genuine and does certainly “jive” with what many of us will be expecting to see from this movie; making Mitchell’s direction of the feature work as a positive rather than against it. To be it simply, if you enjoyed the first LEGO Movie…. you’ll definitely enjoy The LEGO Movie 2.
While Lord and Miller didn’t take the directing position for The LEGO Movie 2, they did, however, still acted as producers for the film, but more importantly as the movie’s screenplay writers. Much like the previous film (as well as the two spin-off features), the script / story of the movie has plenty to talk about in both thematic reasoning, meta references, and entertainment humor. Yes, Mitchell does make room in the film to have plenty of time devoted for some of its more humorous jokes and gags and (just like before) there’s a few jabs / cameo appearances from TV shows and movies properties, which are quite fun to see. Plus, the actual delivery of some of the jokes are quite fun to watch. Personally, I found myself laughing a ton throughout the film, which was enjoyable to do so, especially since I didn’t do so during majority of The LEGO Ninjago Movie. So, again, Mitchell definitely knew how to continue to build a “LEGO” punchline in the movie throughout, including one about actor Bruce Willis.
Still, looking past the humorous bits of the feature, The LEGO Movie 2’s true emotional core resides in a heartfelt story; palpable thematic one that revolves around the intangible struggle between growing up and maintain a childlike innocence. Naturally, this thematic journey arc is clearly represented in the character of Emmet (the film’s main protagonist), who attempts to change naïve / optimistic nature in order to “fit in” with the new world his friends live in, but this is also reflected in the live-action scenes (again, the movie’s world is an imaginary manifest of actual LEGO pieces in the real world); finding the theme / message explored through the boy from the first movie, Finn, and his sister Bianca. It’s a straightforward parallelism between the conflict in the LEGO world and the human world and one that feels totally “in line” with the tone of the feature as well as the LEGO Movie franchise. Additionally, the movie also touches upon growing up and how the phrase “toughen / harden you heart” can cause distance between friends and love ones. Again, it’s all very important (and very “human”) emotions to tackle and present on-screen and I think that Lord and Miller (as well as Mitchell) display it beautifully in the movie, which (again) fits genuinely in the feature like this. Plus, it’s a good message to learn (or remember) in both young and old.
Speaking on presentation, The LEGO Movie 2 continues to carry the visual technical achievements from the previous LEGO features; making it the best “looking” one of the bunch. Definitely the visual appeal of the film still looks quite impressive; seeing all the various LEGO set-pieces and locations come alive on-screen, especially since the movie’s narrative takes us (the viewer) to a plethora of new places. Thus, I really have to mention all the CG visual artisans that brought this imaginary LEGO “Brick” world to life as well as the art direction team (i.e. Kristen Anderson, Nick Dudar, and Caroline Cranstoun) for coming up with the conceptual ideas and drawings for which the film drew inspiration from. All in all, The LEGO Movie 2 definitely keeps the visual representation of this second adventure of Emmet, Lucy, and their friends bright, colorful, and definitely appealing to the eyes. Additionally, while the film’s score, which was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh (who also did the first film), hits all the right melodic notes in both bombastic frenetic scenes to soft tender moments, The LEGO Movie 2 does feature a few musical songs that are quite definitely catchy….to say the least. Of course, the film’s songs “Not Evil”, “Gotham City Guys”, and the super pop catchy song titled “Catchy Song” are quite memorable and melodically utilized in the movie, they still quite can’t beat out the original LEGO Movie “Everything is Awesome”. Still, this new movie does riff on that particular song with a new version titled “Everything is Not Awesome”.
While the movie is still highly enjoyable and dazzlingly animated, The LEGO Movie 2 does hit several bumps along the way (due to its franchise installment or other problematics areas) that it can’t shake off in either its presentation and execution. Perhaps one of the apparent ones that immediately comes to mind is the overall tardiness of the feature, arriving almost five years after the release of the first LEGO Movie. Yes, I can understand the creative process behind these animated endeavors and how much effort and time it is to craft a film like this, but then the creative minds behind the LEGO Movies should’ve built upon the first installment’s momentum and release a sequel sometime soon after. Instead, they released two spin-off entries and, while I really enjoyed The LEGO Batman Movie, I just felt like it was an odd choice; one that sort of diminished the excitement of seeing them. Thus, The LEGO Movie 2 ends up being a little “too little, too late” kind of feeling. Of course, I still like the movie (and I’m sure that others will feel the same), but felt that the movie’s long delay to its 2019 theatrical release might hurt the feature (in the long run).
Because of this, the movie also plays upon its own strengths, which is a good thing and certainly elevate the film’s entertainment value, but also suffers from a lot of the repetitive weaknesses that the original 2014 movie and the two spin-off installments faced, especially in the narrative department. What do I mean? Well, if you’ve seeing the first one, then you’ll of the film’s twist of which the LEGO world exists within the real world and how the first LEGO adventure revolved around the relationship between a son and his father. The LEGO Movie 2 builds upon that in another avenue that quite similar and, while its definitely palpable and meaningful (as I mentioned above), it just comes off as a bit “been there, done that” aspect. To me, it was something I was vaguely expecting to see in a sequel like this, but, while it didn’t bother me greatly, I kind of wanted to see something a bit more creative and / or original (again…. especially since the time gap between the two films). Additionally, the narrative follows the same plot point beats that all the other films did, which makes The LEGO Movie 2 a bit repetitive in some of the thematic messages (but it didn’t bother me as much). Still, while the first movie was refresh and innovated in taking a much more different stance that what many believed to expect (showcasing all the product placement toys in their catalogue arsenal), The LEGO Movie 2 feels a bit lacking in creative ingenuity (keeping up the LEGO Movie “status quo” of things) as well as a few pacing problems throughout its runtime, including making the ending a bit too long.
Alongside the visual and overall catchiness of the past LEGO Movie endeavors, The LEGO Movie 2 continues the on-going trend of casting several recognizable voice actors / actresses in order to bring these LEGO figures to life; finding many (if not all) the original cast from The LEGO Movie returning to reprise their roles in this sequel adventure. Spearheading the tip of the voice talents is actor Chris Pratt, who returns to his LEGO Movie protagonist role Emmet Brickowski. Pratt, know for his roles in Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Magnificent Seven, easily slides back in the role of Emmet, using his natural charm and likeable bravado in returning to voicing the wide-eyed and innocently naïve LEGO character. Like in the previous film, Emmet is the “backbone” of the feature and definitely continues to evolve throughout the course of the film, with Pratt up to the challenge of crafting a wholesome vocal performance in his character’s journey. Thus, much like Pratt in real life, it’s really hard not to love Emmet’s charm. Additionally, Pratt also pulls “double duty” on The LEGO Movie 2 by also playing the character of Rex Dangervest, a new character in the film that helps Emmet on his journey to save his friends. Of course, anyone who has good ear for recognizing voices will automatically know that Pratt is doing the voice for Rex (i.e. a bit more gruffer and lower sounding voice). Thus, it’s kind of humorous / amusing to watch the verbal exchange of conversation between Emmet and Rex, which is basically Pratt just talking to himself in two different personas), but it ultimately works as Rex makes for a hilarious (and poignant) appearance in the feature.
Speaking of new characters, the movie also makes room for a new villain-esque character (i.e. Queen Watvera Wa-Nabi, a shape-shifting alien ruler of the Systar System), who is voiced actress Tiffany Haddish. Known for her roles in Girls Trip, Night School, and Nobody’s Fool, Haddish is a welcome addition the voice talent roster of these LEGO Movies, finding Haddish’s vocals to match pitch-perfectly with her on-screen character of Queen Watvera. The other new character that makes an appearance in the movie is the character of General Mayhem, Queen Waterva’s general, who is voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Short Term 12). Like Haddish, Beatriz fits right in with the rest of the vocal cast of The LEGO Movie 2.
Back to the LEGO Movie regulars, the character of Lucy, the somewhat secondary main character from the first film, also returns in this sequel, with actress Elizabeth Banks returning to reprise from as well. Banks, known for her roles in The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect, and Invincible, continues to bring plenty of humorous beats to her character (usually the non-optimistic one of the group to counterbalance Emmet’s naïve optimism) as well as being an instrumental piece to the movie’s narrative, which does follow a parallel journey to Emmet’s one). All in all, Banks infuses Lucy with enough humor and heart to make her narrative path wholesome. Similarly, actor Will Arnett (Arrested Development and The Millers) returns to reprise his hilarious role of Batman, which (again) he steals the show whenever his character is on-screen. The rest of the LEGO cast, which are in more supporting roles, are mostly supporting roles that (some big, some small), with many being returning characters from the first one (as well as their respective voice talent behind them). This includes actor Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation and The Founder) as Metalbeard, actor Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Benny, and actress Alison Brie (Community and How to Be Single) as Unikitty as well as some humorous small cameo appearance from Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Ralph Finnes and many others. Collectively, this group of characters make-up the various (mostly familiar) LEGO population of the feature that what makes the film humorous and heartfelt within their respective characters.
Rounding out the cast are the several real world “human” characters that appear in the film. This includes actor Jadon Sand (The Affair and Jake and the Neverland Pirates) as the human boy Finn (the same boy from the first LEGO Movie), actress Brooklynn Prince (Robo-Dog: Airborne and The Florida Project) as Finn’s younger sister Bianca, and actress Maya Rudolph (Sisters and Bridesmaid) as Finn and Bianca’s mom. Collectively, these roles are minor supporting ones in the movie, but the three of them do play crucial roles in the narrative of The LEGO Movie 2. Lastly, actor Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) does return to reprise his LEGO Movie role (briefly), both as President Business / Lord Business and Finn and Bianca’s dad (those off-screen vocal work…. if you know what I mean).
Emmet, Lucy, Batman, Metalbeard, Benny, and the whole Bricksburg LEGO gang return for another wild and humorous adventure in the movie The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Director Brian Mitchell’s latest film sees the return brick world of LEGOs and all the silly (and otherwise zany) animated romp that began back in 2014. While the movie does suffer from a few pacing issues as well as few other problems (most familiarity), the film still succeeds in bringing another colorful, humorous, and heartfelt adventure, thanks to the Mitchell’s direction / creative stance, a snappy and laugh filled gag reel of jokes, a wholesome story / message, beautiful visuals, and a solid voice talent performance all-round from the feature’s cast. Personally, I liked the movie. Of course, it didn’t outmatch the first LEGO Movie, but it was still a fun and humorous and just downright entertaining as a kid’s animated endeavor. Thus, even with its flaws, I would still give The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part a “highly recommended” stamp of approval as the film has plenty to offer and makes for some great animated entertainment for all (regardless of age). While other spin-off LEGO feature films are planned in the upcoming years, it will be interesting to see where they will take the LEGO Movie franchise as well as a third installment in the original LEGO Movie franchise of Emmet, Lucy, and their friends (though The Second Part doesn’t really set up for a threequel adventure. Still, I would be happy if there is one). Even if that doesn’t, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a colorful and fun sequel that will surely charm its way into everyone’s heart and tickle your “inner LEGO” funny bone. In short, everything is still awesome in THE LEGO Movie 2….and that’s a good thing.
4.2 Out of 5 (Highly Recommended)
Released On: February 8th, 2019
Reviewed On: February 16th, 2019
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is 106 minutes long and is rated PG for some rude humor