Released in 2014, The Lego Movie was surprisingly awesome. This 90-minute advertisement for plastic bricks defied expectations to achieve widespread critical and commercial success thanks to warm-hearted humour and an imaginative script. Five years later, we have the inevitable sequel, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, a riotously funny adventure that might surpass its predecessor.
The action picks up five years after the end of the first film when Bricksburg was visited by invaders from space for the first time. Since then, the city has become a hellish wasteland thanks to repeated attacks by the Duplo who wreck everything as fast as any master builder can create. The dystopian Mad Max landscape has been rebranded to Apocalypseburg and its residents have had to toughen up and adapt to this darker, more brooding reality. All that is except Emmet (Chris Pratt), who reminds as cheerful and sweet as before, in a place where only the meanest survive.
When the space invaders kidnap Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) and his friends, Emmet decides to rescue them with help from Rex Dangervest (Chris Pratt), an action-ready archaeologist who captains a spaceship crewed by velociraptors.
Meanwhile, Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie) and the others have been taken to the sistah system, a sparkling, rainbow-coloured place of musicals ruled by Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) who is planning a matrimonial ceremony to the Dark Knight. Can Emmet put away childish things long enough to save his friends and make everything awesome again?
Screenwriters Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wisely keep what worked from the first Lego Movie and ramp up the action with many extra layers of comedy. The jokes come thick and fast with too many sight gags to catch when first watched. The musical numbers are witty and as catchy as the first’s ‘Everything is Awesome’.
There’s plenty visually to entertain children and adults alike during multiple viewings. At the same time, the plot zips along at such a rip-roaring pace that the viewer could forget that anything else is happening onscreen. The pop cultural references take in everything from Mad Max, Planet of the Apes, to Twilight, Doctor Who and Terminator. The Lego Movie 2 gently mocks DC, Marvel, Disney and others in a loving tone similar to Warner Animation’s underappreciated gem from last year, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.
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Of course, the purpose here is a branding exercise designed to sell bits of plastic. But, the first film also contained a self-aware critique of corporate culture. The sequel takes aim at ideas of masculinity and femininity. This taps into a broader conversation and while parts of it are very well done, this theme feels shallow and not as subversive as it could have been. Still, the storytelling is engaging and eager to include its whole audience without talking down to younger viewers.
The first Lego Movie shouldn’t have worked. The sequel really shouldn’t either. Both films have managed to strike that perfect balance between creative quality and advertising. There’s lots to enjoy in the second Lego Movie with added beats, sparkles and jokes. Oh, and make sure to stay for the end credits. That song will totally get stuck in your head.