Is everything in ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ as awesome as the first?
After five years of anticipation, the awesomeness is back with the long-awaited sequel, “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.” In what could easily be a shameless 90-minute toy commercial, 2014’s “The Lego Movie” became one of the biggest surprises to hit movie screens in recent years, as this heartfelt, witty and creative film connected with audiences and critics like none quite have before.
The legacy left by it already left a significant mark on the industry by starting its own franchise with the spinoffs, “The Lego Batman Movie” and “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” Though it seems that every corner we turn, another popular toy or game is turning into an animated film. From Angry Birds, Troll Dolls, Barbie and even Playmobil receiving (usually crummy) cinematic adaptations. With such an impact, it’s no wonder the sequel has a lot to live up to — but does it meet those expectations?
The film, taking place five years after its predecessor, shows our characters in a post-apocalyptic world caused by the destruction left by an invading race of girl toys from the dreaded Systar System. Things get even more troublesome, however, when Emmett’s friends are captured by the invading race and taken to the suspiciously kind Queen Watevra Wa-Nab. Now Emmett must team up with the daredevil Rex Dangervest and learn to leave his naïve ways behind to save his friends and his world.
In many ways, the film feels like a natural continuation of the first film, which both benefits and hurts it at the same time. The framing device present in the original of a child playing with their toys is more focused on in the sequel, which helps in making this side of the story more fleshed out. The thematic weight of the film is at its core here, much like its predecessor and the fact that they don’t treat as a surprise this time feels appropriate.
Don’t be deceived, however, the series of events in the animated world
The visual creativity on display is another beneficial element that has leveled up from the first film. The Lego aesthetic utilized to visualize and express this world is remarkable, with everything from the grand worlds to the subtle effects being made to replicate Lego pieces. The film imbues its self-aware humor into the animation as well, particularly the scenes when the Legos interact with the real world — which may remind viewers of “Team America: World Police.” The character animation is exceptionally creative, with the highlight being the work done on the energetic, shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa-Nab.
Despite all the positive elements, the film ultimately lacks the freshness of its predecessor in both a narrative and presentation sense. Any weaker plot points from the first movie were disguised by the innovation in its presentation and tone. But in the sequel, any predictable elements are more transparent. In particular, a villain is introduced in the film that is easy to see coming from a mile away once introduced, and from here, the remaining structure of the film’s plot is obvious.
If such plot elements as these were made to be satirical, it would be more entertaining. Yet the film treats it as a truly jaw-dropping reveal, leaving the core concept feeling flat by the end. Similarly, the themes presented are lacking — not only because of its repetition from other animated films, but also due to the uneven balance of comedy and drama, which feels rough at times.
In the end, “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is still a largely fun, creative and joy-filled movie that is sure to entertain. Despite its weaker plot elements feeling more ill-balanced and easy to spot than the original, there is still enough heart thrown into the final product to make for a worthy enough follow up. Regardless of its flaws, this is still a solid film and a great start for animation this year.