The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
Film review #357
Director: Mike Mitchell
SYNOPSIS: After Emmet Brickowski saved the world from Lord Business and the “Kragle”, strange creatures from the planet Duplo have begun attacking the Lego world. Five years on, the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland thanks to the constant attacks, and only Emmet seems to have not let this change him. When strange aliens from the Systar system kidnap Emmet’s friends, he heads into space to go and save them, and along the way meets Rex Dangervest, a veteran warrior who shows Emmet how to toughen up to face the horrors of the Systar system…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is a 2019 film and the sequel to the 2014 Lego Movie. The film starts right where the last one left off, with aliens from the planet “Duplo” have arrived in Bricksburg seemingly intent on destroying everything. Five years later, the constant attacks from these aliens has left the world in a post-apocalyptic state, as anything they try to build ends up being destroyed. In this new world, it seems all of the inhabitants and characters of the previous film have changed in order to adapt to this new world…all of them, that is, except Emmet, who is still his chirpy, optimistic, well-ordered self whose daily routine is seemingly unaffected by the chaos that is going on around him. Lucy attempts to toughen him up, but it seems to no avail. The opening scenes provide some good set-up, as well as establish some of the themes that the film will be exploring.The post-apocalyptic setting is obviously meant to parody Mad Max: Fury Road, and is a good place to show how characters have changed. I think the problem with this setting is that since Mad Max has such an iconic look and feel, as well as being an intense action film, it really is just too good to parody, and The Lego Movie 2 generally plays it as a straight parody without adding anything really special or creative, which is always going to render it underwhelming when comparing it to the source material.
When the aliens return again, they kidnap all of Emmet’s friends and take them to the Systar system for a wedding ceremony. Emmet is left by himself to build a spaceship and travel to the system to get his friends back. On the way, he is rescued by Rex Dangervest, an all-round action hero with a penchant for destruction and a spaceship crew comprised of dinosaurs. Rex teaches Emmet how to break – rather than build – things, and tries to get him to change and to stop being so soft. This again plays into the themes laid out at the start of the film, and explores them with a good amount of depth, while exploring the impact of this change on everyone and everything around him. Rex’s character arc initially starts him out as this heroic and super-cool action hero, but his character does develop some different dimensions as the film progresses as his methods and goals become increasingly more extreme than Emmet’s. His story however does feel a little muddled, and when his role switches near the end of the film it doesn’t feel like it has been built up enough and there’s not enough time for the viewer to adjust to everything that happens in the climax to make it feel very rewarding. The same goes with Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and all the new characters who have their roles shifted at the end, meaning that you struggle to get re-attached to the characters after the film has been setting them up in one way for the majority of the film only to reverse them near the end. Nevertheless, these are only minor concerns, and the story makes a good effort to build (pun intended) on the first film’s rather simple, but effective storyline, and add in some complexities and new struggles for the characters, while still making it easy to follow.
The humour in this film, like the previous one, comes at the viewer thick and fast, and there’s definitely plenty of laughs to be had. Whereas the first one played with and poked fun of mediocrity and tropes, The Lego Movie 2 builds up some more complex jokes and uses the established characters to drive the humour from time to time. Some of the humour is really quite clever and unexpected. The film sometimes breaks the fourth wall for some of its jokes, and while this can be fine, I think the film does it a bit too much, and it ultimately distracts from the story. There’s also a lot more of the cutting away to the “real world” where a brother and sister are fighting for control of the toys and this is what is causing the conflict in the “Lego world”. It’s a clever link to the Lego mantra as being toys that are fuelled by imagination, but the constant switching back and forth, especially at the end, does some harm to the sense of peril the characters in the Lego world face when it’s constantly showing them as just playthings playing out a brother and sister feud. There’s also the inclusion of musical numbers, which I don’t think were really necessary.
Overall, The Lego Movie 2 develops on the themes of its predecessor by providing the established characters with new challenges to face and a new world that requires them to change. It maintains the themes it sets out at the start and uses the development of the characters and their reactions to explore them with plenty of depth. The story itself does get a bit lost around the middle, and the climax doesn’t have the huge impact it should for numerous reasons, but these negatives don’t massively harm the enjoyment of the film, and it is still entertaining; featuring familiar characters but completely new challenges for them. The Lego Movie provided something original and new, and while this sequel can’t replicate that novelty, it carves out something new which, despite some shortcomings, is still a good film with plenty of entertainment.