Though they relinquished directorial control to Trolls helmer Mike Mitchell, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the duo behind 2014’s The Lego Movie) are still very much coursing through the veins of this snappy sequel. Just as capable as delivering audience appropriate comedy to families (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) as they are to adults (21 Jump Street), Lord and Miller’s approach to the original Lego outing was shocking. Less shock in content and more in its surprising ability to drive a story from a toy line with enthusiasm, heart, and wit, the same can be said for this second go-around, although, almost to be expected, the freshness presented in the original is lacking.
With the first film ending on the abrupt note of Duplo blocks coming to supposedly invade the creative land of Bricksburg – which, for the uninitiated, is the representation of the film’s human pre-teen sibling characters combining their respective imaginative toy universes – The Lego Movie 2 moves us on 5 years to where the Bricksburg inhabitants exist in a desolate wasteland – think Mad Max (specifically Fury Road) – following the “alien invasion” of the colourful Duplo creations. Everything is not awesome (as the first film liked to convince us otherwise) as Bricksburg’s ever-optimistic hero Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) discovers, but goshdarnit if he isn’t going to try and turn things around so that they will be once more.
The arrival of a suited alien warrior known as General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) and her shapeshifting queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) promises peace to the surviving Bricksburg residents, but Emmet’s right-hand lady-friend Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) believes otherwise, and a war between the two worlds seems imminent. Hoping a ceremony between their people will result in harmony, Watevra Wa’Nabi seeks the matrimonial hand of forever bachelor Batman (Will Arnett), with their bizarre nuptials serving as the film’s climactic set-piece to which Wyldstyle and Emmet independently work towards stopping.
Just as random as the first film presented itself as, The Lego Movie 2 delights in its quirky cuts of pop culture humour and observations just as much as it does showcasing genuine heart. With the backbone of the original being young human Lego enthusiast Finn (Jason Sand) trying to get through to his father (Will Ferrell, here only returning in voice-mode), with him manifesting his father’s tyrannical temperament through the villainous President Business, here it’s the sibling rivalry between himself and younger sister Bianca (The Florida Project‘s revelatory youngster Brooklynn Prince). Their collective imaginations are what brings life and purpose to the likes of Emmet and Wyldstyle, and it’s Finn’s maturing age and Bianca’s colourful mentality that fuse together to create their world that’s pushing and pulling between their duelling creativity.
Whilst overall The Lego Movie 2 lacks the originality and surprise of its predecessor – and there are perhaps a few too many musical numbers (despite Haddish’s character throwing out some classic lines in her solo features) – there’s still delight to be found in its genuine hilarity. The voice casting are all terrific, with Pratt particularly enjoyable as both the endearing Emmet and the stereotypical action piece Rex Dangervest he meets throughout his journey, the latter character a spoof on the adventure-heavy roles Pratt has participated in the recent years of his career (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, and The Magnificent Seven) as well as a clever callback to his former “baby-fat” days of TV’s Parks and Recreation before his fitness regime transformed him considerably. The cameo voice appearances from the likes of Channing Tatum (as Superman), Jonah Hill (as an enamoured Green Lantern), and Jason Momoa (reprising his role as Aquaman) also provide an organic response of humour through their willingness to have fun; the best cameo though belongs to an 80’s action icon whose enthusiasm to poke fun at his serious persona provides one of the more genuinely hysterical joke-pieces likely to be seen on screen this year.
With the Lego film universe in danger of overstaying its welcome due to a duo of side-projects that have only half worked (The Lego Batman Movie can stay, The Lego Ninjago Movie not so much), The Lego Movie 2 is a joyous reminder of the potential this series has. Whilst it doesn’t match the original, there’s still enough sense and soul on offer to ease viewers who may be afraid the series is jumping the shark already. In short, everything is still awesome.
About The Lego Movie 2
The much-anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, global box office phenomenon that started it all, “The LEGO® Movie 2” reunites the heroes of Bricksburg in an all new action-packed adventure to save their beloved city. It’s been five years since everything was awesome and the citizens are facing a huge new threat: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, wrecking everything faster than they can rebuild. The battle to defeat them and restore harmony to the LEGO universe will take Emmet, Lucy, Batman and their friends to faraway, unexplored worlds, including a strange galaxy where everything is a musical. It will test their courage, creativity and Master Building skills, and reveal just how special they really are.
The Lego Movie 2 (PG) is screening in Australian theatres from 21st March 2019.