This week saw the release of the long-awaited sequel to 2014’s surprise hit The Lego Movie, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. I love the first Lego Movie, and unlike some, I wasn’t surprised when it turned out to be great; the marketing leading up to its release was appealing, and you could tell how creative and self-aware it was going to be. That being said, I was caught off guard by just how much I enjoyed it and how personal the message felt. The animation, voice acting, and even the general concept of the story were all great. It’s that rare movie where I didn’t have any major gripes, and even the nitpicks were few and far between. When they announced a sequel, I had mixed feelings because, while they could do just about anything with this concept, I didn’t feel like it was necessary to continue the story. In fairness, the ending of the first film does sort of beg for a sequel, similarly to the end of the first Incredibles movie, and there have certainly been more unnecessary sequels announced and produced. Part of it is also just that I really didn’t see how they could match the first one in terms of heart, humor or creativity. Let’s take a look and see if they managed it after all.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part opens with a callback to the first one’s ending, with Finn’s sister’s toys invading Bricksburg. President Business and Lucy/Wyldstyle both want to attack these alien invaders, but Emmet tries to make peace with them instead. At first, it seems to work, but we ultimately jump forward five years, and Lucy introduces us to the dystopian wasteland we’ve seen in the film’s trailers. While Lucy broods and Batman hides in an underground fortress, Emmet lives his life as though nothing has changed, ordering sugary coffee and singing along to his favorite pop songs. Lucy tells Emmet that things are no longer awesome, and he needs to stop pretending and grow up. Their discussion is interrupted when the shiny, pink invaders return and kidnap Emmet’s friends, including Lucy. Emmet decides to build a spaceship, go to the Systar System and rescue his friends; initially, this doesn’t go well, but Emmet is saved and then joined on his mission by a tough guy named Rex. However, all may not be as simple as it seems, and things quickly become muddled once they reach their destination.
Once again, Chris Pratt is likable and nuanced as Emmet, a character who could so easily have become too ridiculous to sympathize with. This time around, Pratt also lends his voice to Rex Dangervest, Emmet’s savior, character foil, and new best friend. I did wonder early on in The Lego Movie 2 if Rex was also voiced by Pratt, but he does an excellent job at distinguishing the two, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people don’t notice. There’s a surprise with this character, and again, while I thought I had it figured out about halfway through, the reveal did end up surprising me. Elizabeth Banks is pretty good as Wyldstyle, though, to be honest, it’s not a terribly demanding role, and most actresses could probably provide a serviceable performance. Of course, Will Arnett is funny, charming, and all-around awesome as Batman, and I quite enjoyed the other Justice League members as well. Will Ferrell and especially Liam Neeson’s roles are both much smaller than in the first movie, but The Lego Movie 2 offers plenty of new characters in their stead, and Ferrell’s scenes are hilarious. Stephanie Beatriz is fun and, ultimately, surprising as General Mayhem, but Tiffany Haddish’s Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi takes the crown for best new character. Maya Rudolph plays the kids’ previously unseen mom, and she doesn’t have much to do to begin with. Her scenes are funny, but there’s one bit where she steps on a Lego, and while it’s a funny idea, her movement and the way they shot the scene make it feel surreal and unnatural. There are simply too many characters and cameos in this film to mention everyone, a feature it shares with its predecessor. That being said, I do want to say that Nick Offerman and Charlie Day are really funny as returning characters Metalbeard and Benny the spaceman.
Again, like the first film, The Lego Movie 2 is extremely inventive and exceedingly humorous. The interactions between the characters always feel organic regardless of the circumstances or how ridiculous the dialogue is. This film manages its tone really well, alternating between knee-slapping comedy and heart-warming interpersonal relationships and observations. While I still think the first Lego Movie is superior overall, I’m extremely pleased with how well they managed to keep the tone and style intact in the sequel. There are tons of references, jokes, and cameos present for adults to enjoy, and they never become overbearing or detract from the film’s own story and characters. The original music by Mark Mothersbaugh is quite good and suits the film’s changing moods quite well. The Lego Movie’s earbug, “Everything is Awesome,” became synonymous with the film itself, and The Lego Movie 2 is practically a full-blown musical, with multiple musical numbers. They’re all quite good and extremely catchy, but my favorite is probably “Not Evil,” performed by Haddish as the Queen, and you can guess what it’s about. It’s a fantastic sequence in general as well; Queen Wa’Nabi is revealed as a shapeshifter early on, and even in the film’s promotional materials, and suffice it to say, they take full advantage of the concept in this scene and throughout the film. The Lego Movie 2 is gorgeous to look at, and aesthetically, I actually like it a bit more than the first one.
I won’t spoil it here, but The Lego Movie 2’s theme is really interesting. It didn’t resonate with me personally as much as the first film’s message, but it’s definitely something to think about, and it more than justifies the movie’s existence as more than a cash-in on the first’s success. This is a franchise that constantly has to prove itself; first, to prove that you can make a movie about Lego blocks that has a self-sustained, entertaining story, then, to prove that the individual characters are interesting enough to have their own films (The Lego Batman Movie, which I liked, but less than either of the main Lego Movies), and now that the first story warrants continuation at all. I didn’t see last year’s The Lego Ninjago Movie, and honestly, it interests me the least of the bunch. That being said, I might just check it out because this has proven to be a series they’re willing to invest actual effort and talent into, and that’s easy for me to appreciate.
Overall, The Lego Movie is still the best of the Lego films that I’ve seen, but The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is an excellent follow-up. This film manages to carry over the wit, sincerity, and charm of the first effortlessly and with few bumps. A couple of the actors’ performances didn’t impress, me and I didn’t find the story quite as poignant as the first one, but nonetheless, I really enjoyed The Second Part, and I would definitely say everything is, indeed, awesome.