The LEGO Movie franchise still feels like one of the weirdest phenomenon in the modern film landscape. When the original film was announced, it was met with sneers and snarky comments about what the medium had come to. In many ways, it could have been the first example cynical audiences could point to when saying Hollywood ran out of ideas. However, when 2014 rolled around and the film released, the cinephile world did a 180. In fact, The LEGO Movie remains one of the most baffling snubs of the recent Academy Award history when it failed to receive a Best Animated Feature nomination.
However, in the years since The LEGO Movie, the Warner Animation Group proved it was not a one-off. The LEGO Batman Movie might be the funniest comic book movie ever, and remains a severely underrated film for understanding its character. In fact, we were so in love with it, one of the very first pieces for the site was focused on the film. This success may have skewed the curve, but that standard makes The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part that much more frustrating.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part picks up in the immediate aftermath of the first film. Emmett (Chris Pratt), Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and the team are celebrating when the Duplo Blocks show up. The two types of legos cannot get along, and when the Duplos destroy the city, our master builders retreat to Apocalypseburg. Emmett continues to dream big, accidentally summoning the return of the Duplos. This allows General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) kidnaps Wildstyle, Batman (Will Arnett), Benny (Charlie Day), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) and Unikitty (Alison Brie) for her leader Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). Emmett travels to save his friends, and on the way meets Rex Dangervest (also Pratt).
What drags The LEGO Movie 2 down the most are simple pacing issues. It feels like we spend way too long with the characters in the boring and dull Apocalypseburg. The homage to Mad Max is fun at first. However, it almost immediately loses steam, and the visual monotony seems to actively fight against the first film’s aesthetics. The bigger issue this presents is that it takes too long to get through this part of the story, and we do not begin to move towards the “Sistar System” until at least 25 minutes into the movie.
Once we get out of Apocalypseburg, the story actually plays out well. The story remarks heavily on the issue of growing up too fast, instead of enjoying things that are simply fun. It’s a little on the nose, but there are worse ways to convey the message. Emmett and his friends are enjoyable, and the visual humor might be one of the saving graces of the film. Whether we’re reading subtitles for Velociraptors, watching a Banana slip on itself, or watching characters transform, it seems to work. It is clear that the LEGO movies work best when they can play up the silliness of this world, instead of simply trying to tell funny jokes.
However, the movie also kneecaps itself on several occasions. While the first film saved the live-action footage of Will Ferrell (who is strangely absent from most of this movie) until the end of the film, we get a lot more live action footage this time out. While this does give us a good look at a slightly older Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project), she doesn’t get much to do. The scenes add little to the movie and feel like more of a distraction and disruptor than anything positive. This kills momentum the film has begun to build on at least two occasions and feels like a direct response to the first film’s perceived Oscar snub. Regardless of why its here, it doesn’t work.
The movie does get to have some real fun with its characters, and the one who stands out the most is Haddish. She’s bringing the most vocal energy to the role. The movie also does a good job at correctly identifying that Wildstyle is the actual hero, but her journey is far from trite. Instead, she has true struggles at points in the film, and this gives her an actual arc. Pratt gets some great homages to his film career, which the first film gave a big boost to in 2014. The new music, particularly “Catchy Song” from Dillion Francis, T-Pain, and That Girl Lay Lay is ridiculously fun. It is actually a legit successor to “Everything is Awesome,” a surprising feat.
Ultimately, the good parts really show off the promise the first film had in potentially launching a fun new franchise. However, the lows points make it nearly impossible to keep engaged. It never fully comes together without breaking up the forward momentum, and sadly that means it doesn’t work. Hopefully, the team at WAG can fix the problem before the next LEGO film hits theaters, but the joy needs to be found to ensure that we don’t waste the first half hour of the next film.
What did you think of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part? Does it hold a candle to the first film to you? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!