When The Lego Movie hit cinemas in 2014, it was an innovative work in which writers/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller managed to push the boundaries of the animated cinematic experience.
Capitalising on the rising star of Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and building on the massive brand recognition of the legendary plastic blocks, they unwittingly unleashed a new franchise with unlimited possibilities.
The studio’s mistake since the first film, though, was assuming that the Lord/Miller combo would be a formula guaranteed to make future films work well. As each subsequent film has been released (The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie), that theory has been proven not to be the case.
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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is an attempt to break that mould – still with Lord and Miller’s writing at work in the script, but this time with director Mike Mitchell (Trolls, The Spongebob Movie) steering the Lego-ship. Without the magic touch of the pioneering duo at the helm, though, does the newest Lego mission capture the hearts of audiences like the first ‘awesome outing’?
Emmet’s Quest to Save His Friends from “Armamageddon”
For those who can remember the conclusion of the initial adventure, Emmet (Chris Pratt) and his friends were left with little time to celebrate their survival of Lord Business’ (Will Farrell) reign, and the Duplo Aliens invaded Bricksburg leaving us to wonder what would become of our heroes.
In The Second Part, Emmet, with his new found fame and abilities, attempts to broker peace with the new intruders by offering a heartfelt gift. Even though the brick monsters initially accept the token, they quickly decide to eat it, and set out to find more, which Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) sees as an attack. Her assault on this new threat leads to all-out warfare. The once prosperous and energetic Bricksburg is levelled and becomes a Mad Max-inspired dystopian wasteland called Apocalypseburg.
Fast forwarding five years into the future, Emmet hopes to return their once idyllic society back to its former ‘awesome’ glory, but Lucy focusses on maintaining the dark stronghold they have against their enemies. Their once cheery land and citizens have become hardened and developed a more ‘mature’ attitude toward life.
“Kids may wonder who Bruce Willis is and why he gets so many cameos, but his inclusion will bring a smile to even the harshest critics.”
When the Duplo Police Officer Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives in their land and proclaims that Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) of the Systar System wants to marry the current leader of their wasteland, the people fight back. Then after a quick defeat, Batman (Will Arnett) and others are taken to the distant planet for the caped crusader to be wed to the alien leader, with Lucy being the only one who resists this wedding.
While Emmet is left behind in Apocalypseburg, he must do all he can to get to his friends before the ceremony and stop the impending “Armamageddon” (no, that’s not a typo), with the added help of the rugged adventurer Rex Dangervest.
Slapstick Fun for Kids, Clever Jokes for the Grownups
All of the beloved characters come back for this follow-up to the original and the formula is soundly in place to the next chapter. Even though the focus still remains on Emmett, Lucy and Rex, the supporting cast provides the needed freshness to keep this franchise alive. The writing may not be as innovative as the first Lego journey, but there are enough twists and musical numbers to make this a solid sequel.
Children will enjoy the slapstick styling of the comedy, while parents will appreciate the jokes that are clearly written for their benefit. Kids may wonder who Bruce Willis is and why there are so many cameos from this bald figure, but his inclusion will bring a smile to even the harshest critics.
This chapter may not capture the magic of the first outing, but it is still better than stepping on a Lego brick in the dark. The life lessons around self-awareness do seem quite mature for the target audience, but the overarching story will keep the young ones’ attention. While less snappy than the original, it’s a fun option for families this season.
Reel Dialogue Junior Squad Rating: 4.5 stars
Junior reviewers Lydia, Charlotte and Micah sit squarely in the target market for this film and have extensive knowledge of the world of Lego. The sibling trio loved every aspect of the production: the humour, the animation and especially the multiple twists. Being fans of the first film and especially The Lego Ninjago Movie, this new Lego adventure gets the full endorsement of the Reel Dialogue Junior Squad.
Nice work Lydia, Charlotte and Micah. A McDonalds meal has never been so enlightening!
Article supplied with thanks to Russell Matthews at Reel Dialogue. Russ loves film, and engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He works for City Bible Forum, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse, and you can find all of his film reviews on Reel Dialogue (reeldialogue.com).