In 2014, most critics were pleasantly surprised by how Phil Lord and Chris Miller made the "The Lego Movie" more than the sum of its corporate parts. Now, two "Lego" spin-offs, a "Spider-Verse" and one-half of a "Star Wars" later, the duo written a sequel (Mike Mitchell of "Trolls" is taking up directing duties). Does it live up the high expectations they set themselves? Here's what the reviews have to say:
Five Years After The First Movie, The Duplo Invasion Has Turned The Lego World Upside-Down
Following the invasion of the Duplo bricks at the tail end of the first Lego Movie, Bricksburg has become a desolate shell of itself, redubbed "Apocalypseburg," where "Wyldstyle" Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) can brood and wear goggles to her gritty heart's content, the star of her very own Mad Max spinoff. Emmet (Chris Pratt), meanwhile, has remained unchanged by the hard times, and eagerly awaits the end of the instability that Lucy so relishes.
New conflicts arise when General Sweet Mayhem, an evil intergalactic mini-doll voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, shows up and kidnaps Lucy, Batman (Will Arnett) and the rest of the supporting cast. As our friends are transported to meet Tiffany Haddish's Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, Emmet embarks on a solo rescue mission and soon encounters the dynamic Rex Dangervest, who is a self-parody of Pratt's most famous live-action movie roles and an example of the guy who Emmet thinks Lucy wants him to be.
The Great Side Characters Are Back, But Will Arnett's Batman Gets More Love Than The Rest
A highlight of the film is watching Will Arnett's super serious little firecracker of a Dark Knight getting taken out of his dark, brooding element and singing a song about the many incarnations of the superhero from Adam West to Ben Affleck.
Batman isn't used as prominently as you might expect. Alas, they also sideline Benny, Unikitty, and Metalbeard, giving their returning actors with little to do beyond occasionally comment on the action[…] Plus, none of them really get a big cheer-worthy moment, which disappointed me; one of the first film's big highlights was Benny finally getting his spaceship – the sequel lacks that kind of crowd-pleasing triumph for him or any of the other supporting members.
The New Characters In 'The Second Part' Are Worthy Additions To The Cast
The Second Part shines brightest when it's introducing entirely new elements into the mix. Where the original stuck with classic Lego bricks, the sequel incorporates the Duplo and Lego Friends lines to build the Systar System, a pastel- and jewel-toned confection of a universe where buildings look like wedding cakes and seemingly everything (and everyone) is dusted with glitter.
Haddish's Queen is a delight, constantly changing her shape and trying to convince Lucy that she's not evil[…] Some of her cohorts are also wonderful inventions, particularly Richard Ayoade as Ice Cream Cone and Ben Schwartz as Banarnar, a clumsy banana who spends most of his screentime falling down, much to the delight of my son.
Chris Pratt Is Also Playing Rex Dangervest, A Prominent Character Who May Have Worked Better As A Quick Gag
Everything is not awesome, and there's even a new hero in town who's better suited to the times—a stubbled dinosaur trainer–spaceship pilot named Rex Dangervest. His voice actor? Also Chris Pratt.
Rex is basically a 90-minute inside joke referencing Pratt's own transformation from lovable schlub Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation (which is still how we knew Pratt best in early 2014), to the action movie star of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World movies. I can see why this choice would be appealing during the writing process, but an ongoing joke about an actor's career got tired pretty quickly. This is the kind of thing that might be funny as a throwaway joke, but the basis of an entire movie seems … a lot.
The Writers Are Firing On All Cylinders While Also Trying To Address Some Criticisms Of The First Movie…
Lord and Miller, who also produced the wonderfully clever and kinetic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse last year, remain completely unable to phone in an animated film. This is a project that's loaded with big ideas and worthy morals for its younger viewers, even if it has a little trouble streamlining them all into an easily digestible plot.
It tells a different story, builds off the arcs of the first film and even uses that initial success as a challenge to improve in a few key areas while also reading the room accordingly. Yes, it is a darker and grittier sequel, one that interrogates the simple wish-fulfillment fantasy of the first film while poking fun at the notion of grimdark sequels.
The script is breathlessly stuffed with self-aware jokes about plot tropes and Hollywood conventions, aimed more at the adults in the room than the kids, all with the intended goal of getting knowing laughs. (At least it appears that someone on the staff read up on Trinity Syndrome between films.) BoJack Horseman creator Raphael-Bob Waksberg is listed in the writing credits, and that self-aware-within-an-inch-of-its-own-life quality looks better on the depressed horse show than in the blithely absurd stop-motion-esque world of the Lego movies.
… Which, Along With The Movie's Story About Sibling Rivalry, Might Be Too Much For These Bricks To Support
The ultimate message is one growing kids (and maybe especially boys) need to hear, even if the path to that message gets a little convoluted. The characters are still pleasant to be around, even if we don't get to explore them as deeply as we did in the last film, and their meta jokes are still funny, even if we've heard a lot of them before.
The writing team gives a very authentic feel of what it's like to be a younger sibling who just wants to join in on playing with an older brother or sister they look up to and the inevitable bickering which may ensue.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part dials back the onslaught of eye candy and humor and dials up – way up! – the sentiment. To the point that, here I am watching a movie about LEGOs, and the whole thing felt a little preachy. During the first movie, I was watching a genuinely groundbreaking animated feature. This time, I was being lectured about why friendship is important.
I had a good time watching it, but I could always see the filmmakers just offscreen, holding up the big table the Legos were scattered across, sweating and straining to keep the whole thing from toppling over.
I'm not sure just how much more the studio can mine out of this concept that was once so brilliant. But happily, "The LEGO Movie 2" doesn't destroy everything the first worked so hard to build. It's just trying very hard to be exactly the same.