Spoiler warning: this assessment reveals essential ending particulars from the unique 2014 Lego Film.

Probably the most revolutionary, daringly completely different hit initiatives face two main downsides: the backers are going to need sequels, and the extra distinctive a challenge is, the upper the problem degree on that sequel. Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 2014 blockbuster The Lego Film is a wonderful living proof. The whole thought of a Lego-based film seemed just like the baldest, most mercenary toy-commercial setup for a movie that product placement gurus may probably think about. However Lord and Miller turned it right into a meditation on creativity and childhood pleasure, with a aspect order of side-eye at some large, well-worn fantasy tropes, just like the prophesied “chosen one” hero. And so they wrapped all of it in a stunningly fast-paced joke-delivery system, constructed round startlingly elaborate animation, and pegged to an inescapably catchy tune.

So how you can observe up on a movie that created a world, then upended it by revealing on the climax that it wasn’t what audiences thought it was? There’s the usual sequel toolkit: “Go greater, louder, and easier.” There’s the complete-pivot technique that the Lego Film spinoffs The Lego Batman Film and The Lego Ninjago Film took, by specializing in completely different characters in the identical setting. After which there’s the Harry Potter / Toy Story playbook, the place the creators attempt to let their franchise develop up a little bit alongside its viewers, utilizing the identical characters, however darkening the tone and reaching towards extra mature themes. As writers and producers (although Shrek Without end After’s Mike Mitchell has taken over directorial duties), Lord and Miller nudge towards that final choice — form of. With The Lego Film 2: The Second Half, they let the story develop up. However within the course of, they make enjoyable of “rising up” tales, simply as they made enjoyable of “chosen one” tales within the first go-round.

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The Lego Film introduces Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), an odd little Lego dude who’s completely common, other than his obscenely chipper demeanor and his inexplicable position as “the Particular,” a prophesied savior for his threatened Lego world. When a mysterious drive threatens his city of Bricksburg, he saves the day — within the course of revealing that his world and its story are a recreation being performed out within the human world by a boy named Finn, who’s being artistic along with his dad’s in depth Lego units. Because the movie ends, Finn is joined by his child sister Bianca, who desires to play, too. Abruptly, Finn’s Lego world is threatened by Bianca’s toys, a sequence of crude, baby-voiced creatures constructed from Lego’s toddlers line, Duplo.

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Lego Film 2 briefly takes up on the precise second the place the primary movie left off, with the “aliens” from “the planet Duplon” smashing their method by Bricksburg. Then the motion leaps 5 years ahead, as grim heroine Wyldstyle, aka Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), explains that since something remotely shiny or brilliant attracts the invaders’ consideration, Bricksburg has turn out to be a darkish, gritty post-apocalyptic dystopia as a type of protection. Varied figures from the primary movie, together with Unikitty (Alison Brie) and the pirate Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), have taken on grimmer, butcher personas, although spaceship-crazy astronaut Benny (Charlie Day) appears just about unchanged. (Will Arnett’s Lego Batman was all the time apocalypse-ready, although he does must take a stressed-out second to elucidate why Robin and Batgirl from The Lego Batman Film have vanished, supposedly to please the followers preferring Batman as a sullen loner.)

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Picture: Warner Bros.

Emmet is equally unchanged, and accepts the apocalypse along with his ordinary upbeat obliviousness. That severely offends Lucy, who desires him to develop up and go darkish with the remainder of the world. Then a mysterious invader kidnaps Lucy and the remainder of the crew, and Emmet has to hunt assist from a reckless badass named Rex Dangervest with a view to turn out to be robust and severe sufficient to save lots of the day.

The Lego Film had its notable flaws, significantly the best way it launched Wyldstyle as a world-beating badass, solely so Emmet may casually surpass, rescue, and win her. However Lord and Miller whisked the movie so rapidly and joyously from Lego world to Lego world, highlighting creativity, shade, and good cheer, that it was unattainable to fixate on anyone plot level or character portrayal for lengthy. The visible and verbal gags got here at a staggering if-you-blink-you’ll-miss-something fee, as if making an attempt to maintain viewers overwhelmed and hypnotized. The sequel really slows down the story a bit, with a decrease jokes-per-second fee and a little bit extra time for contemplation. However as a substitute of creating the brand new movie smaller or duller, it leaves room for a little bit extra sophistication. The sequel’s greatest gag isn’t a one-liner or a one-off, it’s subtly and basically constructed into the story.

The place the primary movie withheld the massive meta reveal for the tip, Lego Film 2 foregrounds it, with out expressly spelling it out. The whole film is a push-and-pull between Finn and Bianca, between the imaginations of a surly teenage boy and an brisk younger lady. Finn’s tastes push Bricksburg towards its ruined apocalypse state, the place the residents brood over the wreckage brought on by Bianca’s hyperactivity and pleasure. However in addition they embrace it, with a sullen type of pleasure in their very own ferocity. In the meantime, Bianca’s extra emotion-driven, chaotic type of play fills the town with exploding hearts and stars that talk with toddler voices. Her contributions to the make-believe world break down order and introduce a random chaotic aspect.


Picture: Warner Bros.

And Bianca introduces a brand new character, the perpetually shape-changing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, voiced by Tiffany Haddish. The queen’s identify, pronounced “No matter I wanna be,” is an open announcement that Bianca is taking part in with out limits, embracing no matter whim strikes her fancy, and shifting type to suit the second. That lack of construction comes throughout as erratic and unpredictable for the characters caught within the story, however for the viewers, it’s a blast.

Probably the most spectacular factor about The Lego Film 2 is that it doesn’t clarify any of this outright. The motion does periodically pull again to indicate what’s occurring in the actual world, to elucidate why sure issues occur in Emmet’s Lego actuality. (It’s a bit just like the shifts between a toddler’s playtime and the imaginary world the toys are experiencing within the Toy Story motion pictures, besides that each one the Toy Story characters are conscious of and love their human proprietor, whereas many of the Lego characters are unaware of the human forces shaping their lives.) However there’s by no means any outright narration or exposition to make clear how Finn and Bianca’s sibling rivalry is shaking the Lego world. It’s left for viewers to select up on their very own, as a rolling meta-joke that offers the complete story an added degree.

However the gag that the entire story is only a recreation for a few kids performs out on a 3rd degree as nicely, and that one has a little bit poignancy. Once more, with out expressly spelling out her emotions, Bianca appears to resent that Finn is getting older and fixating on “mature” video games — that’s, the grim-n-gritty, humorless, dour tales which have been such a supply of battle in comics and movies ever since Watchmen and The Darkish Knight Returns. And that performs out of their shared fake narrative, as Emmet tries to “develop up” to please Lucy, and finds some main clichés standing in the best way. The movie winds up making enjoyable of each the grim-n-gritty motion and the complete thought of maturity, which it presents as rather a lot much less enjoyable than childhood innocence and unselfconscious play.


Picture: Warner Bros.

A lot of Lego Film 2 operates on the identical degree. Viewers are always in on the meta-humor that the characters miss, from the various jokey voice cameos (together with Jason Momoa reprising his position as Aquaman) to the aware calculation of a dance-music tune known as “Catchy Track,” which incessantly repeats the road “This tune’s gonna get caught inside your head!” When Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi sings a closely ironic tune known as “Not Evil,” the place she unconvincingly guarantees she isn’t a villain, the film reaches a degree of tongue-in-cheek the place it’s gloriously unattainable to inform who’s really being honest.

And that degree of playfulness finally ends up making Lego Film 2 a powerful expertise, even when it could’t stay as much as its predecessor’s surprises and improvements. The brand new movie hits most of the identical beats, from Mark Mothersbaugh’s bouncy electro-score to among the identical character gags. (Batman: nonetheless extraordinarily into his personal hype. Benny: nonetheless extraordinarily into spaceships. Lucy: nonetheless fairly naggy and insecure about whether or not different folks see her as sufficient of a badass.) Its always altering and rebuilding world remains to be startling, however other than the dazzling work on Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi, a variety of the novelty is gone at this level. The closing-credits tune that includes Robyn and The Lonely Island is hilarious, however little greater than an add-on after the meat of the film is over. On the floor, Lego Film 2 is smaller and fewer bold than the sequence’ kickoff movie, and it’s much less frantic and humorous as well. It has fewer implausible worlds, and fewer to find in them.

However seen as a story that always operates on each an journey degree and a meta-level, as a practical thriller and a satire of its personal style, it’s a stunningly good, wry challenge. It’s acceptable {that a} film about development toys is so solely dedicated to deconstructing acquainted heroes-and-villains tales, and {that a} film about youngsters taking part in would spend a lot time taking part in with style. Identical to the primary Lego Film, the sequel goofs round with always shifting varieties, and the themes of creativity and creation. It finally ends up feeling like greater than an compulsory cash-in: it builds a complete new layer on high of the Lego Film foundations.

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