Saturday 9 February 2019

Film Review: The Lego Movie 2 – The Second Part

The latest brick in Lego's blockbuster franchise, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part fulfils its promise of delivering more of the same.

Back in 2014, The Lego Movie defied expectation to be a charming, colourful adventure for children and adults alike. With Chris Miller and Phil Lord at the helm, its gorgeous animation, insatiable energy and warm nostalgia for the joys of childhood was a welcome surprise to everyone expecting a cheap, uninspired toy advert.

In the five years since, the Lego series has served up two spin-offs (the great Lego Batman and the forgettable Lego Ninjago) to varying levels of success. This sequel, however, does justice to the acclaimed original with a narrative that is just as fun, wacky and meaningful as before.

Not long after vanquishing Lord Business (Will Ferrell) at the end of the first film, the core cast – Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), Unikitty (Alison Brie), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) and Benny (Charlie Day) – find themselves under attack from a mysterious alien force built from colourful Duplo. When everyone except Emmet is kidnapped by General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), it's up to our hapless hero to step up the plate and team up with the hunky Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) to save the day.

The big twist at the end of The Lego Movie was that everything was taking place in the imagination of a small child called Finn (Jason Sand), with his overbearing father taking the form of the villain. The Second Part does away with this facade – after all, you can't pull the same surprise twice. This time around the film is upfront about its human characters, with the Duplo invaders belonging to Finn's younger sister (Brooklynn Prince).

It's a clever and natural progression for the series, with the messaging pivoting from 'embrace your imagination' to the equally important 'sharing is caring'. Finn doesn't want his 'dark and mature' Lego metropolis (a Mad Max-inspired wasteland called Apocolypseburg) ruined with Bianca's glittery girl Lego, which allows for some really funny running gags around growing up and 'maturing'. It's an obvious core theme that works due to its simplicity.

Building on the popularity of 'Everything Is Awesome', The Second Part features a number of musical numbers, starting with a tweeny reprise of the aforementioned Oscar-nominated tune and culminating with a hilarious end credits track called 'Super Cool' by The Lonely Island, Beck and Robyn. Another highlight is 'Gotham City Guys', which sees Arnett's Batman struggle with inadequacy issues opposite Tiffany Haddish's character.

The animation is colourful, and noticeably less 'janky' this time around, with smoother motion – or maybe we're just used to it by now? Arnett's Batman continues to steal the show, while a dual role for Pratt is a clever subversion of his off-screen persona and other roles in Parks and Recreation, Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy. This level of meta-humour will bypass kids but keep adults chuckling along.

The Verdict: 7.5/10

While it doesn't have the same 'surprise factor' as the first film, this follow-up retains the same frenetic energy, breakneck pacing and self-referential humour. Recommended for anyone who enjoyed the first, with a lovely message for little ones.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is in cinemas across Australia from March 21.

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