The LEGO Movie 2 Review
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
Dir: Mike Mitchell, Trisha Gum(co-director) | Cast: Alison Brie, Chris Pratt, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie | Writers: Christopher Miller (screenplay), Dominic Russo (story), Matthew Fogel (screenplay), Michelle Morgan (story), Phil Lord (screenplay), Raphael Bob-Waksberg (screenplay)
What a joyous and utterly silly romp this film is: a sequel to 2014’s blockbusting adventure, which demonstrates once again that - despite a Han Solo-shaped bump in the road - the dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller shows no signs of slowing down.
The brief peace enjoyed by Emmett (Chris Pratt), Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and the rest after the fall of Lord Business - Will Ferrell, largely incorporeal this time - is short lived: garish aliens from the Systar system have arrived to wreak pink and glittery havoc. Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (a shapeshifting alien voiced by Tiffany Haddish) plans to wed Batman and brainwash Emmett’s friends through the power of sparkly costumes and pop tunes. On his quest to save them, Emmett is aided by Rex Dangervest; a grizzled, chiselled action hero (read: a cheeky amalgam of Pratt’s various on-screen alter-egos).
After unilateral adoration from all sides (critics, children and inner-children alike) for the first instalment, reaching those heady heights again was a big ask. Rest easy: Lord, Miller and director Mike Mitchell have the answers: the same boundless, kaleidoscopic spirit shines as bright as ever, whether in the grotesquely candied realms of the Systar system or the Mad Max: Fury Road wastelands left in their wake (mutant babies have never been more adorable!).
Despite an album’s worth of earworm musical numbers (if you have children, your sleepless nights will soon be haunted by the repetitive melodies of ‘Catchy Song’), this is a broadly slapstick affair that makes ingenious use of every LEGO element under the plastic sun. Occasionally there’s a wander too far into the realm of pop-culture asides, with jokes aimed squarely at the adults sticking out awkwardly amongst the pratfalls and puns (fare such as Paddington accomplishes a smoother fusion of the lot). These seemed more at home in the LEGO Batman spin-off; a film relying heavily on any given viewer’s knowledge of the caped crusader (who, incidentally, still reigns supreme in the gag department). Plus, there’s cameos à go-go: who’d have thought the redemption of a particularly lacklustre turn in Glass would be found here amongst the bricks and pieces?
Environments, explosions and even the weather are brought to life entirely from the eponymous blocks once again - no changes have been made to the (quite literal) world-building, while the animation itself continues to evolve. A tilt-shift effect mimics the lens of a precisely-placed stop-motion camera, and the unbelievably fluid movements of metamorphosing matriarch Watevra Wa'Nabi are jaw-dropping - with digital construction this flawless, the likes of Illumination and even Disney have their work cut out.
With the series’ underlying metaphor firmly out of the bag and rampaging noisily around the room, the plot’s trajectory has all the subtlety of an upturned toy box. Yet the moral heart remains crucially intact: a central treatise on collaboration and tenderness seemed rather quaint and unnecessary in the halcyon days of 2014, but now - as we find ourselves surrounded by those who failed to learn the lesson - it rings truer than ever before. Predictable? Yes. Profound? Perhaps. Another hilarious celebration of friendship and imagination? Undeniably: everything is still awesome.