This post is in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures
It’s easy to see why The LEGO Movie may have been overlooked, given that it was an animated feature based on those interlocking blocks and yellow-faced minifigures interacting with popular IPs like DC, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. It seemed almost impossible that this could be a success. Yet, Phil Lord and Chris Miller turned a seemingly bad idea into something that was surprisingly good. In fact, it was very good. So good that it spawned two spinoffs and a sequel appropriately titled The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.
The thing with the sequel is that it no longer how those low expectations that were working against it like the original. And because the first was such a surprise there is an expectation for it to be bigger and better than the predecessor. While it definitely accomplishes the former, the slow start and convoluted plot prevent it from achieving the latter. But that doesn’t mean The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is entirely bad. Far from it. It still maintains a lot of the charm, hilarious rumination, and self-deprecation, with the additional catchy music and emotional stories.
The sequel takes place moments after the events of the first, where Finn (Jadon Sand) was finally allowed to play with his father’s LEGO world, but on the condition that he plays with her younger sister, Bianca (Brooklynn Prince). It was an exhilarating moment that was quickly shattered by one rule. And a revelation that came as a shock to Emmet (Chris Pratt), Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), UniKitty (Alison Brie), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), and Spaceman Benny (Charlie Day) when the world of Duplo came crashing in.
Flash forward five years later, and Bricksburg has been transformed into a desert wasteland called Apocalypseberg. Taking cues from dystopian set films like Mad Max: Fury Road, this new world is bleak, and everyone, including the battle ready cats and sewer babies, have hardened hearts. Well, not Emmet, who has kept his optimism and sunny disposition intact in the midst of all the brooding and toughness. This is seen is a troubling sign for those who have adapted to the new survival of the fittest climate.
However, Emmet is forced to toughen up when General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) captures his friends and crosses through the Stairgate to take them to the Sistar System where shape-shifting blocks Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) resides. Her plan is to marry one of Emmet’s friends in an effort to bring the two factions together in order to prevent the Ourmomageddon.
On his quest to rescue his friends, Emmet comes across Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt), who an amalgamation of Pratt’s characters from Guardians of The Galaxy, Jurassic World, Magnificent Seven, and even the rumor that he was to play Indiana Jones. Again, a fun way of the sequel continuing on being meta.
Whilst that is going on, Lucy is doing everything in her power to escape with her friends and save them from being brainwashed by Watevra Wa-Nabi, who tries to convince them that, despite her methods of bringing them to her world, she isn’t as evil as she appears to be. Going any further would be delving into spoiler territory. Just know that there is a lot more going on beneath the surface.
So the sequel doesn’t have that element of surprise from the first working for it. We know that this all takes place in the real world, and whatever the minifigs or whatever you want to call Watevra Wa-Nabi are experiencing is a reflection of what Finn and Bianca are experiencing. So Lord and Miller wanted to address something very different but also very real. Using those experiences, the film addresses the bonds of siblings and how they can be stronger together.
Of course, siblings don’t get along as parents would hope. Fights and shouting matches are often the causes of rifts and various ways of inflicting pain. Finn’s creations often clash with Bianca’s creations, thus causing the rift between the two to grow bigger. And soon the play on words could become a dangerous reality.
Unfortunately, there seems to be too much going on at once. While character motivations and goals are very clear, these plots do not gel together perfectly on screen as it does on paper. And there are times where this hurts the pacing. This is especially true when we have to be reminded that this takes place in the real world.
That being said, LEGO Movie 2 is still a lot of fun to watch. The animation really pops in the film. It finds even more innovative ways to transform and change shape to keep us fully engaged and entertained. Even for characters that have limited movements and blocks that can interlock in only so many ways, the shows audiences that are limitless possibilities to creating the worlds and stories with LEGOs.
The suburban home setting opens the door to new worlds. Quite literally. Stairgates can lead us to unexplored realms. Bianca’s Sistar System resembles a solar system diorama built out of LEGOS, while Apocalypseburg takes much of its inspiration from Escape From New York. And that is just inside the house.
More importantly, the film’s themes of the bonds of siblings are strong and should have no trouble resonating with anyone who has a brother or sister. In fact, this film is a celebration of that relationship. Here we see Finn’s growth to becoming a more mature and accepting person being projected onto the minifigures he has played with. Likewise with Bianca who projects her desire to play with her brother onto the characters that she plays with.
So maybe these stories conflicting with each other may be just another way of subtlety recognizing that sibling rivalry. Or maybe I am just overthinking it. Regardless, it is an inspirational message that should be able to get to anyone who has shared those experiences of having a sibling. Finn’s journey requires him to mature, and become more accepting of his sister and her creativity, whilst Bianca is just as creative of a storyteller and simply wants to play with her brother.
Coupled with that important message is the film’s self-awareness. Because it wouldn’t be much of a LEGO movie without it being meta in some way. Sure there are the self-deprecating jokes and pop culture references, but that idea really strikes a chord when the “Everything Is Not Awesome” song starts to play. It may have deconstructed everything that we know and love about the original song, but it is a reminder that everything isn’t awesome – and that’s okay.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is almost as good as the first. Lord and Miller bring us back to that colorful world that is full of nostalgia, self-awareness, and the importance of being creative. Along with the empowering message of maturity, acceptance, and the strength of siblinghood, it’s a sequel that expands the world of the LEGO movie in fun and inventive ways. But the pacing issues coupled with a slow start and an overly convoluted plot can make things a bit frustrating. Still, if we are patient, and wait for all of the pieces to fall together, we will see that this is a sequel that was worth the five-year wait. At least for those who love the original and its spinoffs.
Get tickets to #TheLEGOMovie2, in theaters February 8!