Lego Movie

⭐⭐⭐ averaged across 1 films.

tl;dr: The surprisingly complex and well crafted advertising franchise that launched a thousand imitators.



The Lego Movie 2

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

This film has a bit of an issue, which is that the ending of the first movie slightly infers that everything was just happening in a small child's imagination as a coping mechanism for an absent father. And then, the father starts being a better person. So, why would that kid go through all of that, again? And if they did, why would it be the same characters? Or are the toys actually alive? In which case, does that undercut the first movie?

Unfortunately, I don't feel like LM2 ever really settles on answers to those questions. The setup and reasoning behind the story are a bit weak, even if the third act does at least bring it back round to the real world again in a way that is still fairly heartwarming. But it never really attempts to explain how a sequel fits with the logic of the first movie, instead retreading a lot of the same thematic ground. Sure, it's no longer about the father, but the core here is still about family members not being particularly nice to one another, and a small child trying to cope with that reality. In fact, I'd say the whole time-travelling Emmett just confuses matters a whole bunch and heavily implies that the Lego people are, in fact, sentient, real, and stuck in a kind of dystopian hellscape from which they cannot escape. They don't have bodily autonomy in the same way that the toys in the Toy Story franchise do, but they do appear to be aware of their surroundings and are inferred to be able to care about one another, even lead their own lives. I mean, it seems like they're even able to at least interact with the material world, even if not through their "limbs". Honestly, the implications are not well thought out and, worst of all, that entire side plot is largely pointless. Emmett doesn't need to go through another journey of discovery in this film, so why force one in like this?

The first half is also overly obsessed with itself. The first movie contained plenty of sendups of pop culture, and the sequel does get to those when you reach the sister's bedroom, but before then it seems to just be parodying itself. Jokes from the first movie are reused and remixed, bits of that film are constantly referenced, and it's all just a bit one-note as a result. As I say, this massively improves when we get to see the sister's Lego world, which has some nice moments poking fun at DC and Barbie and various other brands, plus a lot of self-deprecating humour about Chris Pratt, which is pretty funny. I kinda hate the inclusion of the "for girls" style Lego and minifigs, but I guess they were bound to show up at some point and I do like that they don't make a huge deal about it.

Elsewhere, they try extremely hard to top Everything Is Awesome from the first movie in terms of viral, catchy pop, but whilst the songs aren't bad (though are a little out-of-the-blue at times), I find it interesting that despite creating a song deliberately designed to be as catch as possible as part of a plot point, I still left the movie humming the OG earworm 😅 In fact, a few weeks later and I can't even really remember the new song at all 🤷‍♀️

As for the cast, the returning characters are all still good fun. Batman is not used quite as well this time around, but he's still got some great lines. I really enjoyed Bennie the Astronaut's role, and the core cast are all fine. The new characters didn't quite land as well, though Richard Ayoade's grovelling, sarcastic right-hand-man routine completely won me over by the end of the film. I'm also always going to be a fan of the idea that Will Ferrell and Maya Rudolph are a couple in this universe (way to punch up, Ferrell 😉), though what the hell happened with the former here? Why is he just yelling lines off stage? Could they not get him in for filming or something?

The result is a perfectly fine movie which, despite some confusing and unnecessary plot threads, has a decently enjoyable second half and (in particular) closing act. There were moments that made me laugh and some excellent action sequences; the Lego animation effects are still endlessly clever and extremely well utilised. As sequels go, it could have been much, much worse. But it also could have been a lot better and, arguably, wasn't really all that necessary to begin with.

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