Seven years ago Battleship served as the nail in the coffin for movies based on toys that weren’t the Transformers. Fast forward two years later where The Lego Movie exceeded everyone’s expectations crafting a funny, fast and touching story around a commercial. Also known as the opposite of Space Jam. Too bad it didn’t impress the Oscars, but is anyone taking that ceremony seriously these days? After experiencing life’s ups and down like winning a Golden Globe for Into the Spider-Verse and leaving Solo to it’s financial fate, writing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller are back on paper to continue from the cliffhanger of that little brick city in the basement.
With the son having freedom to play with all Legos comes the consequences of having his younger sister intrude on Taco Tuesday. Five years later Emmett (Chris Pratt) is still the happy go lucky simpleton compared to everyone’s tough and gritty personalities, including his partner Lucy (Elizabeth Banks). When a spaceship, led by General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), kidnaps Lucy and friends ranging from Batman (Will Arnett), Benny (Charlie Day), Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie) and Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) Emmett suits up for a rescue mission to the Sistar System. Bumping into the chest chiseled Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) he might just learn a thing or two about toughening up with the times.
There are plenty of sequels that either rehash old ideas and themes to make a quick buck and those that stray too far from its own spirit. One of them being last year’s Wreck-it-Ralph 2 which traded its unique arcade world for a stale take on internet culture. This however expands on the first movie with both ideas and imagination. On the execution alone it’s a better Jurassic Park sequel than last year’s Fallen Kingdom. With the minds of two kids, nothing is left in the toy box in how the two perspectives clash to bring out the best and worst of the siblings. There’s a natural evolution with the characters and where the story goes involving change since a lot of people can relate to one particular theme of growing up. Do you succumb to peer pressure to impress others or stay true to what really makes you happy? Somethings are timeless no matter what new fad or trend society follows. If that’s not your cup of tea, there’s plenty of musical numbers that finally elevates Warner Brothers Animation to the same level as the Disney Renaissance on their own turf. There’s no jukebox filler here. Just songs with every lyric and beat having a connection to the story and showcasing a new characters feelings and desires. Something that Smallfoot was really lacking. Though I’d advise taking some earplugs just in case one particular number stays true to its title and really infects your ears in a catchy way.
The animation still mimics the sadly fading stop-motion style only this time there’s less frame-rate drops and, as stated before, there’s a lot more creativity than in the original with the world, the villain (Tiffany Haddish) and the musical numbers. If there aren’t any vibrant colors, the world still makes up for it with the layout, intense set pieces and dance choreography that would bring Gene Kelly back from the grave. Throw in the signature Lord and Miller fast paced jokes from pop culture to carefully timed slapstick along with some surprising voice cameos, and the laughs never stop coming.
Now the downside is it gets complicated connecting reality with fantasy in how the scenarios play out with two kids. The story not only pushes the boundaries of the ideas, but also the location which might be too hard to process on a second viewing. After going back and watching the first, everything made sense in context once the curtain wasn’t hiding anything. Here it’s still puzzling on how the siblings pull off certain stunts in real life. That and the twist at the end doesn’t leave as big of an impact. But that’s more on being written into an impossible corner to top. And on a side note after watching so many current Disney movies lampoon a certain cliche, it’s surprising to see one of their competitors embrace that cliche with open arms without anyone bringing it up on social media. With so many improvements on every level, the inevitable smaller pay-off doesn’t affect this too much. But if that’s all the damage this next installment took, then it was still worth it.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part doesn’t have as big an impact with the ending compared to the original, but it’s a great companion piece if not equally matched. The story has some very timeless themes and messages, the musical numbers progress everything surrounding it with a catchy beat, and the animation is a step up with the imagination and the detailing. It’s different enough to stand on its own, yet similar enough to be both a worthy sequel and a contender as one of the best animated film of 2019. If you loved the first movie, check it out and see if these moving bricks still have the awesomeness to impress you a second time.