Review: The Lego Movie 2

Review: The Lego Movie 2

by Alan Grant
article from Wednesday 20, February, 2019

WHEN THE EDITOR of ThinkScotland asked me to review The Lego Movie 2, he added that we are fortunate enough to attract a readership that includes a fair number of parents. The point of this aside was that I should keep this in mind when reviewing this second instalment of the Lego Movie franchise; and so, not being one to rebel against sound editorial advice, I will.

With this being the case, I think there are three ways in which I can offer some useful comment on the animated adventures of Emmett, Wyldstyle, Lego Batman, and pals; each aimed at a different audience. 

Therefore, this review contains three different perspectives: as an adult taking children to the movie, as a children’s film in its own right, and, finally, as something for adults. Hopefully, this will offer you whatever insight you may need when considering whether or not to part with your cash in return for a ticket.

The first POV, that of someone taking a child, or group of children, to see The Lego Movie 2 is the easiest. They’re going to sit there and be as mesmerised as they were when they saw the first Lego Movie in theatres. The cute characters, familiar plot beats, and references to the world of Lego will be more than enough to occupy them and there’s a good chance that they’ll enjoy the markedly original, and extremely catchy, songs.

Just buy their tickets, the treats they’re not normally allowed, and enjoy the two- and a-bit hours of pure kid fodder on the screen. However, it’s worth noting that it does feel a little long for a purely kids’ film and that, and some of the tension, might be a little bit much for some younger filmgoers, but it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker. Overall, it’s a safe bet to take the kids. 

Secondly, as a pure kid’s film, it does exactly what you would expect a film made by a brand that has kept generations of kids occupied for, well, generations to do. It’s fun, charming, and not overly patronising with its message. That is not to say that it won’t teach the little ones anything – it will; namely that of the importance of family, of welcoming change, and, most importantly, it being ok to not be ok sometimes – but it’s not going to batter them over their little heads with the lecture. Based on the giggles, and one cheer, that I heard from elsewhere in the cinema coming from youngsters – they were clearly enjoying themselves and that sample size is enough for me. It’s a great film for kids in its own right.

It would perhaps be prudent to revise my earlier stipulation; it is unwise to talk about The Lego Movie 2 as a film for adults but there is something in it as a film for the whole family i.e. while it is aimed at children, there’s something in it for older audiences. 

The plot picks up from the first Lego Movie and sees unlikely hero Emmett (Chris Pratt) living in a world that to a particular audience will be familiar with as a spot-on parody of Mad Max: Fury Roadbut still with ambition to rebuild the world. When the Lego world comes under attack Emmett must team up with a rugged adventurer (played by Chris Pratt in another great parody – this time of his entire career) to save his pals from an ominous ‘marriage ceremony’.Because this review will ultimately recommend that readers go see The Lego Movie 2 I can’t give much more of the story away without massive spoilers so it will have to suffice to say that for Emmett and his new pal it’s a race against time to save the day again. 

There’s so much for older audiences to like about The Lego Movie 2. The whole film is dotted with references to properties like the DC UniverseBack to the FutureLord of the Rings, and even subtle dig at Guardians of the Galaxy and the Terminator franchise, each of which land. The joke it has at the expense of Jurassic Park is particularly hilarious and the references to past, non-Lego incarnation of the caped crusader are bound to go down well.

The subtler humour is also really funny and anyone with a technical background will really enjoy how polished the film is. Additionally, when The Lego Movie 2 does go for its emotional and serious beats, they all work and there are parts that are genuine ‘punch the air’ moments and others will leave your genuinely moved. 

However, while The Lego Movie 2 would be great as a stand alone project, the number at the end of that title makes that impossible and up against the original Lego Movie it does come up just a little short. This is mainly a matter of storyline and editing. While the essentially ‘rescue the princesses and princes’ plot of the film is perfectly functional, and the Batman subplot is a real highlight… it’s just not as good at raising the stakes and keeping them there until the crucial moment as the first film.

There’s also a lack of a really good villain that makes the absence of Lord Business (Will Ferrell’s character from the first film) from much of the story really noticeable. Plus, the main thing that the first movie had going for it was how tight it was – there really wasn’t a wasted moment in the whole thing and, compared to it, the sequel is just a little bit flabby – especially around the second act which drags a bit. 

It also falls slightly short of the standards set by the first film in its thematic content. The original Lego movie had a really clever message about freedom and bottom-up democracy wrapped up in all the Lego silliness. Compared to that, the subtext of the sequel, while admirable, just doesn’t feel like it’s got as much to say. That’s not really a problem with the film itself rather than the context in which it finds itself. It should, however, be kept in mind that these criticisms are merely nit-picks aimed at what is a really solid animated feature that does come recommended. As the dark winter nights draw to their conclusion, you could do a lot worse than using one of them to go, sit in the warmth, and revisit the world of the Lego animated universe. It might not be as awesome as the first, but everything is still... pretty good.  

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