So, The Lego Move was a bit of a surprise when it landed back in 2015. There’s a tendency for these films (film adaptations of popular things; see Angry Birds and The Emoji Movie) have a tendency to be cloying, brain dead activities in endurance, that only those with half a brain cell (or under the age of 5) could extract any entertainment from.
The Lego Movie changed this however; it brought on board some film-makers with some comedy pedigree, who wrote a script brimming with charm, character and copious amounts of in-jokes.
It was then followed a few years later by the Lego Batman Movie, a film I found so incredibly fun that I named it in my Top 10 of that year, so safe to say Lego Movie 2 had some big boots to fill.
Immediately after the defeat of President Business at the end of the first film, a group of Duplo figures invade Bricksburg, turning the once-mighty utopia into an apocalyptic wasteland. During this time of hardship a new threat arrives and kidnaps the master builders and it’s up to Emmett to rescue them all.
One thing that stuck with me about the first film, and is still prevalent here, is the oceans of charm the film possesses. Every character is crafted lovingly with enough humour to entertain the very young to the very old, there’s the simple jokes for the younger audiences, and the deeper reference humour in there for the eagle-eyed adult.
The dialogue is another thing that stood out from the first few films, they are scripted with the aspirations of a high-concept film, rather than a brightly-coloured film essentially made for kids. The script is densely packed with meta humour and in-jokes, which in itself presents another challenge for there is a fine line for this sort of humour, and leaning on it can be somewhat of a crutch, however this film, and its predecessors skate around the edges gracefully, never leaning on it enough to be pretentious and providing enough fun for everyone involved.
Since the first film there has been a change in director but not much of a change in direction, if you get my drift. The script-writers remain the same; Lord and Miller return to provide their magic in the screenplay department but it is Mike Mitchell who takes the directorial reins this time around. This gives us enough focus on the tone from the first, but perhaps some fresh visual flair brought to us by Mitchell.
For what its worth, the animation of the Lego Movies is phenomenal, crisp and detailed, the closer you look the more detail you discover, like a magic eye picture, everything conceivable is rendered in Lego, and the levels it goes to to properly present the construction toy that inspired it is awe inspiring.
This gives it a feel of a film spreading its elbows to a wider scope, including other Lego lines such as Duplo and Lego Friends that the success of the first film afforded them, but in widening the scope you lose a certain amount of focus, and thus, the threat doesn’t feel as tangible second time around.
The sense of adventure branching through many different lands and characters remains, but the tight plotting of the first is lost somewhat by the less-focused antagonists. However, this is made up for by a few incredibly smart twists in the final act, that are telegraphed well enough if you look closely, but still enough of a surprise to take you by surprise first time around.
The idea and execution don’t feel as ‘fresh’ per se, but they hardly needed to. The first film broke the mould, this was there to expand what was already there, add in an eager voice cast and an incredibly catchy soundtrack and you’ve got yourself all the makings of an incredibly enjoyable film.
What this film does, as well as the previous ones, is capture a feeling of childlike nostalgia, even if not for Lego then for all the characters it packs into its smorgasbord of a character list, with subtle jabs at other franchises for good measure, the Lego film franchise has yet to take its eye off the ball, and there is creative ideas enough to carry on this franchise in new directions for years to come, and long may it continue.