SP Review: 'The Lego Movie 2' is solid as a brick

Arts and culture reporter Brandon King gives 'The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part' 8.5/10 stars

I have a simple question to propose: How did we get here?! 

How did a timeline occur where a film called "The Lego Movie" turns out to be excellent, gets snubbed for an Oscar, creates a cinematic universe and then, just to add insult to injury, gets a sequel? To quote Hank Green, "The universe is weird."

In all seriousness, 2014's "The Lego Movie" was one of the biggest pleasant surprises in recent memory — a smart, charming and absolutely hilarious piece of sly product placement that earned the hearts of critics and fans alike (this guy included). 

Now, five years and two spinoffs later, the proper sequel to that film is here in "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," and the obvious follow-up question remains: Is this second installment worth a watch? I'm happy to report that it absolutely is, because "The Lego Movie 2" is another great piece of animation, perfect for families and, in some aspects, even more clever than its predecessor.

The sequel picks up with our ragtag band of Lego heroes, led by Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) and Wyldstyle, also known as Lucy (voiced by Elizabeth Banks), as they've won the day after the events of the first film. Their celebration is cut short as a new threat emerges: the enemy toys, called Duplo, have invaded the Lego world and begin to feed on any bright and colorful bricks they can find. 

The Duplo quickly defeat our heroes, forcing them to go underground for five years. Everyone is noticeably more grim and gritty in this new environment, except for Emmet, who continues to believe that everything will turn out awesome. 

Eventually, a commander of the Duplo, General Mayhem (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), breaks through the resistance's fortress and kidnaps Lucy, along with Batman (voiced by Will Arnett), MetalBeard (voiced by Nick Offerman), Unikitty (voiced by Alison Brie) and Benny (voiced by Charlie Day), all of whom she believes to be the "leaders" of the group. 

Building a spaceship, Emmet journeys to the Systar System, the home of the Duplo, and teams up with a mercenary named Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt). Together, the two of them must save the others and determine the true purpose of the Duplo, and their ruler, Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (voiced by Tiffany Haddish). 

The film's biggest strength is the same as what every Lego movie has had so far — an unbridled sense of creativity. 

"The Lego Movie" masterminds Phil Lord and Chris Miller return for script duties, while "Sky High" director Mike Mitchell takes the director's chair this time around, and the three of them imbue the film with almost constant jokes and visual gags that give this film the same fast-paced personality as the first film. Even elements that seem pandering, like cultural references and pop songs, have just a little extra effort put in to stand out in ways that legitimately impact the film. 

The cast of lovable and unique characters is back in the sequel, and they are all still delightful. Pratt not only gets more room to grow with the Emmet character, but also gets to play a witty pastiche of his own career in Rex. The same praise can be said for Banks, Arnett and newcomers Haddish and Beatriz, all of whom meld together to form an engaging collective who keep the film's fast pace manageable and fresh. 

Where the film feels most unique is in its themes, specifically on the filmmakers' desire to show the differences between how boys and girls play with toys, and the attitudes towards these differences. 

Without spoilers, there's a scene that explores those gender differences within the context of the film, and it works incredibly well. There are notions of how kids are influenced and communicate at that age, and I really respect the nuance presented here, where a lazier film might have just resorted to the idea that boys don’t like pink.

"The Lego Movie 2" is impressive, so to pick out anything negative is a bit difficult. You can't think "too" logically with a movie like this. But with the rules the film sets up, there are a few narrative choices that, the more I think about them, start to feel a bit shaky. In addition, as funny as this movie is — and you will laugh out loud with this movie, trust me — it didn't give me any fall-out-of-my-seat laughs the first one did. 

The basis of what I can say about "The Lego Movie 2" is you'll be pretty much on the same page as you were with the first film, with maybe a bit more or a bit less enjoyment. A lot of what gave the first film its identity is back this time, and it really is a blast being back in the world the two films create. 

If you somehow didn't get into the first film, maybe hold off on this one until you see the first. But overall, this film is a wonderfully clever piece of animation that deserves praise for making a seemingly terrible decision into a sandbox of fun and humor. 

Overall, I give "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" a rating of 8.5/10 stars.

Reach the reporter at brandon.D.King@asu.edu or follow @TheMovieKing45 on Twitter.

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