Emmet and Wyldstyle are back in a vibrant, likable sequel that's just a little too ambitious for its own good. By William Bibbiani
The LEGO Movie was one of the biggest surprises in recent memory, a film which was obviously made to sell toys, but which also turned out to be sidesplitting, intelligent, and genuine. It's one of the best animated movies of the decade, but there's a downside to The LEGO Movie: it raised the bar so high that the sequel can't reach it.
It's not for lack of trying. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is an ambitious movie, with complicated storytelling techniques and thoughtful messages about growing up and opening your mind to new ideas. But the end of the first movie dropped into a bombshell that changed the way we looked at this series, and there were some unexpected side effects on the sequel.
The LEGO Movies aren't set in a fantasy world where everything just happens to be made out of LEGO. They're set in the imagination of a young boy named Finn (Jadon Sand), who used LEGOs to process his complex feelings about his overbearing father in the original movie, and now, in the sequel, uses LEGOs to cope with his little sister Bianca (Brooklynn Prince), who wants to play with his toys and always breaks them
That makes life hard for the inhabitants of Finn's inner world, like Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), who ̵
The sequel kicks off when General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) arrives and kidnaps Emily's other friends for a mysterious matrimonial ceremony, Emily and his ultra-cool new partner Rex Dangervest (Chris Pratt, again) to rescue them all, before they stand rt to like living in an adorable world of glitter, pop music and hunky vampires, ruled by Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish).
It's a great cast of wacky characters, and many of them are inspired creations. The crew of Rex's spaceship are all velociraptors who love tennis, for some reason. That's funny, dang it. And so are the wonderful new musical numbers, including one about why the evil queen is not evil and another that is open to the movie's closing credits. It's all very silly, likable stuff.
The problem is, The LEGO Movie 2 is trying to be more than that. A lot more. Mike Mitchell's film combines the stories of two childlike imaginations, and constantly reminds us that the animated world is just a symbol of a little girl stealing her brother's toys, so it's hard to get invested in either version of reality. The life-and-death struggles of the LEGO heroes are very dangerous to them, and Finn and Bianca's petty argument has been the same dramatic as his strained relationship with his father in the first movie.
Of course , many of the people watching The LEGO Movie 2 are kids who will not read much, and they will surely be used by the colorful set-pieces and whimsical gags. But the original LEGO movie succeeded in balancing a story with meta-humor and earnest emotions, and the sequel comes up with a little short.