de facto film reviews 3.5 stars

In 2014, Warner Bros. relaunched their long dormant animation division with the adventure comedy The Lego Movie. Based on the construction toys of the same name, the film completely exceeded everyone’s expectations and became something other than a ploy to sell toys. It’s a fantastic deconstruction of the Hero’s Journey that boasts beautiful animation, a perfect voice cast, and an effective message about creativity. After years of a sequel getting pushed back because of production problems, we finally have it in the appropriately titled The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.

Five years after Emmet (Chris Pratt) saved the Lego universe from President Business (Will Ferrell, in a much smaller role), invading Duplo aliens destroy Bricksburg to the point of no-reconstruction. Emmet and his girlfriend Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) are left to protect their friends from more attacks. But when a mini-doll named General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) invades, Lucy, along with Batman, Unikitty, Metalbeard, and Benny the Spaceman are taken prisoner by Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). Emmet must find the courage to journey beyond his home and rescue them with the help of a traveling spaceman named Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt).

The main worry going into this movie was the amount of production troubles it went through. In the five years between The Lego Movie and this one, it went through many rewrites, a few changes in directors, and the off-and-on involvement of original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Not to mention committing one of the biggest sins in the film industry: changing directors during the filming process. With so many problems, it’s easy to see why hopes were weary for this follow-up. So did it live up to the amazing first film?

While it slips a few times, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is still pretty awesome. It’s pretty hard to live up the first film, and for the most part, this one really acknowledges it. Unlike most sequels, this one doesn’t try to copy the formula of the first film. It pretty much stands on it’s own, telling it’s own story with it’s own characters and it’s own message. And through all this, it never once tries to lazily duplicate the first movie.

However, the story of this one is, as most critics are calling it, not as fresh and funny as the first film. It follows it’s own formula, choosing to be an ambitious science fiction film rather than a fantasy adventure. While its attempts to parody clichés of the genre payoff for the most part, the jokes just don’t land as well as the first film. It’s still pretty funny, and it’ll have people of all ages laughing, but not as much as before.

Aside from that, this film still has all the things from the first movie that people loved. For one, the voice cast is still on point. Pratt proves once again that he has the talent to switch from super serious roles to full-on comedic thanks to his infectious charisma. The most surprising performance was Tiffany Haddish. Known for playing rather crass and in-your-face characters, she was very laid back as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, proving that she has more range as an actress.

Another thing from the first film present in this film was the animation. The Lego Movie’s use of lego pieces for everything in the universe, including smoke, fire, and water, made for a visually stunning film. That’s why it was disappointing that Lego Batman and Lego Ninjago went against this and had real water and explosions. The Lego Movie 2 went back to everything being legos, and it was just as cool as the first one.

The biggest thing wrong with this film was the message. While the first film had a clear cut message about the power of creativity, this one seemed rather confused. One part was about the ways boys and girls play, another was about female empowerment and freedom, another was about the concept of growing up and childish tendencies, and another was about the concept of equality and perceived images, with a few references to the LGBT community here and there. This film, unfortunately, presented the standard messages of kid’s movies these days, but attempted to teach too many lessons in its 107 minute runtime.

While it’s not as original or funny, and its underlining messages are a bit mixed, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is still a very entertaining movie for all members of the family. It boasts the same beautiful animation and pitch perfect voice cast that we love, along with a large amount of meta gags the hit more often than they miss. It sadly wasn’t as good as the first film, but that’s quite an impossible task. The first Lego Movie was so well done that recreating the same magic is something easier said than done. But aside from that, it’s still a fun film that fits nicely into the franchise.