After their unceremonial firing as directors of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were immediately offered involvement in two projects that needed guidance. One such project was Spider-Man: Into The Spider Verse, an animated spin outside the confines of the MCU that was met with critical acclaim and may well net a Best Animated award from this month’s Oscars. The other project was, of course, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, a sequel which clearly benefits from their unique energy and voice.
The Second Part arrives at an interesting point in the franchise. Despite the critical and financial success of the first film and its follow-up Lego Batman, the misstep of The Lego Ninjago Movie seems to have tempered anticipation for the world of Bricksburg. While the first entry felt like a fresh take on the importance of play (and its stunning connection to the human world), follow-ups have felt increasingly like extended toy commercials. Thankfully, The Second Part feels like a return to form for the series that almost achieves the same success as the first.
Directed by Mike Mitchell (Sky High) and produced by Lord and Miller, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part begins immediately following the events of Taco Tuesday in the first film. Here, the citizens of Bricksburg face a dangerous new threat when invaders from space begin to destroy everything in their path. When Lucy, Batman and their friends are kidnapped and taken to the land of DUPLO, Emmett must venture into unknown territory in an effort to save them from the villainous Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi.
Filled with Lord and Miller’s trademark whip-smart pop culture references and layered dialogue, The Second Part further embraces the interaction between the imaginative and human world by taking the beloved characters beyond the basement and into the vast unexplored region of the Systar system. While the first film was concerned with Emmett’s journey to discovering what it means to be ‘The Special’, The Second Part shifts gears to explore the dangers of toxic gender roles. As the now beloved characters darkly brood over the state of Apocolypseburg, the greatest threat to their world seems to be… brightly colored hearts and glittery musical numbers. Led by WyldStyle and Batman, the lost Legos do their best not to succumb to the suspicious nature of the female-branded toys. (After all, anything that causes Superman and Lex Luthor to become friends must be evil!)
On the other hand, Emmett’s journey to save his friends also brings him into contact with Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt), a galaxy-defending space cowboy that trains raptors. Without giving away any spoilers, the inclusion of the dual role for Pratt provides an opportunity to hilariously satire the more ‘masculine’ roles that he has played through his career and lampoon their perceived macho traits. (In fact, the film also includes a cameo by one of Hollywood’s most accomplished action heroes as he mocks one of his most famous characters.) By throwing these two very different gender stereotypes up against one another, The Second Part effectively explores the toxic nature of all labels, encouraging the value of celebrating people for who they are. As a result, there is a divine equality within The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part that acknowledges to our differences and also creates space for celebrating them as well.
While the sequel doesn’t quite carry the same resonance of the first film, the film remains sharp and entertaining with new thematic ground to cover. Thanks to the crazed brilliance of Lord and Miller, The Second Part is funny, self-aware, and more than willing to help children engage in complex topics worth discussion.
So, yes. In the end, everything is still awesome.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is in theaters on February 8th, 2019