“The Lego Movie” was a mega hit when it first came out in February 2014. Everyone thought it was going to be a complete disaster, only made to sell toys and make $100 million. The trailers looked corny and it was released in February, one of the worst months of the year for good movies. However, one aspect of its production flew over everyone’s heads: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The duo had only directed “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and the surprisingly funny “21 Jump Street” before returning to animation with “The Lego Movie.” The pair has since gone on to direct “22 Jump Street,” the pilot episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and have writing credits on one of the best movies of 2018, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Quite literally everything they’ve touched has turned to gold. That being said, they blew expectations out of the water with a heartfelt story, non-stop laughs and meticulously well done animation. The Lego brand has since gone on to do a “Lego Batman” and “Lego Ninjago” spinoff, which I thought were pretty good and not very good respectively as neither are able to touch the excitement and joy that was the original Lego film. The main fear I had for “The Lego Movie 2: the Second Part” was the departure of Phil Lord and Chris Miller as directors, and their absence is definitely felt. This second film tries its best to build upon the themes and story of the first and mostly succeeds, but feels rather disappointing and run-of-the-mill than some of the animated gems to hit theaters recently.

The story structure is rather similar to the first, with every man Emmet (Chris Pratt) desperately trying to prove himself to his town of minifigures as more than someone who just saved the universe once. It isn’t until his best friend Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and other Lego figures are kidnapped by the “un-villainous” Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) that the story kicks into high gear. Emmet adventures into the unknown to save his friends and runs into the coolest rogue in the universe, Rex Dangervest (Also voiced by Pratt). Twists and turns ensue in a very similar arc as the first film with different themes sprinkled throughout. While the focus of the first film was to flaunt your creativity, the message this time around is mostly focused towards growing up, something which the teens who watched the original film five years ago can relate to. I think the choice to go this route was a smart move for a sequel.

The pacing of the original movie was incredibly tight. Every single frame has something interesting happening. It required your full attention at all times for the most rewarding experience because you never knew which Lego cameo you would see next. The sequel starts off really strong and introduces some interesting ideas right out of the gate, but it can’t keep up with the frenetic sense of energy from the first film. I have the largest problem with the second act. It’s very slow moving and doesn’t feel as connected to the story as the first and last acts.

The entire voice cast was stellar, but the film itself doesn’t give them much to go on. The script is solid, with some hysterical lines sprinkled throughout, but everything feels a bit dialled down. Pratt does great work here voicing both Emmet and Rex. The two have great moments together and the life of the film relies on their relationship. Their scenes are what make the second act not a complete bore and carry the film into a strong third act. Banks also adds a lot more humanity to Lucy in the sequel, with several scenes revealing more about her past and what she’s trying to be. Being that this is middle chapter of this proposed trilogy, I think it’s great that the main duo is being given more character development and remain the heart of the film. Also, Arnett remains amazing as Batman.

All in all, the film is good. It isn’t great or a breath of fresh air like the first one was, but it has its qualities. I just couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by how slow the film felt at parts. It feels like a huge step down from the original, which barely gives you a second to breath, but when it does, it feels earned. Even the animation, while still great, doesn’t feel like much care has been put into it. I feel like this is what the first Lego movie made should have felt like. A good movie that is inoffensive and can occupy your time for 90 minutes. But, the fact that the bar was set so high, makes this a slightly disappointing experience. I would still definitely recommend checking this one out because it has a lot to say and it is wildly entertaining. I had a good time while watching it, but can’t get help but get a rather average vibe when looking back on the whole film.

Grade: B

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