‘The Lego Movie 2’ is a lackluster sequel

Ross Schuette, Copy Editor

The bricks hit the fans this Feb. 8 with the “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,” the long-awaited sequel to the 2014 hit “The LEGO Movie.”

This was the fourth LEGO feature film in cinemas, with the spinoffs “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” staggering the five-year gap. 

Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise) reprise their roles as the film resumes the tale of Emmett Brickowski, the happy-go-lucky, Average Joe construction worker turned “master builder” and the dark and adventurous Lucy, aka Wyldstyle, as they return with their friends Batman, Benny, Unikitty and Metalbeard.

In the first installment (spoilers), the LEGO world was revealed to be the real-world battle of imaginations between a father (Will Ferrell) and his son Finn (Jadon Sand). After their reconciliation of differences, the story closed on a cliffhanger where the father invited Finn’s younger sister Bianca to join the fun.

Enter the scary Duplos into Emmett’s LEGO world. The sequel begins with the spark of war between the two factions, then fast-forwards five years to set the stage for Emmett and friends in a world rife with rivalry, danger and turmoil. But also glitter.Emmett’s friends get whisked away by Duplos to the Systar System, and it’s up to sensitive-guy Emmett to summon the toughness to rescue his comrades and win Lucy back by convincing her he has the gusto to be her LEGO-man.

Conceptually, “The LEGO Movie 2” is great: an animated film comprised of LEGO characters in LEGO worlds. The scenes are executed smoothly, with no choppiness in motion leaving room for skepticism of what happened in between. Rather, one can’t help but wonder about the work that goes into a continuous piece of animation.

The film goes deeper into the challenge of animation with several original musical numbers. Sometimes the catchy songs fit the moment, or have an ironic message of how the earworms will affect anyone susceptible to their poppy beat. One scene with Lucy stands out as she resists the compressing snare of a tune seeking to coerce her actions.

The story has a fun direction with the sibling-rivalry, but gets brought down by the dialogue within. The pacing between scenes and the parallel parties of the tale is good, being fast when it needs to be with appropriately placed slower moments, but there isn’t enough in the extracted from the main characters during the tranquility.

Humor is attempted frequently, but it feels overwhelmingly forced. There are bland, not-so-cheeky one-liners that are weaved with an array of jokes that are nothing but obscure references. Child audiences will be left wondering why their parents are laughing more than they are.

Overall, the writing feels stale and unoriginal, especially compared to the first film, which was more creative and had better character development.

There are some good messages about life and relationships, but they sink without the buoyancy provided by solid, supporting dialogue. The side characters brought back aren’t really introduced or established, and seem just to be along for the ride. Though Benny is still fun with his spaceship-hype, at least.

The LEGO Movie 2 had good momentum to piggyback on, but falls short as a mediocre production. The film is fun at times and has its moments, but puts the “uster” more in lackluster than it does blockbuster.