This animated follow-up to 2014’s The Lego Movie doesn’t have quite the same sparkle, but makes up for it with oodles of cool gags, subversive touches and underlying messages worthy of a Pixar pic.
Mike Mitchell (a veteran of Trolls, SpongeBob, Shrek and other kiddie outings) steps in for original writer/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and it’s a step down from The Lego Batman Movie but a step up from the weak The Lego Ninjago Movie. But young ‘uns will love it despite all of that, no matter how busy and chaotic it gets, and regardless of the fact that it quite blatantly says that growing up isn’t always a pleasant experience.
After that framing narrative from the first film, we cut to events in Bricksburg where everyone’s celebrating, and almost immediately very basically-built aliens turn up and, in baby voices, announce that they’re going to destroy the place. A series of attacks and invasions commence and, after some montages, we cut to five years later where ‘Apocalypseburg’ is now a Lego wasteland complete with nods to Planet Of The Apes and the Mad Max movies (even though this one’s target audience hopefully hasn’t actually seen the very violent Fury Road).
The insufferably optimistic Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) seems not to notice how grim everything is, as he prances along listening to – what else? – Everything Is Awesome, and there’s a wonderfully funny bit where his bestie Lucy (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) tries to show him how to properly brood. Another extraterrestrial assault ensues, complete with cute flying stars that vomit glitter and explode, and General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) turns up to take away five Apocalypseburg residents to the Systar System, a feared place represented by a door in the sky straight out of The Twilight Zone.
She selects Lucy, Batman (again voiced by Will Arnett) and others and introduces them to both Balthazar (Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh), a sort of vampire DJ who uses a tune called Catchy Song to brainwash them, and Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), who is obviously a villain despite singing an amusing number called Not Evil. But never fear, as Emmet strikes out to save his friends with help from Rex Dangervest, a mysterious good guy who apparently has grown hard and tough from spending an awfully long time alone under a washing machine in a strange world beyond Lego.
If all this sounds a little cluttered and convoluted then that’s because it is, and yet there’s plenty here to enjoy, from all the references (The Time Machine, Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Doctor Who, Pratt’s own role in the Jurassic World series), to the army of voicers (including a proxy bunch filling in for the Justice League, although Jason Momoa does feature quickly as the real Aquaman), to the scary way that everything seems lost towards the end as ‘Armamageddon’ takes effect. And, again, you have to admire any movie directed at pre-teens that dares to suggest that being an adult isn’t necessarily awesome all the time – but that’s okay, kids.
The Lego Movie 2 (PG) is in cinemas now