Plot: While Bricksburg was once a vivid, colorful locale with happy citizens, catchy music, and the inspirational vibe of awesomeness, these days the town is mired in a dystopian state. After aliens swarmed in and turned things into this grim, colorless world, the locals even changed the name to Apocalypseburg, to better reflect how life there had changed. While most of the residents are downbeat about how things have worked out, Emmett is optimistic and tries to rally his friends, only to be brought back to reality by his girlfriend, Wyldstyle. Soon however, Wyldstyle and several of Emmett’s other friends, including Batman himself, are kidnapped by the aliens and taken into deep space. Emmett pursues in his own ship, but even he struggles to feel upbeat, at least until he meets the super cool Rex Dangervest, a space adventurer who agrees to lend a hand and help rescue his friends. Can Emmett somehow save the day once again and what do the aliens want with Batman and the others?
Entertainment Value: Most sequels have an uphill battle to live up to the original films, but in the case of The Lego Movie 2, the hill was steeper than usual, as the first movie was such an infectious, memorable experience. The followup is unable to capture that magic a second time, but it does offer solid entertainment and shows sparks of the original’s charm. The narrative takes some unexpected turns, which I appreciated and piles on the meta elements, which some will love and others might feel comes off as a little forced at times. But if you like to look for little references and meta touches, you will have a blast with The Lego Movie 2, as easter eggs seem to be layered into almost every scene. I didn’t love the alien story here, but the film’s sense of humor is on point and shares the dialed up, pop culture intensive approach of the original, taking the meta into the stratosphere this time around. A good deal of the characters return for the sequel and a host of new ones are introduced as well, so once again, seeing all these various licenses interacting is immense fun and obviously, a clever way to market the Lego products. In short, The Lego Movie 2 might not be as awesome as the original, but it more than holds it own and is recommended.
One area this sequel might even surpass the original is the animation, as the movie boasts some remarkable visual design elements. As I mentioned above, the film is loaded with all kinds of references and hidden visual touches, so scanning the screen for these can be a lot of fun. And when the visuals are this beautiful, it is a pleasure to revisit sequences to see what you might have missed and more than likely, it will take a few sessions to uncover most of the small details present. This is simply gorgeous animation and The Lego Movie 2 is a visual feast, so those with an appreciation for the art of animation will have a lot to soak in here. The cast has Chris Pratt returning (in a dual role, no less), but this is much more of an ensemble piece than the original, so he isn’t the central presence. His characters are prominent, but a good deal of focus shifts to Wyldstyle and the movie benefits from that fresh perspective, even the narrative isn’t as strong this time around. Will Arnett is able to steal his fair share of scenes as Batman, while Elizabeth Banks is terrific as Wyldstyle, bringing her energetic and sarcastic sense of humor to the table. The cast also includes Tiffany Haddish, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Charlie Day.
The Disc: Warner Brothers has drummed up a 4k release for The Lego Movie 2 and as you might expect, the movie’s animation shines in this format and really comes to life on screen. The image is razor sharp and crystal clear, providing incredible depth and the kind of fine detail you want from 4k. The animation is super detailed, so even the most minor of textures or visual cues are evident, I can’t imagine anyone not being flat out dazzled by this presentation. In terms of extras, we start off with audio comments from the director, writers, and animation director, which provides some insight into the process of bringing this sequel to life. You can also watch the entire movie in a special Everything is Awesome mode, which provides sing-a-long style musical numbers, trivia pop ups, interactive games, and more, perfect for younger viewers that can’t get enough of the film. You can also browse several promotional featurettes, deleted scenes, a music video for Super Cool, and an animated short with Emmett.