Why The LEGO Movie 2 is aimed at more than just young families

26 Feb 2019

Building on the enormous success of the first film, The LEGO Movie 2 continues the tradition of energy, humour and an appeal to all ages.

Indeed, this instalment in the franchise has the most adult appeal yet, as the adventures go from a post-apocalyptic world to the depths of outer space.
Bricksburg, where the eternally-optimistic Emmet lived in The LEGO Movie, was a nice place: a colourful city of cats, cafes and contented citizens. Previously, Emmet (Chris Pratt) had managed to save it from the evil hands of Lord Business, alongside freedom fighter Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), spaceman Benny (Charlie Day), bionic pirate Metalbeard (Nick Offerman) and temperamental unicorn-cat Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie).
However, their celebrations were cut short. The end of the film saw the arrival of Duplo aliens with a dastardly plan to take over the world. In this sequel, Emmet and the gang battle once again to save Bricksburg from the evil invaders, resulting in a fresh series of hilarious hiccups that will have everyone, grown-ups included, groaning with laughter.

“Everything was awesome. Now everything is bleak,” intones Lucy, solemnly, as she surveys the wasteland town of Apocalypseburg. Then in comes the ever-cheerful Emmet. The end of the world hasn't dented his vivaciousness. But perhaps that's more to do with the 25 sugars he takes in his coffee.

Another brick in the wall

If Lord Business, in the first film, was a metaphor for a control-freak dad who wouldn't let his son, Finn (Jadon Sand), play imaginatively with Lego, the second film is about that family dynamic changing.

Five years have passed, and Finn's sister, Bianca (Brooklynn Prince), is growing up. The Duplo bricks are hers, but she also raids her brother's LEGO set. Apocalypseburg is a representation of her raids, but as the film progresses, their combined imaginations begin to form various new environments in outer space. There are new characters too, notably shape-shifting alien Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) and General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz).

Producer Dan Lin, who initiated the whole LEGO movie franchise, explains the expanding Lego Movie universe, “The first movie was about subverting the action/adventure genre, and then we took on the superhero and martial arts genres.”

The LEGO Movie 2 is a parody of childhood growing pains – a kid merrily playing with his toys before friends or siblings are introduced and affect the way that playtime evolves. Grown-ups will be all too familiar with the set-up.

Apocalypseburg might be “a heckish place to live”, but it's full of imagination and cinema in-jokes that will delight the adults. For example, apocalyptic films of past continue to elements of the film, right down to the finer details. All the characters – except upbeat Emmet – have become tougher and grittier. Lucy even features a new hand and another nice touch is the broken-down Statue of Liberty – symbolising a breakdown in society echoed previously in post-apocalyptic films.

The creative potential of LEGO is totally let off the leash as the film heads into space. Emmet's friends have been kidnapped, so he sets off to save them, meeting a strangely-familiar character called Rex Dangervest (also Chris Pratt) along the way. Their adventures take them into a galaxy consisting of 11 different planets, such as Harmony Town, where there's never any disagreement – except for in its primeval jungle; and Planet Duplo, a calamitous planet where huge piles of bricks (a jaw-dropping 11.7 million) are sorted.

Haddish says: “What’s special about LEGO play and stories like this is the way they celebrate creativity. You can turn a house into a rocket ship and lay out a whole universe in your bedroom. This is just what the movie does. It's a call to creativity, it's a metaphor for the real-world kids in the film growing up, and it's even a chance for the filmmakers to up the ante.”

Endless possibilities

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, writer-directors of the original movie, are back on writing and producing duties in the new film. Directing The LEGO Movie 2 is Mike Mitchell, who has worked on inventive titles in the past. Trisha Gum, who was head of story on The LEGO Batman movie, is animation director. The team not only masterfully handle new technical elements of the film, they also make the story and action more elaborate, with additional characters and more intricate – and hilarious – side stories.

Gum explains why the new movie added more female characters, and how that changes the dynamic: “We wanted many and for each of them to be unique, with different goals, emotions, strengths and interests.”

Be sure to look out for the intriguing relationship between the Queen and Batman, for example.

LEGO is designed to stimulate the imagination. “It’s a toy that doesn’t require batteries and the possibilities are endless. It certainly inspired our animation team,” says Mitchell.

As the LEGO movie franchise has progressed, each film has introduced new elements to the remarkable digital animation: steam and fire then grass and soil, and in The LEGO Movie 2, things like stickers and scraps of fabric appear, notably when Mayhem kidnaps Emmet's friends. Batman, always so sure of himself, is incapacitated by being covered in stickers – the sort of stickers a girl like Bianca would have. “We want kids to feel like this is a world they can build themselves,” explains producer Lin.

So while young kids will enjoy the film's action, parents will appreciate the message and how it encourages their kids' creativity. For nominal 'family films', the LEGO movies work on so many levels, with humour, important messages for children, and awesome film making. It's a digital world that's highly technically accomplished. One shot features an astonishing 1,248,968,392,251 polygons, while the highest number of bricks in a single shot is 161,737,777. It's huge, too: Apocalypseburg is 73km x 349km in equivalent size.

The LEGO Movie 2 is every bit as awesome as the first film, if not more so. Aside from the sheer complexity of what the filmmakers have achieved on screen, it has all the fun and games you'd expect, enough to satisfy not just younger viewers, but fans of all ages.

The LEGO Movie 2 is in cinemas now, book now! 

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