Skip to main content

No one ties down this Batman forever.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
(2019)

(SPOILERS) The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part isn’t very good. Which is to say, it’s just about passable – nothing more, so don’t take the equal and opposite tack and interpret that as effusiveness – until the last twenty minutes, when it opts to become actively objectionable in its efforts to patronise and consequently provoke children (and hopefully their parents) everywhere into states of abject wrath. The fact that Phil Lord and Chris Miller penned the screenplay should, by rights, cause any rational person to question every positive impression they hitherto had of the duo.

The first Lego Movie was also partially infected by nauseatingly unnuanced messages (about rekindling one’s inner child and such like), but the worst damage was averted by fairly limited – even limited is much too much, though – live-action sequences and the sensible game plan of never straying too far from a gag in the main text, as replete with unbridled positivity as it was (even then, The Lego Batman Movie was far superior for mostly avoiding such eggy bread). Here, there’s no escape. Even in the animation.

Aside from the self-mockery of Batman (Will Arnett, as hilarious in delivery as ever), there’s precious little in The Lego Movie 2 to distract from its pungent antiseptic streak. Attempts at movie parody seem rather tired when the best they can come up with is an extended Fury Road riff, four years past its sell-by-date (the teen boy of the household is into his dystopian Lego visions, hence Apocalypseburg), contrasted with the sweetness and light, first characterised with suspicion, of his younger sister’s Duplotopia as overseen by Tiffany Haddish’ underwhelming Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (set on marrying Batman, a scenario that elicits a few decent lines, but Batman can’t ultimately save it); the twist in the tale is that there is no enemy, and the only enemy is within us (Emmet’s alter-ego, Kurt Russell-alike Rex Dangervest, turns out to be future Emmet arriving via a mildly amusing time-travel movies referencing conceit. And being trapped under the fridge).

Naturally, there are sufficient digressions that this isn’t a complete washout. Bruce Willis – is he about to undergo a Bruce-naissance? No, probably not, but at least he’s laughing at himself. A bit – plays a bald, John McClane Bruce in two scenes, while Jason Momoa voices Aquaman. There are songs too, of course, with Everything is Awesome inevitably reprised, and new Catchy Song being exactly what it says in the title, without ever being as earwormy as Awesome.

None of this can offset that there’s something deeply off-putting and aesthetically egregious about the digression into live action as teen Finn destroys his sister Bianca’s Lego works. It’s a scenario so entirely lacking in imagination and artistry, delivered with a sledgehammer absence of anything approaching competent writing, devoid of subtlety, humour or wit, it renders the entire Lego cinematic project of questionable merit.

There was debate anyway, following the diminishing returns of The Lego Ninjago Movie, that the big screen franchise had legs, and the decision to double down on the sentiment rather than amp up the yuks has likely crippled it further. Quite possibly, we won’t see The Lego Movie 3. Most likely, it will limp into existence in the same way Look Who’s Talking Now arrived to no one’s bated breath. No infant ought to be screaming to go and see another Lego outing after being subjected to such abhorrent demands on their deeply-buried-until-adulthood positive feelings towards their siblings.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If you never do anything, you never become anyone.

An Education (2009)
Carey Mulligan deserves all the attention she received for her central performance, and the depiction of the ‘60s is commendably subdued. I worried there was going to be a full-blown music montage sequence at the climax that undid all the good work, but thankfully it was fairly low key. 

Alfred Molina and Olivia Williams are especially strong in the supporting roles, and it's fortunate for credibility’s sake that that Orlando Bloom had to drop out and Dominic Cooper replaced him.
***1/2

Do you read Sutter Cane?

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
(SPOILERS) The concluding chapter of John Carpenter’s unofficial Apocalypse Trilogy (preceded by The Thing and Prince of Darkness) is also, sadly, his last great movie. Indeed, it stands apart in the qualitative wilderness that beset him during the ‘90s (not for want of output). Michael De Luca’s screenplay had been doing the rounds since the ‘80s, even turned down by Carpenter at one point, and it proves ideal fodder for the director, bringing out the best in him. Even cinematographer Gary K Kibbe seems inspired enough to rise to the occasion. It could do without the chugging rawk soundtrack, perhaps, but then, that was increasingly where Carpenter’s interests resided (as opposed to making decent movies).

Can you close off your feelings so you don’t get crippled by the moral ambiguity of your violent actions?

Spider-Man Worst to Best

Why would I turn into a filing cabinet?

Captain Marvel (2019)
(SPOILERS) All superhero movies are formulaic to a greater or lesser degree. Mostly greater. The key to an actually great one – or just a pretty good one – is making that a virtue, rather than something you’re conscious of limiting the whole exercise. The irony of the last two stand-alone MCU pictures is that, while attempting to bring somewhat down-the-line progressive cachet to the series, they’ve delivered rather pedestrian results. Of course, that didn’t dim Black Panther’s cultural cachet (and what do I know, swathes of people also profess to loving it), and Captain Marvel has hit half a billion in its first few days – it seems that, unless you’re poor unloved Ant-Man, an easy $1bn is the new $700m for the MCU – but neither’s protagonist really made that all-important iconic impact.

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

What, you're going to walk in there like it's the commie Disneyland or something?

Stranger Things 3 (2019)
(SPOILERS) It’s very clear by this point that Stranger Things isn’t going to serve up any surprises. It’s operating according to a strict formula, one requiring the opening of the portal to the Upside Down every season and an attendant demagorgon derivative threat to leak through, only to be stymied at the last moment by our valorous team. It’s an ‘80s sequel cycle through and through, and if you’re happy with it functioning exclusively on that level, complete with a sometimes overpowering (over)dose of nostalgia references, this latest season will likely strike you as just the ticket.

How can you have time when it clearly has you?

Dark  Season 2
(SPOILERS) I’m not intending to dig into Dark zealously, as its plotting is so labyrinthine, it would take forever and a day, and I’d just end up babbling incoherently (so what’s new). But it’s worth commenting on, as it’s one of the few Netflix shows I’ve seen that feels entirely rigorous and disciplined – avoiding the flab and looseness that too often seems part and parcel of a service expressly avoiding traditional ratings models – as it delivers its self-appointed weighty themes and big ideas. And Dark’s weighty themes and big ideas really are weighty and big, albeit simultaneously often really frustrating. It came as no surprise to learn of the showrunners’ overriding fixation on determinism at work in the multi-generational, multiple time period-spanning events within the German town of Winden, but I was intrigued regarding their structural approach, based on clearly knowing the end game of their characters, rather than needing to reference (as they put it) Post-It…

I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
When your hero(es) ride off into the sunset at the end of a film, it’s usually a pretty clear indication that a line is being drawn under their adventures. Sure, rumours surfaced during the ‘90s of various prospective screenplays for a fourth outing for the whip-cracking archeologist. But I’m dubious anyone really expected it to happen. There seemed to be a natural finality to Last Crusade that made the announcement of his 2007 return nostalgically welcome but otherwise unwarranted. That it turned out so tepid merely seemed like confirmation of what we already knew; Indy’s time was past.

Doesn't work out, I'll send her home in body bag.

Anna (2019)
(SPOILERS) I’m sure one could construe pertinent parallels between the various allegations and predilections that have surfaced at various points relating to Luc Besson, both over the years and very recently, and the subject matter of his movies, be it by way of a layered confessional or artistic “atonement” in the form of (often ingenue) women rising up against their abusers/employers. In the case of Anna, however, I just think he saw Atomic Blonde and got jealous. I’ll have me some of that, though Luc. Only, while he brought more than sufficient action to the table, he omitted two vital ingredients: strong lead casting and a kick-ass soundtrack.

Spider-Man with his hand in the cookie jar! Whoever brings me that photo gets a job.

Spider-Man 3 (2007)
(SPOILERS) Spider-Man 3 is a mess. That much most can agree on that much. And I think few – Jonathan Ross being one of them – would claim it’s the best of the Raimi trilogy. But it’s also a movie that has taken an overly harsh beating. In some cases, this a consequence of negative reaction to its most inspired elements – it would be a similar story with Iron Man Three a few years later – and in others, it’s a reflection of an overstuffed narrative pudding – so much so that screenwriter Alvin Sargent considered splitting the movie into two. In respect of the latter, elements were forced on director Sam Raimi, and these cumulative disagreements would eventually lead him to exit the series (it would take another three years before his involvement in Spider-Man 4 officially ended). There’s a lot of chaff in the movie, but there’s also a lot of goodness here, always providing you aren’t gluten intolerant.