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.

Popular posts from this blog

I think I’m Pablo Picasso!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) (SPOILERS) I get the impression that, whatever it is stalwart Venom fans want from a Venom movie, this iteration isn’t it. The highlight here for me is absolutely the wacky, love-hate, buddy-movie antics of Tom Hardy and his symbiote alter. That was the best part of the original, before it locked into plot “progression” and teetered towards a climax where one CGI monster with gnarly teeth had at another CGI monster with gnarly teeth. And so it is for Venom: Let There Be Carnage . But cutting quicker to the chase.

I don’t think Wimpys still exist.

Last Night in Soho (2021) (SPOILERS) Last Night in Soho is a cautionary lesson in one’s reach extending one’s grasp. It isn’t that Edgar Wright shouldn’t attempt to stretch himself, it’s simply that he needs the self-awareness to realise which moves are going to throw his back out and leave him in a floundering and enfeebled heap on the studio floor. Wright’s an uber-geek, one with a very specific comfort zone, and there’s no shame in that. He evidently was shamed, though, hence this response to criticisms of a lack of maturity and – obviously – lack of versatility with female characters. Last Night in Soho goes broke for woke, and in so doing exposes his new clothes in the least flattering light. Because Edgar is in no way woke, his attempts to prove his progressive mettle lead to a lurid, muddled mess, one that will satisfy no one. Well, perhaps his most ardent fans, but no one else.

It looks like a digital walkout.

Free Guy (2021) (SPOILERS) Ostensibly a twenty-first century refresh of The Truman Show , in which an oblivious innocent realises his life is a lie, and that he is simply a puppet engineered for the entertainment of his creators/controllers/the masses, Free Guy lends itself to similar readings regarding the metaphysical underpinnings of our reality, of who sets the paradigm and how conscious we are of its limitations. But there’s an additional layer in there too, a more insidious one than using a Hollywood movie to “tell us how it really is”.

It becomes easier each time… until it kills you.

The X-Files 4.9: Terma Oh dear. After an engaging opener, the second part of this story drops through the floor, and even the usually spirited Rob Bowman can’t save the lethargic mess Carter and Spotnitz make of some actually pretty promising plot threads.

He's not a nightstalker, and it'll take a lot more than bench presses to defeat him.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) (SPOILERS) The most successful entry in the franchise, if you don’t count Freddy vs. Jason . And the point at which Freddy went full-on vaudeville, transformed into adored ringmaster rather than feared boogeyman. Not that he was ever very terrifying in the first place (the common misapprehension is that later instalments spoiled the character, but frankly, allowing Robert Englund to milk the laughs in bad-taste fashion is the saving grace of otherwise forgettably formulaic sequel construction). A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master boasts the most inventive, proficient effects work yet, but it’s also by far the least daring in terms of plotting, scraping together a means for Freddy to persist in his nocturnal pestilence while offering nothing in the way of the unexpected, be it characterisations or story points.

Give daddy the glove back, princess.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) (SPOILERS) Looking at Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare , by some distance the least lauded (and laudable) of the original Elm Street sextet, you’d think it inconceivable that novice director and series old-hand – first as assistant production manager and finally as producer – Rachel Talalay has since become a respected and in-demand TV helmer. For the most part, Freddy’s Dead is shockingly badly put together. It reminded me of the approach the likes of Chris Carter and Sir Ken take, where someone has clearly been around productions, absorbing the basics of direction, but has zero acumen for turning that into a competent motion picture, be it composition, scene construction, editing or pacing. Talalay’s also responsible for the story idea here, which does offer a few nuggets, at least, but her more primary role actively defeats any positives.

Monster nom nom?

The Suicide Squad (2021) (SPOILERS) This is what you get from James Gunn when he hasn’t been fed through the Disney rainbow filter. Pure, unadulterated charmlessness, as if he’s been raiding his deleted Twitter account for inspiration. The Suicide Squad has none of the “heart” of Guardians of Galaxy , barely a trace of structure, and revels in the kind of gross out previously found in Slither ; granted an R rating, Gunn revels in this freedom with juvenile glee, but such carte blanche only occasionally pays off, and more commonly leads to a kind of playground repetition. He gets to taunt everyone, and then kill them. Critics applauded; general audiences resisted. They were right to.

Give poor, starving Gurgi munchings and crunchings.

The Black Cauldron (1985) (SPOILERS) Dark Disney? I guess… Kind of . I don’t think I ever got round to seeing this previously. The Fox and the Hound , sure. Basil the Great Mouse Detective , most certainly. Even Oliver and Company , so I wasn’t that selective. But I must have missed The Black Cauldron , the one that nearly broke Disney, for the same reason everyone else did. But what reason was that? Perhaps nothing leaping out about it, when the same summer kids could see The Goonies , or Back to the Future , or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure . It seemed like a soup of other, better-executed ideas and past Disney movies, stirred up in a cauldron and slopped out into an environment where audiences now wanted something a touch more sophisticated.

Oh hello, loves, what year is it?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) (SPOILERS) Simu Lui must surely be the least charismatic lead in a major motion picture since… er, Taylor Lautner? He isn’t aggressively bad, like Lautner was/is, but he’s so blank, so nondescript, he makes Marvel’s super-spiffy new superhero Shang-Chi a superplank by osmosis. Just looking at him makes me sleepy, so it’s lucky Akwafina is wired enough for the both of them. At least, until she gets saddled with standard sidekick support heroics and any discernible personality promptly dissolves. And so, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings continues Kevin Feige’s bold journey into wokesense, seemingly at the expense of any interest in dramatically engaging the viewer.

The voice from the outer world who will lead them to paradise.

Dune (2021) (SPOILERS) For someone who has increasingly dug himself a science-fiction groove, Denis Villeneuve isn’t terribly imaginative. Dune looks perfect, in the manner of the cool, clinical, calculating and above all glacial rendering of concept design and novel cover art in the most doggedly literal fashion. And that’s the problem. David Lynch’s edition may have had its problems, but it was inimitably the product of a mind brimming with sensibility. Villeneuve’s version announces itself as so determinedly faithful to Frank Herbert, it needs two movies to tell one book, and yet all it really has to show for itself are gargantuan vistas.