[Screen It]


(2019) (voices of Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks) (PG)

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Animated Action/Comedy: A cheerful LEGO figure sets out to rescue his friends who've been kidnapped by their shape-shifting enemy.
Everything was once awesome in the LEGO city of Bricksburg, but ever since the human boy Finn (JADON SAND) allowed his younger sister Bianca (BROOKLYNN PRINCE) to play with his toys, things have gone downhill in the simultaneous LEGO universe. With alien invaders repeatedly attacking and destroying Bricksburg, it's now become a post-apocalyptic place known as Apocalypseburg. While everyone there has adapted into their Road Warrior-esqe life -- including one of its master builders, Lucy (voice of ELIZABETH BANKS), a.k.a. Wyldstyle -- its unlikely hero from the first film, Emmet Brickowoski (voice of CHRIS PRATT) -- remains as upbeat and cheerful as before.

Things change when another alien invasion occurs and General Sweet Mayhem (voice of STEPHANIE BEATRIZ) of the Systar System arrives and kidnaps not only Lucy, but also Batman (voice of WILL ARNETT), Unikitty (voice of ALISON BRIE), Benny (voice of CHARLIE DAY), and MetalBeard (voice of NICK OFFERMAN). And that's all so that the General's leader, Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (voice of TIFFANY HADDISH), can marry Batman who's initially against the idea but then sort of digs it.

Realizing he needs to rescue his friends, Emmet turns the home he had built for him and Lucy into a spaceship of sorts and takes flight. But he ends up needing rescuing himself from an asteroid field by Rex Dangervest (voice of CHRIS PRATT), a space archaeologist, cowboy and raptor trainer. With Emmet taking Lucy's previous advice that he needs to harden up, he starts modeling his actions after Rex as they arrive in the Queen's world and set out to stop the wedding from happening.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
With the proliferation of electronic entertainment devices -- be they game consoles, phone/tablet apps, online games and such -- and ever increasingly earlier introductions of them to children, I wonder what the end result might be in terms of creativity and imagination. While Pong and then the early Atari video games arrived in my teens, most everything beyond board games and electric football were static toys with which we had to create our own storylines and adventures.

Nowadays, that's mostly force-fed to kids who don't get to envision their own worlds and scenarios while playing video games and such. All of which could have ripple down effects when those youngsters grow up and are the ones forced to be creative. Will they be up to the task at hand or will creativity suffer due to lack of sufficient use in the formative years?

That's part of the fun of watching "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part," a film -- if the title didn't give you any clues -- is the direct follow-up to the surprise hit of 2014, "The LEGO Movie." Just like in that film, the main story we watch here -- directed by Mike Mitchell who takes over the reins from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who scale back their duties to producing and penning the script -- is the direct result of two real-life kids (Jadon Sand and Brooklynn Prince) who have access to LEGO action figures, sets and such and where their play has resulted in an alternate universe where their toys are living beings whose world is directly affected by what their human counterparts are doing.

And for the denizens of Bricksburg, that hasn't been a good thing. With young Bianca now having access to her older brother's LEGO materials, she's modified them to the point that the place where everything was once awesome is now a Road Warrior-esque hellscape known as Apocalypseburg plagued by alien invaders who wreak havoc on the once colorful and well-constructed land.

Despite that, our plucky hero from before, Emmett (again voiced by Chris Pratt), still thinks everything is, well, awesome, much to the irritation of Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) who's adopted a full-on apocalyptic look and demeanor and wishes that Emmett would do the same. He gets the chance when the villainous General Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) of the Systar System shows up and kidnaps not only Lucy, but also Batman (Will Arnett), Benny (Charlie Day), Metalbeard (Nick Offerman), and Unikitty (Alison Brie).

Setting out to rescue them, Emmett ends up needing rescuing of his own and that comes in the form of Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt), a space archaeologist, cowboy and raptor trainer (one of many meta jokes permeating the film, this time poking fun at roles Pratt has played in other movies). He demonstrates to his young charge how to live dangerously and trust no one but yourself.

They ultimately learn, as do those kidnapped, that the shape-shifting leader of the aliens, Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), has decided she's going to marry Batman, much to the caped crusader's surprise. Will Emmett and Rex save the day? Will the Queen shape-shift into an old-fashioned LEGO brick? Will the jokes keep coming fast and furious like they did before? Tune in tomorrow - same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Sorry, I had a childhood flashback there. The answers to those questions and others are never in doubt, especially in regard to the funny stuff that, as was the case with what transpired in the predecessor, covers a wide variety of topics and especially other Warner Bros. intellectual properties.

I enjoyed the flick from start to finish, but have to admit that considering this is the fourth entry in this franchise -- when one throws in the spin-off flicks, "The LEGO Batman Movie" and "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" -- the novelty is pretty much gone. And along with that the related entertainment factor of being exposed to fresh, wildly imaginative and highly creative material for the first time.

Even so, the characters, jokes and even some of the full-fledged musical numbers are still entertaining regardless of whether your exposure to LEGO came fifty years ago (batteries not necessary and some imagination required) or in its much more varied forms of recent. "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part" might not be quite as good as the original, but it's still fun to experience. It rates as a 6.5 out of 10.

Reviewed January 26, 2019 / Posted February 8, 2019

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