Film Review: The Lego Movie Part 2

Terrific family entertainment

I really enjoyed the first Lego movie and had doubts that they could pull off something as good a second time. I was wrong. This movie is fun, funny, smart and unexpectedly touching. It teeters close to schmaltz a few times, but the endless sight gags and jokes plus the earnestness of the story overcome any such weaknesses.

The story picks up some time after the end of the first film with a satisfying recap of the events and what lead to the current state of dystopia the Lego world has become. Apocalypsburg is now a Mad Max-style world of brooding tough guys and gals where anything pretty gets taken away by the Duplo invaders from the Sistar System. Everyone is committed to being tough and hard-hearted except Emmett (Chris Pratt), who still retains his sunny disposition, and people call him immature for it, urging him to grow up and get tough. When his friends are kidnapped to attend the marriage of the Duplo Queen Whatevra Wan’abe (Tiffany Hadisch) to Batman (Will Arnett) he has to find a way to save them and prevent the Armamageddon (Our-mom-ageddon) with the help of the suspiciously familiar Rex Dangervest, a grizzled tough-guy, macho-hero who flies a spaceship shaped like a fist and crewed by velociraptors.

The film has the same madcap energy and near-improv tone of the first film and I thought it was nonstop fun in that regard. The film breaks into the real world more often than the first film, and while I felt at times they were coming close to spending too much time there, the story makes it work really well because a large part of it is about the estrangement between siblings. Another theme I loved was the exploration of maturity and how superficial a lot of our ideas about maturity tend to be. Fortunately, the film does not fall into the trap of promoting endless childhood even though it looks like it might in places. I think it’s more about how a lot of the positive qualities we tell our children to invest in (such as co-operation and compassion) often become sacrificed in our rush to appear grown up and toughened to the world later on. It’s surprisingly complex and rich for what appears to be a children’s movie, but I love films whose scope goes beyond whatever genre they appear to be and The Lego Movie 2 is a brilliant example.

I really like this movie. I think it is exceptional family entertainment in that it plays to two audiences – the kids who love Lego and the adults who may recognize personal truths in the narrative, with lots of laughs for everyone along the way. The film deals with themes of maturity, disillusionment, community and optimism in ways that were unexpectedly complex and moving. I found myself quite affected at times by the storyline which is basically about how things aren’t always what you’d like, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pull together and make it better, and that’s a sentiment I respond to quite strongly.


As usual, Mark Kermode’s review hits the bull’s eye.

Film Review: Spider-Man – Into the Spiderverse

Best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2

Sony Animation has produced this slick piece of eye-popping animation that is a lot of fun to watch. I found it to be tremendously entertaining, fun and funny but with emotional weight where it needed it. I think it is the best Spider-Man movie since 2004’s Spider-Man 2.

One of the many things I loved about this film was how progressive and positive it was. The whole film really captures the essence of Spider-Man in ways that pretty much every other film in the past 14 years has failed to do, and Spidey is a relentlessly positive, optimistic character despite his tragic origins and his outsider status. This movie captures the correct tone to convey that spirit while also being a lot of colourful fun, just like the title character.

The story here centers on young Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), a New York teenager who somehow gets bitten by the same (or similar) spider as the one that bit Peter Parker. The Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) is the main villain of the piece whose experimental particle collider creates a crossover of parallel universes that delivers different versions of Spider-Man from those worlds into ours before it is damaged in a fight that kills our resident Spider-Man (Chris Pine). The multiple versions of Spider-Man have to work together to find a way to get back to their own universes and then destroy the collider before it destroys everything. Along the way, Miles faces challenges and comes to terms with the responsibility of being Spider-Man.

First and foremost, I loved the animation. That was the principle thing that got me interested, because I am very unimpressed by most animation for its lack of novelty. Rarely does an animated film present a style that I haven’t seen before, but I really think this movie did show me something new. I loved the characterizations of everyone, particularly Miles, but I also really liked Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) as his peer support. I thought Nic Cage was an unexpected pleasure as Spider-Man Noir from a hard-boiled 1930s universe and I have always loved Spider-Ham, who I was afraid would be just a sight gag but turned out to be a fun side-character.

In a lot of ways the movie reminded me of the Lego Batman Movie. It has a very similar sensibility of reverence as well as humour about the legacy of the character. I think Spider-Man’s appeal is in his misfit status and the total anonymity of the suit – anybody could be under the red and blue spandex, and that is what a lot of the movie’s underlying substance is about. It’s part of the reason why the film has so many different versions of the character and gives us the lesser-known Miles Morales as our central protagonist instead of the familiar Peter Parker. I found the story quite soulful in its presentation of what it means to be a hero – it’s not the suit, its the person wearing it and the choices he or she makes. I found the movie unexpectedly moving in parts, much like Spider-Man 2, and its closing coda by Stan Lee about heroism was very touching in light of the man’s passing earlier this year.

If there is anything negative to say about the film, it has to do with the presentation in 2D. I haven’t seen Into the Spiderverse in 3D but I would like to despite my overall misgivings about the medium. I think the cityscapes and web-swinging could be enhanced by the 3D, but what bugged me about 2D was that a lot of backgrounds had a blurry look like I was watching a 3D movie without glasses (except the foreground characters were clear), almost as if the studio did a half-assed job of making a 2D version.

I really loved Spider-Man – Into the Spiderverse a lot more than I tought I would. I laughed out loud many times and I appreciated its sense of Spider-Man lore, not just in the easter eggs sprinkled throughout for hardcore fans to giggle over, but for its authentic understanding of what the character means and stands for across multiple interpretations. An amazing movie.