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June 6, 2018

‘The LEGO Movie 2’ Trailer Breakdown

Sign us up for this dystopian LEGO world.

In this day and age when everything is a prequel or sequel to something else, I’m glad that we can still count on The LEGO Movie franchise to deliver even teaser footage that actually feels fresh. This isn’t an easy task when the eponymous first film in the series upped the ante for family entertainment in more ways than one. Thanks to The LEGO Movie, seemingly static yellow figurines now make for empathetic and heartfelt movies that actually have something to clever to say. Spin-offs such as The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie branched out into more ostentatious territory. However, but the original premise surrounding the coming-of-age of Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) remains the beating heart of the franchise.

So comes the precarious job of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part to continue that story — so named in an on-the-nose way that’s quintessential to the series branding. A new teaser trailer for the film is here to whet our palates, drawing together all the elements that made Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s kooky 2014 film great. Watch it below:

Lord and Miller did not return to direct The Lego Movie 2. However, their script still allows new helmers Mike Mitchell (Sky High) and Trisha Gum to work some high-flying cinema magic. As evidenced in the trailer, the film may very well give its predecessor a run for its money. Let’s go deep.

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Wait, what happened to Bricksburg? Is this Blade Runner 2049?

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No it isn’t, it’s Mad Max: Fury Road!

Already, the LEGO Movie folks utilize a brilliant tactic to reintroduce audiences to their realm. Who doesn’t love a good Fury Road reference? Arguably, any dystopian sci-fi reference is pretty much gold these days.

But this opening sequence works twofold: as a gag, and as a means to catch us up on what we’ve missed narrative-wise. Things have changed drastically since The LEGO Movie, to say the least. The deceptively cute aliens from Duplo — who were quickly introduced at the end of the first film — have actually made right by their promise to destroy Bricksburg. They remain one of the main antagonists in The LEGO Movie 2, and we should probably not underestimate them.

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As Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) — in full Max Rockatansky mode — dramatically narrates, “A lifetime has passed since the horrific events of Taco Tuesday. Our lives descended into chaos. This new life has toughened and hardened us all.” The camera pans over a rusty, dusty new reality where even the Statue of Liberty has been repurposed into some patchwork of a building.

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But of course, good old Emmet has remained the same, disrupting Wyldstyle’s theatrical reveal with a coffee order. For the most part, Emmet doesn’t seem to have grown up very much at all, despite having been definitively labeled a chosen one in the previous film. Eh, his imperfections are endearing.

Between taking his time rattling off his order to the LEGO behind the counter and holding up a long line consisting of some very severe-looking patrons, Emmet’s inability to read a room is both admirable and worrisome. His antics would logically put him in danger in any other film with a similarly dire setting. But this is a movie about LEGOs for crying out loud, and the self-referential nature is evident.

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In any case, Larry behind the counter seems very unimpressed, although who could fault him with a face that’s so tough to love.

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Despite the tense situation in the coffee house, Emmet gets his drinks and goes on his way. He pops on a pair of headphones, and we get to see what he’s listening to: a playlist demonstrating that he won’t give up his farce of “awesomeness” all that easily.

Just how many remixes of “Everything is Awesome” can the world endure? That doesn’t matter because The LEGO Movie 2 is here to deliver yet another one, this time of the so-called Tween Dream variety. More of the film’s uncanny sense of self-awareness rears its head here, and the contrast of a world gone awry set to the lilting sounds of indie pop is also thoroughly amusing.

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However, life in a dystopian Bricksburg actually kind of sucks. Emmet makes the most of it on his commute home, greeting cyborgs and being almost annoying peppy about everything around him… even sewer babies. At this point, is he really clueless or just coping?

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Post-coffee run, Emmet and Wyldstyle reunite, and their first onscreen interaction plays out in what appears to be their shared home; that is, if the little pillow to the right of the frame is any indication. Even without any other means of exposition, this tiny detail hints at some kind of progression that’s happened in both protagonists’ lives.

Wyldstyle — whose real name is Lucy — is clearly exhausted. She spent all of The LEGO Movie trying to save the world while Emmet sort of just fell into the job by accident. Then, without even so much as a break, another invasion happened. So when she chastises Emmet for his happy-go-lucky outlook on life amidst death and destruction, I feel for her.

Of course, he gets easily distracted by a shining orb in the sky. Some things just never change.

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In the middle of a cityscape that’s once again reminiscent of Blade Runner, something new emerges. The first clue of yet another foe.

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Wyldstyle takes a closer look (while Emmet just appears a little too happy and gormless). “What is it up to?”

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Eventually, Sweet Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz) makes her first full appearance. She speaks in a sharp robotic tone that strongly contrasts her adorable pink and purple get-up, addressing a group of some recognizable characters. Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), Benny the Spaceman (Charlie Day), and of course the fan fave Batman (Will Arnett) make appearances in the trailer, although they are all wordless thus far.

Sweet Mayhem demands to meet the LEGOs’ “fiercest leader,” and Emmet is immediately touted as the Special by Wyldstyle. That is, before a quick scan of the guy declares…

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…that he is far more unremarkable than we would hope. Harsh, but it leads into the best joke in the entire trailer.

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According to Sweet Mayhem, Wyldstyle “fought and Master Built and kicked butt, and the hapless male was the leader;” a fact that she herself cannot fault. Between this line and the visual and aural disparities of a villain like Sweet Mayhem, we catch a real glimpse of the film’s throughline of gender issues. This was teased by producer Chris McKay last year, when he mentioned that the sequel would question socialized concepts of gendered toys and play, and unconscious biases would be brought to the forefront. If Wyldstyle was sidelined in the first LEGO Movie, at least this one is willing to rectify that.

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Of course, this wouldn’t be The LEGO Movie without some inexplicably ridiculous action. After a brief truck chase earlier in the trailer — Fury Road style — we’re treated to this strange sequence that seems to involve stickers as ammo. It’s quick and detached from any context for now, but hey, any excuse to take a closer look at Batman! Will Arnett managed to elicit a chuckle from me without him saying more than, “ARGH!”

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At least, albeit towards the end of the teaser, Emmet’s task is finally made known. His girlfriend and his crew need him! They’ve been all snatched up by Sweet Mayhem and brought back to her realm. The footage so far has been focused on reminding the audience of just how ineffectual the character can be. That said, Emmet actually has a lot of heart, and it is his most prized asset. His determination will undoubtedly serve him well as he reacquaints himself with his inner hero.

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Perhaps one of the ways Emmet ends up proving himself is by Master Building some engines into his own house (unless Wyldstyle put them there first; in case of emergencies or something). Clearly, this film relishes in its sheer lack of limitations, and I’m totally here for it.

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Ending everything off with another endearing joke (the Sistar System does look captivating) as well as more Wyldstyle wisdom, The LEGO Movie 2 absolutely looks primed to be a worthy follow-up to one of the most original animated films of recent years. The teaser has just enough of the franchise’s multifaceted humor — including references to other WB properties — to really sail while driving home the point of family that was such a crucial aspect of the first film. We still haven’t been treated to any appearances by Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) or Ice Cream Cone (Arturo Castro), but that’s a good thing. After all, the element of the surprise helped The LEGO Movie succeed in the first place, and the sequel couldn’t come fast enough.

The LEGO Movie 2 is scheduled for release on February 8, 2019.

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