Second Lego movie to build on success of first
When The Lego Movie hit cinemas five years ago it set a new benchmark in animation.
With millions of individually-built digital Lego pieces, the film had a look and feel unlike other CGI film and boasted an acclaimed story and Oscar-nominated theme song to match.
It was one of the top grossing films of the year and further boosted the profile of Sydney-based animation studio Animal Logic.
Now, after two spin-off films, The Lego Movie's long-awaited sequel is here. Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks reprise their roles as best friends Emmet and Lucy, while Phil Lord and Christopher Miller return as writers and producers.
The Lego Movie 2 delivers an even more colourful world as the citizens of Bricksburg face a new threat: Duplo invaders from outer space who wreck everything faster than it can be rebuilt.
"With every film we push the boundaries and take on new technology and creative challenges,” producer Zareh Nalbandian says.
"The level of complexity that was in this movie - in the characters, sets and set pieces and action - was definitely pushing to the next level. You don't realise how much detail goes into these sorts of movies. There are more than 3000 pieces of glitter in Batman's cape.
"There's one explosion in this film where, if you tried to do it in your basement with Lego bricks then you'd need 1.5 million bricks.
"These are things you could never imagine doing in a live action world, but you can do in a CGI world as we have more computing power.”
Following on from the ending of the first film, Finn's younger sister Bianca and her toys have descended upon the basement.
Much to her brother's frustration, the imaginative sibling wants to join the fun with her Duplo and minidoll characters and her own ideas - including two powerful new female characters in the form of a queen and her general.
"I really felt like it set up a good basis for exploring those great universal themes of growing up, learning to play nice with others and never being too old to play,” Nalbandian says. "The nice thing about Lego is anyone who played with it as a kid remembers it fondly. You think of it not as a toy but a conduit for creativity.”
The Animal Logic team, split between Sydney and the company's new Vancouver office, also faced the challenge of following up the first film's incredibly catchy song Everything Is Awesome.
Fans return to Brickburg to find that everything is "not awesome” after the Duplo invasion as Emmet, Lucy and their friends have had to adapt to a new, Mad Max-style dystopian world.
"That song, of course, was huge,” he says. "I think Phil and Chris and the whole creative team did a great take on it that harked back to the first film.
"But the other musical sequences in this will blow audiences away.”
So where does the Lego cinematic universe go from here?
"I can say that we still remain very enthusiastic about the Lego universe,” Nalbandian says. "The most important thing is to have a great story to tell. No one is going to rush into the next Lego movie until we really feel confident about having anther great story to tell. There are a lot of great minds at work right now on that.”
The Lego Movie 2 opens in cinemas on Thursday.
STARS: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Tiffany Haddish.
DIRECTOR: Mike Mitchell
REVIEWER'S LAST WORD: This even more busy and colourful Lego adventure drives home the importance of imagination and learning to get along. Plus there are plenty of in-jokes and movie references for parents too.