Play­ing Out­side the Box

Di­rec­tors Mike Mitchell and Tri­cia Gum bring a new POV and mul­ti­me­dia an­i­ma­tion to By Tom Mclean The LEGO Movie 2: The Sec­ond Part.

Animation Magazine - - Features -

F ew films in re­cent years have sur­prised view­ers more than 2014’s The LEGO Movie. Writ­ten and di­rected by Christo­pher Miller and Phil Lord, what could have been — and many ex­pected to be — a two-hour toy com­mer­cial was in­stead an in­ven­tive, funny and emo­tional moviego­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

With the huge com­mer­cial suc­cess of the movie spawn­ing suc­cess­ful spinoffs The LEGO Bat­man Movie and The LEGO Nin­jago Movie, the orig­i­nal gets a di­rect se­quel with The Lego Movie 2: The Sec­ond Part, due in the­aters Fe­bru­ary 8 from Warner Bros. with most of the orig­i­nal voice cast re­turn­ing along­side Miller and Lord as writ­ers and pro­duc­ers.

Step­ping into the di­rec­tor’s chair is Mike Mitchell, whose di­verse di­rect­ing cred­its range from live-ac­tion come­dies Deuce Bi­ga­low: Male Gigolo and Sky High, to hy­brid fea­tures such as Alvin and the Chip­munks: Chip­wrecked and straight-on CG an­i­ma­tion on Dream­works An­i­ma­tion and the 2016 hit Trolls.

The idea of mak­ing an­i­ma­tion more tac­tile was a ma­jor fac­tor in de­sign­ing the look of Trolls, and it car­ried over to the phys­i­cal na­ture of LEGO for the se­quel. “Ev­ery­thing has gone CGI and ev­ery­thing is be­hind a screen now, and for me that’s why we re­ally wanted to get tac­tile in Trolls and we re­ally brought that into the LEGO film, be­cause I re­ally miss that,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell, who came aboard after orig­i­nal helmer Chris Mckay took on in­stead The LEGO Bat­man Movie and Rob Schrab came and left over cre­ative dif­fer­ences, says Miller and Lord con­vinced him to take the job with the story pitch and were deeply in­vested and hands-on with the movie.

“I wanted to re­mind ev­ery­one what was so great about the first film and then evolve from that, so it’s es­sen­tial to have those guys around,” says Mitchell. “I al­ways de­scribe my­self like an Ob-gyn who’s de­liv­er­ing Chris and Phil’s beau­ti­ful baby.”

In­ter­plan­e­tary Fun

The LEGO Movie 2: The Sec­ond Part picks up just after the orig­i­nal’s end­ing of Will Fer­rell telling his son Finn (played in both films by Jadon Sand) that his lit­tle sis­ter, Bianca, was go­ing to be al­lowed to play with the LE­GOS as well, and her adorable DUPLO cre­ations ar­riv­ing to “dest­woy” Bricks­burg. The LEGO char­ac­ters be­gin a jour­ney into Bianca’s play uni­verse com­prised of 11 rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent play plan­ets, col­lec­tively known as the Sys­tar Sys­tem.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Sec­ond Part stars Chris Pratt, El­iz­a­beth Banks, Tif­fany Had­dish, Will Ar­nett, Stephanie Beatriz, Char­lie Day, Ali­son Brie, Nick Of­fer­man and Maya Ru­dolph. The film is pro­duced by Dan Lin, Lord, Miller

and Roy Lee, the team be­hind the LEGO film fran­chise, and by Jinko Go­toh. Patrick Marc Ha­nen­berger is the pro­duc­tion de­signer, and Claire Knight is the ed­i­tor. The mu­sic is com­posed by Mark Mothers­baugh.

Co-di­rec­tor Tr­isha Gum brought plenty of stop-mo­tion ex­per­tise to the movie, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked on projects like Ro­bot Chicken and the ac­claimed Ama­zon kids’ se­ries Tum­ble Leaf. Gum’s role in the movie in­cluded ev­ery­thing from work­ing with ac­tors in the record­ing booth, to work­ing with Mitchell, Lord and Miller on ed­i­to­rial, and over­see­ing pro­duc­tion in Van­cou­ver at LEGO fran­chise veter­ans An­i­mal Logic’s new fa­cil­ity there.

Gum es­pe­cially rel­ished the prospect of bring­ing to life Bianca’s worlds. “She’s re­ally crafty, plays with LEGO, but also likes to do mixed me­dia, as most lit­tle girls do,” she says. “We re­ally wanted to make this feel hand- made and crafty, and so there’s a lot of cut pa­per and fab­ric and things like that, that re­ally give it a more mul­ti­me­dia kind of feel to it.”

The goal was to con­vey the idea that Bianca is do­ing ev­ery­thing in her world, from pup­pet­ing the char­ac­ters to mov­ing the fab­rics. And then LEGO had to be in­cor­po­rated into that. One ex­am­ple was cre­at­ing a look for sky and par­tic­u­larly wa­ter in the Sys­tar sys­tem us­ing fab­ric. “Wa­ter was a big thing that we had to R&D be­cause it comes out of foun­tains and some­times it leaks or the char­ac­ters are in­ter­act­ing and swim­ming in it,” Gum says. “We had to fig­ure a way to move the fab­ric so it felt like a lit­tle child’s hands were ac­tu­ally touch­ing it.” LE­GOS were in­cor­po­rated to the mix as bub­ble ef­fects and splashes.

Adding New El­e­ments

One el­e­ment the se­quel is un­able to repli-

Co-di­rec­tor Tr­isha Gum as keep­ing the charm and in­tegrity of the first LEGO Movie — of Em­met and all his friends that come back. I think it has a beau­ti­ful mix of what we all loved about the first LEGO Movie, and then just gave it whole new unique look and an­other point of view.” ◆

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