Brick by brick, ranking ‘Lego’ franchise
Why are the Lego movies the first film franchise built for the Internet age? Because they’re so darn clickable. ❚ If you groaned only mildly at that – or are a child who leaves enough Legos on the floor to give Mom and Dad their own Ninja Warrior course – the shared universe of building-block characters are probably your jam. Full of catchy songs, a punny sense of humor and a toy box full of colorful personalities, the interlocking saga kicked off in Bricksburg with new hero Emmet Brickowski (voiced by Chris Pratt) in 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” traveled to Gotham City and Ninjago City, and now heads to space for a new sequel. ❚ With “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” in theaters, it’s time to rank the Lego movies to see if everything is indeed awesome.
4. ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ (2017)
Kids knew the Ninjago characters and toys more than pop culture on the whole when this arrived, and the effort combining kung fu, kaiju movies and family drama never all comes together. Still,villain Lord Garmadon (a deliciously malevolent Justin Theroux) and his shark army are a hoot and the complicated dynamic between him and his estranged son Lloyd (Dave Franco), leader of a color-coordinated group of teen ninjas, rises above a so-so narrative. The live-action elements also are a mixed bag: Jackie Chan is included almost as stunt casting, but an antagonistic real cat named Meowthra totally rules.
3. ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ (2019)
It’s a testament to the quality of these films so far that this super-fun sequel lands in the bottom half of the franchise. Characters get musical numbers and existential crises aplenty as naive Emmet, uber-cool Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) and their pals leave Mad Maxed Bricksburg and head to a glitterbombed planet ruled by the quite-possibly-evil Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish). While the follow-up is missing the freshness of the original, “The Second Part” explores gender dynamics in family-friendly fashion and gives Pratt a chance to mash up his live-action heroes in the form of Lego macho man Rex Dangervest.
2. ‘The Lego Movie’ (2014)
Still a conundrum five years later: How does a movie that lets Gandalf, Wonder Woman, Lando Calrissian, Abraham Lincoln and Shaquille O’Neal share the big screen NOT get an Oscar nomination for best animated feature? The original “Lego” smash, which took Emmet from an anonymous worker bee to a guy who learns he’s meant for much bigger things, is a refreshing concoction of pop culture and childlike imagination that also succeeds as an irreverent sociopolitical satire of corporate greed and megalomaniacal businessmen.
1. ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ (2017)
Not only one of the best movies of two years ago, “Lego Batman” is among the few movies that actually understands its iconic Dark Knight at a core level. This supremely self-confident dude (Will Arnett) punches bad guys, details his “nine-pack abs” and shreds on his electric guitar, but it’s all a mask for this complicated mess of a man who’s haunted by his parents’ death and won’t let anyone else close. So it’s all the more joyously bonkers to see him let excitable orphan Robin (Michael Cera) into his heart while taking on the Joker, Voldemort, King Kong and others to protect his beloved Gotham.