How many lego movies are there ? The LEGO Movie franchise is one of the most surprising success stories in Hollywood’s recent obsession with making films based on toys and products. What could have been nothing but a series of films that serve as nothing more than extended advertisements ended up being one of the most creative, hilarious, and surprisingly emotional animated franchises of the last decade. Sadly, it seems like being overlooked by the Academy Awards has been a hallmark of every entry in the series thus far.
While there have been countless LEGO-related shorts, television shows, and streaming specials, there’s only been a few films released directly to cinemas. Here are all four theatrically released LEGO movies, ranked.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part isn’t a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but in comparison to the heights of its predecessors, it feels somewhat underwhelming. The stop-motion animation is just as gorgeous, but the film doesn’t really add anything new when it comes to the subtext about growing up.
The first film boasted the surprising twist that the story was based on the relationship between a father and son, which ended up being both touching and emotional. The continuation of this metaphor to show a brother’s relationship with his sister felt less exclusive, as the “why don’t we share?” message felt rather simplistic.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie
The LEGO Ninjago Movie was inspired by the popular LEGO brand that had inspired several television specials and miniseries. The film itself is distinct among the other LEGO movies due to the entirely new cast of characters that weren’t introduced in the prior films.
This is essentially The LEGO Movie universe’s version of the Power Rangers; Lloyd (Dave Franco), Jay (Kumail Nanjiani), Cole (Fred Armisen), Nya (Abbie Jacobson), Kai (Michael Pena), and Zane (Zach Woods) are all high school best friends that live secret lives as crime fighters. The high school setting helps ground the film and indicate exactly who the audience is; while The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Movie both featured jokes and insights that were more interesting for adults, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is primarily for kids.
That’s not to say that the film has less value; instead of trying to cram in toilet humor for the sake of cheap jokes, The LEGO Ninjago Movie inherits the same visual charm and zippiness as its predecessors. Justin Theroux’s scenery chewing villain Lord Garmadon, the mythic Lord of Evil, is reason enough to give it a watch.
The LEGO Batman Movie
Many of Batman’s best adventures have been in animation, and The LEGO Batman Movie is no less insightful about the character than Batman: The Animated Series or Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Will Arnett’s version of the Dark Knight of Gotham is a hilariously lonely narcissist who deeply fears connecting with others because of the death of his parents. While this means that Batman gets to sing a rap song about how awesome he is, it also means that he is constantly alone and isolates himself from even his father figure and butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).
The film makes the brilliant decision to tell a father-son story between Batman and Robin, and Michael Cera couldn’t be more endearing as a young Dick Grayson. His consistent youthful energy may irritate his mentor, but it’s completely adorable for the audience. Batman’s revelation that his friends have become his family, and that they matter more to him than anything else is one of the most touching moments in a franchise that rarely allows for sentimental moments.
As a superhero movie, The LEGO Batman Movie delivers thanks to Zack Galifinackis’ delightful performance as the Joker. The film takes an interesting slant on the relationship between Batman and the Joker; they both need each other to exist, as neither would have a role to play if there was ever a decisive end to their story.
The LEGO Movie
The LEGO Movie is a celebration of creativity that manages to celebrate the power of individuality and encourage kids to think outside the box. All apologies to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, but this was the product-based movie that criticized its parent company first. The film uses the struggle of an ordinary citizen, Emmett (Chris Pratt), against the evil tyrant Lord Business (Will Ferrell) as an analogy for the dynamic between a father and son, and provides a lesson for both of them. It acknowledges that while civility must be maintained, following a strict schedule and guidelines won’t result in anything positive in the long run.
This shouldn’t suggest that The LEGO Movie is super serious, because directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller added the same level of visual creativity and rapid fire humor that they brought to the 21 Jump Street films. The film is so packed with cues and references to the history of LEGO and its brands that it would take multiple rewatches to catch all of the jokes. The opening sequence, set to the original song “Everything is Awesome,” establishes the themes of the film in a hilarious way; maybe adhering strictly to a routine isn’t actually that awesome.
Leading Up To Release
Once production began, things really started to move on the project. Big-name stars such as Chris Pratt and Will Arnett were quickly cast to lend their voices to lead roles. When it came time to animate the characters, the studio put a lot of work into replicating Brickfilms: stop motion animated short films using LEGO bricks and figures. Animators often used LEGO’s online set builder to create the models for the movie before uploading them to their animation software. Extensive work was put into ensuring the bricks and characters had accurate details as though they were made with stop motion animation. Multiple real-life figurines and bricks were photoscanned in order to get tiny blemishes, such as fingerprints and paint chips, onto the 3D models.
Despite the extensive work put into the animation, the budget including advertising was only $100 million. The film was produced by Warner Animation Group, a new division of Warner Bros. Animation, and was their first film actually made. Alongside trailers, over twenty LEGO sets were made based on scenes from the movie. LEGO stores added character posters to purchases over a set limit, and fans were able to create LEGO versions of themselves online.
The Explosion of Popularity
The LEGO Movie was released and received almost universal acclaim. Many praised the animation work, many praised the fun story, while many others praised both. The movie presently sits at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many fans were initially cautious due to the movie seeming, on the surface, to be another attempt at selling LEGO sets. However, doubters were persuaded by the story that shares a good message about self-positivity as well as strengthening the bonds between parents and their children.
Ninjago And The Road to Downfall
The massive success of The LEGO Movie, and the many awards it had won, led to Warner Bros. pursuing franchising options almost immediately. In 2016, Legoland theme parks around the globe opened up 4D adventures based on the movie. In 2017, two planned spinoffs were released to far less acclaim. The LEGO Batman Movie saw moderately successful reviews, however, The LEGO Ninjago Movie received far more mixed reviews. Critics and fans alike felt as though a third film following a similar formula, using the format of LEGO bricks to make jokes, had marked the movies as becoming somewhat tired. Even though many were quick to point out that there were some entertaining moments, The LEGO Ninjago Movie didn’t quite click like the others. Franchise fatigue had begun to set in just three years after the first movie’s release.
A direct sequel was eventually greenlit with the main cast returning. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part released in 2019, written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, underwent multiple changes in producers, directors, and writers. The sequel had a similar marketing push as the first movie, and the studio even put the entirety of The LEGO Movie on Youtube for one day, including a trailer for the sequel at the end. Although it contained many of the same elements as the first, the sequel was ultimately a box office bomb. Many cited how similar the sequel was to the first movie, pointing to the marketing as making the sequel appear as though it would be derivative of the first.
Following the low returns of the sequel, making only $192 million on a $99 million budget, plans for further movies in the franchise were scrapped. Warner Bros. cut their losses and allowed their film rights to the LEGO brand to expire. LEGO then entered negotiations with Universal to make further films, and in April of 2020 they signed a 5-year film deal. It’s uncertain at this point if the future movies will be in the same universe or if they’ll “reboot” the franchise like many other franchise attempts have done. With the impact of COVID likely delaying production on any attempts to make a new LEGO movie, it will possibly be quite some time before audiences see the shiny plastic bricks on the silver screen again.
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