WARNING: Spoilers for The LEGO Movie 2 ahead.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part has a massive twist, one so big that many audiences will be unclear if it even makes any sense in the movie's elaborate, brick-built world. Does it? That answer really depends on what you believe is really happening in this and the other LEGO films.
The first LEGO movie contained a massive if well-foreshadowed, twist: the entire world was a basement collection brought to life by a child's imagination, with the battle between the Master Builders and Lord Business a representation of the conflict between a creative son and his "for display" father. A more clearly allegorical twist on the Toy Story premise, what was so impressive about Phil Lord and Chris Miller's story was that it held up to pretty close scrutiny (bar Emmet seemingly being able to move himself at one point in the real world); everything that happened in the LEGO multiverse had a human input parallel.
Related: The LEGO Movie 2 Review
Can the same be said The LEGO Movie 2's twist? The sequel takes the world established in the first movie as writ and instead goes for something a lot more abstract, weird and mind-bending. As a result, while you'll leave The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part with your heart warmed, you'll also have your mind blown. We'll try and piece it back together by explaining how the film can make sense - and where the real confusion lies.
The Lego Movie 2 Twist Explained: Rex Dangervest Is Emmet From The "Future"
The core twist of The LEGO Movie 2 is that Rex Dangervest, the raptor-training archeologist, is actually a twisted version of Emmet from the future (hence why he's also voiced by Chris Pratt) who wants to corrupt the happy builder. In the original timeline (which the movie doesn't show at first), when Emmet traveled through the Stairgate to save his friends from General Mayhem, his ship was destroyed and he was trapped underneath the dryer and forgotten about. Becoming slowly disenfranchised and embittered, he eventually saved himself and transformed into the badass that Lucy had always wanted Emmet to be. Using the time travel machines from Back to the Future, Hot Tub Time Machine, Bill & Ted and Doctor Who, he went back to intercept his past self before the ship was destroyed. Rex's plan remained the same - to defeat the Systars - but it was no longer about saving his friends but transforming Emmet into himself.
If that sounds like it would only make sense if a child came up with it, you'd be right: the entire Rex Dangervest twist is part of the story Finn (Jadon Sand) is telling with his LEGO toys. He's created a convoluted narrative because that's what pre-teens do, but there's added intent of trying to make sense of destroying his sister's constructions; he's already painted her toys as villains, now one of his heroes is from a dark timeline where he didn't stop her. This is teased in The LEGO Movie 2 early on when he out-right says that he's using time travel.
As such, the time travel doesn't really need to make sense, although The LEGO Movie 2's method does work as long as you don't overthink it. Rex uses time travel from four different franchises, so it's never going to be totally logical, but what's happened is a rather simple time loop; Rex wants to complete the mission then make Emmet into the same hardened bad guy. When Emmet refuses and finds support with his friends, Rex disappears as there's no way for him to exist. That doesn't explain where the Rex figure went to in real life, of course.
Where The Lego Movie 2 Twist Doesn't Make Sense
That said, there are some weird parts of The LEGO Movie 2's twist that don't quite hold up to scrutiny. This is less to do with the time travel and more the rules of the world as established in the first film.
As laid out in The LEGO Movie, the majority of the events are a brightly-colored, fun representation of serious family conflict in the real world. In the first movie, that involved Will Ferrell's father breaking up his son's creations and permanently gluing his collection in place represented as black-cube Micro Managers. Here, that's the "kidnap" of Wildstyle, Batman et al being Bianca (Brooklynn Prince) stealing her brother's toys and Momaggedon being Maya Rudolph's mother forcing the toys into storage. All of that is certainly offbeat, yet the way the LEGO movies present them makes sense; there's a clear line between the play and the world.
Things break down at The LEGO Movie 2's ending. The film's denouement is a confrontation between Emmet and Rex under the dryer. The problem is that there is explicitly no human controlling this showdown; Rex comes to symbolize what Finn could grow to be, but in doing so loses any connection to the child's play narrative he's born from. There are lines alluding to this not making any sense and being entirely figurative, but that doesn't provide a satisfactory explanation; the whole movie has to be a representation of internal, subconscious conflict, not a skewed presentation of the bickering between siblings.
Ultimately, whether The LEGO Movie 2's twist works depends entirely on your reading of the movie. If you want the world to be entirely logical to reality, it's going to be nonsense, but if you accept what the film is really trying to do - use one of the most on-the-surface cynical ideas in Hollywood and use it to promote creativity, reconciliation and acceptance - then how it stumbles on a micro level will cease to matter.
- The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) release date: Feb 08, 2019