Five years after the events of “The LEGO Movie,” Bricksburg is an apocalyptic wasteland riddled with constant mayhem. Master Builder, Emmet Brickowski, remains optimistic in the face of turmoil.

However, when an intergalactic general kidnaps his friends and takes them to the Systar System, it is up to him to save them from the supposed bad guys.

Along the way, he meets Rex Dangervest, an amalgam of adventurous character tropes with a mysterious backstory that ties back to Emmet in more ways than one.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller do not return to direct the film, and at times, it is noticeable. While their writing delivers great comedy and character-driven arcs, “The LEGO Movie 2” lacks the brisk pace and tight-knit comedy of the first film.

“The LEGO Movie 2” takes more time to focus on the characters’ emotions and personal relationships as opposed to its meta humor. While predominantly effective, it weakens the overall impact in comparison to the first movie.

Thankfully, the execution is on par with the first film’s excellence. The voice acting and characters are as charming as ever.

Chris Pratt triumphs in his dual role as Emmet and Rex; one could easily forget it is Pratt essentially having a conversation with himself. The rest of the cast succeeds in reprising their roles, and the additional voice actors contribute to the camaraderie within the film’s universe.

The animation is impeccable, with the credits sequence being a surprise gem out of the bunch.

The meta humor, while not as strong, is still quick-witted, especially in the film’s ribbing of the viral song, “Everything Is Awesome.”

If viewers are aware of the ending to the first film, they will recognize the plot within “The LEGO Movie 2” almost immediately. The reveal is not as surprising as the twist within the first film, but the strongest aspect of the movie is its message. In the first film, the message of being yourself was well-executed. However, it is also a very marketable moral. Many children’s films promote the concept of a positive self-image, but it can become so tired that the execution becomes generic.

However, “The LEGO Movie 2” approaches its various themes with an even hand. The main takeaway of the film is that in the bleakest of times, being optimistic and caring is the most radical act of self-preservation.

Whether audiences see this as a commentary of our current pessimistic social attitudes or our indulgent consumption of dark, edgy media, “The LEGO Movie 2” validates the concept of loving oneself in place of self-deprecation and insecurities.

While the humor and pacing may not be as strong as the first film, the message greatly compensates for these minor faults.

“The LEGO Movie 2” makes for an amusing sequel to its acclaimed predecessor, proving that anything can still be awesome.