The LEGO Ninjago Movie Review
PG for some mild action and rude humor
Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Animation Group
Directors: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan | Writers: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Cast: Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen. Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn. Kumail Nanjiani
Michael Peña, Zach Woods, Jackie Chan
INTRO: Out of all LEGO properties out there, I was never really fond of the Ninjago series. I know the animated series has existed for years and grown into a global phenomenon for boys, but I was way out of that demographic once it was aired. But now LEGO Movies are a big deal for their forms of storytelling are surprisingly more impactful than most animated movies released today. If you ask me, I think "The LEGO Batman Movie" is the year’s best-animated movie released by a major studio so far. You may have heard me say this before, but I even told Chris McKay (director of LEGO Batman Movie) that I am prepared for every LEGO movie that WB has in store for us. Now we have "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" which is the second LEGO movie to be released this year. Will it live up to the other LEGO Movies or just another lame animated film of 2017?
In this big-screen NINJAGO adventure, the battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, who are all secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon, The Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd's dad. Pitting mech against mech and father against son, the epic showdown will test this fierce but undisciplined team of modern-day ninjas who must learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash their inner power of Spinjitzu.
WHERE YOU GO NOBODY KNOWS
The funny thing about these movies that always work is the unpredictability of the plot. Throughout the entire film, I had no idea where the story was going to go. The first act plays like a climax of the movie as it mainly focused on the relationship between Lloyd and Garmadon. It plays similar to a Power Rangers movie that’s much better than this year’s Power Rangers movie mainly due to its consistent tone. There are a plenty amount of surprising twists and turns with the plot that even though you sense a bit of mediocrity, you will be thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
ITS ALL IN THE CAST
One of the key elements that keep this film high is the voice talent. You have this A-list cast of comedic actors, and they all bring their A game. The primary source of humor throughout really comes from Justin Theroux who plays Lord Garmadon. Granted he mispronounces words similar to the shtick Lord Business do, but Theroux’s deep menacing voice allows the dialogue that he has to be silly as hell and he delivers it amazingly.
THE FEELS ARE STRONG WITH THIS ONE
As I said before, it is insane how great these LEGO Movies can express genuine emotion more impactful than typical dramas. What makes the emotion feel organic despite its reoccurring theme is the way how characters interact each other. We feel for Lloyd being outcast and his desperate need for fatherly love and affection. Its story equivalent to if Luke Skywalker already knew Darth Vader was his dad, and so did the rest of the galaxy and the whole movie revolved around him just wanting to connect with him.
YOU MAY BE THE WEAKEST; DOESN'T MEAN YOU’RE A BAD FILM
Though this is the third LEGO theatrical release, we are officially overly familiar with what to expect with every aspect of it. We know how the humor is established, how quirky and silly the characters are, and how the action looks like. While this has a campy anime style aesthetic to its action sequences, you get the gist of how it plays out to be. One of the biggest issues that I have with this especially with this being the third film of its type leads to the next section.
THIS REOCCURRING DADDY ISSUE THEME IS STARTING TO WEAR THIN
While watching the dysfunctional connection between Lloyd and Garmadon, I asked myself, “wait wasn’t this father/son theme a huge chunk of what LEGO Batman Movie was? And wasn’t that theme the thing that took us by surprise with LEGO Movie in the first place?” I am getting the repetitious vibe, especially from the movie’s theme. It does work, but it doesn’t help but feel like a pale imitation of story elements from its predecessors. I’m exhausted with the daddy issue theme and I’m hungry for something new, and this doesn’t hit it near as close to LEGO Batman or The LEGO Movie. I cried in LEGO Batman! This only gave me chills nearly twice and that’s it.
YOU DON’T NEED LIVE ACTION SEQUENCES TO FILL IN A MOVIE
This may be a spoiler, but you need to know this. Just like The LEGO Movie, the film features a live-action sequence between a boy and Jackie Chan in a ninja shop. Whereas in that movie, the live action sequence was a plot twist that expressed what the movie was all about, this incorporates that live action to fill in the opening & closing of the movie for the writers weren’t smart enough to connect an idea to play into the story organically. Its presentation seems a bit forced more than inspired. It could’ve pulled a LEGO Batman and not feature it at all, but nope we need to show that Jackie Chan is still alive and show this is all through the eyes of a child. It's not that funny neither is it entertaining.
WHERE THE WRITERS AT?
The humor is self-aware at times and has some wit, but the issue here is that the smart writing to keep the speed fueling is absent. "The LEGO Movie" worked based on the genius of Lord/Miller and their passion behind telling a meaningful story for they can take a dense property and discover uncharted depth with it. "The LEGO Batman Movie" worked because it was primarily a spoof of Batman and the long history behind his character which allowed a lot of jokes to easily write themselves (even though there were five writers). With The LEGO Ninjago Movie you have six different writers who unfortunately don’t have the spectacular mind frame of Lord/Miller. What is weird about the six writers on this, is that they are more experienced with working in the art department of projects more than screenwriting which explains a lot.
LAST STATEMENT: The franchise may be running out of steam as I’m starting to get LEGO fatigue, but The LEGO Ninjago has enough elements from the action, humor, and animation to keep families everywhere entertained.
Rating: 3/5 | 68%
Super Scene: Gammadion’s backstory