The Lego Ninjago Movie
The Lego Ninjago Movie film Review
In 2014, many feared the worse from The Lego Movie. They dreaded a corporate, cold, product-flogging animation, devoid of cinematic value and joy, and while we did actually receive such a film in this year’s lamentable The Emoji Movie, The Lego Movie was a huge – and welcome – surprise. Filled with innovative set pieces, anarchic action, bullet-like gags, references aplenty and an unexpectedly poignant punch that took the title product and applied it to a really human story. Then, the Lego Cinematic Universe continued to click (if you will), with this year’s incredibly fun and loving parody/homage The Lego Batman Movie. So is it three times lucky for the Lego team?
Well there may be some level of debate about that but make no mistake about it this new instalment in the Lego movie series is still fun, if a lot more inconsistent. The Lego Ninjago Movie is based on the toyline of the same name but actually has a lot in common with a Power Rangers film, in its group dynamic (and young person aimed giddy action/high school scenes). In fact some might say it is the best Power Rangers movie never made, though Dean Israelite’s reboot this year was a tad underrated. However, when compared to the unexpected heights of the previous Lego films, The Lego Ninjago Movie does feel decidedly less clever and deep.
The story concerns Lloyd (Dave Franco) a young man who has the pressures of having an estranged father that is a supervillain warlord (we’ve all been there) in Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux). However Lloyd has a secret, he is actually The Green Ninja, one of the six Ninja heroes that protect the city of Ninjago from Garmadon’s evil attempts at domination. And from there on, we get a film that is a fun watch and which boasts a very worthwhile message of distant/broken families being able to reconnect but one which fails to imprint its blocky feet on the mind and heart as strongly as it might. The screenplay is hectic and, at times, like a booze-addled kung fu movie marathon, but the comic beats are less consistent and there are stretches that fail to muster the same energy and referential zingers. Bookended by live action scenes, featuring Jackie Chan being charming (as only he can), the film does not have the same grip on your heart and feels less wide in its appeal, as this is a movie catered far more for kids (with its butt jokes and silliness).
This is not all bad however and the film does continually entertain with its expected animated zaniness. It also helps that the actual leading characters are a joy, with Lloyd being a relatable hero and Theroux stealing the show as the wickledly brilliant Lord Garmadon, who really is one of the Lego movie universe’s most enjoyable characters to date. The supporting crew are fine company too but are mostly relegated to colour-coded powers and don’t have the more fleshed out characters that graced the likes of The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie.
This being said, there is still plenty for the kids to enjoy and adults will likely find themselves smiling too. Yes it lacks the all around slickness and novelty of what came before but the franchise stays alive and despite the flaws (including a surprisingly ordinary soundtrack), this is an enjoyable enough cinema visit that boasts a very big cat for good measure. That said, next time, the Lego team may need to work out a few wrinkles if they want everything to remain awesome in future flicks.