“The Lego Ninjago Movie” stars Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Michael Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Fred Armisen, Olivia Munn, and Jackie Chan. Released on September 22, 2017, the film has a group of ninjas protecting the land of Ninjago from a menacing warlord.
The film is directed by Charlie Bean, who served as a storyboard artist for shows such as Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, and Cow and Chicken. The film is also directed by Paul Fisher and Bob Logan. It is based on the toy line of the same name, as well as the second spin-off of the animated film, The Lego Movie. The past two Lego movies have done nothing but impress many fans young and old, so it’s no surprise that Warner Brothers wants to keep the train going. This month, their true challenge lies within a new Lego film that’s based on an original property in the form of Ninjago. While a lot of people are familiar with Lego Batman, which came out earlier this year, Lego Ninjago is a different story. Sure, there were plenty of young boys who have heard of Ninjago from the Cartoon Network show and the toys, but to those who aren’t familiar with the product, this movie can be a tough sell, especially when you got a cast of well-known celebrities like Dave Franco and Jackie Chan. Still, it’s pretty hard for me to pass this up because I really liked the last two Lego Movies, including Lego Batman. So how does this one stack up compared to the others? Let’s find out.
Comparing this movie to the Lego Ninjago show is like comparing the Marvel comic books to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. They both have similar concepts, but they both have different takes on them, so don’t expect this film to be like the show…because that would be idiotic. The film’s story has its usual good-vs-evil elements that we’re familiar with for quite some time, but it is also about a father and a son who are on different paths. The son, Lloyd (Franco), is on the path of good, fighting alongside his ninja friends to protect the city of Ninjago by using giant ninja robots. Hmmm, did Lego get the idea from watching Power Rangers? The father, on the other hand, Lord Garmadon (Theroux) is on the path of evil as he struggles to conquer Ninjago. As Lloyd tries to live a normal life as the son of the warlord and lead the ninja team to victory, he goes on a personal quest to learn more about his evil father while a new threat emerges to endanger Ninjago. Like the last two Lego movies, the story moves at a swift pace in order to keep the younger audience entertained, similar to how a ninja moves to avoid being seen by the bad guys, while also exploring some themes that are quite important for kids to learn. While its themes work really well with its action-packed and colorful plot, the way they tell it was…well, I’m not going to say that it’s disappointing, but I will say that it fell short of creativity compared to The Lego Movie. For Lego Ninjago, the storytelling is more fitted for younger kids rather than both kids and adults. The adults can have a good time with it, but I’m afraid that they won’t be able to admire it as much as The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie. There were a couple of qualities that still manage to impress me, however, such as the cast and the animation. I thought Dave Franco did a solid job at voicing Lloyd as well as Jackie Chan and Justin Theroux as Master Wu and Lord Garmadon, respectively, with the latter two delivering the most amount of humor. Speaking of which, the humor in this film didn’t have a lot of hilarious moments like Lego Batman, but it did its part in making me laugh, so no harm in that. The rest of the cast also did a good job with the characters, such as the other ninjas, but the film tends to place its main focus on Lloyd and Lord Garmadon for the sake of fully delivering its message to the kids. The animation in Lego Ninjago offers the same style and feel as the other two Lego films in terms of the action, the character movements, and the humor. The characters still move the same way as Lego people do, and they incorporate some live-action bits to either make the experience feel more like a real Lego experience or to gather up some unusual laughs. Either way, the animation once again delivered a colorful Lego world that can be seen through the eyes of an imaginative child.
Overall, “The Lego Ninjago Movie” manages to kick its way to the top thanks to its voice cast, its colorful and swift animation, and its solid mixture of charm and humor. Even though its storytelling is showing signs of losing steam, it is still another solid addition to the Lego cinematic universe. I would recommend this film to those who enjoyed the last two Lego films and to those who are looking for a decent family film to take your kids to.