The Lego Ninjago Movie review
You know what people are not sick of? Legos. The toys have been around for many years and each set adds on to their creative repertoire with the countless possibilities that anyone could come up with (I know that their meant for children, but there are a huge number of adults that love them too). The Lego Movie became of the biggest surprises of 2014, showing off not just the passion for the Lego brand, but what it can be done on a cinematic level. We got The Lego Batman Movie, which not only continued that ideal, but may have proved to be one of the better Batman movies in recent memory.
So naturally, I was curious to see what Warner Brothers would want to produce in Lego format. That ended up being The Lego Ninjago Movie. Unlike The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie that already had well known characters, the new movie only seems to be based off of a Lego set that became a cartoon that I’ve never seen. So there is a lot more pressure on this to deliver on the high Lego brand and to give us more characters. Let’s see if The Lego Ninjago Movie can stand along the others.
The land of Ninjango seems to be an American/Japan combination where ninja warriors can freely fight monsters. In fact one warlord Garmadon (played by Justin Theroux) keeps invading the city to take it over. His use of Shark robots and fellow warriors give him an edge, but are always defeated by the secret ninja force. This consists of the green ninja Lloyd (played by Dave Franco) red ninja Kai (played by Michael Peña), blue ninja Jay (played by Kumail Nanjiani), black ninja Cole (played by Fred Armisen), silver ninja Nya, white robot ninja Zane, and their leader Master Wu (played by Jackie Chan).
Lloyd may be a skilled ninja and constantly saves the city, he’s disliked by his school for being the son of Garmadon. This put’s a lot of stress on him with the hope that he can one day confront his father. Master Wu tells him that the only way to defeat him is to use his mind rather then his weapons and fists. When Lloyd attempts to use the “ultimate weapon” on Garmadon, he accidently gives the villain the edge and finds himself and the ninja force lost. Master Wu them tells them they have to cross the nearby forest to find the “ultimate, ultimate weapon” if they want to save Ninjango.
The scenario for The Lego Ninjango Movie not only sounds cliché, but very stock. While I can say that it’s self aware, it fails to match the same level of creativity and laughs as the previous movies have done. I understand that the movie is trying to be an extended jab at those old Saturday morning cartoons where these kinds of stories were commonplace. In fact, for the first half hour, I was getting into this world and what was being shown. As the story went on, however, I kept thinking that there was more that could have been done. Why couldn’t there have been some more twists to the scenario? Why not have certain characters switch sides?
The voice acting was fine. While I got laughs from Jackie Chan, Dave Franco and Justin Theroux, many of the other ninjas don’t get enough time to show off their personalities or even get out their own jokes (okay, I did like the robot ninja). I’d say that except for the previous three, it’s merely passable.
Most of the laughs came from the visual humor of Ninjango and how everything is still Lego-made. While I won’t spoil the “ultimate weapon” joke, it had me laughing for a while as any kids with a pet and Legos would understand why they don’t go hand in hand.
I think where my biggest issue is over the movie’s lesson of words over violence, which is a good message, but I feel like that The Lego Movie already covered it much smarter and more unexpected. If they were going to do it again, at least offer a new angle, especially with the stock story presented.
I’ll give this three green ninjas out of five. This is probably the first Lego film that I was unimpressed by. While it wasn’t bad, it may have aimed for children too closely. This is probably going to disappoint the adults who liked the previous movies. Kids will like this fine, but The Lego Ninjago Movie won’t be the big hits that the last movies were.