The Lego Ninjago Movie Review

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.

Contains some spoilers…

The Lego Ninjago Movie is the third animated theatrical film from the Lego Group and features characters previously introduced in Lego sets and TV shows. And like The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie tackles real-life issues while still approaching them in a lighthearted way which, in this case, include high school social life and even single parenthood.

Initially appearing to be aimed for children, Lego fans will be pleased to discover that the movie appeals to all ages and not just kids, thanks to quick jokes and references. It even brings back the “human” element that’s combined with the digitally animated bricks (which was missing from The Lego Batman Movie) which merges the real world with the Lego world, making the universe seem cohesive again.

In the movie, the main protagonist Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco) is your average high school kid with your average high school kid problems – except that his dad is the “Worst Guy Ever”, Evil Lord Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux) who terrorizes Ninjago City. The banter is clever & witty, and is only rivaled by the hilarious dialogue between the cast and Master Wu (voiced by Jackie Chan). It was a pleasure to see Chan bring some of that “human” element into the introduction of the movie by also playing Mr. Liu, the shop owner telling the legendary story of Ninjago.

Other “human” elements I enjoyed were the Six-Toed Beast and the Ultimate Weapon. I think you’ll like them too! These were some of the best parts of the movie.

I haven’t seen any of the TV show so I don’t know what kind of background information you need prior to the movie but the beginning of the film does a great job giving you a quick overview of the main characters through “Good Morning Ninjago”, a Lego take on Good Morning America. Once you’re up to speed, the rest of the movie is pretty self-explanatory.

The Secret Ninja Force’s colorful mechs, which sort of gave off a Power Rangers vibe, were fun to watch even though they never combine to transform something bigger. The action was enjoyable but nothing out of the ordinary, and there wasn’t anything that really stood out about the animation this time around, but kids will enjoy all of these aspects regardless. But as an adult viewer, what I think makes this movie charming is the camaraderie and the deeper meaning of why the legend of Ninjago was being told in the first place. What does it mean to be ordinary? It’s the kind of thing that Emmet struggled with in The Lego Movie – fitting in and one’s purpose, which isn’t just a young person’s struggle but something that occurs to everyone at some point or another.

After a couple twists and turns in the story, the movie finishes and you’re left with a trademark Lego feel-good ending along with another buoyant musical number. You’ll want to stay a little longer during the credits to see a brief blooper reel from the opening scene, a la Jackie Chan Stunt Team.

SCORE

Story: 8 – The movie was well-written and though the pacing was at times a little slow, I found that the story was original & entertaining enough to hold its own.
Acting: 8.5 – I really enjoyed the performances of the voice actors. The tone wasn’t monotonous and the back-and-forths were done really well. Some of the lines were a little garbled though.
Soundtrack: 7 – For the most part, the music/score fit really well with the film. Some non-instrumental tracks were used but were pretty forgettable. Though they used Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood in all the trailers, it was nowhere to be heard (which isn’t uncommon for movies to do).
Production: 9 – Digital animation was on par with the other Lego Movies. The martial arts scenes were fun to watch in Lego form, but for some reason I was expecting more. Special effects were executed nicely and the set designs were well done.
X-Factor: 7 – In this case, I’m referring to the humor. Sometimes it felt like it was trying too hard. And I laughed the least in this movie out of the 3 so far… But when I did laugh, it was pretty loud!

Overall: 8.1

There are some good laughs and it’s generally solid family fun. If you’re a fan of the other Lego Movies, chances are you’ll enjoy this one too. If you haven’t seen any of them yet, this is actually a good introduction as well! Even though I didn’t find this installment as funny, don’t take yourself so seriously and just sit back & enjoy… but warning: this movie made me want to go to the nearest Lego Store and pick up a few Lego Ninjago mystery minifigures so if that’s the case, keep a tight eye on your kids!

The Lego Ninjago Movie is rated PG with a running time of 101 minutes and hits theaters September 22, 2017.

Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan.

Starring Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Olivia Munn, and Jackie Chan.

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