LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE REVIEW (Spoilers)
PLOT: One of the troubles of living in Ninjago City is the constant attacks from a devious, yet dim, master villain. In order to stop his evil reign, it is up to six young ninjas to fight back and keep their home out of the evil Garmadon’s control. And it’s a whole lot more funny than that sounds.
Lloyd (Dave Franco) is your average outcast teenager. He is ridiculed and made fun of by his classmates, mostly because his father is an evil villain by the name of Garmadon (Justin Theroux) who has a penchant for destroying everything in sight. This big time baddie loves to bring his dimwit army into the land of Ninjago and try and take over to become ruler of this Lego island home. Yet, unknown to Garmadon, his son is a part of an elite ninja force that fights to keep their city safe. After accidentally unleashing a monstrous beast in Ninjago, Lloyd and his ninja pals must work with their trainer Master Wu (Jackie Chan), as well as the multiple armed big bad in order to stop the purring force that has been released. Will they save Ninjago together? And will Lloyd and his dad finally leave all the past trauma behind? It’s Lego, anything can happen.
Much like THE LEGO MOVIE, the newest chapter also begins with a live action sequence. This time, it features Jackie Chan speaking to a young boy asking about his curious shop and the secret world of ninjas. It’s a nice touch, but the movie is all about the amazing animation on display, and the brilliant use of live action in the mix. And an inpressive example of that is a large kitten – which apparently was also partially animated. The visuals in this latest effort are absolutely on par with the previous films. Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan – all first time feature film directors – handle the material beautifully. While our screening wasn’t in 3D, there is one sequence involving a the reveal of a secret power that should make for an awesome sight blasting directly into the audiences lap.
The ensemble cast is especially well chosen. Dave Franco leads the comedic force as Lloyd, the awkward son of a villain that has a secret ninja identity. The rest of the superhero team include Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Fred Armisen and a scene-stealing Zach Woods who all add solid support. The chemistry between the cast is perfect. Yet the real stand out is Justin Theroux as an overly confidant, albeit dense, master villain. When the team must partner up with their enemy, it makes for some wonderfully witty and unforgettable comedic moments. It’s a real credit to the actors involved and a smart screenplay that this movie works as well as it does. And while there are Lego buildings collapsing, and a giant cat terrorizing the town, the action is always enjoyable and never too vicious in case you want to bring the young ones.
As much fun as THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE can be, there are moments where the hour and forty minute runtime drags slightly. This is especially true early on. As much as I loved the relationship between Lloyd and his father – who cannot say his son’s name properly if his life depended on it – the back and forth between them can be slightly repetitive. You could probably cut about five to ten minutes and have an even stronger, and shorter, feature. That said, it is a minor gripe because by the end, you’ll be fully invested. One other minor issue is the fact that the music is slightly more generic this time around. It would have been refreshing to hear a little bit of “Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island blast from some radio station somewhere.
THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE is yet anther impressive entry in the Lego Universe and one that is well worth visiting