Ninjago & all related elements are the property of LEGO/Warner Animation Group
Warning: This post contains spoilers.
Back in mid-September the LEGO Ninjago movie opened up in cinemas nationwide. And while it opened with little competition it also sadly seemed to open-up to little fanfare as well. But is the film really the dud mainstream critics say it is, or is it just a different kind of playset. Let’s dive in and take a look shall we.
In terms of story the film does seem to be a bit more reserved then the previous two LEGO films trading an over the top adventure for a slightly more down to earth and self-contained tale about a teenage boy named Lloyd having to lead a double life as a regular highschool student and leader of Ninjago’s ninja heroes that protect the city from the nefarious Lord Garmadon. The twist being that Garmadon is actually Lloyd’s father and his civilian self is constantly belittled and ridiculed by his neighbors and classmates for being the son of the villain with many stating “his dad ruins everything” And this overall ends up being the impetus of the films story. Lloyd trying to reconcile his feelings towards his father and wanting to understand why the villain abandoned he and his mother. Thankfully he gets a chance to confront these feelings and his father after the dreaded Meowthra, a giant cat is unleashed on Ninjago and the group of Ninja along with Garmadon have to go on an adventure through the jungle to find some mystical McGuffins to stop the beast.
Overall the story of the film is an interesting one, like the first LEGO film it focuses on a strained relationship between a father and a son though this time completely within the confines of the LEGO world. The real world only being set-up pieces for the start and end of the film. And while the story may not be as energetic and extravagant as previous pieces, it still manages to do what it needs to do quite well, even if it is more subdued then past installments.
The animation for the film is of course the next area of note. The overall visual style of the movie is indeed the same as previous LEGO films using a modified CG animation to give an authentic LEGO feel. However it is somewhat obvious the film didn’t have quite as extravagant a budget as the past two installments as some character movements do look a bit stiff, even by LEGO standereds. That said however the mix of non-LEGO made backgrounds in world does give it a somewhat unique and organic feel that helps the movie stand out enough to make it as visually appealing as its older siblings.
The voice cast aslo does a phenomenal job as Dave Franco’s performance as Lloyd is a solid portrayal of a moody angsting teen and Justin Theroux does a great Will Ferrel meets Saturday morning cartoon villain for Garmadon. Abbi Jacobson, Zack Woods and co also help give life to the rest of the Ninja friends that come along for the ride. And Jackie Chan is a serviceable Master Wu.
At the end of the day while LEGO Ninjago may not be the strongest installment in Warner Bros. LEGOverse, it is still a decently enjoyable and worthwhile endeavor, that like past films preaches the importance of family and friends. As well as teaching viewers that no matter what others say you can work to better yourself as a person and a parent.
Overall 7 out of 10.