Review: 'The Lego Ninjago Movie' stacks up with an amusing villain and funny action

Marcus Goh
Contributor
The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 101 minutes (~1.75 hours)

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” is a 3D animated action-adventure based on the “Lego Ninjago” franchise. It is the third “Lego” movie to be released.

The film revolves around a team of ninjas who defend the city from an evil supervillain — whose son is part of that very same team of ninjas. However, a greater threat soon arises that may be more than any one of them can handle.

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” is directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan; with a screenplay by Bog Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, and John Whittington. It features the voice talents of Dave Franco (Lloyd Garmadon), Justin Theroux (Lord Garmadon), Michael Pena (Kai), Kumail Nanjiani (Jay), Abbi Jacobson (Nya), Zach Woods (Zane), Fred Armisen (Cole), and Jackie Chan (Master Wu). It is rated PG.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” is the next entry in the world of “Lego” movies (there’s already been seven seasons of the “Lego Ninjago” TV series) but stands apart by being set wholly in its own continuity, rather than drawing on familiar characters from other franchises (like what the previous two movies did). It’s a curious decision, since audiences aren’t as familiar with Ninjago as they are with other parts of the Lego franchise. Regardless, it’s still a delightful film to watch.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Highlights

Funny action sequences

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” contains many action sequences which see the ninjas squaring off against Lord Garmadon’s army. It feels distinctly like Super Sentai shows, down to the colour-coded heroes and copious numbers of cannon fodder that they face. However, they’re executed with enthusiasm and action, although you’d be a little hard-pressed to recreate some of the scenes in the film (which is what any Ninjago fan would want to do).

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Master Wu is snarky and entertaining

Thanks to the framing narrative, Master Wu (Jackie Chan) serves to provide tongue-in-cheek comments about what is happening in the film. In fact, he comes close to breaking the fourth wall in the film, and delivers some of the best lines in the film. It also helps that he fits the mould of the wise sensei of the ninjas, lending humour to the role on multiple levels.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Lord Garmadon is an amusing villain

As befits a film targetted at children, the villainous Lord Garmadon isn’t all that evil. That doesn’t mean he isn’t interesting to watch though — he’s humanised through his many hilarious flaws as an inept, clueless, and petty tyrant. He might look evil, but he’s more like a cute little pest than a physical, fearsome threat.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Letdowns

Lloyd is incredibly whiny

Protagonist Lloyd Garmadon, the Green Ninja, has a clear and distinct character arc over the course of the film. Unfortunately, he spends much of his time grousing about his problems and makes colossally stupid decisions as a result of it. He has so much unwarranted angst that you wonder how he got this far in the first place. He’s the most unlikeable character in the film… and sadly, the most prominent.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Plot is predictable but incoherent

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” is rife with attempts at jokes, not all of which are successful. Some of the plot elements are given silly twists for the sake of a joke, but end up not making sense when you think about it. You can see the broad direction that the story is heading in, but the details aren’t always logical.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

Doesn’t fully utilise the Lego medium

Perhaps the previous two Lego movies (“The Lego Movie” and “The Lego Batman Movie”) have set the bar very high, but “The Lego Ninjago Movie” doesn’t carry as much impact as its predecessors. The film also doesn’t make use of the construction element of Lego as much the previous ones, meaning that this could be a non-Lego movie with few changes to the story. This is perhaps the biggest issue with the movie — that it doesn’t feel as “Lego” as prior instalments.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros Pictures)

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” is an enjoyable animated film and an adorable instalment in the “Lego” franchise, with Lord Garmadon being the highlight of this film. However, Lego Ninjago doesn’t quite have the star power that the previous movies possessed, and whether you like it is heavily dependent on whether you’re an existing fan or not.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? If you’re a Lego or Ninjago fan.

Score: 3.0/5

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” opens in cinemas:
– 28 September, 2017 (Singapore)
– 27 September, 2017 (Philippines) 

Read also:

Review: ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ might be the best superhero movie this year

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Police & Thief”, “Incredible Tales”, “Crimewatch”, and “Point of Entry”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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