The Lego Ninjago Movie,
Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher,
Starring Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, William Wheeler, Abbi Jacobson, Kumail Nanjiani, Justin Theroux
From the makers of The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman movie comes the stealth factor with the land of Ninjago falling under the almost daily terror of supervillain Garmadon. The only thing that stops Garmadon from taking control are the Ninjas and their Mechs. Led by the Green Ninja, also known as Lloyd, or La-Loyd (t’s that ricky double-L), who is well known in school for all the wrong reasons – because everyone in town knows that Lloyd is the son of Garmadon.
The bad bits first, and it’s that I found that this is the weakest of the Lego movies that have come to the cinema. Don’t take that too much to heart though, it’s perfectly fine for children of most ages, and I didn’t hate the film. Instead it’s a stable addition to the franchise but in a strange way I think the stability of the film is the downfall. There should have been a risk or two taken and the fun factor turned up to 11 instead of the traditional 10, perhaps (the series a victim of its own success?).
So every day Garmadon attacks Ninjago in order to take it over, but he’s ignoring his 16 year old son Lloyd. Lloyd is hated in Ninjago, but people don’t know that he is also secretly the hero who leads the Ninjas who stop Garmadon, the Green Ninja. The film takes a lot from the Power Rangers, to the point where if this was called the Lego Power Rangers Movie I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. But it’s fun with the group of Ninjas and their different Mechs, all based around different elements, Earth, Fire, Water, Ice, and Lightening. Each member of the team brings something different to the team and they are watched over by Master Ninja Wu, who is played by Jackie Chan, who shows them the way through riddles.
Garmadon is voiced by Justin Theroux, and is once again a comical villain, too similar to the Lego Movie Villain and the Lego Batman villain. But the character works because of the relationship between Garmadon and Lloyd, their father-son combo being worked out through the film is a highlight. You cannot fault the animation. but there really needed to be more jokes about the bricks and the plastics. There needed to be more humour around the at, that was revealed in the TV slots, who is destroying the city (in an echo of the 1970 Goodies episode Kitten Kong, for those of a certain age). As the adventure leaves Ninjago city and they see the ultimate ultimate weapon to stop the Cat and rid the city of Garmadon things get darker for the characters, but there are some great fight scenes and the adventure level is high.
As I said this feels more targeted towards the younger members of the family, with only a few jokes targeting the adult members of the audience, which is where it falls down. Give us something that the older fans are going giggle at behind our popcorn, you did it for the Lego Movie, and we flocked with the kids of our families to the cinema. Here there is nothing majorly wrong, it’s enjoyable, flashy, made me want to buy a few of the Ninjago sets. It just feels as though some studio executive has gotten his notes through to the production staff, the writers, and the directors. The note reads target the children more, but the problem there is that the kids don’t control the budget. Target the older fans first and don’t forget the kids, then we’ll show up. There is nothing more damaging to a franchise than a studio executive who believes his ‘notes’ will help the franchise. The Lego movies don’t need that kind of help.
While I will be taking my nephew to see this film, as when he heard out that I was going to see a new Lego movie without him there was what we call a tantrum, I’m not looking forward to seeing it again as much as I should be. It’s perfectly fine, and I laughed a few times, but it’s far from the knockout punch that it should have been.