Movie Review: The Lego Ninjago Movie
The third movie in the Lego franchise was released over the weekend, giving the box office its first true family film in weeks. The Lego Ninjago Movie, based around the popular Lego line, follows the character of Lloyd, a high school student who is a secret ninja. The character of Lloyd is voiced by Dave Franco, and Justin Theroux voices Lord Garmadon, an evil warlord who is also Lloyd’s father. The rest of the voice cast is supported by such favorites as Jackie Chan, Michael Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Fred Armisen, and Olivia Munn.
The film begins in the human world as a young boy runs into a small relic shop. As he observes all the strange objects in the shop, the shopkeeper, Mr. Liu (Chan), appears. After seeing the boy’s Lego figure, Mr. Liu begins to tell the legend of Ninjago, which is when we enter the Lego world. Ninjago is consistently under attack from an evil warlord, Lord Garmadon (Theroux). Garmadon’s son, Lloyd (Franco), and wife, Koko (Munn), still live in Ninjago, and all the citizens despise Lloyd for his connection to Garmadon. However, Lloyd is a member of the secret ninja group that always saves the city. The group is led by Master Wu (Chan) and comprised of Lloyd and his friends, Nya (Jacobson), Zane (Woods), Jay (Nanjiani), Cole (Armisen), and Kai (Peña). When Lloyd’s mistake leads to Garmadon finally conquering the city and another threat emerging, he and his friends must journey to find the Ultimate, Ultimate Weapon, which can restore order to Ninjago. This dangerous journey tests the students and helps them realize important lessons along the way.
As another movie in the Lego franchise, it follows a lot of the same tropes that we’ve come to expect. The animation is just as spectacular as it is in the first two films. It still has its humorous moments and relies heavily on its satirical elements. This movie also leans into the comedic yet ridiculous moments like Garmadon not understanding why Lloyd wouldn’t want to be his son and Garmadon pronouncing Lloyd’s name incorrectly the entire film. The movie follows a formula that we’ve come to expect with these films, but it does not execute it as well as the previous two.
Now, I know it might seem unfair to compare it to its predecessors in the Lego world, but honestly, it’s impossible not to compare. Lord and Miller established their own unique brand with the first film, and unfortunately, as I watched this one, I found it to not be as cohesive as Lego’s earlier projects. The story didn’t flow as well, and there were more than a few jokes that failed to land. Those same themes of family, parenthood, and individuality continue to flow through this addition, which did give it some heart. Lloyd has a lot to struggle with in the film, and while the storyline was not as well organized, I did appreciate his journey. True fans of martial arts and ninja flicks will appreciate a lot of the choreography and lore through the movie, which was another endearing part of the film.
At the end of the day, I would say that The Lego Ninjago Movie is cute but doesn’t quite live up to the original. The voice talent was just as exceptional as the first two films, and I still marvel at the astonishingly detailed animation in these films. However, the story itself came across as disjointed at times. Since there are not many family friendly films at the theater at the moment, I would say it is worth a watch for movie loving families. However, if you are not anxiously awaiting a movie night out, The Lego Ninjago Movie will suffice as a fun movie night at home in the near future.