Jungle
The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Warner Bros. has found massive success with both The LEGO Movie and it’s spin-off, The LEGO Batman Movie. Not one to let a good thing go to waste, the studio has continued to push forward with their latest spin-off, The LEGO Ninjago Movie; the first theatrical film to actually be based on an original LEGO property. While the film doesn’t quite capture the creative wonder of either of its two predecessors, it still manages to treat audiences to a heartwarming story filled with action and comedy that’s fun for the entire family.

 

By day, Lloyd (Dave Franco) and his five friends are ordinary high school students in the mystical land of Ninjago, but when the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) attacks the city they toss aside their backpacks and become a masked team of ninjas ready to do battle. It’s more than just good versus evil for Lloyd as he also happens to be Garmadon’s son. After numerous failed conquest attempts, both Garmadon and Lloyd eventually find themselves having to team up when the city is threatened by an even bigger adversary, Meowthra. It’s the perfect opportunity for some father/son bonding time and just maybe Lloyd could convince his father to give up his evil ways.

 

One thing that immediately stands out about The LEGO Ninjago Movie is that there is a much more personal story at the film’s center. As a highschooler, Lloyd must deal with the burden of being the son of the bad guy, despite the fact that he is nothing like his father. He’s constantly teased and bullied by the other kids and has no friends with the exception of his fellow ninja classmates. When he puts on his green mask, however, he becomes the hero of the city. Even then he still just wants any kind of recognition from his father, who left when he was a baby because he didn’t want to give up his evil ways. The story can be surprisingly deep when you look past the animation, action, and comedy.

 

Like its predecessors, The LEGO Ninjago Movie excels on all fronts, delivering one laugh out loud moment after another. Standouts include Jackie Chan’s as the wise ninja master Wu and Kumail Nanjiani as the Lightning Ninja Jay. There’s plenty of hilarious dialogue and visual humor to entertain both kids and adults alike. There are a few jokes that are repetitive (literally!), so by their third or fourth appearance they begin to get stale. Other than that, the humor is on par for the franchise.

 

I was initially worrisome for a LEGO movie that wasn’t completely original like The LEGO Movie or based on a widely successful pop culture brand like The LEGO Batman Movie, but thankfully The LEGO Ninjago Movie continues to build on the bricks that make the other films work so well. It might not feel as magical as them, but it shows that there is still plenty of LEGO stories left to be discovered.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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