So I watched The Lego Ninjago Movie…
2014’s The Lego Movie really did start something of a fun trend in film. I’ve enjoyed all three movies we’ve gotten in The Lego Movie Franchise (including this one). Yes, it’s all a ploy to sell more toys and pad their pockets but hell, we’re going to spend our money somewhere; might as well be on cute little yellow figurines.
Okay, basic plot: Lloyd (Dave Franco) is a teenager who’s facing more than the average pressures of adolescence. In fact, his entire town hates him! This is because Lloyd’s father is the evil warlord, Garmadon (Justin Theroux). Garmadon continuously tries to conquer the city of Ninjago but is always thwarted by the Secret Ninja Force – a group of six ninjas whose leader, The Green Ninja, is Garmadon’s sworn nemesis. Unbeknownst to Garmadon, The Green Ninja is actually Lloyd and the two enemies are forced to work together in order to protect their city from an even deadlier threat than Garmadon and his army.
My favourite thing about going to watch a Lego movie is knowing that it’s going to be zany, ridiculous and tons of fun. Animation films generally throw logic out the window; Lego films jettison logic into the atmosphere. This allows for a film which is full of brazen, unorthodox and outlandish humour and story. It’s so difficult to explain without spoiling the story; but one of my favourite running gags in the film was how Lloyd’s classmates make a song about how much they hate him. Then Lloyd makes a casual remark about how that’s going to be a number one single. Then the next scene is a radio DJ announcing that song is actually a number one single. The disinhibition that comes with Lego movies is something that can’t be recreated anywhere else.
Another aspect of this film that I really enjoyed was the voice acting. Animated features are so well produced and thought-out that you rarely have poor voice acting performances. Dave Franco is a delight as our main character, Lloyd. Franco’s voice has this strength and simultaneous fragility to it that I simply loved. He’s funny, endearing and really hooks you as the film’s lead. Justin Theroux also really impressed me as Garmadon. He’s funny in his own right but it’s when Theroux and Franco’s character interact that some of the best moments of the film occur. Jackie Chan is the other standout performance in the film and adds that wise, Yoda-like swagger to the film in much the same way that Morgan Freeman and Ralph Fiennes did in The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, respectively.
Now the main problem I had with this film is that it’s rather unoriginal. It follows the recipe laid out for it by The Lego Movie far too closely and doesn’t have enough original points of its own. It also feels like a ripoff of the first Kung Fu Panda movie. If The Lego Movie and Kung Fu Panda had a lovechild, it would be this movie. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good blend of artistry, kung fu culture and lore, with the wacky and no-holds-barred character of a Lego movie. I simply wish it had chosen to emulate these two films instead of merely replicating them.
Another thing I highly enjoy about Lego movies is the animation style. The filmmakers never try to turn Lego characters into cartoons. The way the characters behave, the way they interact with their environment is in a distinctive Lego way. This further adds to the identity and enjoyment of this sub-genre of film. You know that these are toys that are being played with but they also have life and the animation style behind these films perfectly reflects that.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Lego Ninjago Movie. I thought it was funny, had great voice acting and even though its plot is a bit cliche( and stolen), it still warms the heart and is fun to watch. It’s worth going to the cinema for and I think kids will love it. 8/10