Ninjas sure have their problems. From the people who brought us The Lego Movie and Lego Batman, comes another wild adventure that deals with ninjas who fight evil in their land called Ninjago. Featuring beautiful animation, a quirky sense of humor and the outstanding voice-work from its cast, The Lego Ninjago Movie offers a fun time at the theater, but doesn’t hit the high note of the previous entries.
The story is quite simple. A teenager named Lloyd (Dave Franco) is harassed by the people of Ninjago who can’t stand to see him because they remind him of his evil father Garmadon (Justin Theroux) whenever he attacks their city. He wants to rule the land of Ninjago and only the people who can thwart his attempts are the Secret Ninja Force. Lloyd is the leader and the other include Kai (Michael Pena), Jay (Kumail Nanjiani), Nya (Abbi Jacobson), Zane (Zach Woods), and Cole (Fred Armisen). They have built these giant mechs to help combat Garmadon and his goons whenever they attack the city and have proved successful. They are all in High School and no one except for the ninjas know that Lloyd is really a ninja.
The battles are well staged and can be at times a little confusing as to who is battling who. Jackie Chan lends his voice to Master Wu, the wise-ninja master of the Secret Ninja Force. It turns out that he is the younger brother of Garmadon and the Uncle to Lloyd. The story is told very simply and the numerous references throughout are a joy to see and quite funny. There’s a moment when Lloyd, the Green Ninja, come face to face with Garmadon and reveals himself. Afterwards, a series of events unfold that cause father and son to work together. Their conversations are funny and I love when Garmadon pronounces his son’s name as la-loyd; it’s quite clever.
The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie introduced us to interesting characters, surprise cameos and a sense of fun and enjoyment. With Lego Ninjago, the story puts the focus on Lloyd and Garmadon. The other ninjas have very little identity and we only remember them by what powers they possess. It’s kind of sad that this new installment didn’t feature a wider range of characters, except for one surprise cameo which I greatly enjoy, but some may shake their heads. I was unaware that Lego Ninjago is based on the series of the same name which aired in a Pilot episode in 2011. It wasn’t hard to follow the story in this film but being somewhat familiar with the Ninjago franchise may be advised, but not required.
Verdict 4 out of 5
At its best Lego Ninjago is a fun time for the kids and even some adults, but when I think of a ninja movie, this doesn’t really strike the cord. I love the voice-work in the film especially Justin Theroux who is very good here. Even though the story lacks interesting characters like its predecessors, Lego Ninjago is goofy fun and not to be taken seriously. It kept me laughing the entire time and for that reason it’s worth a view, but for those who loved the first two Lego movies, you may find yourself wanting more.