The LEGO legacy continues. I’m not complaining. Are you?
I can’t say that I’m familiar with the straight to TV movies or shows that have come from LEGO before THE LEGO MOVIE (2014), but if both I can guess they’re bad, and a little girl telling me that they’re bad, then it’s a safe bet that they’re bad outings. Thankfully, everything cinematic has been golden. I loved LEGO BATMAN (2017), and since this latest installment is by the same creators, I’m more than happy to visit this in theaters.
Having said that, I have a particular fear that this is where the films will find themselves in a decline. Why do I think that? Consider this for a moment. The LEGO movies have one common theme: family relationships. The whole point of the first film was a kid trying to have fun and connect with his father, and LEGO BATMAN is about Batman learning to get over his parents and embracing his new family. This movie looks like it’s about a son connecting with his father again, except far less subtle. Of course, the concept of family problems being addressed and resolved isn’t inherently bad, but how many times can you tackle the same subject before it gets tired? The first movie had the advantage of having a great story, some great jokes, and wonderful visuals. LEGO BATMAN got by on being a loving satire of every Batman film that has ever come out. Plus, everyone knows and loves Batman. But what does this one really have? In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t be so worried. If nothing else, there’s a reason the creators picked this source material and knew how to make it both marketable, funny, and endearing. So I’ll still go in with high expectations.
Here’s the voice talent. Starring, we have Dave Franco (THE LITTLE HOURS , 21 JUMP STREET , SUPERBAD , and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST ), Justin Theroux (THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN , MIAMI VICE , AMERICAN PSYCHO , and THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME ), and Jackie Chan (THE NUT JOB 2 , RUSH HOUR 3 , THE LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER , and the upcoming THE FOREIGNER ). In support, we have Michael Peña (CHIPS , BATTLE LOS ANGELES , CRASH , and upcoming films MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE  and A WRINKLE IN TIME ), Abbi Jacobson (PERSON TO PERSON , NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY ROW , and TV show BROAD CITY [2014 – ongoing]), Kumail Nanjiani (THE BIG SICK , FIST FIGHT , video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA , and the upcoming video game MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF WAR ), Olivia Munn (OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY , MAGIC MIKE , BIG STAN , and upcoming films THE PREDATOR  and X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX ), and Fred Armisen (THE LITTLE HOURS, BAND AID , and TV show PORTLANDIA [2011 – ongoing]).
Now for the crew. There are a grand total of three directors. Two of them co-wrote the movie: Paul Fisher and Bob Logan, both making their directorial and writing debuts (Congrats, gentlemen). The other didn’t: Charlie Bean, known for TV show TRON: UPRISING (2012 – 2013). As for the other writers, RED FLAGS!!! Four additional writers, making a grand total of six working on this movie: William Wheeler (GHOST IN THE SHELL , QUEEN OF KATWE , and THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST ), Tom Wheeler (PUSS IN BOOTS , TV show THE CAPE , and the upcoming B.O.O.: BUREAU OF OTHERWORLDLY OPERATIONS, no release date announced), Jared Stern (LEGO BATMAN, THE INTERNSHIP , and MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS ), and John Whittington (LEGO BATMAN). Finally, composing the score is Mark Mothersbaugh, known for BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017), NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (2008), video game CRASH BANDICOOT 2: CORTEX STRIKES BACK (1997), and upcoming films BRAD’S STATUS (2017) and THOR: RAGNAROK (2017).
Overall, I was excited until I saw six writers on this movie. Oh dear lord. Well, LEGO BATMAN had five writers and that turned out wonderfully… maybe this will be too. Fingers crossed.
This is my honest opinion of: THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE
The city of Ninjago is constantly under attack by the evil warlord Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux). But his efforts are constantly thwarted by a group of young ninja students, one of them being Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco), his own son, and doesn’t even know it. But one day, Garmadon unleashes his greatest weapon, a giant cat, and after failing to stop, Lloyd, his fellow ninjas, and their master Wu (voiced by Jackie Chan) must venture out to seek the ultimate Ultimate weapon and stop Garmadon once and for all.
Aww man… I really wanted this to be good, but it wasn’t. Oh okay, it wasn’t bad, but… man, kind of disappointing.
I think first and foremost, it’s not really all that funny. I mean, it’s not devoid of comedy, but where LEGO MOVIE and LEGO BATMAN has me rolling in the aisles, this only offered chuckles, and not very many. Michael Strahan and Robin Roberts cameos are humorous one offs, but when the movie hammers in the jokes without having them say or do anything all that funny, it gets a little grating. The characters also didn’t feel particularly. All I remembered was Lloyd, the girl, and the timid one. I don’t remember names. defined and it still kind of confuses me why there was a robot ninja in the group. The story also hits a few too many clichés. The father and son bonding by playing catch in a weird quirky way (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY PART 2 ), weird plot points that basically tell you not to be invested, but still treat it like you should, and it’s not even a very good joke, if that’s what it was going for, and much of the film doesn’t have the cool machines that the advertising showcased. They’re only in the first twenty minutes or so. Also, the giant cat got old, and the live-action stuff felt unnecessary. I’m also not entirely sure what the point was in making Garmadon and Wu brothers. They don’t really act like it, and Wu doesn’t really act like Lloyd’s uncle. Just another student. So as much as family looks like it’d be a central theme, the family doesn’t much interact like one outside of the obvious.
But it’s not all bad. Chan is humorous as always and makes for a welcomed appearance. Theroux is surprisingly humorous as Garmadon, even though his voice is obviously a Batman rip-off. The characters, as unmemorable as they are, are at the very least likable. The visuals are still pretty nice and as much as the live-action cat got overused, it’s integrated well enough.
I can’t honestly find too many good things to say. It’s a pretty heavy letdown from how good the previous movies are. But I guess Warner Animation Group’s feet are indeed made of clay. And for all intents and purposes, the movie’s not awful. If your kids are bugging you to go see it, it’s harmless. But if you’re an adult who liked the previous films… viewer beware. Save it for a discount day at the theaters, or a rental. But I don’t recommend full price.
My honest rating for THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE: 3/5