The LEGO Ninjago Movie Review

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The third instalment in Lego’s takeover at the cinema heads east and brings in a whole new A-list cast

by Kumari Tilakawardane Oct 13, 2017 at 10:03 PM

  • Movies review


    The LEGO Ninjago Movie Review

    So it seems like the LEGO movie train might finally be running out of steam – or at least ideas.

    After two very popular and highly successful films, the toy empire decided to release this year’s colourful jokefest – The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Named after a LEGO set from 2011, this film is still mildly entertaining but, as the second in an inevitably long line of spin-offs, it all feels a bit predictable.
    What set the previous two Lego films apart was their unpredictability, their seemingly off-the-cuff charm and the surprise factor. The Ninjago Movie, while it does have its moments, seems like a series of jokes and a handful of flashy characters with no substance all rolling around in a script without a plot.

    The LEGO Ninjago Movie
    That being said, it’s probably unlikely that people go to the cinema to see a LEGO movie expecting some kind of existential narrative and high drama. If you’re looking for a colourful, brash film that will keep the kids entertained and give you a few wry chuckles, look no further. As we’ve come to expect from LEGO films, there are as many (if not more) jokes for the adults as for the kids, and it’s a nice self-deprecating, knowing humour.

    Dave Franco as Lloyd is a vocal delight, and keeps the film ticking over pretty well. His chemistry with Justin Theroux (as villain Lord Garmadon) is very entertaining, and Theroux’s sarcastic, almost ironic tone throughout will be particularly appreciated by parents sitting through their third LEGO movie.

    Franco’s Lloyd leads the secret rebellion against the attack from Garmadon, and is joined by a group of his friends, each with their own colour and fighting style. And yes, it reminded me of the Power Rangers too. A nice touch is having Jackie Chan narrate parts of the film, introducing us to the Ninjago world and giving us some welcome context.

    The cast is packed with famous names – from Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson to The Big Sick’s Kumail Nanjiani. All put in entertaining performances, but by far the best scenes are those with Franco and Theroux. The stop-motion style is still amusing and serves to remind us that this isn’t just another cartoon, but after a few manic chase scenes the charm starts to wain a little.

    The overtones and allusions to other family cinema classics are apparent and abundant – from Star Wars to Transformers. This is part of the draw of the LEGO films – they’re clever and they’re not taking themselves too seriously. This is absolutely still the case here

    As with the other Lego films, the opening sequence is all bright lights, fast motion, loud sounds and in-your-face fun. And it is fun – it’s just gets old quicker now

    There’s more than enough here to keep the family entertained for the 90-odd minute run time. Whereas there was decidedly something for everyone in the The LEGO Movie, there might be a few more yawns and glances at the old watch face from the adults this time around.

    There are still a few nice lines poking fun at Hollywood tropes, and the sort-of ironic characters that you recognise as parodies of other famous types; the most entertaining stuff is still the knowing gags that basically send up Hollywood, LEGO and everything in between.

    This is a perfectly good animated film – the shame is that after the first two films full of promise, the third LEGO movie is starting to show signs of wear. It’s nowhere near as painful as stepping barefoot on a LEGO brick (but what is?), it’s merely disappointing to see a series that was so irreverent and fresh bring out a film that just doesn’t feel as new or innovative. Funny jokes, yes, but predictable nonetheless.

    Possibly part of the problem can be diagnosed from the credits – three directors (Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan) and a whole host of screenwriters and storywriters does seem like a lot of cooks to design a sharp script like the ones that have come before. It’s sort of like actual LEGO – it was always fun when you first got it. New sets, new collectibles, that first half hour was always entertaining, but a few hours in you wanted something new, something to break up the monotony.

    But then, have you ever tried to get rid of LEGO? Those little bits of plastic are surprisingly durable, and it’s hard to imagine the film series being any other way. Here’s hoping the next LEGO film uses the good from this film, cuts the over-played stuff and builds the franchise back up to its former glory (brick by brick).

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