It’s starting to become old hat.
While I had almost no doubt in my mind that this would be another clever Lego-inspired animated film, I also wondered why it was being released so soon after Lego Batman (the trailer for the movie played during LB for God sakes) and that set off a few red flags. Still, I expected to have a good time overall with the movie and enjoy it for its silly sight gags and amusing action scenes. With all of that being said, this was ultimately a crushing disappointment.
The film features the story of a team of ninjas that defend the city of Ninjago from the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), who has a penchant for ‘firing’ his generals. Something else complicates this whole situation though. The Green Ninja (also known as Lloyd) is the son of the villain in question, a fact that Garmadon is aware of but does not know that Lloyd’s alter-ego is that of the ninja. After one unfortunate oversight, the city of Ninjago comes under attack and the team of ninjas must use the advice of their wise old Master Wu (Jackie Chan) to find a way to restore order.
So yeah… like I said, this was a letdown. I think the biggest problem is that only so many jokes can be made regarding characters being made out of Lego. All of the attempts at humour throughout the movie feel like they’ve been done in the last two films and are definitely tired at this point. Should I start with the good aspects? There is one particularly inspired gag involving a laser pointer and a giant feline that is both funny and unexpected. I wish there had been more of this type of material featured in the movie so it must have been the funny writer out of the six (!) people who penned the screenplay.
The story itself is not anything special. It’s one of those ‘father is evil, son is good and tries to change him’ stories that has been done countless times before this movie. That would have been forgiven if the majority of the movie was entertaining but unfortunately the jokes that are relied on are hackneyed and repetitive. Another major part of the story that was not only lame but also completely unnecessary was the wrap-around story featuring a live-action Jackie Chan teaching a young child about martial arts in his little Gremlins-esque odd shop.
The voice work? It’s decent. Dave Franco pulls off a 16-year old and seems to be game for whatever and Justin Theroux clearly has some fun with his evil Garmadon character despite him sounding a lot like he was doing an impression of . It was also fun to hear Jackie Chan as Master Wu and it was again for the fun factor of his performance. He didn’t really get to do or say anything overtly hilarious but it’s nice to see him get work these days. The only other one that really gets any laughs is Kumal Nanjiani as one of the other ninjas while everyone else is essentially filler material.
I think I will cap it off here. The movie is wholly unremarkable after a somewhat-promising animated opening and a few choice gags but it is not worth a trip to the cinema. Catch it on some sort of streaming platform or rent it online if you’re really interested but otherwise, I really wouldn’t bother with this wholly unsatisfying entry in the once-spotless Lego film series.
Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)
* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)