Anthony's Film Review
The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)
Another movie that has fun with animating Lego toys...
The Lego Ninjago Movie is the third in a series of computer-animated movies that bring Lego toys to life. After seeing The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, I made a note to see The Lego Ninjago Movie but without expecting much. Given how similar the other two Lego movies felt, I was afraid that I would get bored with the third one because it would be similar to the other two. But as it turned out, this was a case where following a familiar formula ensured that it would be at least as entertaining as the previous movies. So I still myself enjoying a Lego movie. It's like coming back for seconds that still taste good, not like overstuffing myself and feeling tortured.
You also can't judge this movie based on the first third of it. Sure, it involves the evil Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux) repeatedly trying to destroy and conquer the city of Ninjago, while six teens who secretly are heroic ninjas commandeer big fighting machines to save the day. And the head of the ninja pack, who is a 16-year-old boy named Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco), is the estranged son of Garmadon who still longs to be recognized by his father. But if you can patiently wade through this cardboard hero-villain battle with a Darth Vader-inspired family twist, you will find that there is more to see. This also applies to the scenes with Master Wu (voiced by Jackie Chan), because his words of wisdom definitely sound cliché at first, but if you wait, you will see that there is cleverness in what they ultimately mean.
If you are familiar with the previous Lego movies, you know that they rely on mostly simple humor. The Lego Ninjago Movie also provides mild laughs on a regular basis, so that you'll either laugh softly and quickly or just simply form a tiny smile. On the other hand, this movie is like the first Lego movie in that there is one scene that is much funnier than all the others, and will likely prevent the movie from being judged too negatively. I'll only provide a vague hint: it's the moment when a big monster first appears.
The only other thing I'll add is that, unless I misread something, this Lego movie is based on a particular Lego play set centering on ninjas, rather than an existing pop culture creation like Batman. That means if the Lego movie series continues, there are now two sources for Lego movie ideas: past Lego themed play sets and any pop culture fiction. I am not familiar with the history of Lego toy releases, but I imagine that there are many Lego play sets that can become Lego movies. Will the series get stale eventually? I don't know the answer, because it all depends on how well the filmmakers keep the Lego movie formula fresh and fun.
With that, The Lego Ninjago Movie is another Lego movie that is both funny and simple. And, surprisingly, it's a bit heartwarming because of the theme about family. Yeah, I know you might not expect a Lego movie to be sentimental, but who cares? If the story finds interesting ways to be more than just a good guy-bad guy conflict, then let's give them applause for pulling it off. After a movie like this, maybe I'll drop by a toy store, browse the Lego sets being sold, and guess what the next Lego movie will be about. Or I'll just wait and let the filmmakers surprise us, like they did with this movie.
For more information about The Lego Ninjago Movie, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie.