(Rated PG) 3 Legos (out of 4)
It appears the Lego movie franchise may be waning in popularity. After 2014’s “The Lego Movie” and 2017’s “The Lego Batman Movie” were smash hits, Warner Brothers wasted no time in releasing “The Lego Ninjago Movie”, which has met with a tepid response from movie fans. Is the film as bad as the response from audiences has been? In my opinion, no.
The film is based on the Lego Ninjago toy line, and one would think with such a pedigree Lego fans would race to theaters. Sadly the film has earned 50% less of the previous films its opening weekend.
The film follows teenage ninja Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco), as he deals with his high school years, a villainous and absent father, Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), and his role as leader of the Secret Ninja Force, a group of Ninja’s that protect the city of Ninjago. The city is frequently attacked by Lord Garmadon, leaving Lloyd in an almost constant battle against his father. Lloyd is aided by the Ninja of Fire, Kai (Michael Pena), Lightning Ninja Jay (Kumail Nanjiani), Ice Ninja Zane (Zach Woods) and Earth Ninja Cole (Fred Armisen). The commander and trainer of the group is Master Wu (Jackie Chan), who just happens to be Lord Garmadon’s brother. Talk about a dysfunctional family! Speaking of Chan, he also plays the live action role of Mr. Liu at the beginning and end of the film who explains the story of Ninjago to a young boy visiting his shop. As I mentioned earlier, the story is basically about Lloyd’s battles with his dad, until the two (spoiler alert) settle their differences and all is well.
I failed to mention a giant cat(!) attacks the city making for some quite hilarious moments. If you thought the old Godzilla movies featuring the creature stomping on Matchbox cities was a hoot, wait until you see the cat in this film do the same to Lego buildings. The film has some delightful moments featuring Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan of “Good Morning America” recreating themselves as hosts of a hyper Ninjago morning news show. The film does feature some witty dialogue that will certainly be appreciated by the adults in the audience. Personally, I was entertained throughout the film, but this effort does not quite reach the level of the first two Lego movies. It was novel to see the always enjoyable Chan in some live-action segments, and his credits ending only made me want to see more of him. I’m still a bit puzzled why more kids aren’t flocking to see this film, which I’m sure left the filmmakers wondering the same. Even though the film is a bit “busy” at times, it’s nevertheless a good film for the family. Overall, “The Lego Ninjago Movie” is a fun movie missing an audience.