“Kung-fu fighting LEGO’s”, isn’t as cool as you’d think.
Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco) has put up with a lot of crap in his life and it all comes down to his of who his father is: the evil warlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux). And in a way to combat this issue, Lloyd, along with the group of his friends, go undercover as ninjas and stop evil-doers from trying to take down their village. But now, it seems like there’s a battle that they can’t win: A giant cat who wants to overthrow those in-charge. But the Ninjago’s don’t believe they are all that strong just yet, so what they have to do is hunker down, camp out, and train like they’ve never been trained before. And with the helpful guidance of Sensei Wu (Jackie Chan), they think that they will be fully and absolutely ready. Except for Lloyd, that is, who continues to battle his daddy-issues and figure out just where he came from and who the hell he is.
Needless to say, Ninjago is probably the weakest of the LEGO movie franchise, which means something and also doesn’t, at the same time. It means something because it shows that the franchise is capable of showing its stretch-marks and isn’t always going to be a near-perfect swing each and every time. But, by the same token, it also doesn’t mean anything because it’s definitely another fun, enjoyable, and rather humorous take on LEGO’s and certain genre-tropes of these kinds of movies.
So basically, is it good, or bad?
In all honesty, it’s neither. It’s fine enough to warrant a watch because it gives us plenty to laugh at and enjoy, but it also doesn’t try to break any new ground that the past two LEGO movies have and did. It feels like the kind of movie that was strung together because the LEGO Movie sequel has been taking too long to get finished, so they put something together as quick as they could, got a few famous people to do the voice-over, and yeah, that’s about it. They knew they were going to get an audience for their movie regardless, so why not?
And yeah, it doesn’t play-out necessarily as soulless as I may make it sound, but you can kind of tell. The true heart, genuine emotion, and downright fun isn’t entirely here in Ninjago and there’s a part of me that thinks it could be an awful sign of things to come for the franchise. But the fact is that I also laughed a good couple of times because, as we’ve seen before, these movies aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves, stories just like this, and hell, the target-audience. These movies can be so meta and weird that it’s hard to hate them for being what they are, even when they sometimes feel like they’re not giving it their all.
But that’s why you have a solid ensemble voice-cast in the first place and it’s why Ninjago‘s is just fine.
While I’m not totally a fan of them getting rid of the original voice-cast from the show, in favor of a starry ensemble, it helps that these are all pros doing what they do best: Use their charm. The best of the bunch is probably Justin Theroux as Garmadon, who feels like he could have easily been another villainous-with-a-softer-side type, but genuinely seems like a fun character that I wouldn’t have an issue seeing more of, on his own, in the near-future. It was also fun to see Jackie Chan poke a little fun at his persona playing Sensei Wu, even if, yeah, it’s a type that we’ve seen before, time and time again.
Same goes for Ninjago itself: Been there, doing that again. Oh well. That next LEGO movie can’t get here soon enough.
Consensus: Even if it is clearly the weakest installment so far, the LEGO Ninjago Movie is still a funny and rather enjoyable treat for the whole family, and especially the adults who will probably like the non-stop meta-jokes.
5.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Warner Bros. Pictures