the lego ninjago movie

review by Samantha Mooney

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In 2014 The LEGO Movie was released. The film was a smartly subversive satire about the downfalls of conformity and the importance of little plastic people to follow their dreams.  Full of self-aware humour, quotable dialogue and originality the film captured the attention of audiences of all ages. Following the international success of the film, LEGO built up the cinematic universe of Gotham City and The LEGO Batman Movie came to life. Highly praised for its comedic take on the Caped Crusader, everything was awesome for the LEGO films, that is until this latest instalment in the franchise, The LEGO Ninjago Movie.

The film is set in Ninjago, a Japanese inspired land, where six young ninjas take it upon themselves to defend the city from constant and relentless attacks from super-villain, Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux). However, the Green Ninja, Lloyd (Dave Franco) just so happens to be the son of Garmadon. Each time the ninjas get close to killing the villain, Lloyd questions the him about “a significant event that might have happened sixteen years ago?”. Of course, Garmadon has no idea what the Green Ninja is referring to.Lloyd, so desperate for some sort of familial recognition he simply can’t destroy his father. Garmadon takes advantage of this and overthrows Ninjago. It is then left to the ninjas, under the watchful eye of Master Wu (Jackie Chan) to save the city.  

This tension between estranged father and son does carry with it the films best moments, especially the comical ones, “How could I have ruined your life? I wasn’t even there?” laughs Garmadon. As the pair begin to reconcile the humour follows. However, the father-son moments often drag on for longer than needed becoming overly sentimental and stagger the pace during the action sequences.

There are gags and some snappy self-aware dialogue, but unlike the other two LEGO films, this one does seem to be aimed at children. Or perhaps has missed its mark.

Having over six writers and three directors, Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan, hasn’t really paid off.  Sections in the story are overly convoluted and others not developed at all. Unfortunately, the opportunity for more laughs was missed, as the other five ninjas are side-lined and reduced to one line delivering clichés. Despite there being a strong vocal cast to work with, the ninjas never get a chance to develop throughout the story, which is disappointing. Not to mention out of all six, only one ninja is female.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is enjoyable although not a strong following to the previous LEGO films. It will definitely leave the LEGO film franchise on unstable foundations.