Release: 12th February 2018
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Trained by Master Wu, the Ninjagos are forced into action to repel the daily attacks of the evil Lord Garmadon, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. A recent battle between the forces of good and evil leads Lloyd to call upon the services of Master Wu’s ultimate weapon, a cat named Meowthra that proceeds to destroy the city. To stop it, the ninjas embark on a quest to the Forest of Dangers, the Canyon of Death, and the Temple of Fragile Foundations in search of the ultimate-ultimate weapon. Can they succeed in defeating Meowthra and Lord Garmadon once and for all?
The LEGO Ninjago movie is by far the tamest LEGO movie to date. This is, however, a movie that has a four limbed Dr. Evilesque baddie, a giant cat that eats LEGO people, and a flute rendition of Guns n’ Roses. So yeah, it’s mental, but just not Batman-dressed-as-a-woman-singing-his-own-theme-song-while-fighting-Gotham’s-gallery-of-villains mental. Ironically, it is this blunted lunacy that also means The LEGO Ninjago Movie (LNM) is also less fun.
It might be because it is based on an existing LEGO original franchise, with its own rules and audience expectations, but LNM feels as though it is impersonating a LEGO movie. Here is a film that might look like part of an extended universe, but it feels like an inferior quality product. First and foremost, the film’s plot takes a long time to kick in. Before we can get to the journey of Lloyd and his quest to right a wrong, we first must endure a superfluous succession of moments that tenuously fritter away some of the film’s running time. It is a terrible waste of some great talents and a potentially hilarious piece of melodrama; but hey, 7-year olds will enjoy it all the same.
The humour is also inconsistent. A lot of the ‘laughs’ feel manufactured, the way a nervous first date might try too hard to impress. Organic comedy is supposed to be a touchstone for many of the actors voicing here, but somehow they are pretty much wasted; Fred Armisen and Kumail Nanjiani in particular. Yet, the funny is there all the same, and exampled a few times when silliness does out. Kids will be drawn to Justin Theroux’s Lord Garmadon, and some of the action set pieces are among the best in the franchise to date. From a purely aesthetic perspective, LNM is also the most versatile and engaging.
As an adult it will be hard to appreciate much of LNM, but as a parent watching it through the eyes of your children, or maybe just as a LEGO nerd, there is plenty to enjoy over time. It might be the third best LEGO movie ever made, but that just means it is third best in a better franchise. So that’s pretty much still a win.
Film Grade: C-
There is a lot crammed on to this disc. Some of it par for the course (Promotional bits), some of it informative (Director’s Commentary), some of it good fun (blooper reel), plus a super short Making Of. There are also some shorts, and few deleted scenes, and a music video or three. But the winner has to be Rumble in the Bricks; a particularly interesting look at how the film’s martial arts were manufactured. Clue – Jackie Chan did more than act and lend a voice.
Special Features Grade: B+
A definite upgrade from the lackluster TV show, but not top-tier filmmaking. Your kids will love it, though.