Monday, 12 February 2018

The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

Let me be upfront from the very beginning here, if LEGO did a version of one of the movies I hate most (e.g. Elephant by Gus Van Sant) then I would watch it, I would enjoy it, and it would be something I would buy. I grew up with tubs of mismatched LEGO, I continue to look on eagerly if I see LEGO sets being built by small children I might be able to bump out of the way and hold back while I work with the bricks, and I have been mightily impressed by the almost all of the LEGO movies I have seen so far, both the cinema releases and the smaller titles (they have been doing better DC films than the proper DC moviemakers for a few years now).

I didn't really know what Ninjago was, and I'm still not sure. Basically, it seems to be some kids who turn into ninjas when they need to battle evil. It's also the name of the city in which they live. That city keeps coming under threat from a villain named Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux), which keeps Green Ninja (voiced by Dave Franco) and the rest of the good ninja group very busy. Green Ninja is also known as Lloyd, when not hidden in his suit, and Lloyd is actually the son of Garmadon. Uh oh.

Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan, The LEGO Ninjago Movie keeps the fun and laughs coming thick and fast throughout, with one or two inventive action sequences doing enough to keep the main characters in peril as they learn some life lessons. Everyone involved in the LEGO movie universe seems to understand the universal appeal of it, and how to make the most of it for that brick-centric visual style and the many brilliant gags. The script here, written by Logan, Fisher, William and Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, and John Whittington, makes the most of the strained father-son relationship at the centre of everything, while also utilising the tropes of martial arts movies (Jackie Chan is a lot of fun as the wise old master).

All of the voice cast do well, although some are immediately more recognisable than others. The leads, obviously, and Kumail Nanjiani and Michael Pena were the ones I already knew, as well as Olivia Munn, (as Koko, Lloyd's mother) but Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, and Zach Woods also lend their voices to some of the main characters, and all are good in their roles.

Once again mixing in some live-action elements with the main animated section of the film, this might not be as good as The LEGO Movie, and might even fall short of the level of fun of The LEGO Batman Movie, but that is just a reminder of how great those two films were. This one is very good, and manages to be very good without any one main identifier (e.g. Benny wanting his spaceship in The LEGO Movie, and, well, Batman in the The LEGO Batman Movie).

I am not sure, as of this moment, what we can expect next from the world of LEGO movies. I am only sure of one thing; If they build it, I will watch.


Pick up the disc here.
Americans can buy it here.

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