Action Adventure

'The LEGO Ninjago Movie' Film Review: Third time's still a charm

September 21, 2017Ben MK

It was funny the first time, and, let's face it, it was funny the second time too. Now, the makers of The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie are back with The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and it's proof that films about the power of friendship, family and teamwork never get old as long as minifigs are involved.

Inspired by LEGO's Ninjago toy line, The LEGO Ninjago Movie follows six teenagers whose secret identities make them some of the most important people their home — Ninjago City — has ever seen. Lloyd (Dave Franco), Cole (Fred Armisen), Jay (Kumail Nanjiani), Kai (Michael Peña), Nya (Abbi Jacobson) and Zane (Zach Woods) may seem like your average high school students, but under the tutelage of their Spinjitzu sensei, Master Wu (Jackie Chan), they're Ninjago's last line of defense against the maniacally evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux).

A Volcano-dwelling warlord who glowers over this opponents with his four arms and menacing red eyes, Garmadon — aka "The Worst Guy Ever" — has tried his darndest to conquer Ninjago City time and time again. Each time, however, he and his generals have been thwarted by the wise-cracking Wu and his secret ninja force, each of whom has attained mastery of a different element — water, earth, fire, ice, electricity and green — that makes them not only an invaluable member of the team, but a formidable warrior unto their own.

Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan, The LEGO Ninjago Movie upholds the tradition established by the previous two LEGO feature films, boasting no shortage of fun, creative and action-packed set-pieces (pun intended). However, when it comes to the film's core, Logan, Fisher and their four fellow co-writers, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern and John Whittington, borrow a page from the original Star Wars trilogy, focusing their script on the relationship between Garmadon and Lloyd, who happen to be father and son.

The movie often plays the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader dynamic between Lloyd and Garmadon for laughs, as rightly it should. But if there's one thing that these big screen LEGO adventures have in common, it's that they all excel at injecting some genuine heart into the narrative as well. Thankfully, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is no different, and Franco and Theroux do a great job selling their characters' emotional arcs, even when the story finds them joining forces to stop a rogue feline — yes, an actual house cat — from wreaking havoc on Ninjago City.

With ample humor for both kids and adults, the result proves to be yet another smash hit for the LEGO cinematic franchise. Smart, sidesplittingly hilarious and just as visually enthralling — if not more so — as its predecessors, The LEGO Ninjago Movie once again takes a deceptively simple concept and transforms it into a creation of surprising depth. In and of itself, it's quite an achievement, but it's all the more impressive that the filmmakers have done so without the benefit of iconic superheroes or movie tie-ins this time around.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie releases September 22nd, 2017 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for some mild action and rude humor. Its runtime is 1 hr. 41 min.

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