In 2014, Warner Bros took the animated world by surprise with the release of The LEGO Movie. In a world where few films rival Pixar in terms of Story, Animation, Concept, and Execution, The LEGO Movie stood shoulder to shoulder with the best Pixar films. Now, 3 years later, Warner Bros has given us, not one, but two new entries the world of LEGO movies: The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie. This is our spoiler-free review of The LEGO Ninjago Movie.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie had a few hurdles to get over when coming to big screen. The first is that Ninjago is an original creation by The LEGO Group and not widely known. The second is that those who do know Ninjago are probably aware of the cartoon network Television series that has ran for multiple seasons. Warner Bros had to find a balance between bringing a new audience into Ninjago while not disappointing fans of the series. In the end we feel like they mostly accomplished this goal and delivered a movie that was great for the whole family and also honored the history of Ninjago.
As with any great film, it all starts with the story. The story varies quite a bit from the TV series roots by introducing the team with Lloyd as the leader of the Ninjas. Not to bore you with Ninjago TV history, but that is not how the TV series introduces Lloyd. We find out that Lloyd is the most hated person in Ninjago City because he is the son of the evil Lord Garmadon. Garmadon makes regular attempts at overtaking the city and destroying everything. The citizens of Ninjago City treat Lloyd as if he is the same troublemaker that his Father is. On the flip side, we learn that Lloyd is the famed Green Ninja, who everyone in Ninjago City loves. This is the setting for what turns out to be a heartwarming story about the teamwork and the importance of family.
As important as the story is, it’s the animators and voice actors who really bring life to the world of Ninjago. The animation in The LEGO Ninjago Movie is, at times, completely breathtaking. The dense city with multi-cultural influences is vibrant and layered. The animators also continue the stop motion-esque movement of the characters, introduced in The LEGO Movie, which makes you feel like you are watching small toys come to life. While the animation bring the world to life, it’s the voice cast that bring the characters to life. The LEGO Ninjago Movie has assembled a brilliant ensemble cast. However, because the movie comes in at an hour and forty minutes it feels like most of the actors are underused. This may be my biggest complain with the film. Dave Franco voices Lloyd and he carries most of the movie. The other 5 ninjas are voiced by some of the funniest people in movies today: Michael Pena (Kai), Zach Woods (Zane), Fred Armisen (Cole), Abbi Jacobson (Nya), and Kumail Nanjiani (Jay). I understand that a movie aimed at kids has to be action packed, but I would have loved to have a lot more interaction with these amazing comics. Final note on the cast is that Justin Theroux stole the show as Garmadon. Garmadon has a lot of dialogue and he was easily the best part of the movie.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie was fantastic. I took all 4 of my kids to see it and they all enjoyed it. Following our viewing, without prompting, they all agreed that The LEGO Ninjago Movie was better than The LEGO Batman Movie and I have to agree with them. The LEGO Ninjago Movie is very funny, well acted, and gorgeous. While I don’t think it packed quite the punch that The LEGO Movie had, I think The LEGO Ninjago Movie is a must see. I’m excited that Warner Bros took a chance on Ninjago City and I hope to see many more ninja filled adventures in the future.