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Dan's Review: "The Lego Ninjago Movie" sticks to the formula

Sep 23, 2017 01:15AM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

The Lego Ninjago Movie - © 2017 Warner Bros.

The Lego Ninjago Movie (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.

Starring (voices of) Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Michael Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Fred Armisen, Jackie Chan, Olivia Munn, Randall Park, Retta, Constance Wu, Charlyne Yi, Chris Hardwick, Robin Roberts, Michael Strahan, David Burrows, Ali Wong, Todd Hansen, Doug Nicholas, Laura Kightlinger.

Written by Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington, Hilary Winston, Dan Hageman and  Kevin Hageman, based on the TV series.

Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan.

GRADE: B

REVIEW:

When a movie breaks the rules and branches out into new territory, it’s tough to replicate that kind of success over time without seeming formulaic. Case in point: the team that brought us groundbreaking comedy of The Lego Movie begat The Lego Batman Movie, leading up to this weekend’s release of The Lego Ninjago Movie. With each new installment, it becomes more apparent that each new film in the Lego animated franchise (led by producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote & directed The Lego Movie) is beginning to seem rather familiar.

Dave Franco voices Lloyd Garmadon, estranged son of the evil overlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) who makes it his personal mission to attack Ninjago city from his nearby volcano lair, in hopes of taking over. Lloyd happens to be part of a team of ninjas under the tutelage of Master Wu (Jackie Chan) that operates large weaponized machines to defend the city. Being Garmadon’s son makes Lloyd a pariah, especially since no one knows of his secret ninja heroics. It also doesn’t help that Lloyd deals with a lot of  “daddy issues.” When Lloyd uses the “Ultimate Weapon” against his dad, he unleashes a monster on the city that destroys their defenses, leading Master Wu to lead his team on a quest for the “Ultimate-Ultimate Weapon,” with Garmadon in pursuit. A series of odd events leads to a precarious alliance between Garmadon and Wu’s team, allowing father and son to engage in some long-overdue bonding. When the “Ultimate-Ultimate Weapon” is located, the newfound family bond is tested as Garmadon has trouble shaking his evil habits, prompting a big family showdown with the monster in the city.

The Lego Ninjago Movie has a plenty of laughs, but nothing you haven’t already experienced from the two previous Lego films. The lack of originality is offset by the humor that relies heavily on satire of the martial arts genre and a lot of gags involving the clunky nature of plastic blocks. It’s a humor that still works, but it isn’t exactly unique any more.

The Lego film franchise isn’t stale yet, but it’s headed there, and The Lego Ninjago Movie may signal a decline for the series. 


The Lego Ninjago Movie Trailer

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