Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Movie Review: "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" (2017)

Director: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, & Bob Logan
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Lloyd Garmadon is an outcast in his day to day life because he is the son of the evil warlord Garmadon, who tries to conquer the city of Ninjago on an almost daily basis. Lloyd is also a member of a secret Ninja squad tasked with battling Garmadon and regularly driving him from the city. Though these Ninjas regularly rid Ninjago of Garmadon, they must go on a quest to discover their inner powers, and Lloyd must work through his daddy issues in order to truly defeat him for good.

"The LEGO Ninjago Movie" is the third theatrically released feature-length LEGO commercial...oops, scratch that, we mean movie released by Warner Bros. It stars Dave Franco, Jackie Chan, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, Abbi Jacobson, and Michael Peña. The film has three directors and nine writers who either worked on the story, the screenplay, or both. With the wealth of talent in the cast and an army of writers and directors behind the scenes, we have to wonder, why does this flick wind up being so average?
If only you had been more like "The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" movie... (Image Source)
We loved "The LEGO Movie" and really enjoyed "The LEGO Batman Movie." Even though these films are essentially 100ish minute long advertisements for LEGO toys, we've never explicitly felt that way until watching "The LEGO Ninjago Movie." This is the most generic of the three titles and has the least amount of characters building things from LEGOs. This is essentially a basic action adventure comedy. Its plot is surprisingly similar to the 1995 film "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie," but with added daddy issues. When an evil villain takes over their town, a group of color-themed ninjas uses mechazords to try and defeat the said villain. When their zords get destroyed, they must go on a journey to unlock their ninja powers, which really already existed within themselves. Honest to god, this plot description applies for both films.
It's literally the same movie... (Image Source)
It sounds like we are being mean to "The LEGO Ninjago Movie," unless you think "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie" is a masterpiece, then we are being very nice to it. The truth is, there are many aspects of this movie we liked. We did manage to laugh quite a bit throughout the film, but nowhere near as much as we did during the first two movies. The humor here is a lot different from what we've seen from this universe in the past. It is far more dialogue-driven and about witty quips were in the past, there has been a heavy reliance on pop culture references and cultural earmarkers to drive the humor, dialogue, and plot. We see a lot less of that here. There is still a good amount of random goofiness similar to what one may find on YouTube or any other viral meme-driven sites. We do really like the voice cast, especially Justin Theroux, who actually offered up the most laughs for us. His character Garmadon is so oblivious to how bad of a father he is and how truly hated he is that it makes us chuckle. Zach Woods and Kumail Nanjiani are also great as Zane, the ice character, and Jay, the thunder character. The city-destroying cat Meowthra is also a pretty good gag. Unfortunately, these laugh out loud moments are few and far between, and when all is said and done, this is a near carbon copy of thousands of other kids movies, just with characters who happen to be LEGOs.

In the end, though "The LEGO Ninjago Movie" is definitely a step down from the two previous installments, it still made us laugh and smile enough so we didn't hate ourselves for watching it like we have during some other kids movies.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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