The LEGO Ninjago Movie – The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017)
Directed by: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan | 101 minutes | animation, action | Actors: Jackie Chan | Original voice cast: Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, David Burrows, Alex Kauffman, Justin Theroux, Ali Wong, Garret Elkins, Todd Hansen, Doug Nicholas, Charlyne Yi, Vanara Taing , Olivia Munn, Laura Kightlinger, Randall Park, Retta, Chris Hardwick, Bobby Lee
Lego Ninjago is almost indispensable on the shelves of toy stores. Since the introduction in 2010, many boys and girls have become addicted to the beautiful sets with tough ninjas and Eastern elements. After the success of the Lego Star Wars films and the DC Comics film adaptations, a Ninjago translation to the screen was not long in coming. The series, which has now been running for seven seasons, was released in 2011. The idea for a Lego Ninjago feature film also came quickly, but luckily the ladies and gentlemen of Lego did not succumb to the quick cash-in and waited to release the film until they had a decent screenplay (which admittedly countless writers have considered) and a skilled team for the execution. Of course they had enough cash flow with the surprise hit ‘The Lego Movie’ (2014) and subsequent ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ (2017), but to their credit their dollar signs were not decisive in their eyes.
You don’t need to have seen the series to enjoy ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’. In fact, knowing the series might even be a drawback, as there are some overlaps. The characters have to be introduced and that is done in a slightly different way than in the TV series. That introduction is immediately the big disadvantage of the film, because the tone does not fit with the rest of the film. It’s an assault on all your senses, the jokes are bland and the tendency to stop the film is strong. In addition, just like in ‘The Lego Movie’, there is a frame story in which Jackie Chan briefly shows up as the owner of an antiques shop and gives wise lessons to a kid who comes to visit him, but this only distracts from the real adventure. . Too bad, because in ‘The Lego Movie’ the live-action addition had added value.
However, if the viewer perseveres and has penetrated to the core of the adventure, there is still plenty to enjoy. Lord Garmadon is a lovely bad guy, and Lloyd is a likeable character, who is easy to sympathize with. Unfortunately, the rest of the ninjas, Kai, Jay, Cole, Zane and Nya, get less screen time and their characters are barely developed, except for some clichés. The joke density is greatest in this piece, with the dialogues between father and son being clever enough to appeal to young and old alike. The Ultimate Weapon also invariably produces happy moments and has been cleverly thought out, along the lines of ‘The Lego Movie’. Not everyone who has ever proudly made a Lego building may have experienced this situation, but at least be able to recognize it.
‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ is less successful than the incomparable ‘The Lego Movie’, but certainly as fun as ‘The Lego Batman Movie’. The self-mockery we know from these earlier films is fully present and the story is well thought out and compelling enough to appeal to adult viewers as well. The film benefits from a great voice cast (Justin Theroux as Garmadon is superb!). The references to old kung fu movies and even Japanese monster movies like ‘Godzilla’ are the icing on the proverbial cake.