‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’ brings the fun and feels for all ages (review)

“All right, guys! Let’s get Garmadon!”

Not one person in this world can say that they have no idea what Legos are. Not one! We were raised playing with them, we’ve built incredible structures with them, heck we’ve even experienced the excruciating pain of stepping on them! As technology grew, so did the ability to create new artistic outlets for the building blocks, thus giving fans a much anticipated series of video games in 1998, from Lego Chess to Lego Loco.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the world was given their first introduction to the cinematic world of Legos with the simply titled film The Lego Movie. The humor and nostalgia that this film gave fans of all ages also gave birth to a franchise that would deliver two more big budget films: The LEGO Batman Movie and the film I got a chance to see recently, The Lego Ninjago Movie.


The battle for Ninjago City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, also secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu (Jackie Chan), as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat the evil warlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting father against son, the epic showdown tests these fierce but undisciplined modern-day ninjas as they learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash the inner power of Spinjitzu.

The Lego Ninjago Movie was directed by all first-time helmers Paul Fisher, Charlie Bean and Bob Logan. Uniquely enough, each one of the directors have had a hand in many other projects in the animation department, such as 2010 How to Train Your Dragon (Paul Fisher), 1990’s Dexter’s Laboratory (Charlie Bean), and 2005’s Madagascar (Bob Logan). Even though this film acts as their directorial debut, the cumulative knowledge of the trio serve them well, giving fans a spectacular vision of animation and storytelling.

“Now I’m gonna fight you!”

The film carries the same spirit of its predecessors, with its heavy emphasis on family values and the importance of knowing your own self worth. Ninjago takes this familiar trail of running through its comedic beats with the occasional pause for heartfelt and introspective moments, but this time with the help of the spectacular man of many talents, Jackie Chan. Chan is known not only for his impeccable martial arts skills, but also his ability to bring humor to the forefront of every film he’s a part of. Although this film doesn’t require him to be physically present through most of it, his humor still translates well even in his voiceover work as the character Master Wu.

Similarly, the rest of the cast work really well. Although I’m not the biggest James Franco fan, I can appreciate the performances of Dave Franco. He seems a bit more diverse in his range of abilities, and seems to be willing to be a part of a team, much like his Now You See Me films. In this film, Franco does just that with his chemistry with the rest of the cast, and creates memorable moments in the film as the unassuming yet determined Lloyd. And speaking of the rest of the cast…

When was the last time you had Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Abbi Jacobson and even Ali Wong all in one movie? Never, you say? Well with this film, you get just that! All of that comedy goodness wrapped in a lovable Lego film can only result in a real laugh fest, and it does. The cast work very well together, and even though you don’t see each actors unique form of comedy, the collective product we get is a silliness that goes beyond any age barrier.

“Are you ready to risk your life for Ninjago?”

Although the film is directed towards kids, I personally feel that the message in the movie really moved me. Where the first (and second) film dealt with teamwork and having friends, this film dug a little deeper, and explored how family can have an impact on us. The main antagonist of the film, Garmadon, seems to be oblivious to the impact he had by not being a part of his son’s life. Lloyd, however, is haunted by it every day, since the fact that he is his son is common knowledge to the whole city, causing everyone to treat him as an outcast. The film builds up this direction of storytelling by delving into the reasons why he wasn’t there, and ultimately what Lloyd must do to finally save the city from Garmadon. What transpires is a touching narrative that I feel so many will be able to relate in some form or another.

All in all, The Lego Ninjago Movie is a brilliant addition to the Lego cinematic franchise, falling in line with the life lessons that each one has given thus far. Not only does it have incredibly funny and silly moments that will make you laugh out loud, but it will also bring you to a place that pulls at your heartstrings. The movie is an outstanding work that continues to raise the bar for future Lego films, giving fans exactly what they want, as well as what they need: a fun trip down nostalgia lane, and a reminder that the world is better place when we know our true value.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

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