The LEGO Ninjago Movie takes a big step out from the world we're used to. The universe is broadened, not featuring the likes of Batman or Emmet. We're introduced to Ninjago, a world of ninjas and super villains, where the wicked Garmadon (Justin Theroux) attacks at a near-daily rate, attempting to gain control of the city. But time and time again, Garmadon's plans are foiled by a group of six young ninjas, balancing their school lives with crime fighting and following under the guardianship of Master Wu (Jackie Chan). Things are about to change for Ninjago's ninjas when Lloyd (Dave Franco) confronts Garmadon for what they hope is the last time, and reveals an earth shattering truth... that he's his son.
The story here is simpler than ever. It’s not an ode to creativity, with genius inventiveness wedged into the plot, much like with the original, but it’s a simple get from a to b plot with a few heartfelt messages along the way. The opening act is a little slow as these characters go through the motions, and the third act boarders on being frustratingly predictable, but it’s a film about the characters, their personal vendettas and being the hero hidden inside you, as well as a father-son relationship blossoming between Lloyd and Garmadon. Their shared screen time is the heart and soul of the movie, and it sees the writing at its most sentimental and hilarious.
Sadly, The LEGO Ninjago Movie rests a little too comfortably within its own parameters. The film relies on previous installment’s successes, even reflecting the narrative of this year’s LEGO Batman Movie plot beat for plot beat. There’s only so many times this trio of films can deal with daddy issues before it starts to wear thin, even if they continue to find new and hilarious ways to tell the same jokes. Justin Theroux’s Garmadon steals the entire show, leading to an unbelievable amount of belly laughs within my friend group, but his humour didn’t seem to resonate with the kids. In fact, none of the kids in my theatre seemed to be enjoying this movie, which, if applicable for future sessions once this film is released, will wind up being a major problem.
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