The Lego Ninjago Movie is the newest animation to take inspiration from Karate movies. In this Asian-flavoured instalment of the Lego series, a circle of young Ninjas are all that stands between Ninjago City and the cunning attacks from the evil Lord Garmadon. To complicate matters, it happens that the Green Ninja, aka Lloyd, is the estranged son of Garmadon. High points include the ingenious use of sharks as weapons and the six-toed furry monster Meowthra. Very crazy, very funny and particularly recommended for fans of hokey chopsocky films and kittens.

 

Ninjago is an offshoot Lego brand skirting dangerously  close to Power Rangers territory.

All dinosaur mechs controlled by four teenagers with different personalities.

The film doesn’t really do anything to pretend otherwise.

There are some unique twists here - the inclusion of real footage works as well as it did before, as does the use of real life objects as the ”final weapons”.

 

In 2014, the cinema and makers of Lego ventured into a new effort and gave us “The Lego Movie.” I thought it was going to take the Oscar for “Best Animated Feature,” but it did not even get nominated. I was surprised and disappointed. The winner that year was “Big Hero 6.” I liked that film a lot, but I was sure the Academy would pick for “Legos.” “The Lego Movie” did get nominated for “Best Song” for the tune “Everything is Awesome.” It was a clever tune, but “Everything Is Awesome” lost to the song “Glory” from the film “Selma.”

 

Three years after “The Lego Movie” the filmmakers offered us “The Lego Batman Movie.” My favorite aspect of “Lego Batman Movie” was the way the movie briefly reminded the audience of all the Caped Crusaders who had come in the past. This second Lego film had outstanding visuals as did the first film. There is no denying that this series of films is both flashy and exciting. In almost every frame there is more to see than one can ever grasp.

 

And so it is with the most recent film, “The Lego Ninjago Movie.” Yes, “Ninjago” looks great. And perhaps that should be enough. It probably is enough for young children and those who do not expect much from a film made about a toy. But, I, for one, expect more.

 

As far as the stories of the “Lego” films go, I would rank them in order of release. The first film is the best film, “Batman” is second and “Ninjago” is third. I rank them not by the beauty of their animation, because all three are outstanding. But rather I rank them based on the story they are trying to tell. Technically all three are grand, but the story is almost always paramount. The story of “Ninjago” is difficult to describe. There is a villain who is not always bad. There are kids with powers. And there is a real cat who wreaks havoc on the city as he destroys Lego buildings. Most of the time rather than following the plot clearly, I was looking at the outstanding animation. But again, story is paramount.

 

I have to wonder if the filmmakers thought the third film was weaker than the other two. I had not realized that both “Batman” and “Ninjago” premiered this year. The next film is currently to be released in 2019. It is curious to release two films one year and then wait two years to release the next one. There are probably many reasons for this, but I wonder if the weaknesses of “Ninjago” were some of the reasons to offer two films in one year and skip the next.

 

The filmmakers already have their next project on the horizon. The next Lego film will be titled “The Lego Movie Sequel.” That sounds promising. The first film, as stated above, is my favorite. So a sequel to that film might be a good idea. Or then again, it may not. We will just have to wait.

 

I, for one, will probably not go back and watch “The Lego Ninjago Movie” again, but I might check out the original because “The Lego Movie” was something truly special. May the “Sequel” catch that same special element.

 

We follow Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco), who is not well liked at school, he is bullied and as the Green Ninja, he struggles with the notion of doing battle with his father Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) to keep his town of Ninjago safe and the feeling of longing since he has never known his father outside of battle.

 

From the outset, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is bombastic and colourful, reminding me somewhat of a LEGO version of the Power Rangers, which is by no means a bad thing; the six Ninja have their own colours and elemental powers - Cole the Black Ninja of Earth, Jay the Blue Ninja of Lightning, Kai the Red Ninja of Fire, Nya the Silver Ninja of Water, Zane the White Ninja of Ice and the aforementioned Lloyd the Green Ninja, leader of the Secret Ninja Force, the six heroes pilot battle mechs with Lloyd’s being a Dragon.

 

The voice cast is superb, making up the six Ninja we have Fred Armisen (Cole), Kumail Nanjiani (Jay), Michael Peña (Kai), Abbi Jacobson (Nya), Zach Woods (Zane) and the aforementioned Dave Franco as Lloyd with Jackie Chan as Master Wu, the Uncle of Lloyd and teacher of the Ninja and the ever wonderful Justin Theroux as the villainous Lord Garmadon.

 

 

The story sees our heroes travel into the wilderness to find the pieces inside themselves to save Ninjago and possibly reunite father and son.