The second spin-off in the LEGO movie franchise and the first based off an actual line of LEGO toys, the LEGO Ninjago movie was a hit with the kids at its Melbourne Screening.
However, as singular block in the developing Master-built franchise, it isn’t anything new. An unnecessary and somewhat dumb jaunt through a cherry-picked heroes journey that doesn’t earn the punchy soundtrack it’s given, but will undoubtedly ratchet up the LEGO sales in the coming months following its release. It’s almost LEGO movie shtick at this point, and it has been rather enjoyably handled in the past.
The explicit parody of tropes that the LEGO movies are known to exploit don’t always land in this movie, but no doubt a lot of the difficulties this movie faces is that sales pressure that comes from it having been a toy line first with a movie built around that. It leaves the finished product feeling inauthentic.
The appeal of any film that is made for kids is immeasurably heightened when it is also appealing to the adults who have to attend and then watch it repeatedly for the rest of time when its comes out on DVD. Unfortunately, the LEGO Ninjago movie left some of its audience wading in and out of a story that seemed to forget to throw them a bone every so often, but also wouldn’t allow them to doze off for even a minute.
Patching the holes in this movie are lots of colour, action, dumb gags and emotional stakes that aren’t quite heartfelt enough to bring the movie down or hit the mark, or light enough to pass off as a weird joke. The emotional resonance of this movie is zero. It is no Toy Story; it isn’t even the LEGO Batman.
Despite this though, no one should doubt that this movie will get kids in cinemas. It has ninjas.
(And designer mech, and elemental magics, and Jackie Chan.)