With all these “Lego” movies, I think it’s pretty obvious why I didn’t review “The Emoji Movie.” Because these films live in the world of Legos, and not CGI garbage. This year, we had the entertaining Batman spoof “The Lego Batman Movie,” and now, we have “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” which is based on a TV series. Unfortunately, as much as I adored the other two “Lego” movies, I was disappointed in “Ninjago.”
My favorite thing about this movie is the Lego visual world. It takes place in a Japanese-like city called “Ninjago.” I love looking at these buildings, vehicles, jungles, rivers, and even the bugs and animals that pop in. With the right animation, it looks cool.
The story, however, ends up becoming run-of-the-mill as Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco) is hated by everyone but his mother (voiced by Olivia Munn) and friends, because his father Garmadon (voiced by Justin Theroux) is a ruthless warlord, who hopes to conquer the city. In fact, the only time he has ever seen his own son was when he was a baby.
Lloyd is secretly known as The Green Ninja in a group of warriors. They aren’t all that special, but they consist of Jay (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani), the Ninja of Lightning, Kai (voiced by Michael Pena), the Ninja of Fire, Nya (voiced by Abbi Jacobson), the Ninja of Water, Cole (voiced by Fred Armisen), the Ninja of Earth, and Zane (voiced by Zach Woods), the robotic Ninja of Ice. Some of them are well-voiced, sure, but there have been much better Lego supporting characters than them.
And training them is Garmadon’s little brother Master Wu (voiced by Jackie Chan, who also has a live action role).
Garmadon finds out the Green Ninja is his own son Lloyd or “L Loyd” as he calls him. And when Lloyd inadvertently summons a live action cat, they both end up going a journey with the other ninjas to find a way to defeat the cat.
“The Lego Ninja Movie” has great visuals and some talented voice work from Franco, Theroux, Munn, Woods, and Chan; and I know kids will eat the whole movie up. But again, it ends up becoming a disappointment. Most of the jokes are either tired or obvious; the story ends up becoming routine; and the supporting characters are underwritten. I know there’ll be another great “Lego” movie; “Ninjago” isn’t that.