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Blu-ray Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie

December 19, 2017

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Lloyd (Dave Franco) is a lonely teenager who is a misfit at school, but leads a double life as the powerful Green Ninja, fighting alongside a group of other ninja warriors and being trained by his wise old uncle Master Wu (Jackie Chan).  But Lloyd is tired of having to always save their city of Ninjago from his evil father Garmadon (Justin Theroux), and would rather just have a regular relationship with his dad.

As someone who found The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie to be overrated and more exhausting than entertaining, I surprisingly didn’t hate watching The LEGO Ninjago Movie.  This might be a minority opinion, and funnily enough this is the first instalment that has caused many other critics to start losing interest in the series, but I actually thought it was a bit better than the first two films.

The film opens with a decent and surprisingly low-key live action prologue featuring Jackie Chan as a shopkeeper who is telling a story to a little boy (Kaan Guldur) inspired by his own worn down Ninjago mini figure, which lets us know that this franchise entry is going to be a bit different than the two films before it.  While a set piece involving giant robots that follows shortly after has the same hyperactive and overwhelmingly busy feel that plagued the first two films, The LEGO Ninjago Movie feels like somewhat of a departure from them in that it actually tries to tell its own story, rather than just seeing how many sight gags and moments of brand recognition it can throw at the screen.

The plot itself is thoroughly predictable, not really deviating from your standard hero’s journey, and the humour is mostly geared towards kids.  But this is also the first of the three films that actually feels like it is telling more of a cohesive and focused story, rather than just offering a veritable orgy of pop culture references.  This film benefits from not being stuffed to the gills with a multitude of cameos from other recognizable characters, and it also allows for a few quieter character beats, which leads to a suitably sweet father-son moment at the end.

The animation is often visually appealing, with some great looking animated landscapes, and the highlight being a photorealistic cat that comes to terrorize the city.  The film also has some fun and nicely done martial arts scenes, which were actually choreographed by Jackie Chan.  I still get the overarching feeling while watching these films that they aren’t really made for me, and it’s hard to deny that this is basically a glorified toy commercial, just like the first two.  But all things considered, I don’t think The LEGO Ninjago Movie is an inherently bad film, and kids are sure to enjoy it.

The Blu-ray also includes a commentary track with director Charlie Bean and members of the crew, the featuretres Team Supreme: Building Ninjago, Rumble in the Bricks and Rebrick Contest Winners, the three short mini movies Shark E. Shark in Which Way to the Ocean, Zane’s Stand Up Promo and the previously released The Master: A Lego Ninjago Short, as well as a pair of music videos, a trio of deleted scenes, and some outtakes.

The Lego Ninjago Movie is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release.  It’s 101 minutes and rated G.

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