You ever notice that Hollywood works in patterns? Every once in a while, someone will release something new and interesting onto the scene and all of a sudden, everyone will clamor to declare it to best thing we’ve seen in a long time. Then, will the fervor of a newly tapped fanbase, the studio tries to catch lightning in a bottle a second time. They might get one or two more entries that are fun enough, but eventually, they start to really push it. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Lego franchise.
The Lego Ninjago Movie is a feature film adaptation of the Lego Ninjago TV Show which is, in and of itself, an adaptation of the toy line of the same name. And believe it or not, it’s about as entertaining as you’d expect it to be. Granted, I have not seen the television show, but I imagine it’s probably the coolest thing ever if you’re nine years old, and otherwise, there’s really no appeal. That’s what we’re dealing with here. It’s a movie that moms will probably be forced to take their kids to, only to regret it an hour and a half later. It’s not auspiciously terrible, just kind of a waste of time. The attempts at humor are beyond weak, and all of the writing feels as if the screenwriter was actually ten years old. Is that inherently a bad thing? I guess not if it appeals to its intended audience, but for the rest of us who find ourselves watching it for whatever reason, it’s pretty disenchanting. Honestly, this movie would probably be just okay if it was the first of its kind, but it looks remarkably substandard coming in the wake of The Lego Movie and this year’s Lego Batman. Both of those movies found ways to be entertaining for both the adolescents they’re “intended” for, and the adults who bought the tickets. Ninjago just feels like those movie’s lame younger cousin who won’t shut up at Thanksgiving Dinner.
Dave Franco voices Lloyd, our main character, a socially awkward ninja who is struggling with his identity, after learning that his father is the evilest guy in the universe; The Big Bad of the film, Garmodon. Franco brings his token “I’m a dumb college student” voice to the role, which really feels awkward and starts to grate on the ears as the runtime drags onward. He doesn’t win the award for worst voice acting, though. Unfortunately, that has to go to Jackie Chan, who plays-you guessed it-the ninja master. No disrespect to Mr. Chan, but between this and Nutty By Nature, he really shouldn’t be doing voiceover work. The animation is fine, I guess, but it seems the least inspired of all of these Lego films thus far. The biggest issue with this movie is the pacing. Nothing…really…happens. In spite of being a full hour and forty minutes long, this production feels terribly like a really bad first act that was just stretched over an entire runtime. The moral is contrived and the road to get to the ending is some of the most painstakingly predictable of the year. Also, there is a cat that destroys the town like Godzilla. So, there’s that. Look, is this movie on the level of like a Despicable Me 3, or an Emoji Movie? No. But it’s really not worth seeing ever, unless, you are just a massive fan of the source material for some reason. I guess what I’m saying is, if you have to choose between watching this, and folding laundry, that laundry isn’t going to fold itself.
All images are from The Lego Ninjago Movie, from Warner Bros. Entertainment