I’m not remotely familiar with whatever Lego Ninjago is. I’m still not quite sure. The movie itself comes off as an extended commercial for a series of playsets, in a more egregious way than the previous Lego movies, which actually felt like they had a story to tell first and toys to sell second. Ninjago flips that script. They quickly push through any necessary information and background on the characters in order to show more cool dragon heads. The main character is Lloyd (Dave Franco) who has daddy issues because his absentee father is Garmadon (Justin Theroux) who regular terrorizes his town (which is called Ninjago, I think).
The trailer made it feel like another iteration of Lego Movie, and the Lego Batman Movie, both great films, so I was on board. But the humor is lean, the heart is weak and unearned, and the story is limp. The movie is just disappointing on all fronts. Lloyd is a part of a team of Ninjas. There is like five or six of them, I’m not really sure and who cares, that have different designations like being the fire ninja or water ninja, because marketing. Only Lloyd is the green ninja because…well it never quite makes sense.
There are a couple laughs. A recurring bit with one of his fellow ninjas definitely not being a robot is funny every time. But that’s about it. The movie never really comes to life. It’s missing the spark of joy that held together the previous Lego flicks, and the voice work is generally mediocre. Only Kumail Nanjiani registers as one of Lloyd’s teammates, and that’s probably just because his voice is recognizable and I could differentiate one of the teammates. The movie also manages to come off casually racist and sexist, without even trying hard. And nothing in the movie is trying hard, other than the marketing for new play sets.
My Grade – D