The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Reviewed
Mon. 1/15/18
The LEGO Ninjago Movie
2.6666666666667
Acting
2
2/5
Morality
2.5
2.5/5
Music
3.5
3.5/5
Story
2
2/5
Visuals
4
4/5
Kernel Factor
2
2/5
I just should have said "no"
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming >27in
Viewing Crew:
Myself
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Kids/Family
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

The LEGO Movie set such a high bar that it's hard not to constantly compare Ninjago to it, but I'll try to avoid repeating how much positively better The LEGO Movie is over this. Before I do, I feel like they needed to take a break from this franchise altogether and give the audience time to get pumped about this series again. Warner Bros. doesn't need my consulting advice, but theatrically I didn't see the viability in this film succeeding, especially domestically - the name and branding are obscure for parents, even for those whose kids have Ninjago products. Positively speaking, this film had one of the best trailers I saw for any movie in 2017, but in the end that was one of the few positive elements from my perspective. My greatest frutstration with this film comes down to the lack of creativity - that sounds crazy, but at its core this film is copying (not creating) what it thought was what made audiences love The LEGO Movie (there I go again). In the end, Ninjago is overly simple and doesn't have the creative spark, in terms of Story.

Acting
Besides Dave Franco's voice I didn't feel the heart or distinction in any character - the entire script is trying so hard. Justin Theroux is such a strange pick to me as the voice of Garmadon (evil character), mostly because he brings nothing unique to the character but rather attempts to act like Will Ferrell's Lord Business from The LEGO Movie. I see the attempt to convert Jackie Chan followers to see him as a fun voiceover actor, but yikes, that failed big time for me (stick to the stunts, Jackie). 
Morality
Kids movies to me keep going down the drain in terms of crudeness and appropriate behavior. I laughed like three times in this movie, and it was never because of the redundant "butt" jokes. Garmadon is Lloyd's dad and their journey to be "unified" doesn't feel one bit meaningful or well-intentioned.
Music
This franchise is great at licensing music, I'm assuming thanks to the Warner Bros. connections to music, but unlike its predecessors, which so perfectly matched licensed music to storytelling, Ninjago forces music much like a majority of its jokes. It's good, but not great.
Story
Look, you have to know that I LOVE Legos. To this day, I play with and build Legos. In doing that, I've come up with plenty of pitiful stories to give my Legos (and mostly me) a sense of purpose after spending hours building and setting things up. The script of Ninjago is something I could've thought up in about an afternoon of building. This is not credit to me, but more of a complaint on the film's basic storytelling approach. The beginning is somewhat incoherent as we go from the "real world" to Ninjago, and once it gets going it's just a bunch of chaos and goofy-overly-trying banter. At times it's cute, but the "adventure" is so simple and I seriously don't connect with a single supporting character. This one hurt.
Visuals
So beautiful! There are plenty of moments where this film is the best of the three LEGO movies from a visual perspective. But they just had to throw the cat in there. Oh man, why? And although the scenes are breathtaking, I started to realize we were essentially in two worlds, not the multitude of worlds as we saw in The LEGO Movie, which helped add depth to its story. 
Kernel Factor
Great trailer, mostly perfect visuals, but it's hard for me to love much else about Ninjago. This was one that I just shouldn't have let myself watch - I've got to keep my love of Legos pure. 

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