If it ain't broke, don't fix it; this seems to be the motto driving the LEGO franchise. The creators found the winning formula back with The LEGO Movie and they seem to be sticking with it. But while The LEGO Movie was a huge hit thanks to its novelty and The LEGO Batman Movie had a major superhero as its draw, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is by comparison rather obscure - not everyone will be familiar with this line of LEGO sets. Maybe that's why the filmmakers leaned on a theme many of us can relate to: navigating the world as a teenager.
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It's already tough to fit in as a kid, but it's particularly tough when your father is an evil villain hell-bent on taking over your city. (Thanks for embarrassing me, dad!) Such is the case for Lloyd (Dave Franco), a teenager in the fictional world of Ninjago ("Ninja" and "Lego" - get it? Get it?) who can't seem to live down the fact that his father is Garmadon (Justin Theroux), Ninjago's number one menace. But Lloyd has a secret; he is the city's beloved green ninja. And along with his school-outcast-turned-ninja friends, he must thwart Garmadon's near-daily attacks. That's one way to get your father's attention, I guess!
To its credit, he film does contain the same irreverent humour and imagination as the first two, mashing up genres and parodying elements from across the geekdom. Kaiju fans and cat lovers alike will be thrilled by the film's other main antagonist, a giant feline monster called Meowthra. What's more, Franco and Theroux make a brilliant comedy duo, while Jackie Chan is as cool as ever as Master Wu.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie was perhaps never going match the universal appeal as its predecessors, but moviegoers undeterred by this will be rewarded: they’ll quickly find themselves drawn into the wacky, wonderful world of Ninjago.
Edited by Heidi Yeung