We have yet again found ourselves in the fortunate situation of having another Lego movie being released in theaters this weekend. I’ve said this before and I’m certain I’ll say it again, but every time I hear about one of these movies I assume they are going to basically be 2 hour long commercials. And yet every time I am pleasantly shocked that they turn out as amazing as they do. And while The Lego Ninjago Movie doesn’t rise to the level of The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie, it does offer solid family fun with a lot of genuinely clever jokes and even a deeply moving ending.
Here’s a list of things that I liked about it:
1. FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
This movie has something everyone can enjoy. My two daughters (8 and 6) loved it and I certainly found more than enough to entertain me. There is a bit for everyone to enjoy.
2. GREAT, RELATABLE CHARACTERS
All of the different characters in the film are distinct. The teenagers are somewhat stereotypical, but they are rounded enough to not be cliche.
3. GREAT LIFE LESSONS
Without giving too much away, I will say that the story revolves around a father-son relationship that is less than ideal. The story preaches the values of forgiveness and not judging a book of its cover.
4. LAUGH OUT LOUD HUMOR
Like the other Lego movies, this film has some REALLY funny and clever moments. It isn’t quite as funny as the others, but it is plenty funny and inventive.
5. FUN AND INVENTIVE ANIMATION
Lego movies always have fun and creative ways to use actual Lego pieces in their animation and Ninjago is no exception. There are lots of great Lego Easter Eggs to watch out for.
6. A TOUCHING ENDING
If there’s one thing that I disliked about the original Lego Movie, it was that its final act didn’t hit me in the feels like I think it could have. Whereas Ninjago actually pays off emotionally in a way that literally caused me to tear up.
7. GREAT VOICE ACTING
You will probably recognize some of the voices that lend their talent to the movie. They aren’t A-listers, but they are great and do their job well.
What didn’t I like?
1. PARTS OF THE STORY
Lots of movies have a concept that they use to start the story and then end it in the same setting/device (The Princess Bride is the most brilliant at this). We sometimes refer to these as ‘bookends.’ This film tries to do that, but it didn’t work for me, although it may work for the younger audience members. And of course there were several places where the jokes fell flat or the story just didn’t work.
2. LEGO NINJAGO IS A VERY SILLY CONCEPT
Let’s face it: the concept of Lego Ninjago is a silly one and made almost exclusively for little boys. It’s basically a Lego version of Power Rangers. However, the movie mostly rises above the silliness by creating great characters and snappy dialogue.
Although Lego Ninjago is not as brilliant as The Lego Batman Movie or The Lego Movie, it still is very funny and also remarkably moving. It’s a good family film that rises above its source material and teaches some really great lessons.