THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE
Directors: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan
Screenwriters: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern & John Whittington
Runtime: 101 mins.
Australian release date: 21 September 2017
Previewed at: Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney, on 17 September 2017.
This latest instalment of the LEGO film franchise, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, is something of a dog’s breakfast. For the reason why one just needs to look at the number of people involved in the screenplay (and all of them were also credited for ‘story,’ plus another three). And there are three directors to boot! It’s the least entertaining of the films so far and, regrettably, they appear to be on a sliding-scale to zero. If the original (The LEGO Movie) was given 100 points, and the next (The LEGO Batman Movie) 50, then this one is only worth 25. Time to call it a day, I reckon; you know where the series is heading.
When a young boy wanders off the street into a curiosity shop, the owner, Mr. Liu (the legendary Jackie Chan), strikes up a conversation with him. Seeing the kid’s somewhat beaten up LEGO character, Lloyd, Mr. Liu begins to tell him a story about Lloyd’s alter-ego, the Green Ninja (voiced by Dave Franco), and we’re off to the city of Ninjago. It seems that Lloyd, and a bunch of his school friends, are all secret ninja warriors, each with a specific power. Led by their martial arts guru Master Wu (also Jackie Chan), they must defeat the evil warlord Garmadon, The Worst Guy Ever (Justin Theroux), who’s constantly trying to destroy Ninjago and become its leader. And he also happens to be Lloyd’s absentee father.
There are many somewhat trite lessons to be learnt from the script about the relationship between fathers and sons, the importance of friendship and working together as a team, but I suspect that most of them will go over the heads of The LEGO Ninjago Movie’s target audience of young boys. The script is as frenetic as the previous movies’ were but here, rather than being witty while it entertained the tots, it feels strained. Even the littlies in the preview audience seemed to zone out. Yes, there’s plenty of colour and movement (once again, the terrific work of Australia’s Animal Logic production house) but it’s not enough to keep you engaged. If you do go because your youngster insists, stay for the closing credits – as he always does in his films, Jackie Chan treats us to some footage of the stuff-ups from his stunts. It’s the highlight of the film.