The LEGO Ninjago Movie
- Eddie Harrison
- 9 October 2017
Enjoyable but formulaic animated spin-off, featuring the voices of Jackie Chan and Dave Franco
It may seem churlish to complain that The LEGO Ninjago Movie feels like a feature-length toy advert; both The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie transcended their commercial roots by dint of their successful satirical intentions. Based on the sub-brand of LEGO toys, the franchise's second spin-off sets its sights on martial arts movies, but ends up following the conventions of the films it makes fun of.
After a Gremlins 2-inspired prologue, with the story told by Mr Liu (Jackie Chan), the proprietor of an antique shop, the action focuses on Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco), aka the Green Ninja. Lloyd and his high school pals are in perpetual war against his father Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), who aims to use his armory of mechanical devices to conquer the island of Ninjago.
Against the advice of his mentor Master Wu (also Chan), Lloyd unleashes The Ultimate Weapon, an ordinary laser pointer which draws the attention of Meowthra, a real-life cat, who starts to destroy the city. To set things right, Lloyd and his dad embark on a quest to find The Ultimate Ultimate Weapon and free Ninjago.
Even if directors Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan's film represents one-too-many trips to the well, it's still a bright, brash and amusing animation. The action is as intricate as you'd expect from the brand, and the sight of Meowthra the cat smashing up the city is unashamedly delightful, as is the use of Jim Croce's song 'I Got a Name'.
A disappointing US box office take suggests that two LEGO movies in 2017 has proved more than the market can handle but, while the franchise needs a rest, the film's slapstick sense of fun should satisfy even the most hyperactive imagination.
General release from Fri 13 Oct.