Swanner: Lloyd is just your average teenager in Ninjago, with the exception that his father is Garmadon, the villain that tries to destroy Ninjago pretty much every day. Fortunately for Ninjago there are ninjas living in the city who are always up to save the city. Little does Garmadon know that Lloyd, his son, is the Green Ninja that leads the team against him. This is the second LEGO movie to open this year following the success of The LEGO Batman Movie. Is there room for two LEGO movie in the same year? Will both movies be ignored by the Oscars?
Judd: Lego Ninjago features the voice talents of Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani; Michael Pena; Abbi Jacobson; Justin Theroux; Ali Wong and Zach Woods. It’s a strong comedic cast, but with three directors (Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan) and ten individuals given writing credits, the movie feels as overburdened as it’s writing crew. The humor and manic pace from the first LEGO movies is there, but this time it just feels a little sloppy.
Swanner: It’s story was very basic, especially with such a large group of writers. It was funny but the jokes created a laugh and then was completely forgotten. Maybe I’ve been writing with you too long, but past the daddy issues and finding the ultimate weapon, there wasn’t a lot of substance. I’m sure that for kids movie that might be a goal, keep it simple. But two days later, and I’m pulling up a blank.
Judd: Seeing that the first LEGO movie had Daddy Issues, Batman is based on Daddy Issues, having another LEGO movie about a kid with Daddy Issues has become to feel very stale; especially when our superhero movies – I know, not related – are also becoming laden with Daddy Issues. I also felt that the action on the screen was much too busy. During action sequences, I couldn’t keep up. Maybe that’s my old eyes, and kids are going to be able to follow it more – but those kids have parents (or maybe they don’t, Daddy Issues being as popular as they are) and those parents aren’t going to find LEGO Ninjago as entertaining as the first two.
Swanner: I also can’t remember any of the other ninja’s past Master Wu (Jackie Chan) and that’s because he was Garmadon’s brother. Lloyd’s friends… forgettable. The earlier movies were filled with characters we already knew (C-3PO, The Joker, Lincoln, Superman, Shaq) so they didn’t need to take time to develop them. I know I’m bitching a lot but they set the bar so high with the first two films they have to expect us to judge every new film by the earlier films.. This felt like eating at Sizzler’s, the meal was fine but two days later, I can’t remember what I ate.
Judd: Agreed. If LEGO really wants to get into the game, and compete with the likes of Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks, they have to keep on top of their story game – especially when the LEGO building block gimmick has worn off. Which it has. They have done well with video games; I hope LEGO Ninjago teaches them what not to do with their movies.
Swanner: 2 stars
Judd: 2 stars