The LEGO Ninjago Movie

The_Lego_Ninjago_Movie.jpgAs we all know, I’m a self-professed Lego fanboy. I’m also involved with an RLUG (an official club recognized by Lego, with some access to certain perks), and got an invite to see all three Lego franchise films before they were open to the general public. I reviewed The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie over on my other site, Novel Ninja. I’m sticking this one up here because, well, I can’t exactly ignore the CG fanbase, now can I?

Unlike the others, though, it’s pretty short and to the point. The LEGO Movie was an excellent film about Lego figures in a Lego world that worked according to Lego rules (unlike pretty much every bit of Lego-brand films I’d seen before then, where it didn’t really matter if the characters were Lego or not). It was a great, well-constructed film that blended reality and fantasy to the point where you effectively had a parallel world going on.

If you find that confusing, you didn’t watch the movie. Go fix that. This review will be here. You have more important things to do.

Next, The LEGO Batman Movie. I was almost as skeptical about that one as I had been about The LEGO Movie, but for a more prosaic reason: historically, films centered on a humorous secondary character tend to flop; if not in the box office, then in reviews. But Batman was great. Not as good as the first, but still great. Still also in the mode of a world of Lego with Lego characters and Lego rules.

Now we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Now, I’ve never actually paid attention to the Ninjago franchise. I have a grand total of one set from that line, the Temple of Airjitzu. It’s an excellent set, and I have it on display in my house.

Lego Temple of Airjitsu.jpg

And that’s the extent of my knowledge, at least prior to watching this movie. I don’t know if it follows the same storyline or if it is something on its own. I might fix that sometime, but Ninjago as a theme still doesn’t interest me. Mechs and ninjas are a weird combination to me.

The film itself wasn’t nearly as strong in terms of the formula of Lego characters in a Lego world with Lego rules. There was plenty of that (and a heavy amount of real-world-wall-breaking), but the characters themselves didn’t build to solve problems like in the other two films, except with one notable exception. So it was a Lego movie, but it wasn’t much of a Lego story.

That said, it was a fun movie. It’s hilarious, in fact, if you go into it with at least a passing familiarity with martial arts films and their associated tropes. In fact, I immediately started referring to it (in loving terms, I assure you) as The LEGO Weebo Movie.

This next part contains SPOILERS. Mild, but still there.

Other than the lack of a truly Lego-focused storyline, there’s one major flaw that I didn’t like, and it’s a stylistic one. There was a lot of debate with the first movie about whether or not it was taking place in a kid’s imagination. In this movie, there is no question. Sadly, to me, that ruins a lot of it. Like Tolkien, I have a bit of distaste for stories where the main character wakes up at the end and sees it was all a dream.

But while it’s far from a true successor to the first two films (especially that first one), it’s still a great show. Take your kids to it, whether they be adults or children. Have fun, and enjoy the genre jokes.

And remember, Lego is good for you!

About Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman is a traditionally-minded Catholic convert and freelance science fiction and fantasy editor, which means that he's in high demand in a small population. Fortunately, he loves talking about stories. And Catholicism. And history. And philosophy. And lots of other stuff.
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