Directed by: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan
Produced by: Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Chris McKay, Maryann Garger, Roy Lee
Screenplay by: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Story by: Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Based on: Lego Ninjago by The Lego Group
Starring: Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Michel Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Fred Armisen, Olivia Munn, Jackie Chan.
The second spin-off from, The LEGO® Movie, The LEGO® NINJAGO® Movie is based on characters from the Ninjago books, TV series and LEGO® toy-line.
Being a complete novice to the Ninjago world, I took my 5-year-old nephew, an avid fan, to provide some background information (which he enthusiastically supplied, bringing his book full of Ninjago characters).
Thankfully, for a newbie such as myself, the film focussed on the basics of the story, opening with a very human, Jackie Chan as a shop keeper, explaining to a young boy the philosophy and wonder of Ninjago.
And diving into the world of Ninjago, the animation begins:
An evil warlord, Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) AKA, The Worst Guy Ever, is forever trying to destroy and takeover the city of Ninjago. He also happens to be the father of, Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco), the Green Ninja, who is the secret leader of the Ninja Force.
Constantly having to battle his evil father (who’s also kind of a doofus and the funniest character of the film), it’s a stressful life, being hated by everyone because he’s the son of the villain constantly attacking the city. Only Lloyd’s fellow Ninjas:
Kai (Michel Peña), Red/Fire
Jay (Kumail Nanjiani,) Blue/Lightening
Zane (Zach Woods), White/Ice
Cole (Fred Armisen), Black/Earth
(See how much I’ve learned about Ninjago?!!)
know of his secret identity as a ninja who’s also protecting the city from his father.
Even the warlord himself doesn’t know the Green Ninja’s his son, leading to many funny and awkward moments.
There’s a weird kind of humour here, filled with an abundance of puns, aimed at the pre-teen/teen sense of silly.
The themes of being different at 16 years old, yet trying to fit in – the difficulties of relationships with parents and the advice from Master Wu (Jackie Chan) of finding strength within, are all relevant for teens and younger.
However, butt jokes and the tongue-in-cheek vibe with overlying sarcasm didn’t always gel with the father/son dynamic, as some things, I felt, you can’t joke about.
So, some of the film translated for me, some missed the mark.
What I did appreciate was the clever, added detail like the attack sharks expressing their hunger with, nom, nom, nom sounds (hilarious!), and fire for tears and kids trying to hide thinking they’re hidden but very obviously not (like closing your eyes and thinking no-one can see you) – there’s a real tapping into that funny bone.
And some weirdly wonderful montages of the animation cutting to people doing stuff like slapping their painted bellies to highlight the importance of the, ‘ultra-weapon’.
So, it’s a colourful film, and kinda weird and definitely aimed at a younger audience.
As an adult I had a few laughs, and certainly enjoyed sharing the experience with my nephew.