Movie and toys have long been bedfellows from Roy Rogers toys in the 50s to the staggering arrival of Star Wars in 1977 and the massive moneymaking toy empire that accompanied it, toys have become part of movie marketing like it or not. But the template has been flipped on its head thanks to the popular building toy LEGO. LEGO had a handful of TV series and direct to video movies but in 2014 they released the big screen epic The LEGO Movie to huge critical and box office success. Brilliantly written, wonderfully animated and downright hilarious, the film was a hit. Now three years later we get not only The LEGO Batman Movie early last year, which was another huge hit, but we also got an original movie based on one of their toy lines, The LEGO Ninjago Movie.
Ninjago City is a happy place full of happy people. But constantly looming over them all is the evil warlord Garmadon, the worst guy ever, who is always attacking the city in attempts to overthrow it. But Garmadon is always thwarted by six young ninjas. When needed these heroes are there to defend their city, the rest of the time they are regular high school kids dealing with regular problems. Especially Lloyd, whose father happens to be Garmadon. And everyone knows it.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie is another big win for LEGO. With this film being a riskier project in that most people may not be familiar with the toy line, it still manages to succeed thanks to a smart script, great animation and action, and tons of humor. Having great voice talent doesn’t hurt either with the likes of Dave Franco, the one and only Jackie Chan, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, and Michael Peña. The story is great, the action, even though executed from blocky plastic characters, is exciting, and the laughs will keep adults and kids alike rolling on the couch. LEGO is doing things right and not just haphazardly cashing in but hiring the right people and making these movies the right way with quality and with the audience in mind. Movie lovers of all ages will dig The LEGO Ninjago Movie, highly recommended.