The LEGO Ninjago Movie begins, unlike The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, with a live-action piece and a mysterious story where store owner Mr Liu (Jackie Chan) introduces a young boy into the world of Lloyd, alongside Master Wu, the latter also voiced by Chan – and then it’s off into LEGO land.
Alas, for Lloyd (Dave Franco), he’s the son of the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), and no-one lets him forget it, even when, like today, it’s his 16th birthday. Maybe they’ve all forgotten? His Dad certainly has.
For someone who doesn’t know too much about Ninjago (nor even whether it was pronounced Ninja-go or, as I was later correct, Nin-JAR-go), the film does a good job of introducing each of the ninjas – who are still in school while Garmadon terrorises the world – and their different strengths and powers, mostly based on our planet’s elements.
Beyond the main five, there’s also the mysterious Green Ninja whose identity will never ever be revealed… yes, it’s Lloyd, since he’s the only one who hasn’t been named before suiting up as a Ninja… don’t worry, if you hadn’t guessed that, then it’s quickly revealed to you.
Together, the super six need to find the Ultimate Weapon, and then the Ultimate Ultimate Weapon, and that’s about it for the main plot, as well as defeating Garmadon… if they can despite all the familial issues.
In addition to the main cast, there are two news presenters, voiced by Good Morning Britain‘s (formerly GMTV) Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway. If you’re wondering what the US would make of them, don’t… as looking at IMDB, there are other news people listed, so I wonder if other countries used their own well-known names. After all, their LEGO characters don’t look like them, so any voices can be substituted, which is quite handy.
There are a lot of things I really liked about this movie:
- Meowthra, the enemy cat, is clearly an homage to the Japanese enemy character Mothra, and there’s also a ‘Kitten Kong’ moment from The Goodies in there, as she behaves like King Kong toppling a tower over.
- There’s great use of Bruce Springsteen’s Secret Garden when Garmaddon and Green Ninja first discuss the former’s hold on Ninjago city.
- It also has brilliant use of 3D, too. In all the fights – and there’s quite a few of those – I liked to stand up right in front of my TV and take it all in. Mine is 50″ (f’nar, f’nar) and is up on a unit such that the centre of the TV is about my eyeline, so when sat down I’m always looking up at it, and when watching great scenes from 3D movies, I like to get up close and personal.
- Zane (Zach Woods) makes modem sounds, amongst all his other computer-related behaviour. Woods was also the only good thing about the Ghostbusters remake, and he was barely in it beyond the opening scene.
- There’s occasional catchphrases that reference others, such as when Master Wu says, “I came here to drink boba and kick butt, and I’m all out of boba…” which I first thought was a pastiche on Duke Nukem’s “I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum…” , but thanks to Alex Watkins from Edge Of Your Seat for confirming it’s John Carpenter’s They Live. I really need to watch that.
- When it showed a ton of made-up martial arts films with their titles, I PMSL’d over the Tom Hardy spoof, Locke 2: The Joy Locke Club.
I avoided it in the cinema as I don’t know a whole lot about Ninjago and figured it wouldn’t be as good, but it still had almost as many laughs throughout in comparison to The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, and if we get a fourth movie in the series, I would definitely go and see it on the big screen as Meowthra would’ve looked amazing. However, I would ask them to make the change to shorten it, as this oe (like the others) is about 15-20 mins too long.
As such, The LEGO Ninjago Movie is almost as good. The majorty of the first half is great, but after that, it slows down in the second act, and then picks up a bit in the third.
I’m rarely into CGI movies that are aimed at kids as they’re really not my bag, but there’s an exception that I’ll make from time to time, and that’s for those which feel like they’veactually had some effort put into them, and are not some quick ‘thrown together in a PC’ movie like most of them. Hence, the exceptions are the likes of Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings, and the LEGO movies.
In addition, I talk in the unboxing video, below, about how, while the film and both discs are a BBFC U-certificate, in Ireland, the film is the equivalent of a G. However, while there’s a G on the cover, and the 2D disc (which does, indeed, contain all the extras, as I expected), the 3D disc is a PG instead of a G, which indicates there’s something additional causing that. Well, there’s no extras on the 3D disc, so I’m baffled as to why it says PG, unless it’s an error.
The film is presented in 1080p high definition, and looks crystal clear with zero defects, bringing the bright LEGO land to your screen. That’s what you’d expect with a modern release.
The sound is in DTS 5.1 HD MA, and as all the action is swooping around the screen, so the audio matches it, with plenty of split-surround entertainment during those scenes, as well as clear dialogue throughout.
The extras are as follows and are neatly sorted into their individual sections:
- Featurettes: Three here, all featuring chat from the cast and crew along with clips and the cast recording their scenes – Team Supreme: Building Ninjago (8:19) – how Ninjago came about as a concept and eventually to the screen, including all the martial arts work from Jackie Chan, and I found it clever with the cat being CGI’d into the movie when it looked like she was there right at those moments; Rumble In The Bricks (5:19), which is obviously a play on Jackie Chan’s Rumble In The Bronx and goes more into detail about the kung fu fights in CGI; and Rebrick Contest Winners (4:39), showing stop-motion films made in the style of Ninjago by fans, and which went into the movie, itself.
- Mini Movies: Three of them, respectively, in hand-drawn animation, LEGO bricks and CGI LEGO – Shark E. Shark in Which Way To The Ocean? (2:25), Zane’s Stand-up Promo (2:02) and The Master: A LEGO Ninjago Short (5:18).
- Music Videos: Four of them, as heard in the film – Oh, Hush! & Jeff Lewis – Found My Place (3:21) – with sing-a-long lyrics, plus Everybody Have A Ninja Day (1:06), Warlord Ballad (1:10) and Rocktagon (1:19).
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:40): Extra footage for the bridge fight, baby fight and a new dock scene, showing how it could’ve become a time-travel movie. Overall, the film is rather too long anyway, so it’s better to have the extra footage in this menu.
- Gimme Some Outtakes! (4:42): Lots of them, here.
- Promotional Material (20:28): Ten short pieces from telling cinema audiences to turn off their mobile phones and to put on their 3D glasses, as well as more from Jackie Chan.
- Audio description: does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: from director Charlie Bean and a number of other crew members. The disc could do with a subtitle track for this so when someone’s talking, it tells you who it is, as there’s several people involved in this.
The 3D disc also has a cool 3D menu with the selection menu bar in front of everything else, although the main image is only 2D. There are loads of languages and subtitles as listed below, but the number of chapters don’t exactly break a new dimension as there’s only 10!
Running time: 104 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
Released: February 12th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages (3D Movie): DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (English, French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Castillian Spanish, Catalan, Dutch, Flemish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovakian, Turkish; English Audio Description
Subtitles (3D Movie): English SDH, Italian SDH, Castillian Spanish, Dutch, French, Polish, Portuguese, Slovakian, Turkish
Languages (2D Movie): Dolby Atmos True HD (English), DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Brazillian Portuguese, Castillian Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Latin Spanish; English Audio Description
Subtitles (2D Movie): English SDH, Italian SDH, Brazillian Portuguese, Castillian Spanish, Latin Spanish
Format: 2.35:1 (Dolby Vision)
Disc Format: 2*BD50
Directors: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan
Producers: Maryann Garger, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Phil Lord and Chris McKay
Screenplay: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern and John Whittington
Story: Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Master Wu / Mr. Liu: Jackie Chan
Lloyd: Dave Franco
Cole: Fred Armisen
Jay: Kumail Nanjiani
Kai: Michael Peña
Nya: Abbi Jacobson
Zane: Zach Woods
Fuchsia Ninja: David Burrows
Ninja Computer: Alex Kauffman
Garmadon: Justin Theroux
General Olivia: Ali Wong
Retirement General: Garret Elkins
General Omar: Todd Hansen
General Jolly: Doug Nicholas
Terri IT Nerd: Charlyne Yi
Asimov IT Nerd: Vanara Taing
Koko: Olivia Munn
Ms. Laudita: Laura Kightlinger
Chen the Cheerleader: Randall Park
Maggie the Cheerleader: Retta
Radio DJ: Chris Hardwick
Himself: Ben Shephard
Herself: Kate Garraway
Kid: Kaan Guldur
Meowthra: Pearl and Ruby
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.