Greg Eichelberger reviews 'The LEGO Ninjago Movie'

Greg Eichelberger
Staff Writer

Like its 2014 predecessor, “The LEGO Batman Movie,” a sequel — of sorts — which kept the clever, irreverent aspects of the genre, this version, directed by Charlie Bean (in his debut) and writers Hilary Winston (TV series “Dr. Ken”), Bob Logan (“Astro Boy”) and Paul Fisher (none of whom, ironically, had anything to do with either of its predecessors) forgets about all of that and we feel it.
While the first two movies featured dozens of pop cultural references, musical interludes, historical puns and audience asides, this newest version replaces the clever and often sarcastic dialogue with a sticky sweet story of the rift between a villain father, Garmadon (voice of Justin Theroux, “The Girl on the Train”) and his hero son, Lloyd (voice of Dave Franco, the upcoming “Disaster Artist”).
In the "LEGO Ninjago Movie" world, however, the dynamic of hero and villain is more than your typical animated/action film (think Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker), for instance, Garmadon continues to attack the City of Ninjago over and over again, but is consistently foiled by five ninjas (voices of Franco, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña and Abbi Jacobson, representing earth, water, fire, lightening and ice).
The picture begins on a fun note, just ignore the flashing, seizure-causing animation, but soon begins to drift off course — and downhill — when an annoying Jackie Chan (a voice in ”The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”) as a martial arts master (gee, how novel) appears.
The action then slows to a dead crawl as the group, with Garmadon in tow, trudges through a LEGO forest and yes, we DO feel almost every mile of it.
Employing the stock Ninja good and bad guys, Lloyd and friends deploy the “ultimate” weapon, which is simply — SPOILER ALERT — a live action cat that is funny for a minute or two, but quickly becomes as tiresome as the rest of the Chan’s boring platitudes as well as the entire enterprise.
Meanwhile, young children who were drawn into the movie early on, were completely silent (or asleep) during the top-heavy second and third acts.
The success of the “LEGO Batman Movie” betrays many viewers with this subpar effort. A somewhat decent experience, but it laps itself with boredom and does not result in the same fun and wild time the first two did.
Grade: C-