|Director||Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan|
|Starring||Dave Franco, Jackie Chan, Justin Theroux, Abbi Jacobson, Kumail Nanjiani, Fred Armisen, Zach Woods, Michael Pena|
|Release||22 SEP (US) 13 OCT (UK) Certificate U|
The LEGO Ninjago Movie sets itself up with about five stock jokes that it repeats with varying results. For example, Garmadon pronouncing his son's name "Luh-loyd" is funny every single time, as is every appearance of Meowthra, a giant beast who terrorises the city who is literally just a cat. One of the five ninjas, voiced by Veep's Zach Woods, is called Zane, and his quirk is that he's clearly a robot disguised as a teenager; he continually breaks scenes in which characters react to unfolding events by delivering rote mechanical dialogue like "SHOCK" and "CHEERING". It's funnier if you've ever seen an episode of the LEGO Ninjago TV series, which features the same set of characters, including Zane, who is just a normal kid, so the filmmakers literally just turned him into a robot because they thought it was a good gag (it is).
It's a bit of a shame the rest of the ninjas are mostly non-jas: even though they all have their own elements, they're all pretty indistinguishable from one another in battle. That's perhaps The LEGO Ninjago Movie's biggest problem, which it inherited from its forebears: that the cute faux "stop-motion" animation style really does not lend itself to high-tempo action scenes - brains older than 12 years old may have a hard time keeping up with the visuals. The same goes for the Kung fu fight scenes, all of which are painstakingly choreographed (by star Jackie Chan no less) but executed with all the panache of two kids frantically smashing LEGO bricks together.
Nonetheless, there is LOADS for adults to enjoy here (there's even a Locke joke!) and the humour is pitched just far enough over the heads of wee ones for ticket purchasers to get their money's worth (the joke about the Fuschia Ninja made me cover my mouth to stop from laughing too loud). We'll probably have to wait until The LEGO Movie 2 and the return of Lord and Miller for the next truly great LEGO movie, but Ninjago suffices in a pinch - and the sight of multi-limbed bad guy Garmadon acting like there are two people 'making out' with him is one of my favourite things I've seen in a cinema all year.