The LEGO Ninjago Movie is the third big budget LEGO movie in this film franchise that follows a Power Rangers like group of teenagers as they fight a menacing bad guy in the town of Ninjago. There are plenty of pop culture references to go around that will make both the kids and adults laugh out loud, but the film lacks the same wit and charm that the first LEGO movie gave us. The 4K UHD with HDR10 is an improvement in color and detail over the Blu-ray and the Dolby Atmos is demo-worthy. The kids will like the bonus features, but adults won't find any insight here in making the film. Still, this one is Recommended!
The LEGO Movie came out in 2014 and was universally praised by both fans and critics alike. On a $60 million budget, the film went on to make just under $500 million, which cemented a franchise film series, not to mention boosting sales for those fun little plastic bricks and mini-figures. A couple of years later we saw The LEGO Batman Movie and now we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which rounds out this trilogy of LEGO films. What The LEGO Movie did so well was that it told a simple and endearing story with a great message and had a ton of jokes that were made for all audiences of young and old. It was so charming and witty that it was highly re-watchable and very smart story telling, while being silly all at the same time.
The breakout character from that film being Batman, ended up getting his own film a couple of years later, where it made a ton of movie and pop culture references and was indeed hilarious, but it lacked the charm that the first film had. With LEGO Ninjago, things feel a bit more lazy, rushed, and even incoherent at times. This may be due to the fact that the director, producer, and writers are comprised of a whopping 15 people. That's a lot of minds trying to get their input in on one single project.
Ninjago is in fact a LEGO city full of people living their daily lives, but are often interrupted by a big bad guy named Lord Garmadon and his mechanical shark army. He is known as the dark ninja. On the other side of this is a Power Rangers like group of high-schoolers that secretly moonlight as a secret superhero ninja force to stop Lord Garmadon, although their skills are just fighting in robot mechs. One of the leaders of this outfit is Lloyd, who happens to be the estranged son of Lord Garmadon. Everyone in town knows this and doesn't treat him too kindly, but they are unaware that he is one of the ninjas that fights him every day.
It's easy to tell where this story is going in the beginning, because we know there is a father-son relationship that is rocky that will in the end, be fixed, while the outcast son being Lloyd, finding out his true super power was in him all along. If you're thinking Star Wars here, then don't fret, because there are a ton of references to both that franchise and many others. One of the funniest pop culture references is during a big battle where the famous Wilhelm scream is heard a dozen times in a row when little LEGO mini-figures are being blown up. There are many moments like this throughout the film that will make the older audience laugh out loud, but somewhere in the middle of the film, the pacing falls apart and it feels like a chore to watch.
The big action sequences are quite good, but the filmmakers put in so much stuff and action on screen at once, that it's hard to focus on the main plot at hand, thus we are taken out of the context and forced to just see all of these colors and LEGOS exploding on screen. That all being said, there are still some funny surprises here and there with a wonderful voice cast of Jackie Chan, James Franco, Michael Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Fred Armisen, and Justin Theroux. The LEGO Ninjago Movie is certainly fun and entertaining, but it lacks the allure and magnetism that the first film had going for it.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
The LEGO Ninjago Movie comes with a dual-layered UHD66 Disc and a Blu-ray Disc. There is an insert for a Digital copy along with two inserts for LEGO promotions. The discs are housed in an eco-friendly, hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie comes with a 2160p UHD transfer with HDR10 and is presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. This presentation is quite impressive and is a good improvement over the standard Blu-ray version.
The HDR10 color presentation is simply vibrant and striking at every angle. No matter if it’s a closeup of the ninja mech suits or the colors of the wide shots of the city of Ninjago, the color palette is outstanding. The HDR really picks up the nuanced shades and smaller colors of each mini-figure and building in the background as they move through different lighting conditions. The colors are reflective and are just a joy to see on every level. In fact, I’d say you can put this disc in the demo-worthy category to impress your friends with.
The detail is upgraded here, too, with rich with textures in every scene. The small details and textured plastic bodies show the little bubbles and intricate design with every mini-figure. Even scuff marks and dirt show up well on these LEGO pieces here, which is something that's not so easy to see on the Blu-ray version. Wider shots look equally impressive with great detail in buildings and other explosions that happen in the background. There are some live action moments here as well, where every individual hair stands out on the actor's faces and that pesky feline that wreaks havoc. It really is an amazing looking video presentation. Black levels are deep and inky with no evidence of crush or shadow either and the animation is very smooth at all times. There are no instances of any aliasing and banding, leaving this a demo-worthy video presentation.
This release comes with an excellent Dolby Atmos track that brings the house down. There is so much going on in each scene that it's difficult to see everything on screen at once. The Dolby Atmos track though makes sure every noise and sound effect is heard perfectly. Again, this is a demo-worthy audio track. Sound effects are highly nuanced and robust in each scene. Even in subtle and quieter scenes, the echo and reverb of large rooms sound dynamic. Other sounds of explosions, the mech suits flying through the air, vehicles driving by, and the usual martial arts kicks and chops all sound thrilling.
The helicopter scene uses the height speakers perfectly as well as it sounds like the blades are right above you and moves from location to location. Other laser sounds and seat ejections from Lord Garmadon's lair provide great height effects and directionality as the mini-figures travel through the air. Other ambient noises of explosions and people chattering in the city all sound great from the rear speakers at all times. The score and music of the film always adds to the entertainment value and suspense of the action scenes with a good amount of bass. The dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with, and free of any pops, cracks, and hiss.
No extras appear on the 4K UHD Disc, but rather the Blu-ray version that comes with package.
Audio Commentary - There are a total of 13 people on this commentary track, none of which are the actors or writers. They all provide some information on working on the film and the history of Ninjago, but there are too many people chiming in and it gets too chaotic.
Team Supreme: Building Ninjago (HD, 9 Mins.) - Some crew interviews that talk about the sets, locations, characters, and the cast of the film. This is basically an EPK piece that focus on production and voice work.
Rumble in the Bricks (HD, 6 Mins.) - A cool supplement that looks at the choreography work done in the film where Jackie Chan had some big influence.
Rebrick Contest Winners (HD, 5 Mins.) - Some LEGO shorts from fan made films.
Mini-Movies (HD, 10 Mins.) - Three extra Ninjago themed short films.
LEGO Ninjago TV Series Sneak Peak (HD, 11 Mins.) - A long promo for the TV show.
Music Videos (HD, 7 Mins.) - There are four short music videos from the film here.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 7 Mins.) - There are three deleted scenes here with optional commentary by one of the directors. None of them are that great.
Gimmie Some Outtakes! (HD, 5 Mins.) - Some cute outtakes from the film of flubbed lines, missed cues, and laughter.
Promotional Material (HD, 20 Mins.) - There are 10 promos for the film here.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie is big on action and laughs, but lacks the charisma of the first film. You'll still have a ball with it, due to the many pop culture references and father-son message. Plus, you have Jackie Chan in for good measure. The 4K UHD video with HDR10 and Dolby Atmos track are demo-worthy, but the supplements will only entertain the young ones. There is much to like about this film for all ages, making this third movie in the LEGO franchise Recommended!