• by Wes Singleton

The Lego Ninjago Movie, C+

Rated PG, 101 minutes

Well, it was bound to happen. The Lego Movie Universe is finally starting to show some wear and tear after rising to new heights of fun and charm in 2014's "The Lego Movie." With that, everything was awesome, with "The Lego Ninjago Movie" it's just ho-hum. A narrower audience and a little lego burnout probably adds to that too, in spite of its visual charms and an overload of self-aware humor that the young set will certainly not pick up on.

The battle for Ninjago City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd (Dave Franco), aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, also secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu (Jackie Chan), as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat the evil warlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), who also happens to be Lloyd's dad. Pitting father against son, the epic showdown tests these fierce but undisciplined modern-day ninjas as they learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash the inner power of Spinjitzu.

The energetic yet uneven "The Lego Ninjago Movie" is co-directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan and is credited to 8 writers (I'll let you look them up on IMDB or Wikipedia), which may explain why the busy, unfocused narrative lacks the spark of the previous films. The writers room must've been brimming with "don't forget that" and "O, we got to keep that in," which may explain there's so much self-aware humor and pop-culture references that are geared more toward adults than children, particularly in references to "Star Wars" and "Transformers."

Interestingly, if you're unfamiliar with Lego Ninjago, it's actually a children's TV show, and Spinjitzu a form of martial arts the characters use to defeat Garmadon. So there, you know now. Whether or not you know who Garmadon is, what Spinjitzu or where Ninjago is, you'll realize that "The Lego Ninjago Movie" is admittedly full of energy, and even as it tries too hard to be clever, it's voice cast has fun, especially Theroux and Chan.

While I enjoyed its zip and appeal, "The Lego Ninjago Movie" is still not as funny or as good as its predecessor and is the weakest of the three Lego films so far. In one humorous bit, a song that is sung throughout the film is one called "Boo Lloyd" for all the trouble he's caused Ninjago, which is too bad, because "Boo Lloyd" could also be sung for showing the weaknesses of a franchise that's nearing oversaturation.

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