TATM: Talkin’ About The Movies #282: The Lego Ninjago Movie & Kingsman: The Golden Circle

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE

***

Synopsis:

Six young ninjas Lloyd, Jay, Kai, Cole, Zane and Nya are tasked with defending their island home, called Ninjago. By night, they’re gifted warriors, using their skills and awesome fleet of vehicles to fight villains and monsters. By day, they’re ordinary teens struggling against their greatest enemy: high school.

Review:

Now it’s no surprise that I’m kind of a gigantic fan of what these Lego movies have given us over the last few years, The Lego Movie is one of my all-time favorite movies and The Lego Batman Movie is one of the year’s best movies so far. So, naturally, I was excited for The Lego Ninjago Movie right from the trailers that had come out.

Which leads me to unfortunately admit that as much as I did enjoy The Lego Ninjago Movie….the wear is finally beginning to show for this.

People are right to say that this is the the weakest of the Lego films but with that said, I still really liked it a lot. There is still those little bits of originality and creativity here but you can definitely see that the formulaic problems beginning to unfold.

Let me start with the stuff I did like, the animation is still great, the animation in this is still pretty awesome to look at and I’ll give them credit for getting the animation to look more crisper and sharper than in both Lego Movie and Lego Batman, like here you can see how sharper the eyes and lips look on some of the characters here. The overall animation is still really great to look at.

The comedy can still work, there’s still a lot of those great pop culture references all throughout the movie and all the stuff with the live-action cat taking over the city consistently get the strongest laughs, going back to the animation, the blending of the CG animation and the live-action cat in this is amazing and you can still see a lot of effort being put in these films.

There is still a lot of good emotional stuff in here that is effective, albeit it’s a little more clichéd and predictable this time around but it still works, even if, as I said, the wheels are slowly beginning to come off the car.

The voice cast is great in this, Dave Franco, Kumali Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Fred Armisen, Jackie Chan, and Olivia Munn are great in this but the two real highlights that always offered up the most laughs were Zach Woods playing Zane, the robotic ninja and just every moment with him in it always had a ton of laughs to his performance and the other is Justin Theroux, who’s the real winner in this playing the villain, Lord Garmadon, he’s amazing in this, Theroux’s performance is just hilarious to watch, giving this incredibly over the top performance that gives the movie a lot of its’ best moments of humor. The animation on Garmadon alone is amazing, the red eyes on him lead to a lot of the reason why the characters gets a lot of laughs like I love the idea that he cries fire, his literal tears are fire and Garmadon keeps the movie from completely falling apart.

With all that said, the overall story is pretty bland and forgettable, it is very cliché riddled, you can pretty much predict everything that is going to happen and these movies have usually been really good at defying your expectations and throwing twists and turns that change the overall complexion of the film, this movie doesn’t really do that.

In fact, the movie’s biggest flaw is that they seem to play it too safe and too close to normal while both The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie weren’t afraid to stretch the boundaries and go for some more deeper territory but here, the movie plays it way too safe. It also felt way too short, at 101 minutes, it’s still at the same runtime as the previous movies but it just felt like a breeze this time around, everything was just like moving so fast this time around without letting you take a break to fully appreciate what you’re seeing.

Probably my biggest problem with the movie is that the film’s overall message and purpose is pretty muddled and dull. What was the overall message in The Lego Movie? You don’t have to be the bad guy, appreciate the creativity there is in the world. What was the overall message of The Lego Batman Movie? Be open to change and allow more friends and family to come into your life more often. What’s the message in Lego Ninjago? Green means life, which brings everybody together……lame. I mean, really? It’s bad enough you’re playing the father-son storyline as clichéd as you can but that’s the overall message you come off with? Really?

Also, the live-action bookends here are extremely pointless, I mean EXTREMELY pointless. I really feel like they threw this in here just to have Jackie Chan be Jackie Chan, his live-action portrayal in this has no purpose whatsoever, it never plays into the rest of the film and they just feel absolutely pointless and once again, just throw a random life lesson in there at the end so the kids can have something to take from this.

Something that should be pointed out with The Lego Ninjago Movie is that they started developing this movie mere months before The Lego Movie came out so they’ve had four years to fully develop this and actually make it with as much quality as The Lego Movie and yet they couldn’t do it. Here’s the real kicker, The Lego Batman Movie, the far better spinoff film, was developed after The Lego Movie came out and they only had about two and a half years from the time it was announced to the time it was released to make it work and it did. The movie that took less time to make and it was the better overall movie.

The Lego Ninjago Movie is very lackluster compared to the previous Lego movies but there are still things about it to admire, the animation is great, the comedy can still work, the voice work is still great, but other than that, everything else is just bland and forgettable, this is the movie everybody was afraid of when the Lego movies first began, some creativity but overall, just a ploy to sell toys. The overall movie is good but far from what it should’ve been up to this point.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

**

Synopsis:

When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy…

Review:

The first Kingsman movie was a refreshing change of pace, it was a great fun homage to the classic 60s style spy films with a great cast mixed with seasoned vets and great newcomers, great direction, a well-written script, a lot of great action, both amazing and over the top, great self-referential humor, it’s just a lot of fun.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is your typical lackluster sequel that is, for the most part, a retread of the original movie again.

What a disappointment this turned out to be, especially since Matthew Vaughn was brought back for this and Vaughn coming back you would think would mean some quality control and much like Lego Ninjago, you do get that BUT it’s much less this time around.

Where the film still works is in the stylized action sequences, the first 10 minutes of the movie won me early on, the excellent car chase with Prince’s Let’s Get Crazy playing in the background, that’s what made these movies worked so well were those stylized action sequences and the final action climax at the end was also really good too.

Too bad nearly everything in between the opening and the ending was completely boring and dull. I’m not kidding, everything that follows in the 100 minutes between the first 10 minutes and the 30 minute action climax was lackluster to say the least.

For one thing, the story is so bland and forgettable and like I said, it’s basically a retread of the first movie again. What was the conflict in the first movie, a SIM card given to people turns them into murderers and killers causing them to go murderously violent and the heroes had to stop them. What’s the conflict in the second movie, people who have taken drugs have been infected with a laced chemical which causes users to, at the first stage, develop blue rashes before progressing through mania, and then paralysis and ultimately, death. It’s basically, we have to save the world from people dying again albeit with changes to make it seem like it’s different but it’s not.

The Statesman were one of the few things that I wanted to see more of, Channing Tatum shows up in here and he’s having fun with the role but they just drop him after a bit and he spends most of the film in essentially a coma. I wanted to see more of the Statesman, which also includes Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges, and hopefully, we’ll eventually get a spinoff film with these characters for a nice change of pace but yeah, they really didn’t do a whole lot with the Statesman.

Elton John had a surprisingly fun role in this, he actually has more of a substantial plot point here and he actually had a lot of the funnier moments in the film, he has an over the top role here but it was one of the few things that kept the film afloat.

And then you have Julianne Moore as the villain and oh my god, I never thought we would have a villainous role that’s as cringeworthy on the levels of Jar Jar Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman but boy, Julianne Moore came pretty damn close, I absolutely hated her in this, she was not threatening at all, her overall continuously happy persona should be creepy and lead to her villainous personality but there’s never anything threatening to her, she just comes off as completely misguided and non threatening at all. Once again, this proves that not every actress out there can play the villain and make it work, the only time actress have ever played villainous roles and made it work were Eva Green in 300: Rise Of An Empire and, hell, Sofia Boutella in the first Kingsman.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the reason why I don’t get excited for sequels because all I get in return is a botched half assed attempt to try to recapture the magic of the first movie but just doesn’t work. The action sequences are still really strong but everything else just doesn’t work, I was bored watching this movie and it’s just a dull misfire of a sequel and I would expect this same team, especially the talented Matthew Vaughn, to not give us a half-assed follow-up like this.

I usually hate the line from critics, “if we knew that this was going to be the result that the first movie would give us, I wouldn’t have liked the first movie.” But honestly, I feel that way about this movie, if I knew that the success would lead to such a misguided mess of a sequel like this, I probably wouldn’t like the first movie all that much. I still like the first movie but this follow-up is a major, major misfire.

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Posted in TATM: Talkin' About The Movies

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