Coventry Telegraph - - FRIDAY LIVE - Gar­madon (voiced by Justin Th­er­oux)

FOR more than 60 years, LEGO build­ing bricks have un­locked the imag­i­na­tions of the young and the per­pet­u­ally young at heart. Fan­tas­ti­cal new worlds rise and fall as the brightly coloured blocks are slot­ted to­gether and pulled apart, reused in seem­ingly end­less com­bi­na­tions. The spirit of re­con­struc­tion runs deep in The LEGO Ninjago Movie, the third com­puter-an­i­mated ad­ven­ture in the rapidly ex­pand­ing fran­chise. Char­lie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Lo­gan’s film lazily bolts to­gether themes from The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Bat­man Movie to ex­plore a strained fa­ther-son dy­namic against a back­drop of mar­tial arts may­hem. The ri­otous, barn­storm­ing com­edy of the first two films has been heav­ily di­luted and a live-ac­tion fram­ing de­vice fea­tur­ing Hong Kong su­per­star Jackie Chan as the owner of a mys­ti­cal shop feels like an ob­vi­ous stylis­tic con­ceit. Pol­ished one-lin­ers are dis­ap­point­ingly thin on the brick-plated ground and vo­cal per­for­mances fail to el­e­vate the ma­te­rial above the para­pet of medi­ocrity. A lin­ear quest for a mys­te­ri­ous arte­fact called The Ul­ti­mate, Ul­ti­mate Weapon pro­vides a flimsy hook for the toy box tom­fool­ery, and should hold the at­ten­tion of very young au­di­ences who are al­ready fa­mil­iar with the lu­cra­tive Ninjago brand.

Par­ents and older fans of the construction sets face a much sterner test to re­main en­gaged for the full 101 min­utes.

High school stu­dent Lloyd Gar­madon (voiced by Dave Franco) lives in the brick city of Ninjago with his mother Koko (Olivia Munn).

Class­mates de­spise Lloyd be­cause his es­tranged fa­ther, Lord Gar­madon (Justin Th­er­oux), is an evil despot, who re­peat­edly at­tacks the city in elab­o­rate shark-themed con­trap­tions. Thank­fully, Ninjago is pro­tected at all times by the Se­cret Ninja Force, an elite team trained by Master Wu (Chan), brother of Lord Gar­madon and au­thor of must-read man­ual Nin­ja­nu­ity.

City res­i­dents are bliss­fully un­aware that the leader of the SNF, the Green Ninja, is Lloyd and the other mem­bers of the squad in­clude fel­low stu­dents Cole (Fred Ar­misen), Jay (Ku­mail Nan­jiani), Kai (Michael Pena), Nya (Abbi Ja­cob­son) and Zane (Zach Woods).

The SNF re­pels Lord Gar­madon’s lat­est at­tack by com­bin­ing the el­e­men­tal pow­ers of earth, ice, water, fire and light­ning. The black-hel­meted archvil­lain vows re­venge.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is a fly­ing kick too far for the brand and feels like a glossy ex­er­cise in cor­po­rate self-pro­mo­tion rather than a fully fledged cin­e­matic fea­ture.

The pun­gent air of stal­e­ness per­vades, ex­ac­er­bated by a paucity of sly vis­ual gags and pithy pop cul­ture ref­er­ences.

“When I re­turn, I’ll have some­thing re­ally wicked in store for you!” guf­faws the Lord Gar­madon early in the film. He fails to de­liver.

Michael Fass­ben­der stars as Harry Hole, but even he can’t save this adap­tion of Jo Nesbo’s novel

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