The Lego Ninjago Movie is fast, furious — and crammed with cultural references
The wisdom of ages used to ascribe wisdom to age. Remember? The older you were, the saner or sager. Today’s post-millennial planet has made a whole other deal. It’s the young who now know everything. And can do everything. Fix a PC. Network the world. Understand the universe.
The young know what is going on in films like The Lego Ninjago Movie, while we oldies are dragged through thickets of esoterica by the wild horses of teen/pre-teen culture. As a sop to sophistication, our only known virtue, Cinema Lego features a lot of spoofery about psychobabble, parenting and toy warriors with relationship hang-ups. It’s funny; sometimes very funny. But the young probably get this joke too. (What if 10-year-olds understand more about psychology than we? And laugh faster when its mickey is taken?)
TLNM makes a reassuring attempt, in early scenes, to regress the Lego series to slam-bang action pyrotechnics. Mechanised demons, heroes and monsters stomp through cities, Transformers-style. “It’s all gone Michael Bay!” we think hopefully. Then the intricacies start up. The references we ought to know (to pre-existing Ninjago lore); the techie jokes involving mobiles and computers; and the shrink-couch gags you fear your kids will get before you. Summed up: everyone under 20 will probably love it. It’s pretty fast, pretty furious and needs a fair amount of perceptual footwork. If you go, let the children take you.