Those beloved brick characters transform into ninjas in The Lego Ninjago Movie. Lloyd—voiced by Dave Franco, Wally in The Lego Movie—wants to live a normal teenage life, but he and his friends must defend their island home from monsters, villains, and malicious Garmadon (voiced by actor Justin Theroux), who just so happens to also be his dad. Not yet rated, opens September 22.
We got an inside look at The Lego Ninjago Movie from producer Dan Lin:
Parents: The Lego Movie and Lego Batman movie have a giant fan base of kids and parents. What can people expect to see that’s similar to the first Lego films they’ve come to love? What are a few key differences?
Lin: The Lego movies always have three things: a lovable lead, a joyful and humorous tone, and a new world to explore. In this case, our protagonist is Lloyd Garmadon, whose father is the villain, and kids at school don’t like him because of it. Lloyd is trying to show that he is not his dad, so he finds his own hero within himself. Then, we have the same funny feel of the first movies—we don’t take each other very seriously! What’s different is the movie is set in Ninjago, a pan-Asian fantastical world that’s even brighter and more fun than Bricksburg or Lego Gotham.
P: Ninjago is based on an actual Lego set and a TV show. How were these items used to find inspiration for the movie?
L: We used the main characters—Lloyd and his team of friends, his mentor Master Wu, and the villain Lord Garmadon—but we made the big movie version of these sets and worlds. The dragon that Lloyd rides and flies is grander and each of the ninjas’ robots they steer and use to fight have a bigger cinematic design. We took the core concept of the TV show and made it more heroic and epic for the movie.
P: Do you play with Lego bricks to find inspiration?
L: Yes! In story meetings, we build the Lego sets first using the instructions, then take them apart and mix them with other Lego bricks and mini figures. We often build or redesign characters during meetings by taking the pants of one character and putting it on the top and head of another. We want to play physically with what we’re making for the big screen.
P: Did you think of your own kids while creating the film?
L: My boys, ages 12 and 9, are big Ninjago fans. I showed them early cuts and they said what they liked. They’re also black belts in tae kwon do, which helped give me the idea of Jackie Chan doing the stunts in the film. Our animators watched and videotaped their moves, then recreated it with the Lego minifigure characters doing the same stunts, sword fights, and flips. They can really only swing their limbs and hinge at the hips, though, so it’s really funny to watch minifigures do Jackie Chan actions.
P: What will parents get out of the film that kids won’t?
L: We always try to have two levels of humor in the Lego movies. In Ninjago, we have a monster cat taking over the city kind of like Godzilla. Kids haven’t seen Godzilla, but their parents have, so they’ll love just seeing a giant cat swatting away at buildings while the parents will get we’re playing into the over-the-top action of martial arts and Japanese monster movies.
P: Who are your favorite characters from Ninjago?
L: I love Master Wu, voiced by Jackie Chan. He’s a man of few words but has wise advice. He has to watch over this group of rebellious teens who aren’t listening to him, and I certainly relate as the dad of hard-to-wrangle boys. I’m always trying to get them to behave just like Master Wu wants the ninjas to act like ninjas but instead they just want to be teenagers. We also have two strong female characters—Nya, a ninja, and Lloyd’s mom, Koko.
P: What was your favorite movie as a kid?
L: Star Wars. Seeing that epic storytelling of a hero’s journey on a grand scale blew me away. Luke Skywalker was just a farm boy picked to go on this incredible adventure because there was something special inside him. That’s what we’re doing with the Lego movies as well. We want you to relate to our lead characters and see that there’s something unique about them. We want you to say, ‘I wish I could be Lloyd.’
P: Can we look forward to more Lego movies in the future?
L: We’re busy in production of The Lego Movie sequel, which comes out in February 2019. The gang will be back, and we pick up where the first movie left off where the Duplo have come to take over Bricksburg and Finn, the little boy, has been asked by his dad to play with his little sister.
Catch the trailer here!
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/sZSYYiATFTI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen][/iframe]
The Blu-ray and DVD of The Lego Batman Movie includes five animated shorts, interviews with the filmmakers, and a look at how the movie was made. You can also stream the flick from Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. Rated PG, 104 minutes.
Aaand action! Kids become the director with Lego Make Your Own Movie. Using a phone, a tablet, or a computer, aspiring movie moguls can create stop-motion films with this kit of ten mini-movie guides, six backgrounds, and 36 Lego pieces. Ages 8+, $25.
1. How many Lego pieces are made each minute?
2. Which is the only Ninjago minifigure to wear a skirt?
A. The evil Overlord
B. Sensei Wu
3. What is the biggest Lego vehicle ever built?
A. The Queen Mary 2 cruise ship
B. A Star Wars X-wing starfighter
C. A Volvo XC90 SUV
Source: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know. Ages 7+, $20.
Pop Quiz Answers: 1. C, 2. A, 3. B