Like The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie before, The LEGO Ninjago movie is all-around good fun. But, according to co-director Charlie Bean and producer Chris McKay, they sought to do more with the third film in the LEGO series.
The film follows a group of teenagers by day, who moonlight as ninja fighting and super awesome weaponized vehicle driving superheroes at night. They are battling a supremely evil villain by the name of Garmadon (voiced brilliantly by Justin Theroux). He also happens to be the father of the leader of our gang of heroes, Lloyd (Dave Franco).
“The idea was that Lloyd was going through something and he was still a kid with a kid mind and was very selfish at the beginning of the movie. He looks at his relationship with his father one way. We wanted Lloyd to look at things from a different point of view because that is his arch from going from being a child where you are not really sympathetic or empathetic to understanding other human beings and empathizing,” McKay said.
See, this LEGO movie goes a little deeper, thank you very much. “The idea of empathizing about what his dad went through, and showing empathy was a big part of his change, so then he can help his friends, and become a better leader.”
Bean added that the film incorporates something will reinforce something that kids are already learning – not a bad thing for a big Hollywood movie to achieve! “Lloyd was going through something where he was of a kid mind, he was selfish,” Bean said.
Check out our interview with The LEGO Ninjago star Jackie Chan.
“He looks at his relationship with his father one way, that his father is a problem to solve. He goes through a change because he starts to look at his dad through a different point of view. We wanted him to look at things from a different point of view because that’s his heart — going from a child where you’re not sympathetic towards other people or empathetic.”
The idea of compassion is a huge part of what could be seen as simply popcorn fare in The LEGO Ninjago Movie. “Empathy is a big part of understanding other human beings. The idea of sympathizing what dad went through is a big part of his change.”
McKay reported that Lloyd’s journey is also mirrored in his villainous father. “Even Garmadon goes through the same thing,” he said. “It spreads throughout the whole film, where they’re solving their problems. You have a much greater power inside you and to look at the problems you’re facing in a different way.”
Bean and McKay sought to build a better LEGO movie, and not simply with the emotional pull as described above. The look of this LEGO film truly paid tribute to the longstanding art of using the LEGO bricks to build something spectacular. “Even though the film is made with a computer we made it similar to the way that you build bricks,” Bean said. “We make each individual brick on the computer, and then we design the whole world brick by brick in the same way that you would build in real life.”
McKay added that this creative methodology was absolutely on purpose. And there is a reason that kids will find this film especially resonant beyond its emotional connection. There is a “play” factor that will mirror what they do at home that will be seen on the big screen. “We wanted the movie to feel like kids are playing with toys, we tried to make it as tactile and photo-real as possible,” McKay said. “It replicates what it feels like when you are playing with your toys. It brings a real charm to the characters and that is what is fun about these movies.”