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film review

Proving that one can construct almost anything out of Lego, the Danish-based empire has built up a formidable Hollywood brand. With 2014's The Lego Movie and this spring's The Lego Batman Movie to its credit, Warner Bros. and Lego are populating a "cinematic universe" with box-office hits appreciated by kids and critics alike. And now (just seven months after Lego Batman) comes The Lego Ninjago Movie, a zippy 3-D computer-animated winner that shows the franchise super willing to establish its own Lego-cy by cheekily marauding into any and all rival empires. We have a hilarious Darth Vader-like villain (voiced by Justin Theroux) whose estranged hero son (Dave Franco) is part of a band of fledgling ninjas with unique superpowers and outlandishly mechanical battle-craft. Hello Power Rangers, Star Wars, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Throw in a giant, fur-covered demon with a sandpaper tongue – a cat, the monster is a house cat – for Monty Python absurdity. The result is an irreverent, kinetic presentation with snappy dialogue and a hammered-home message that is graspable to even those with cup-shaped hands: One's true powers are internal, not external devices. The story involves a city attacked almost daily, with a young protagonist seeking a father-son bond amidst the warring. It all snaps together easily, just like it says on the box.

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