“The Lego Movie” was undoubtedly one of the most pleasant surprises of the last few years: a film that could have so easily been a cynical exercise but that proved to be an inventive, heartfelt delight, and one of the best non-Pixar animated films (and frankly, something that can stand with their best too). Inevitably, its caused Warner Bros. to start the franchise-generating machine, with a direct sequel and various spin-offs in the works.
First up is “The Lego Batman Movie,” with Will Arnett reprising his role from the original while Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Zach Galifianakis will also join in the fun. “The Lego Movie 2” and Jason Segel’s “Billion Brick Race” are also coming down the line, but in the middle is one that hasn’t gotten much buzz until now: “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” based on the kung-fu-themed range of toys by the Danish company.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller are returning to produce the new film, while “Tron: Uprising” veteran Charlie Bean is directing, and now Lego fansite Brickset, via The AV Club, has uncovered the film’s cast, thanks to some leaked promotional material. Jackie Chan will play mentor figure Master Wu, while Dave Franco, Michael Peña, “Broad City” star Abbi Jacobson, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods (the latter two from “Silicon Valley”) and Fred Armisen will play the heroes, respectively called Lloyd, Kai, Nya, Jay, Zane and Cole.
The premise is that it’s “the story of six young ninja tasked with defending their island home called Ninjago. By night they’re gifted warriors, using their skill and awesome fleet of vehicles to fight villains and monsters. By day, they’re ordinary teens, struggling against their greatest enemy: high school.” We’d normally be skeptical, but after “The Lego Movie” and the promising “Lego Batman” trailer, this at least gets the benefit of the doubt. The film opens on September 22nd, 2017.