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The Lego Ninjago Movie by Mark Mothersbaugh (Review)

posted Sep 27, 2017, 11:29 PM by Leo Mayr

When the first Lego Movie was announced, it seemed an impossible task to turn what is essentially a 100 minute toy commercial into an entertaining movie. Somehow it worked out and the movie was quickly followed by two spin-offs. While Lorne Balfe delivered an excellent score for The Lego Batman Movie earlier this year, Mark Mothersbaugh, having scored the first Lego Movie, returns. The Lego Ninjago Movie hasn't exactly been praised and is undeniably inferior to the other two.

Mothersbaugh's score for the first Lego Movie was a fun, largely electronic score with a surprisingly emotional core. For The Lego Ninjago Movie, Mothersbaugh instead went for a mostly orchestral approach, heavily utilizing woodwinds for an almost laughable amount of comedic Asian sounds. Particularly early on, the instrumentation is definitely over used but as the score progresses, we get to some more pieces with a serious core. While most of the movie's action scenes are covered in random songs, it's when Mothersbaugh is finally allowed to show off his orchestral writing that the score manages to shine. "Garmadon Attacks" in particular is giving me high hopes for Thor: Ragnarok later this year. While a lot of the score feels lighthearted and fun, there's a surprisingly strong emotional core. Where most of the movie's fun bits rely on songs, Mothersbaugh was able to infuse the movie with some much needed emotion and a beautiful finale.

On the surface, The Lego Ninjago Movie is way more aimed at kids than the previous two, yet it still contains a strong emotional core. While the frequent use of traditional Asian woodwinds can feel a bit forced in places, for the most part, Mark Mothersbaugh's score finds a nice balance between comedic sequences and emotional moments. While the orchestral score can sound a bit generic in places, it is still a welcome change from Mothersbaugh's more electronic work.