Too Many Characters Dilute a Story

“The LEGO Movie” was a surprise hit and “The LEGO Batman Movie” was also a pleasant surprise. The latest LEGO themed movie is “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” and it’s not bad, but it’s definitely the weakest of the three movies. The huge problem with “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” is that it suffers by introducing too many characters who don’t change.

“The LEGO Ninjago Movie” introduces multiple ninja characters with different colors but the real hero is the green ninja. Unfortunately, these other ninjas simply exist without contributing much tot he’s tory. They don’t have goals of their own, they don’t really change, so they simply exist to help the hero. As a result, too much time is wasted showing these other ninjas in action without them helping the story one bit.

The beginning of  “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” is a pure mess that simply shows lots of action but little story or character development. Once this frenetic action of LEGO pieces gets introduced, then the story finally begins where the green ninja is looking to repair his tattered relationship with his father, who is the villain. Compare this to the other LEGO movies.

In the first one, “The LEGO Movie”, the hero is an ordinary person so the entire focus of the movie is about this hero gradually learning to become more than ordinary. In “The LEGO Batman Movie,” the hero is Batman who gradually learns to work with others. Because both of these movies focus on a single hero and let us learn what the hero needs, we’re drawn into this tory right from the beginning.

In “The LEGO Ninjago Movie,” we know what he hero is, but we have no idea who these other ninjas are who help the hero. They simply clutter the screen and distract from the hero. Wow learn nothing about what these other ninjas want so they simply waste time and dilute the focus from the hero.

The lesson is simple. Focus on a single hero. Even “Thelma and Louise” focused on the two main characters and let us know the problems and dreams of each main character. “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” does not. If you’re going to introduce a major character who appears in multiple scenes, then that character needs to have a goal and direction to make us understand and like that person because we’re going to see them over and over again.

Characters who simply appear in one scene and then disappear (like waiters or cab drivers) aren’t important. Characters who do appear time and time again must be important or else there would be no reason for them to keep reappearing. If a character is going to help the hero, that character needs goals and dreams of their own. Robin, in the “The LEGO Batman Movie” is depicted as an orphan who wants a family. Not surprisingly, Batman needs to learn to be part of a family after losing his own family. So the goals of both main characters reinforce the overall story.

In “The LEGO Ninjago Movie,” the green ninja (the hero) wants to get back with his father but the other ninjas have no goal. Then they serve no purpose and weaken the overall story.

Watch the three LEGO movies and you’ll see how superior the first two are and how the latest one stumbles at first before finally focusing on a story. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it is a wholly preventable one.

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