'The LEGO Ninjago Movie' Featurette: It's Like 'Power Rangers' With LEGOs And Improvisation

Though there doesn't seem to be as much pomp and circumstance surrounding The LEGO Ninjago Movie as there was The LEGO Movie and the spin-off The LEGO Batman Movie, the more I see of the latest expansion of the LEGO cinematic universe, the more excited I get to see it.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie takes a cue from the LEGO building brick set of the same name, which has already spawned an animated series. But this feature adaptation has no narrative ties to the animated series, which means audiences of all ages can go into the movie without having to know anything except that this is another clever LEGO movie with a fantastic voice cast behind it. The LEGO Ninjago Movie featurette that was just released online goes behind the scenes with the cast, reveals new footage and shows a surprising amount of improvisation for an animated movie.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie features the voices of Dave Franco as Lloyd, the Green ninja and leader of the crew of Spinjitzu warriors who each have their own special ability. The team includes Michael Peña as Kai, Fred Armisen as Cole, Kumail Nanjiani as Jay, Abbi Jacobson as Nya and Zach Woods as the robot Zane, and they're all features in this featurette along with Justin Theroux as the villain Garmadon (who also happens to by Lloyd's father) and Jackie Chan as his nemesis Master Wu.

It's surprising to see two things in this behind the scenes featurette. First of all, usually animated movies have the actors record all their lines separately, by themselves in a recording booth, and the dialogue only comes together in the final edit of the movie. But for The LEGO Ninjago Movie, there were some recording sessions featuring all the primary cast members together. Even more surprising is the amount of improvisation allowed during these recording sessions. Since the animation of the mouths on the LEGO characters is far more simple to change throughout production, that likely allows for more freedom in the dialogue.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is co-directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan with a screenplay that the latter directors wrote with William Wheeler & Tom Wheeler and Jared Stern & John Wittington. The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller produced the film with franchise producers Roy Lee, Chris McKay and Dan Lin, along with Maryann Garger.

If you'd like to see more from The LEGO Ninjago Movie, check out the most recent trailer over here.

In this big-screen NINJAGO adventure, the battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, who are all secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon, The Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd's dad. Pitting mech against mech and father against son, the epic showdown will test this fierce but undisciplined team of modern-day ninjas who must learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash their inner power of Spinjitzu.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is in theaters September 22, 2017.