Warner Bros. Pictures
Devan Coggan
July 14, 2017 AT 12:00 PM EDT

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The LEGO NINJAGO Movie may be constructed from the same building blocks as The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, but everything is decidedly not awesome in Ninjago City. LEGO’s newest plastic big-screen hero is the high schooler Lloyd (Dave Franco), who, along with his fellow ninjas, is tasked with defending the city from the maniacal warlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) — who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad.

“Everyone knows that he’s the son of Garmadon,” co-director Charlie Bean explains. “They don’t know that he’s the Green Ninja, this great hero of the city, but they do know that he’s the son of their villain.”

Warner Bros. Pictures

In addition to having top-notch martial arts skills, Lloyd and his ninja cohorts use high-tech mechs to protect the city, and the animators worked with the LEGO design team in Denmark to build them — like Lloyd’s elaborate green dragon mech, shown here. “You have this limited palette, and that’s the design challenge that makes this so much fun,” Bean says. “It’s about learning how to think in LEGO.” And it’s oh so satisfying when everything clicks together.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie will hit theaters on Sept. 22.

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