Missing Link Review: Laika’s Latest Has Great Animation, But a Thin Plot

In an era where the majority of mainstream animation is computer-generated and designed to have broad appeal, Laika has been content to dance to the beat of a far more idiosyncratic drum since it started making stop-motion features ten years ago. That more or less remains the case with Missing Link, their fifth offering overall and a comedy-adventure about an offbeat explorer (Hugh Jackman) and his newfound buddy, a Sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis). Unfortuntely, while it marks their most impressive technical accomplishment yet, the studio’s latest lacks the personality and ambitious storytelling of their previous films. Missing Link is quite the visual feast, but its unremarkable narrative and characters (save for the charming Mr. Link) leave something to be desired.

Jackman lends his voice here to Sir Lionel Frost, an eccentric investigator of monsters and myths who’s determined to gain membership to Victorian-era London’s illustrious Optimates Club. Missing Link is the second recent time the ex-Wolverine actor has played a creative outsider whose obsession with social climbing threatens to be their undoing, following his turn as P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman. In Sir Lionel’s case, that drive comes from a desire to secure his legacy, having long been the black sheep in the eyes of his wealthy family and the unreservedly snooty members of the Optimates Club. Problem is, like Barnum, Sir Lionel is a far less interesting and charismatic protagonist than the characters he befriends (then exploits) for his own self-serving ends, over the course of his rather conventional personal arc.

In this case, that’s a reference to “Mr. Link” (Galifianakis), the eponymous Missing Link between humankind and their primate ancestors. Like a number of Galifianakis’ roles in the past, Mr. Link embodies a more sensitive form of masculinity and is not without his personality quirks, such as his tendency to be extremely literal minded. Overall, though, the character is pretty endearing and is responsible for many of the film’s biggest laughs, thanks to his childlike manner and general lack of self-awareness. At the same time, however, the script by longtime Laika animator-director Chris Butler struggles to present Sir Lionel and Mr. Link (or, as he comes to call himself, Susan) as flip sides of the same coin. Indeed, there’s a bit of a false equivalency drawn here between Sir Lionel’s desire to join the Optimates Club – a group that embodies everything bad about Victorian culture – and Susan’s wish to track down his relatives (the Yetis) in Shangri-La, so he won’t have to be alone anymore.

Missing Link‘s supporting characters are similarly rough in their presentation, beginning with Zoe Saldana as the movie’s female lead, Adelina Fortnight. Essentially the Marion Ravenwood to Sir Lionel’s Indiana Jones, Adelina ends up having little to do other than provide emotional support for Lionel and scoff at the idea that she’s a damsel… while constantly needing to be rescued, over and over. Saldana does perfectly fine voice work in the role all the same, as does Stephen Fry as the Optimates Club’s president and the film’s main villain, Lord Piggot-Dunceb. Missing Link is cheerfully satirical in the way it portrays Piggot-Dunceb and his peers as being comically regressive and conceited in their perspectives and manner, but for the most part the comedy feels pretty toothless. Basically, at this point, mocking Victorian Brits for being chauvinistic colonialists feels like an uninspired way to go about holding up a mirror to the problems in the world today.

Still, there’s no denying that Missing Link might be Laika’s most beautiful-looking film to date (which, after movies like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, is really saying something). Butler and his team of animators here bring settings as varied as smucky Victorian England to the wild Pacific Northwest and the majestic Himalayas to truly visually striking life, using an array of bold hues and intricately-detailed miniature sets. The studio’s stop-motion animation has never been more fluid and expressive either, even as they continue to eschew realism in favor of more stylized character designs and shapes/faces. On the other hand, it’s all the easeir to be frustrated by the film’s underwhelming plotting and character development when you consider how much time, hard-work, and passion was clearly poured into bringing this story to life.

All things considered, though, Missing Link is a perfectly sturdy film bolstered by its lovely animation. While it’s missing the emotional depth and rich themes of the studio’s better offerings, fans will no doubt appreciate Laika’s ongoing commitment to filling their movies with strange characters and equally weird humor (some more adult in nature than others). Those who are interested are encouged to see the film on the big screen, where they can really appreciate the sheer amount of detail that’s been poured into evey nook and cranny of its universe. After all, if the movie’s a success, then we may yet get another ten years of enjoyably oddball features from the studio.

Missing Link begins playing in U.S. theaters on Thursday evening, April 11. It is 95 minutes long and is rated PG for action/peril and some mild rude humor.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!

2019-04-07 10:04:28

Sandy Schaefer

Fan-Made Avengers: Endgame Animation Turns the Tables on the ‘Thanus Theory’

A new fan-made animation posits that Thanos won’t be so easily defeated by THAT popular Ant-Man meme, the “Thanus Theory” in Avengers: Endgame. Earth’s mightiest heroes experienced their first true loss in Avengers: Infinity Warwhen Thanos succeeded in his quest to acquire all of the Infinity Stones, using them to wipe out half of all life in the universe. Audience’s hearts were left broken as characters such as Spider-Man and Black Panther was reduced to dust in what has since come to be known as The Decimation. Since then, theories have abounded as to how the remaining heroes could avenge the fallen and undo Thanos’ actions.

As of now, the most popular theory suggests the Avengers will use time-travel to restore the universe to its natural order. The idea was bolstered by the increased significance of the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which even had Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) mentioning time vortexes. Another theory suggests that past MCU villains will be the key to defeating Thanos.  By far the most popular and hilariously simplistic, however, is that Ant-Man will simply shrink down and enter Thanos via his anal cavity, all before enlarging again and destroying Thanos from within. That particular theory has since caught on, spawning numerous gifs and fan-made videos. The Russo Brothers, who directed both Infinity War and Endgame, have even commended fans’ dedication to the theory.

Related: Everything We Know About Ant-Man’s Role In Avengers: Endgame

The latest, however, turns the tables on the conceit. Produced and animated by Mightyraccoon!, the video features Scott Lang psyching himself up to go through with an idea he’s long been pondering. Waiting for the perfect opportunity and angle, Ant-Man lunges furiously at Thanos’ rear-end. Before he can make it, though, the shrunken hero finds himself frozen in mid-air. Having seen the threat coming, Thanos had his Infinity Gauntlet ready. Check out the full video below:

The video is not too dissimilar from recent artwork created by artist Bosslogic. The character of Ant-Man was last seen in a similarly dire fate in his last big-screen outing. With each member of the Pym/Van Dyne family also wiped out by Thanos’ infamous snap, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) was left stranded in the Quantum Realm. Each of the Avengers: Endgame trailers have since revealed that Scott will successfully escape in time to aid the Avengers on their quest. Whether or not he lives through the highly anticipated battle, however, remains to be seen.

Though the Russo Brothers got their start in comedy, directing on such acclaimed shows as Arrested Development, it’s unlikely that they would actually utilize such a unconventional method to defeating Thanos. As funny and unique as it would no doubt be, it would ultimately take away all the dramatic weight garnered by the events of the previous team-up. According to recent reports, and a sterling early review from Doctor Strange’s Scott Derrickson, the film will build on the emotional rollercoaster that came before. It’s fun to imagine, but the defeat of Thanos will surely be a more bittersweet affair. Whatever the case, with the film set to include the final Stan Lee cameo and widely suspected to be Captain America and Iron Man’s final mission, Avengers: Endgame will be an end of an era in more ways than one. As such, like Thanos suggests in the video amid callous laughter, maybe it’s time to move on from the meme.

More: Avengers: Endgame May Show Infinity War’s Biggest Missing Scene

Source: Mightyraccoon!

2019-04-04 10:04:01

John Atkinson

Del Toro back with long-feature animation ‘Pinocchio’

Oscar-winning director and producer Guillermo Del Toro will make his debut in feature-length animation with “Pinocchio” on Netflix.

Del Toro will be responsible for the screenplay and production of…Click To Continue

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