So there I am looking to see which film’s to throw my eye over and my eye catches the poster for ‘Missing Link.’ Weird, thought I. I didn’t know that Dreamworks had a new film out this week. Oh well, yet another pile of 3* mediocrity that will make back more money then it should through toy sales and kids buying tickets for this and then sneaking into Pet Semetary. Assuming kids still do that. Or has yet another childhood thrill been lost to the internet?
Anyway, I looked, saw the star studded cast ( Wolverine, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant and Zach Galifianakis among others.) which seemed to confirm my suspicions. But I checked out the trailer anyway and was surprised to see that this isn’t from Dreamworks but from a studio called Laika (named after a stray mongrel from the streets of Moscow, who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Sadly, Laika died within hours from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death were not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six.)
Ok, thought I. This is clearly some low budget Russian film which has somehow gotten a UK release. The CGI looks weird though, so I looked a little deeper and discovered that the reason the CGI looked weird is that it wasn’t CGI it was Stop-motion. Actual, wonderful, almost extinct Stop-motion.
And the studio isn’t Russian, it’s from the colonies and made Kubo and the Two Strings. One of my favorite films of all time and a masterpiece which failed to make a profit and was cruelly robbed of an Oscar by Zootopia. Actually I should probably watch it again… for… research… purposes…
102 minutes later.
Roger Moores eyebrow that films amazing. And missing link doesn’t really let the side down. It feels like a smaller story but that’s not really a bad thing. Think less fighting giant skeletons and more fighting on a boat in the middle of a storm which makes the entire set spin around like that scene from Inception (BWAMMMM).
I’ll point out that a Stopmotion film on a great day creates about 3 seconds of footage as it consists of getting your models together, photographing them, moving them slightly and then photographing them again. It’s agonizing, slow, painful work that looks about a million times better than even the best CGI. Ages a lot better as well.
Anyway, Missing Link is a very simple story of someone wanting to find their family. That they are the last Bigfoot and they believe that their cousins are the yeti simply means that we have an excuse to go around the world in 80 days. Backed up by Wolverines incredibly English Sir Lionel Frost who’s trying to prove himself as an adventurer and Zoe Saldana’s Adelina Fortnight who appears to be on loan from Team America World Police and looks slightly creepy as a result.
The Link itself (voiced by Galifianakis) needs half it’s lines removed. This film has the weird American thing where they thing that comedy is simply speaking every thought that comes into their head or observing every little thing that’s happening around them. I don’t get it, I don’t like it and I’ve yet to meet anyone who does.
Thar aside, this film looks gorgeous, I mean these guys are truly pushing the boundaries of what can be done with the medium. A medium I adore and sadly is so rare in this modern CGI infested age but then something like this comes out and just blows everything else away.
Because the models are physically there, they avoid the uncanny valley completely. The lighting looks incredible because it’s actually reflecting off of things. Also, it allows for different textures which is something that CGI really struggles with.
Each of the locations is distinct, each of the characters (even those that only get a few lines) are fun and memorable. I mean you’ll have worked out the plot within the first ten minutes but a 95 minute children’s film isn’t going to be making you question the meaning of life, is it?
Missing Link is a visually incredible, funny, fast moving, well written story with very little fat on the bones. It’s moral is timely, it’s action incredible, it’s a smaller, more intimate story than the studios last film which I do understand and I’ll be very, very sad when this sinks without trace in a fortnight to be rediscovered on Netflix in about six months or so.
My Score- See It Now