Saturday, April 20, 2019

Missing Link - Movie Review

The Movie: Missing Link

The Director: Chris Butler

The Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Zach Galifianakis, Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, Emma Thompson

The Story: Mr. Link recruits explorer Sir Lionel Frost to help find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, this trio of explorers travel the world to help their new friend.

The Review:
Laika is a stop motion animation film company responsible for movies like CoralineParanorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings and, over the years, they have proven to be masters of their craft. Their visual style is always impressive and each film they make pushes the creative envelope farther and farther which brings us to Missing Link, their latest and (maybe) greatest achievement yet.

Writer/director Chris Butler, who also directed Paranorman, opens up the stop motion animation world and takes viewers on a globe spanning adventure that is a non stop whirlwind of fun, adventure, and stunningly beautiful scenery. Every time these folks make a movie, I am just in awe of a film making process that combines practical and digital elements and seems like it would be a painstakingly difficult process to create.

Being from the Pacific Northwest, where part of the story takes place, it was really fun to see how the animators were able to create the look and feel of local forests which are some of the most lush and unique looking landscapes you will find. As the characters travel around the world, their environments transform around them making it really fun to see where they would end up next. The level of detail that went in to making so many different set pieces is a pretty amazing achievement all on its own but then you add in the fact that just about everything is animated physically by hand and the whole thing becomes even more impressive.

Sure there is some computer animation mixed in, but most of what you see on screen was built on  set and stop motion animated. Effects work and animation aside, the story is a lot of fun with plenty of twists and turns and lots of good humor around every corner. One aspect I really enjoyed is how the movie felt like an classic, large scale adventure movie that could sit alongside other globe trotting films like Indiana Jones or Pirates of the Caribbean. Throw in some solid voice acting from Jackman, Saldana, and  Galifianakis and it's hard to find any part of the movie that doesn't work.

The Verdict:
Missing Link is another triumph for Laika as they keep pushing the boundaries for what is possible in stop motion animated story telling. Go see this movie on a big screen in whatever premium format theater you can find. The visuals are stunning and the story is filled with fun and adventure for kids of all ages.

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