I remember reading a video game magazine back in the 90’s and they were comparing two games. Both of them involved Russian writing in buildings, one of them (probably Goldeneye) used grammatically correct Russian that translated well, whereas the other one (Probably Mission Impossible) just used random Russian-looking letters and hoped nobody would notice. They’re kind of right, most people would not notice, but the fact they used that as an excuse to not try saddens me. I prefer the first example, for all they knew, 99% of people wouldn’t notice, but that 1% would, and they did it for them. The thing is, even if that 1% did notice, most of them wouldn’t care anyway, they’d just be like “ah well” and move on. I love when companies do things like that though, when they actually put effort into their work. It’s why I love Aardman. Every single frame is full of joy and wonder. Visual jokes are almost hidden in the background. You have to pay attention to almost everything in every scene, constantly paying attention so you don’t miss a joke or shout out. It’s not the kind of thing you do for money, it’s the kind of thing you do just for the hell of it. They’ve done it throughout their career, most obviously in the Wallace And Gromit series where it usually takes at least five viewings to spot all the jokes.
So we’ve established I found this film funny, what else? The plot was……erm, well it’s suitable for a kids film. It does have tremendous plot/joke integration though. There are jokes in this which will only work in this film, if you change the story or the setting, they would fail quicker than Milli Vanilli after the MTV performance (very niche reference I know, but f*ck it, I’m making it). But you don’t really watch this for the plot, if you are then it’s definitely the wrong film for you. The vocal performances are pretty good but nothing you’ll be too impressed by. The accents of a lot of the characters seem like something that comes from a vaguely racist 70’s British sitcom (i.e. any 70’s British sitcom), Timothy Spall is the best of the bunch though. One thing did surprise me; they had Maisie Williams doing a French accent. She’s huge at the moment so why not cast her as someone else and have her do her natural voice? Then you can, I don’t know, get an actual French person do to the French accent. This is just more confusing by the fact that involved in the distribution of the film was StudioCanal, a French company. Isn’t it in their interests to promote French actors? I don’t think people were seeing this because Maisie Williams, so adjusting her vocal role wouldn’t have negatively affected the film that much. Side note; judging by the trailers you can expect me to talk about this kind of thing more when Red Sparrow comes out.
Finally, the look of this film. As I implied earlier, this film looks absolutely superb. You could take almost any scene from this and use it as a potential poster. It doesn’t look quite as great as Coco, but it does look slightly crisper. It looks more real (that is one of the advantages of the animation technique they use, it may not flow as well but there’s no distinction between background and foreground so everything looks important).
So should you see this? I wouldn’t say you need to own this on DVD or anything, but if it gets put on iPlayer or netflix then you need to watch it immediately, so basically it’s like Cool Runnings, only with less John Candy.