LAIKA studios are rapidly becoming something nobody thought was possible; fierce competition for Aardman Animations. Their stop motion films both share a whimsical vibrancy and a taste for the bizarre. With their 5th feature film, Missing Link, LAIKA have delivered another exquisitely animated film with gentle comedy and a warm heart.
Missing Link tells the story of Sir Lionel Frost, an adventurer who is determined to discover a mythical creature and prove himself as a true adventurer. After being called to the Pacific Northwest, he’ll stumble across the elusive Sasquatch, and their adventure together will take them all over the world. It’s a cute story about acceptance and belonging, and the villainous sub-plot about a scientific society trying to stop Frost’s expedition felt like something out of Around The World in 80 Days.
The voice cast are all wonderful in this film, with Hugh Jackman heading it up as Sir Lionel Frost, and Zack Galifianakis as Mr. Link. I was impressed to see that both of them were understated in much of their line delivery, which was a pleasant surprise considering they are usually such towering forces that demand attention (in a good way). Accompanying them are Zoe Saldana as Frost’s former girlfriend, and Stephen Fry as Lord Piggot-Dunceby, Sir Lionel’s rival and head of the Society of “Great Men”. Other stars include Timothy Olyphant, Emma Thompson, and strangely enough, a re-united David Walliams and Matt Lucas!
The design, as is to be expected for a LAIKA film, is unbelievable. It is stunningly animated and rich in detail, with the fur of Mr. Link being some of the most impressively detailed work. The larger sets are also beautifully eye-catching, though in some cases CGI was used. Admittedly, it does blend fairly well, and saves on the budget, but does seem a shame. The bigger shame for me, however, was the blatant appearance that a lot of the background characters were also CGI. This meant they didn’t move in the same way as the actual hand animated models, and their appearance was very ‘2000’s computer game’.
The tone of this film is beautifully melancholy and understated. The stakes are never too high, the excitement never teeters into overload. It’s just a really nice 90-minute ride through some beautiful scenery with fun characters. There are some riskier adult jokes as well to ensure everyone in the family is entertained, and this again felt very similar to the double-entendre filled Aardman classic ‘Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit’.
Overall, Missing Link is a beautifully animated and warmhearted film. It’s not going to take up too much of your time and it won’t offer you anything particularly new or groundbreaking, but the animators have lovingly crafted a wonderful hand-animated adventure that will entertain young and old alike.