Yet another win for Laika.
Laika is a studio that never fails to impress and deliver an adventure that evokes sheer awe. Missing Link, again displaying the uniqueness we’ve come to expect from the team there, is no exception.
It follows the Hugh Jackman-voiced Sir Lionel Frost, a “myths and monsters investigator,” who is desperate to be validated by his peers. He gets a letter telling about the whereabouts of a Bigfoot, so heads to the Pacific Northwest to prove the existence of a legendary creature, voiced by Zach Galifianakis.
This kicks off a globe-trotting romp that also involves Adelina Fortnight, voiced by Zoe Saldana, a free-spirited, independent adventurer who just so happens to possess the only known map to their secret destination.
Something that most surprised, and delighted me about Missing Link was the script. The narrative beats land confidently and effortlessly, deftly intertwined with sharp, intelligent yet simple comedy and moments of emotional drama – and this is never at the expense of excitement. From what’s written on the page to the delivery, the script is flawlessly played out. It’s an absolute delight that gives this real life and a brain as big as its heart.
The film is a robust buffet of voices including Stephen Fry as Lord Piggot-Dunceby, Emma Thompson as the Yeti Elder, and Timothy Olyphant as Frost’s nemesis, Tybalt Moriarty, who deliver a pitch-perfect supporting cast of characters that each bring something extra in entirely different ways. It’s also great to hear Little Britain’s David Walliams, as Mr. Lemuel Lint, and Matt Lucas reunited in the mix too.
Ten years on from Coraline, Laika continue to be evolving masters of scope and scale without ever sacrificing the intimate, delicate details of what audiences are seeing. Where previously the look of a Laika movie has been very much uniform across a world, Missing Link is a mix of very linear and more fluid forms. As a result, it seems to be inspired by everything from Aardman-esque design to the straight edge animations that came out of Eastern Europe, all set against this stunning backdrop that utilizes a seamless mix of expansive physical sets and CGI. The results are repeatedly jaw-dropping and will genuinely have you asking how they managed to do what they’ve done.
The film’s design as a whole, and in its parts, is breathtaking. The clothes the characters are wearing, especially Jackman’s Frost, deserve recognition come awards season. The design of the sets is so rich and deep and detailed that you find yourself scouring each shot to try and take in as much of it as possible. The only thing stopping one getting lost in the details is the brilliant execution of the storytelling that is unfolding. As with other Laika movies, I genuinely can’t wait to rewatch it to try to soak in what I missed. It’s a heady mix of creativity from people who are at the very top of their game.
Missing Link is the second time that Chris Butler has directed a movie for the studio; his first was the brilliant ParaNorman, and as the co-writer of the Oscar-nominated Kubo and the Two Strings, he is one of Laika’s strongest assets. In all three of these movies, there is something so evocative about Butler’s creative blend that is quite intoxicating and straight-up fantastical.