The world of animation has been going through some major evolution in recent years, with films like The LEGO Movie and its spin-offs or Into the Spider-Verse pushing the boundaries of what the medium can look like. In contrast, the folks at Laika have kept things pleasingly old-school with gorgeously designed stop-motion, and Missing Link – the studio’s fifth feature – continues that trend with aplomb. Each location, from the wild forests of North America to the snowy mountains of Shangri-La, is more gorgeous than the last, filled with a staggering array of tiny details to create a living, breathing world.
The story, which sees the eponymous Sasquatch ask a renowned explorer to help him find his Yeti cousins, is fairly straightforward, but it moves at a decent clip and always feels just substantial enough. There’s plenty of slapstick and some fun chase sequences, the best of which briefly becomes an homage to Inception, of all things.
The voice cast is stuffed with talented actors, all of whom do fine work. Hugh Jackman channels Lord Flashheart into the explorer Sir Lionel, and Stephen Fry is brilliantly oily as the blustery head of a stuffy men’s club, but the standout is Zach Galifianakis as Mr Link – as literal-minded as Drax the Destroyer and as earnest as Paddington Bear.
What’s missing is the sense of underlying darkness that made Coraline and ParaNorman so great. There are some subtle jabs at the “civilising mission” of empires, and some light feminist touches courtesy of Zoe Saldana’s widow turned explorer, but it feels more like an afterthought than a deliberate part of the text.
Laika has done it again. Missing Link is a lighter, slighter, more family-friendly affair than their previous work, but a charming voice cast and some typically excellent animation make it worth a watch.
CAST: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry
DIRECTOR: Chris Butler
WRITER: Chris Butler
SYNOPSIS: 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.