Review of ‘Missing Link’: Beautiful Animation, but Less Inspiration
It is fitting that “Missing Link,” which involves beloved creatures a step behind on the evolutionary ladder, has been made with stop motion animation, a tiring process where models and puppets are photographed to create the illusion of movement. In form and content, this is a film about fighting obsolescence. The perfection of computer animation will only be wrong.
All praised Laika, for this reason, for making a pleasant film to contemplate the sharp contours of a pointed schnoz or fur tufts, which, in Mr.’s case Link (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), as a soft simian man then known, resembling hair colored hair. The picture is almost eccentric or crazy like the one in “Coraline,” Laika might be a high watermark in the studio. However, the sculpture gives character to the character that does not match the coding lines, and the stiffness of the movement – just a little in this case – gives this film a warm organic feel.
Too bad the attention that is included in film design does not, unfortunately, have been matched with the same creativity in storytelling. Directed by Chris Butler (“ParaNorman,” with Sam Fell), “Missing Link” is a setback in more than one way, with plots that tip Victoria literature, western border cities and the creation of the 1930s, Shangri-La. Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is a generous adventurer who misses acceptance of a stuffy British geographic society. In the opening sequence, he and his assistant try to capture evidence of the Loch Ness monster. Frost made the mistake of relying on one of the new model photography cameras.
No problem, because a letter immediately called him on a new expedition to Washington State, where he met Mr. Link is talking, who wants to track down his living relatives. There is a funny joke involving Mr. Links are eight feet tall – not right for bar stools, trains and checkered suits – and the habit of taking all Frost’s statements literally. During their trip, they collaborate with Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), a mischievous widow of one of Frost’s colleagues, and are pursued by a murderer (Timothy Olyphant), who is hired to kill Frost by his rival (Stephen Fry).
The setup is satisfying. The rewards are somewhat less so, especially after the film began discussing nothing about friendship and the act of moving to the Himalayas. The lost ice from the yeti, visually, is far less exciting than the details of human civilization that are more directed to art. (Emma Thompson, as the queen of the hidden bag, gets some biting lines.)
What is missing from the film, for all its technical skills, is only inspiration – an extra touch of intelligence or imagination that can lift it from a pleasant diversion to a rare appearance.