Directed By Lino DiSalvo
Starring – Daniel Radcliffe, Anya Taylor-Joy, Gabriel Bateman
The Plot – When her younger brother (Bateman) disappears into the colorful and animated world of Playmobil, Marla (Taylor-Joy) is forced to abandon her organized and structured life to rescue him. Finding herself on an incredible and unpredictable adventure within this new world, Marla begins to see potential she never dreamed of.
– Dreamy animation. While not as appealing or as detailed as Pixar or Dreamworks animated properties, STX have moved miles from their disastrously rendered “UglyDolls”, which hit theaters earlier this year. For “Playmobil”, they use a vibrancy of rich colors and shapely textures to indulge audiences in the fantastical quality of atmosphere that uplifts this project’s ambitions tenfold. Likewise, the backdrops and set designs are full of versatility and diversity, with some, like the futuristic setting, requiring a pause button or a re-watch to fully locate the intricacies in each frame. The illustrations in the film are about ten years too late to really compete with anything prominently at the top today, but with the experience of putting the animation first, they have at least gotten the attention of this critic, and made me curious for what this company can do next.
– Strong vocal work. It’s a shame that the supporting cast are nothing more than plot devices to get the protagonists to the next stage of the story, because is no shortage of talent that fully immerse themselves in the beats and uniqueness of their characters. For Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson, this means sporting a consistent pirate accent that makes his distinguishable delivery nearly evaporate before our very ears. In addition to Thompson, the raw energy from pop star Adam Lambert as the film’s prime antagonist, or Jim Gaffigan’s best Jeffrey Lebowski impression while discussing the many joys of cooking food. Almost everyone on board is depositing a commitment to craft that makes this so much more than a paycheck film for each of them. I say all of this without even mentioning the single best performance or aspect of the movie, and that is……
– Rex Dasher. Here comes another sentence that I never expected to say; Daniel Radcliffe has made a convincing case to be the next James Bond. He does this by emitting no shortage of cool confidence in his vocal deliveries, as well as an ongoing gimmick with the character that served as the lone laughs from the movie that I was able to attain. Equipped with sporty cars, a fashionable tuxedo wardrobe, and musical cues that disperse each time his character moves into frame. Not to mention, his strongest ability as a spy; the art of disappearing into his work, with a series of disguises that allow him to deceive his opposition. Dasher brings with him a supplanting of good times and solidification for why I was watching this film in the first place, and makes the most of the tragically miniscule
amount of time that the screenplay allows him.
– Flat humor. The comedy in the film doesn’t just miss its intended landing point, it crashes head first into a series of objects and characters that brings so much more down into the grave than just the movie’s laughing strength. There are times when it repeats too much, other times when it doesn’t try at all, and other times when it’s so obviously ripping off “The Lego Movie”, a critique that will be heard many more times throughout this review. There’s definitely an overwhelming feeling of this being intended solely for kids, but with the exception of wacky accents, there’s nothing that gives me confidence that even they wouldn’t feel bored by this by the half hour mark of the film. By abandoning adult audience members who are forced to take their kids to this gruel, the movie does a disservice to the brave, and makes their already difficult sits an impossible task from not checking their cell phones every five minutes.
– Uninspiring musical. I had no idea that this film had musical aspirations when I saw the trailers for it, and even if it did succeed with a range of fun and lyrically addicting melodies (It doesn’t), the script itself gives up on such a gimmick about halfway through the movie. From what I can remember, there are five musical numbers dispersed throughout the film. All of which are annoying at best, and none of which can even be considered on the B-side of any Disney movie going today. Even “Frozen 2”, a movie that I had deep problems with, still maintained the air of earworm tracks that Disney fans everywhere will be adding to playlists for decades to come. This one tries a gimmick, and then brutally fails hard at it, maintaining a disjointed direction that often feels like two movies fighting painfully hard for on-screen domination.
– Insensitive message. It’s difficult to even say that this film has an uplifting message for youths to take with them, but if it does, it’s to find your fun through even the most difficult times, I guess? What is irresponsible about this establishing is it overlooks what can arguably be the most terrible thing to ever happen to kids, and hands them a toy to get over it as quickly as they can. This is not only manipulative towards Playmobil serving their own profitable agenda, but also basing the volume of importance to loss as just under having fun with ones toys. The message could’ve been a family-first initiative, but thanks to a movie that spends most of its run time distancing the two, and allowing them to prosper under their own separation, that seems to be the most far-fetched of the two that I have presented in this summary.
– Bending logic. Nobody made the producers make a movie about Playmobil toy figures, in fact, the ideas are limited in design so much so that it begs the question how they could construct an adventure to begin with. As to where Lego’s have joints that move and bend in the ways you desire, Playmobil’s are stiff in design, with very little possibilities for how their characters can interact. In fact, the film even brings this up during the transformation scene, where the two leads find themselves reborn as their iconic plastic mini idols. In it, the sister mentions that she can’t bend her knees. This rule is broken in the very next scene, when characters are moving as easily as humans, with no mention what so ever for how any of this is possible. If they didn’t take a scene to point this out in the first place, then none of this would be anything more than peanuts in the complaints department, but as it stands, the toy designs feel anything other than the Playmobil’s that they are constantly advertising.
– Wasted opportunity. The most fascinating angle of the script takes place in the first ten minutes of the movie, where an untimely event in this family’s lives forces change in the most undesirable methods. Unfortunately, the screenwriter isn’t brave enough or wise enough to make the most of establishing mature roots in a child’s movie, similar to the kind of films that I grew up with. It distances the two protagonists at a time when they and the movie needs them together at the most, and never mentions this instance of bad luck again, in a way that could influence character decisions or at least add weight in urgency to reuniting with each other again. It never materializes, and instead becomes saddled with a hollow screenplay and lack of character exposition that is one of the many problems with these leads feeling even remotely appealing.
– Boring protagonists. These characters would require a personality to even get up to vanilla, in terms of tasteful ice cream choices. In live action form, the acting of Taylor-Joy, who is usually amazing, and Bateman are horrendously directed and full of phoniness. In animated form, they can’t compete with a talented supporting ensemble who constantly exuberate endless charisma. This is perhaps the strangest framing idea within the movie, as a film about any single other character reduced to a supporting role would be twice as effectively entertaining as what we’re presented here. They are so underdeveloped with a complete lack of psychological presence on the attention of the film that the resolution that intentionally weighs so heavily on the hearts of audience members comes and goes without an ounce of dramatic heft, bringing to light the complete lack of lasting image that the movie ushered in with bland sibling leads.
– One big shameless commercial. The lack of originality given to the screenplay never allows it to rid itself of “The Lego Movie” shadow that it constantly sinks itself into. Aside from the overbearing amount of similarities in structure, the film’s monotonous tonal atmosphere and one-dimensional screenplay never allows it to stand apart as anything but a big 90 minute commercial for a toy catalog. This same thing could’ve happened to a movie like the one I previously mentioned, but in developing enough satire in design, vibrancy in personalities, and heart in family sentimentality, that film presented something substantial to accommodate the greedy intentions. This ones total lack of effort cemented its intentions almost immediately, and brought forth a structure so easy to predict from the get-go that it practically reeked of the hundreds of child’s movies that mirrored it before this one. Without spoiling anything, the structure goes as follows; happiness, conflict, distancing, bravery, reunion, sequel tease. This is a better summary for the movie than you think, and has become formulaic medicine for screenwriters who think effort isn’t needed when you’re dealing with stupid children.
My Grade: 3/10 or F