By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The Matt Hatter Chronicles is one of those off the radar cartoons that can be hard to find on network television. Episodes are better off watched online, from the official website, than searched for on late-night television. When its intended market is the UK, interest elsewhere is limited to filling a dead zone on television. Some people may well wonder how this series have managed to carry on, developing into three seasons.
The animation is very basic, like it’s hardly evolved from the style developed by Rainmaker Entertainment when they made Reboot, and the story has a very formulaic approach.
Despite that being said, there are various aspects of this production that’s appreciable. There’s a camaraderie that can be seen developing as the series progresses. Matt Hatter (voiced by Tommy Campbell) is an adventurous and high-spirited boy who is out on a a noble quest to find his grandfather, Alfred Hatter, who is lost in a multiverse. He has to learn how to lead a small team of freedom fighters.
Part of this cosmos, strangely enough, was created through the magic of cinema. It seems that whenever a movie is played, a mysterious book that Alfred keeps nearby is able to soak up its energy. The creatures what’s projected onto a cinema screen is not merely a spectre of what’s been captured by cinematographers from long ago. Once that essence is broadcast, the magical book that sits nearby absorbs it and gives it life. When Alfred realized this, he believed he (and his family) have a responsibility to put to right what went wrong.
If these monsters invaded Earth, Universal Pictures might have a problem on their hands. When the multiverse has an evil Lord Tenoroc (Kevin Eldon) taking advantage of this situation by wanting to build an army, there’s only Alfred to put a stop to it. He sacrificed his ability to return to Earth since, true to storytelling tradition, evil can never be destroyed and someone new has to be a gatekeeper. With young Matt taking on the mantle, his crusade is only beginning.
Series creator Nigel Stone most likely took a cue from Last Action Hero starring Arnold Schwarzenegger when he crafted this show. It’s enjoyable for its attempts to bring some classic monsters of cinema and myth to life. However, when most of the story takes place within the multiverse than on Earth, this cartoon does not always hit its mark.
The character development is limited to seeing how Matt, Gomez (Marcel McCalla) and Roxie (Larissa Murray) develop as a team of freedom fighters. Back on Earth, Matt’s parents (Harry and Meg) are more busy operating the movie theatre than looking out for his son. For most of the series, they are in the dark to Matt’s visits to the multiverse. They provide more of the comedy relief and can be written out of the show any time if the creators wanted. Hopefully that will not include Matt’s pet gerbil, Marlin. He helps cover for Matt on Earth whenever he gets summoned into the multiverse and he is far more amusing than the parental units.
Should this series find a finality, it will be interesting to watch to see how grandpa explains his absence to the family. When Meg believes that Alfred summoned them from New York to Notting Hill only to take off to some expedition and is upset at dumping the theatre on them to operate, just what kind of fallout will happen can be amusing to watch. If he says he and Matt saved the multiverse, the shock may well be too much. To wonder just how far ahead Stone planned this series will have some folks tuning in for the finale. When the show expanded from its original 13 monsters to thrice that, just how many more movie monsters are out there will just beg the question of when one giant radioactive monster will appear. Watch out, Matt, Big G may not fit in that tiny book you have to lock away beasts!
2½ Stars out of 5