By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Studio Laika always impresses. Their catalogue of works always offers insightful looks into the human condition. More often than not, they explore aspects of the supernatural world in relation to mankind. Missing Link considers what drives certain individuals to become what they are. This film suggests what makes homo sapiens superior to other forms of life, and when Charles Darwin is involved, it’s not always about survival of the fittest. Are they doing it for themselves to raise their self-esteem, or something else?
Enter wannabe world-renowned explorer Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman in his best British accent than Australian). He’s chasing after cryptids and he wants to join the prestigious Optimates Club. However, Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) thinks all such creations are pish-posh; he believes mankind is superior and is supposed to dominate.
The Big Foot of The Pacific Northwest is quite alone in his remote corner of the world and recruits Frost to find others of his kind. This film never looks into whether or not others of his particular species are around but sees him in a search for others of his genus–to which he learns a hard truth. Just why he’s named Susie requires watching this movie than me saying it. When Frost and Big Foot meet, the moment is nothing like those scary encounters in all those television shows looking for Sasquatch.
Writer/Director Chris Butler (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) gets to explore new territory with this work. Unlike his previous films, the tone found here is light-hearted. The threats are literally about man versus man. The conniving Piggot-Dunceby is unwilling to see God’s work undone and hires a bounty hunter, Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) to do what he cannot, murder.
Within the production is the feel of a Wild West story. These two characters are braving the unknown in order to achieve their goals, and they have to be more than temporary partners if they are to succeed. I found this film enjoyable because it offers a message of hope. This film encourages us to see the good in us all instead of what shocks.
Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) is no second fiddle either. She’s like Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones, independent and free-spirited. She owns a map that Frost needs if he’s to achieve find Shangri-La. However, this mysterious city is not necessarily that. It is also a state of grace, as this movie eventually explains.
Sometimes finding a place to belong is all this buddy film needs. We are dealing with two misfits who want something that they really did not need. When they realize all they need is love, that’s all anyone needs. Home is where the heart is, and that’s a terrific message to end with.
4 Stars out of 5