Missing Link (Blu-Ray)
Laika’s latest stop-motion animated film, Missing Link, comes to blu-ray this week with impressive animation and plenty of bonus features. Come inside to check out our full review!
Sir Lionel Frost (left) voiced by Hugh Jackman and Mr. Link (right) voiced by Zach Galifianakis in director Chris Butler’s MISSING LINK, a Laika Studios Production and Annapurna Pictures release. Credit : Laika Studios / Annapurna PicturesThe Movie
Laika’s latest film takes us on a globe-trotting adventure with Sir Lionel Frost. The explorer has spent a lifetime trying to track down mythological creatures and legendary locations only to be met with scorn from his peers. As he struggles to bring evidence to light, he is presented with an opportunity from none other than Sasquatch itself.
What he finds isn’t a monster, but an articulate creature who’s reached out to him in the hopes of finding his family. Seeking to help, Frost embarks on a journey with “Mr. Link” to find the secret city of Shangri-La up in the Himalayas. There they hope to find the Yeti’s who are Bigfoot’s cousins.
Frost’s former lover, Adelina Fortnight, comes along to help, possessing a map that should lead them in the right direction. Their adventure isn’t easy, however, as bounty hunter Willard Stenk is hot on their trailer. He’s been hired by the villainous Piggot-Dunceby to ensure Frost’s discovery is never made public.
It sounds like a whole lot going on, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward story...in fact, it’s a bit too straightforward. I’m a Bigfoot enthusiast and love Laika’s body of work. As such, I was really interested in seeing Missing Link. Sadly, I missed out on it in theaters and couldn’t catch it until the blu-ray. While it’s stunningly animated, has solid humor, and great voice-work...it falls a little flat.
The story itself lacks direction and you’re pulled from one sequence to another without any sense of what the overall point is. Ostensibly, the goal is to get him to his family, but the journey to do so seems pretty cut and dry. There’s very little sense of tension in their adventure and even the character beats/choices happen in a blink.
Convenient is the word that comes to mind, which isn’t something I often think of when it comes to Laika films. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming/delightful little story that’s ultimately heartwarming and hilarious throughout. I had fun watching it, but unlike many of their other films (especially Kubo and the Two Strings), it didn’t leave me with any lasting impressions. It’s not a bad film and I don’t feel like I wasted time watching it...but there’s not enough substance to keep me coming back.
Sight and Sound
Laika’s animation prowess is on full display in Missing Link. It’s visually impressive and features so many mind-blowing tiny details. At one point, you can see tiny beads of snow rolling down an incline, growing larger as it goes. It’s a small, subtle detail, but considering it’s all being done by hand via stop-motion animation, it’s incredibly impressive.
It makes the world they’ve created feel real. Fortunately the blu-ray transfer does an excellent job of highlighting all of these little details in crystal clarity. The image is sharp, making the vibrant colors stand out, with deep blacks that don’t crush the darker tones.
Sadly, I’m not sure entirely what happened with the sound design. While the overall surround sound is good and immersive, the dialog suffers a bit. It’s not given proper priority and I found myself having to turn up the volume during dialog heavy scenes just so I could hear everything being said. The problem, however, is the rest of the soundtrack was significantly louder, so I had to turn things down during action pieces.
It’s not a huge deal necessarily, but when you’re just trying to sit back and relax with a movie it can certainly be frustrating. Other than that, the technical elements of the blu-ray are pretty solid.
The Bonus Features
Missing Link’s blu-ray comes packed with a DVD copy, digital version insert, and these special features loaded onto the disc:
Commentary by Chris Butler
Creating Mr. Link
Bringing the Final Battle on the Ice Bridge to Life
Animation Inspiration w/optional Commentary by Chris Butler
VFX Breakdown Reel – Realizing the Potential of Stop Motion
Oh What a Mystery: Pulling the Camera Back on Missing Link’s Magic
Inside the Magic of Laika
Gallery x 24 Images
It’s always fascinating to see how Laika brings their films to life and the behind the scenes featurettes do an excellent job of showcasing it. I could watch their team work on the animation elements all day and not grow tired of it. As such, it’s nice to see plenty of time in the bonus features dedicated to that aspect.