Verdict: Looks wicked, but lacks emotional punch.
began life as a short film, winning creator Shane Acker, then a student at the University of California, a Student Academy Award for animation. Now, with the support of film-makers Tim Burton (
Alice in Wonderland, The Corpse Bride
) and Timur Bekmambetov (
) as producers, Acker's turned his post-apocalyptic adventure into a full length feature for sci-fi loving adults.
There's no doubt Acker is a talent to watch, his animation is superb, his vision unique and the attention to detail fastidious. Aesthetically,
is stunning, but it's let down by a less than engaging story that has simply been stretched too thinly over the longer format.
The main difference between the feature and short is that the feature contains dialogue, written by screenwriter Pamela Pettler (
). Pettler has limited the dialogue in an attempt to maintain an element of mystery around the characters, but unlike say
, which was also short on dialogue,
doesn't reach its full potential. For all its hefty themes it's too simplistic, and lacks an emotional connection.
Working in a sci-fi style known as "steampunk" (where Victorian artefacts, fashion and technology come alive in a fantasy future), Acker's retro-futuristic vision looks like a Fritz Lang-inspired film mixed in with a touch of H.G Wells'
War of The Worlds
sees hostile insect-like machines made out of industrial materials, and known as beasts, roam what is left of a European city destroyed by a war that saw these man-made machines fight mankind for supremacy, and win. With humans destroyed, the only living creatures left to fight the beasts are a collection of eight-inch puppets brought to life in a Frankenstein manner by the same scientist that created the Brain, the nastiest of the beasts. To them falls the task of preserving the human spirit - it's a tall order.
Acker's world is sepia-toned, dark and menacing but not without its beauty, most of which can be found in these roughly sewn, hessian puppets. Number 9 (Elijah Wood) is the last puppet created by the scientist, a small but smart hero who unites his fellow puppets to fight the beasts.
There is plenty of action in
- in fact the film becomes less about philosophising on the state of the human race, and more about action sequences as it progresses. This adds plenty of suspense, but it's not enough to emotionally draw you into the characters' plight, even if the plight looks this good.
Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer
M (Content That May Disturb)