‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an animated film that will heavily resonate with artists everywhere. We have a young aspiring filmmaker Katie Mitchell(Abbi Jacobson) who embarks on a road trip with her parents, Rick (Danny McBride) and Linda (Maya Rudolph), younger brother Aaron (Michael Rianda), and her beloved dog to start her first year at film school. During their family bonding time, things take a turn for the worst, as the world’s electronic devices come to life to stage an uprising. The Mitchells are only ones who can save everyone – and the planet- from the new tech revolution.

What stands out the most in the film is the animation. Sony’s animation is so beautiful and vibrant. They have added their own unique spin to how they create the world for their stories. The almost lifelike animation, combined with the fast-paced action, and fun story, makes this film one of the best of the year, so far. Young Katie has been trying to find out who she is. She expresses herself through her filmmaking but her parents don’t really understand her dream. There are some hard-hitting conversations that happen between Katie and her parents, especially her father.

As a creative, the deeper conversations about choosing the right path in life, are moments we can all relate to. Fortunately for me, my parents have always been supportive but there have been some conversations about my decisions that have hurt me. The road as a creative is a difficult one but it can also be really rewarding. Katie knows all about technology and how to use it, so when the world is overturned by these robots, she works with her father (even though they are at odds) in order to save everyone. The father/daughter relationship is probably my favourite aspect of this film because of how honest and realistic the conversations were.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is very funny, action-packed and heartfelt. It is the family road trip movie we didn’t know we needed and Sony definitely delivered. Lord and Miller never miss. Their films are always fun for the whole family. They have this great balance of kid-friendly flashiness and a solid story that everyone can resonate with. Also need to give a shout out to the two friendly robots, I recognized their voices instantly and they added such great humour to the action scenes. This voice cast was wonderful and the family unit is probably one of the best I’ve seen in awhile.

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Cryptozoo’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Cryptozoo is an animated film with such a unique story, that is heavily centered on mythological beings. It is a film that introduces you to a whole other world and makes you care for these creatures, called ‘cryptids’. ‘Cryptids’ are creatures whose existence is disputed or unsupported. They are treated poorly and are segregated from the human race. The film has beautiful imagery, interesting characters and addresses how corrupt the government can be. Some sequences will have you in a trance but then something unexpected happens and cuts through it. There are definitely moments of shock when watching the film and it could only work because of the animation.

We are introduced to a military brat named Lauren, who spent her childhood having really bad nightmares. The reason why she is so attached to these cryptids is because a mythical creature named baku came to eat her dreams, thus relieving her mind of those nightmares. She has dedicated her whole life to protecting these animals, by becoming a ‘cryptozookeeper’ and giving them shelter from those who seek to exploit them. Lauren meets with new cryptids and tries to recruit them to the zoo, in order to keep them safe. She then finds out that, the baku is out there and the government wants to capture it to use it to their own advantage.

Writer-director Dash Shaw creates a fantastical world for these creatures and shines a light on how governments can manipulate their people. The way the story unfolds is really interesting and so much tension was created between the characters, as they fight to protect the baku. “Without dreams, there can be no future.” This line was really important because of how generations cycle back to each other, we can’t grow without ideas and in this particular story baku uses her powers for good and not evil. So naturally, the government would want this creature in their custody for manipulating ideas.

Cryptozoo is colourful, energetic and wildly entertaining. It takes you on an adventurous journey with such interesting characters. The story is well-written and you end up feeling for the cryptids. The direction of this piece is quite fun and the transitions from scene to scene had beautiful imagery. It has a very grounded concept (even though the characters are mythological) but it is rooted in basic human decency and compassion for others around you.

Over the Moon Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Over the Moon co-directed by Glen Keane and John Kahrs is one of the best animated films of the year. It has such stunning animation and an incredibly emotional story that will move you to tears. The screenplay co-written by Audrey Wells and Jennifer Yee McDevitt was so beautiful and explores grieving from a young girl’s perspective. When losing someone so dear to your heart, there is always some little detail, or memory that we hold onto to make us feel better and this film does that so well.

In this animated musical adventure, young Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) remembers the story her mother used to tell her, when she was a child about the moon goddess. It is a love story about an archer who passed on and his spirit remains with the moon goddess, so she waits for him to return to her, hoping that their love can be rekindled. The lore parallels the relationship between Fei Fei’s parents and she so desperately wants to believe that this story is real because it is what her mother told her.

The animation is incredibly well done and the world that was created was so imaginative. It has such a wonderful soundtrack and the songs will definitely stay with you after you’ve finished the film. It is so much fun from beginning to end (I may be biased because of the white bunny named Bungee with purple eyes and magic powers stealing my heart) and it will pull on your heartstrings.

Over the Moon was an unexpected surprise for Netflix and it is such a wonderful animated film added to their library. It also holds so much cultural significance that is so lovely to see on screen. It literally takes you out of reality for a little while and that’s what is so exciting about the film. Its animation, soundtrack and heartfelt story will make you remember this film and the universal support that it gives those who are grieving during this time.