Missing Link Review: Animated April

Year: 2019
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Director/ Writer: Chris Butler
Voices: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas

Special Guest Writer: Alex Gilston

Any form of animated project is a labour of love but none more so than stop-motion animation. The studio behind classics such as “Coraline” and “Kubo and the Two Strings LAIKA”, is the ultimate Hollywood champion of claymation. But despite their 2019 Golden Globe winning feature “Missing Link” being an exemplary addition to their filmography, it, undeservedly, came and went with little fanfare. 

“Missing Link” charts the adventures of Sir Lionel Frost as he embarks on a journey to find Bigfoot, a discovery that will thrust him into the high echelons of the “Society of Great Men”. The resulting quest tests Frost in a multitude of ways, including his pre-conceptions and where his true priorities should lie. The best animated family films are first of all entertaining, but also, and most importantly, provide some kind of lesson to its (especially younger) audience. Missing Link’s heartwarming nature offers this in droves. Sir Lionel Frost and Mr Link’s relationship throughout is a testament to not judging a book by its cover. That when you truly get to know a person (or sasquatch) you can leave your prejudices at the door and have a friend for life. The idea of found-family is also a big part of Missing Link’s core message, and it’s not lost on me as a person who believes that familial bonds transcend any kind of blood relation. It isn’t until Mr Link gets rejected from the people he so badly wants to take him in, does he realise that he’s had the people he truly needs all along.

Still from “Missing Link” | Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

Missing Link takes stop-motion animation to a whole new level. There were over a hundred individually built sets, hundreds of character models with over a hundred thousand individually crafted faces all with different expressions. On top of all of that, one particular action set piece towards the end of the film set in the snowy tundra of the Himalayas took the studio a whole year to animate. Knowing the vast amount of work that went into the film in which we get one of the best looking claymation films of the 21st century, is enough to make it worth the watch.                                

“The idea of found-family is also a big part of Missing Link’s core message, and it’s not lost on me as a person who believes that familial bonds transcend any kind of blood relation.”

Still from “Missing Link” | Photo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

There is a reason I have a huge place in my heart for stop-motion animation as a medium. It could be the painstakingly crafted claymation, the heartwarming stories perfect for any demographic, the stellar voice casts, or all of that coming together to make a cohesive final product. But Chris Butler, the director of “Missing Link”, put it perfectly in an interview for a behind the scenes look at the film: When you’re a child you always wonder what it would be like if you could bring your toys to life, and Stop-Motion animation IS that. If you truly think about it, any kind of stop-motion film has an unexplainable instant nostalgia to it, and as I was watching “Missing Link” I couldn’t help but feel that. It  truly deserves to be a part of the Animation Hall of Fame. It’s one of my favourites and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be one of yours too.                         

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