When I first saw the trailer for Laika’s latest stop-motion animated feature Missing Link, I was amazed at its breathtaking visuals but felt somewhat muted with its strangely tedious globe-trotting premise. And after watching the movie in its entirety, Missing Link does feel like a missed opportunity when comes to its overall storytelling. Or let me put it this way, the story is nothing but superficial. Even if the intention is to create a lighthearted animated feature aimed for the family/kid-friendly crowds, does it have to be monotonous or simple-minded?
But if the movie is judged solely at face value, the globe-trotting storyline involving Sir Lionel Frost’s (voiced by Hugh Jackman) journey of helping the lonely sasquatch a.k.a. Mr Link (Zach Galifianakis) to locate his distant relatives in the mystical Shangri-La somewhere in the Himalayan mountains, does have its own worthwhile moments. Some of the jokes manage to hit the mark, particularly involving Mr Link’s amusing antics who often treat everything in a literal way. Think of him as someone like Dave Bautista’s Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and you will get the clear idea about Mr Link’s literal-minded character.
The all-star voice cast did a good job in their respective roles, with the suitably dapper Hugh Jackman and the soft-spoken Zach Galifianakis sharing wonderful chemistry as two mismatched duos, Sir Lionel Frost and Mr Link. Zoe Saldana brings a feisty edge to her character as Sir Lionel’s former flame, Adelina Fortnight while other supporting roles, namely Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry who made quite a lasting impression respectively as the arrogant Yeti leader nicknamed the Elder and Sir Lionel’s bitter rival, Lord Piggot-Dunceb.
Likewise, as in the case with 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings, Missing Link excels the most in the technical department. Director Chris Butler and his team of animators have certainly spent a lot of efforts in creating the characters, facial expressions, foregrounds and backgrounds as meticulously detailed as possible. And given the movie largely involved travelling from one country to another, every single location regardless of the Victorian-era city of London or the snowy mountains of the Himalayas is brought to vivid life using a mix of stop-motion animation, practical materials and state-of-the-art 3D colour printing technology.
Now, if only Missing Link is as good as the visually-stunning animation itself, it would have ranked higher than just being a decent piece of family-friendly entertainment.