Film review, by Jason Day, of Playmobil: The Movie, a part-animated movie about a brother and sister who are magically transported into the world of Playmobil toys. Featuring Anna Taylor-Joy and Gabriel Bateman.
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Young Marla (Anna Taylor-Joy) and Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) are orphaned after their parents are killed in a car accident. Marla has to grow up quickly and get a job to support the two, much to Charlie’s chagrin as he feels she has forgotten what it is like to have fun and enjoy life.
All of this changes when they visit an exhibit of Playmobil and are magically transported to the world of those toys. Charlie is turned into a viking warrior and is kidnapped by a half-mad Roman despot who is collecting the greatest fighters in the world for his gladiatorial battles. Marla has to team-up with the too-chilled Del (Jim Gaffigan) to find Charlie and get back to the real world.
Review, by @Reelreviewer
I pondered out loud some time ago that the run of exceptional animated feature films (this was between the release of Toy Story 2 and Inside Out, for me, the finest, funniest and most feeling of all these types of movies) would eventually tire and its legs would give out.
I wonder if that time is happening now, for a lot of mediocre and highly derivative productions are hitting cinemas…and with alarming frequency.
Yesterday, I saw – and am rapidly forgetting, thank God – Angry Birds 2. I haven’t seen part one and have no desire to either.
Today – and it was a birthday treat for my nephew who, as I have written before, loves animated cinema – I headed to the multiplex to see what any casual film fan would immediately know from the poster is a Lego Movie rip-off.
And rather late in the day it is, coming a full five years after the release of Lego Movie part one. During that time the franchise has clocked up one sequel and two spin-offs.
With total international box office takings estimated at just over $1bn, Playmobil has a lot of catching up to do.
But then, Playmobil has always been the secondary ‘toy brick’ choice for kids the world over. Lego was the first to be developed (in 1949), hit stores sooner and has pedigree to it, but Playmobil has been a serious competitor for more than 40 years and the two have been fierce rival for kids’ affections ever since.
Before anyone accuses me of bias, as a child I had little interest in toys you had to make for yourself. Why go to the effort of pleading with your parents to buy you something every time you walked past Zodiac toys in The Clock Towers Shopping Centre, Rugby – a gleaming mecca for children of this Warwickshire town (Zodiac, not the Clock Towers), really grinding them down to the point of their physical, emotional and spiritual collapse, to then have to build the damn thing before you could play with it?
There was never any sense in that to me, so I always bypassed Lego. Playmobil, with its character’s fixed, rictus faces, bowl haircuts and dreadfully plain 70’s fashion sense (that was in the mid 1980’s) likewise never held any sway with me.
But as I said, Playmobil came after Lego as a toy and movie concept, so it always seems to me like it is the poorer, younger brother playing catch-up, desperate for attention and forever living in its sibling’s shadow. This first movie shows that personality in spades.
The opening, live-action ‘framing’ scenes are scandalously pointless. More an egregious advertorial, this wholly dispensable segment is basically a marketing exercise as the full-range of toys, houses and landscapes one can buy in shops are showcased in all their plastic-not-so-fantastic glory.
It’s funny that the writer felt the need to ground the story in reality. The Lego movies start from the premise that the Lego world exists in splendid, riotous isolation from humans and is more enjoyable and easier to get into than Playmobil Movie which needs to justify and explain itself.
Unlike Angry Birds 2, Playmobil: The Movie contains some excellent, crisp and pixel-clear animation. It’s a lovely looking, ripely colourful thing but just like Angry Birds 2, it has almost no laughs. It feels like you are being shouted at rather than entertained.
As with The Lego movies, Playmobil features some solid vocal acting, especially from the splendid and spiky Taylor-Joy who is an excellent and energetic lead. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) fantastically voices smoothie character Rex Dasher as if he is slimy cross between James Bond and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ Robin Leach.
Cast & credits
Director: Lino DiSalvo. 1hr 39mins/99mins. ON Animation Studios/On Entertainment. (U)
Producer: Moritz Borman, Dimitri Rassam, Aton Soumace, Alexia Vonarb.
Writers: Blaise Hemingway, Greg Erb, Jason Oremland.
Music: Heitor Pereira.
Sets: Jean-Andre Carriere, Rémi Salmon.
Anna Taylor-Joy, Gabriel Bateman, Daniel Radcliffe, Kenan Thompson, Jim Gaffigan, Adam Lambert.