GKIDS has a habit of distributing small, foreign animated films that hardly anyone sees but somehow get Oscar nominations. I’ve had this film in my Animated Feature top five for a while now. But now that I’ve seen the film, I’m starting to have my doubts that it could get nominated.
The initial setup is intriguing, introducing a world where all the greatest scientific minds have disappeared and things like the lightbulb and automobile have not been invented, leaving the world is stuck in a permanent steam age.
There are a number of things that work in this film. Its a fascinating concept and indeed there are a lot of interesting ideas explored in this film. There was some strong animation and music, and there was a lot of very good humor in the film.
But (and get ready for the weirdest criticism of a film ever) it feels like it should have been a videogame. And not just because of the action scenes but because the whole thing felt very rushed. So many things are just completely glossed over.
For example, the chemistry between April and Julian is virtually non-existent. And also predictable. From the moment you see Julian you know that he’s gonna end up with April, but there was no moment in the film where I felt them bonding. The film couldn’t afford to have a moment like that because they had to keep moving the story along.
I feel like if this were a game or a TV series, you could go more in-depth, explore this world, and get to know the characters a little more. At the end of the day I just didn’t feel attached to these people because there was so much exposition that had to be crammed in there.
And there’s a lot of very ‘out there’ stuff in this film that the filmmakers have to explain in a relatively short amount of time. It just results in too many ‘WTF moments’. Near the end of the film, I think the film was trying to ask some deep philosophical question, but I was totally confused as to what the question was supposed to be.
I chose to watch this film in French with English subtitles. I’m not sure whether or not I would have enjoyed the English dub more. Either way, I wasn’t particularly sucked into this film, but it’s not really a bad film by any means. At worst, it’s perfectly harmless. And I won’t hold it against you if you got something out of this film that I simply didn’t see.