Missing Link is the newest adventure from the amazing Laika Studio and sees Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) as he discovers Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis), who is commonly referred by legend as Bigfoot. Together, along with Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), they set out on a journey to find Mr. Link’s long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La.
Laika has proven itself as a studio who puts out quality films. From Coraline to Kubo and the Two Strings, which in my opinion is the crown jewel of the studio, Laika is an incredible animation studio with easily the most impressive stop-go animation in the business. Unfortunately, Laika is a studio that many people do not know the name of like they do Pixar, mainly because Laika films don’t make much money at the box office. And Missing Link really has no chance at breaking that trend for Laika.
Missing Link is an adventure movie, but not an exciting one at that. While I did enjoy the upbeat and likable charm of our lead characters, the story itself is not one that tells a thrilling tale as you might think a movie like this would. Instead, Missing Link settles for a steady paced film that sprinkles a few action sequences sparingly throughout. The story is more focused on the characters and their arcs and the revelations they go through. Which is never a bad thing to take time to develop characters, I just found this movie to move a little too slow.
The animation and character work is top notch. The animation is remarkable and beautiful to look at. You can see the time and care that is put into every frame of this movie. Missing Link doesn’t have the ambition or the scale of a movie like Kubo does, so there’s no big innovation or spark necessarily to the animation but still a solid effort from some of the best animators in this style of filmmaking. The voice work done is great as well. Hugh Jackman is one of the most charming men in Hollywood and he brings so much of that into his character. He strikes a great balance of being likable and charismatic while being a pretty self-centered person. Zach Galifianakis’ dumb witted humor is paired perfectly with Mr. Link’s “fish out of water” scenario.
The villain’s of the movie are pretty much one note. They don’t like our main protagonist because they don’t agree with the same viewpoint so they want to kill them because they don’t like them. It doesn’t go much deeper than that. I would’ve liked to have seen maybe a little more on why they don’t agree, we find out the villain thinks that the Missing Link is an abomination to mankind, but we don’t go much further with that. Our main villain, who is the head of an elite adventurer society that Sir Lionel Frost strives to be apart of, hires a man, Mr. Stenk, to hunt them down to kill Mr. Link and Sir Frost. Mr. Stenk is a lot of fun. Whenever he is on screen usually leads to an action set piece, so by extension whenever he is on screen he is in the most exciting parts of the movie. He services as a great driving force for the story and the progression of the adventure.
Missing Link has a lot of great elements in it. Likable lead characters, incredible animation, and a great character journey for both Mr. Link and Sir Lionel Frost, but still I found myself checking my watch throughout the movie. There are moments in this movie where I just felt bored and uninterested. A lot of the middle act has a lot of down moments and they just bogged down the pace of the adventure our characters were on. For this being a family movie, I can’t see many kids having the attention span to stay interested in this movie. I really don’t like saying that as I really like Laika and would love to encourage everyone to go see this movie, but I just can’t. I’ll say this, if you like this animation style or you like imaginative storytelling and adventures you might enjoy this film as I did overall. Just know that there are some slow points in the story that slow down the pace of the film.