Chris Butler (director)
LAIKA Studios (studio)
1h 35mins (length)
04 April 2021 (released)
05 April 2019
Fresh from the creative minds behind Coraline, The Boxtrolls and ParaNorman, Missing Link is Laika studio’s fifth film and arguably their most ambitious to date.
Written and directed by Chris Butler, the film tells the tale of an unlikely trio who set out on a quest to locate the fabled valley of Shangri-La, in 95 minutes of sheer unadulterated bliss.
Set in the early 20th century, the animated adventure begins with explorer Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), who is desperate to prove his worth to his small-minded peers, and sets out to track down a wild Sasquatch, the legendary 'missing link' between man and beast.
What he finds, however, isn’t the ferocious monster that he’s expecting, but the endearing Mr. Link. At 8 feet tall, 630 lbs, and covered in fur, he’s the complete opposite of what one would expect from a half-man, half-beast.
Funnyman Zach Galifianakis voices the loveable legend to perfection, instantly creating a character that is warm, innocent and, most importantly, 100 per cent likeable. We defy you not to gush over him throughout.
Link - who goes by the name of Susan - is literate, civilised and noticeably more human than beast. He also provides almost all of the movie’s comic relief, offering laugh-out-loud moments all round for parents and kids alike, with his clumsy antics and literal approach to life.
Enamoured by his undeniable charm, Sir Lionel agrees to help Link locate his long-lost cousins on the other side of the world, and enlists the help of old flame and free-spirited adventurer Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), who just so happens to possess the only known map to their secret destination.
Together, the trio brave the elements and dice with death in their bid to track down Link’s family and find the place that he thinks of as home.
Along the way, the travellers meet an array of wholesome characters, and the film brings together an unbeatable cast of talent, with Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, David Walliams and Timothy Olyphant all lending their voices to supporting roles.
Visually, Missing Link is a triumph, with Laika’s signature stop-motion taking a step-up from its previous ventures and producing a movie that is cinematically stunning. Admittedly, the action is initially jarring - probably because we’re so accustomed to the slick animation of Pixar et al - but give it a chance and you’ll soon be on board.
While, on the surface, the film is a bit of lighthearted fun, the strength of Missing Link comes from the fully-rounded execution; it’s visually stunning, packed with talent, and has a sound narrative that hooks you from the beginning.
It may not be groundbreaking, but it’s a fun-filled feature with a heartwarming message: that, sometimes, you can find family in the places you least expect.
What more could you ask for?