Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is a daredevil explorer, pitched somewhere between Charles Darwin and David Livingstone. He longs to be recognised for his feats but has, thus far, failed to impress the snoots at the club. When an expedition to photograph the Loch Ness monster goes wrong, Sir Lionel heads westwards, in search of Bigfoot.
When he finally meets the lonely sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis), he hatches an ambitious plan to travel to Shangri-La, where, in theory, the lovable creature can finally be among others of his kind.
To find the legendary destination, however, Sir Lionel will have to persuade Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana) to share her late husband’s map, while avoiding a ruthless assassin (Timothy Olyphant) hired by the club.
Pixar has the storytelling chops; Ghibli’s folkloric beauty is unrivalled; Aardman has the most anarchic fun. But no animation studio can build a world quite like Laika can.
There are good jokes, a playful sensibility, a genuine sense of jeopardy
Following on from the Freudian gothic of Coraline and the junkyard socialism of The Boxtrolls, Missing Link conjures a universe of faux-Victoriana, frontier America and Nepalese peaks. Well, it is an adventure story.
Liverpool-born Laika veteran Chris Butler, a co-writer on Kubo and the Two Strings and the co-director of ParaNorman, has fun with British colonialism. (Yes, this is the latest film which scans for Brexit critique.)
A vertiginous sequence on an ice-bridge is as nail-biting as any live action (or CGI) scene you care to mention. There are good jokes, a playful sensibility, a genuine sense of jeopardy – the studio behind Coraline was never likely to condescend to family audiences – and a title character that children will love.
Opens April 5th