It may look like an ordinary kids film, but with very unique ideas and imagination than most recent family films.
Why can't we get original and creative films like this on Hollywood?
Well that's because nowadays, Hollywood is nothing more than a bunch of lazy chimpanzees that rather make garbage for the audiences and the audience loves this kinds of garbage that cinema provides nowadays while original and ambitious movies get the middle finger by the audiences and they don't ever get mentioned again for generations to come.
Oblivion Island gives me hope that originality in filmmaking isn't dead and Production I.G, the studio that worked on Ghost In The Shell, has created a film filled with so much wonder and creativity that it deserves to be seen by the whole world and not just the US. It may look like an ordinary kids movie, but with very unique ideas and imagination than most recent family films.
The story is about Haruka, a 16- year old girl who lost her mother at a very young age and forgot all about the mirror that she had as a gift from her mother. Feeling guilty for not taking care of it, she decides to visit the shrine to pray for the return of her mirror to Lord Anari and which according to a real life Japanese legend, if a precious item was lost to you, an offering to Anari may bring your precious item back to you. Later on, she follows a strange little fox into the woods and when she founds a small pound between the rocks, she gets sucked in into Oblivion Island, a world where everything is built around objects and items that were neglected by their rightful owners. Now, Haruka and her new friend Tao decide to find the mirror before The Baron, the ruler of the island, gets his hand on the mirror first and use it to destroy the island in order to make a new world.
The story is very simple to follow, but it has an incredibly deep theme that is rarely seen in movies these days: The theme of neglect. Oblivion Island's message is about never neglecting our precious childhood objects, since this film takes place in a world where items like broken dolls, mirrors, stuffed dolls and other kinds of objects are abandoned by their owners for no reason and that is sadly true to be honest since a lot of kids abandoned their own toys for no reason these days. The story combines Japanese folklore with a mix of Alice In Wonderland storytelling to the film and it does feel like I'm watching an anime film of Alice In Wonderland, but about a world of abandoned objects instead.
The main characters are pretty good. The chemistry with Tao and Haruka is fun and heart-warming and their friendship develop well enough throughout the movie that you will cheer for them, even that little plush doll Cotton is a good character in this movie. My only gripe with this movie is the villain and it's inhabitants. The villain has some charm, but he's just the stereotypical "evil bad guy that wants to destroy the island and make a new one for some reason" kind of guy, so the writers could have done something more interesting with the villain. The other characters, including the inhabitants of Oblivion Island, are rather weak and I wish the film was longer, so that we could learn more about their history, origins or know how the island was built with only abandoned objects.
The animation by Production I.G, while it has it's flaws, is breathtaking to look at. The amount of creativity and effort put into the animation will make Studio Ghibli jealous and the designs of the characters are magnificent. The island is also a stunner, the way the place is made is just unbelievable and did I mention that this film was in 3D when it was released in Japan? Cause if I watched this in 3D, my eyes would have been blown away with so much color and detail. It's just a technical marvel in CG animation.
The music is enjoyable and it offers some gorgeous piano tracks that brings a lot of emotion to the story. The English dub for Oblivion Island is pretty good, Christine Marie Cabanos and Cassandra Lee were perfectly cast with their roles as Haruka and Tao, while Patrick Seitz delivers an awesome over the top performance as The Baron that gives the character enough charm than the Japanese version and Julie Maddalena gives a heart-warming performance as the doll Cotton. As for the other voices.... Well, they were ok, but their voices did not even fit for the characters at all and they come off either goofy, stale or bland.
While it won't perfect the family film genre, Oblivion Island has enough charm, originality and surprising effort that all of the flaws can be overlooked, thanks to the simple but charming story and the message it's trying to tell to it's audience. If you want a movie that's rich with imagination and creativity, I highly recommend this film to every animation fans of all ages.
See this film cause we won't get a creative film like this in the US for a long time. As for the Oscars and The Academy Awards that nominated Brave over this movie, they can go straight to the bottomless pit where they belong.
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