TThanks mainly to Disney and Pixar, many American audiences see animation as something strictly for children. It’s unfortunate because there are a lot of complex, provocative, mature stories that would suit the craft best, but they can’t reach a large enough audience. This is why Dash Shaw (My whole high school is sinking into the sea, and graphic novels like Navel bottomless and New school) new movie Cryptozoo intrigued me. The premise sounds like something straight out of Disney, but the movie itself falls far short of it. The result is a stunning visual experience, but sadly something that often lacks history and character.
Lauren Gray (voiced by Lake Bell) is a woman obsessed with finding cryptids (animals that only exist in myths and folklore) and bringing them to an elaborate nature reserve that she hopes will help people. to better understand them. When she and her team set off in search of a strange dream-eating creature, she is confronted by government agents who want the cryptids as weapons, putting her life in danger and forcing her to wonder if her own intentions for the cryptids are quite noble.
The animation is a real feast for the eyes, somewhere between Chinese shadow and psychedelic acid trip. During the adventure scenes in the zoo, it becomes a show like jurassic park meets Ralph Bakshi. Unfortunately, the story and the characters don’t get as much attention. The film creates such a fascinating world but doesn’t give us enough time to understand it. The story of the fine line between preservation and exploitation is intriguing, but there is not enough time to reflect on these ideas. Cryptozoo is a feast for the eyes but I wish there was more to chew on for the brain. – Taylor Forest
Cryptozoo is now playing in select theaters and is available on Apple TV +, Google Play, and YouTube // Written and directed by: Dash Shaw // Animation Director: Jane Samborski // Voices from Lake Bell, Zoe Kazan, Louisa Krause, Alex Karpovsky, Peter Stormare, Michael Cera, Angeliki Papoulia, Thomas Jay Ryan, Emily Davis and Grace Zabriskie // 95 minutes // Uncategorized (R equivalent)