Given the competition for places during the Summer months of any given theatrical year, filmmakers have to make sure that their stories and endeavours are given the right focus and exposure to ensure as much return on the investment as possible.
One of the key releases from Kaleidoscope for Summer 2017 is the debut feature from animator Leopoldo Aguilar, Monster Island, a Mexican production with some input from Asian artists and technicians. On balance, it is a hybrid of earlier animated offerings like Hotel Transylvania, Despicable Me and Monsters Inc. The last film is what this clearly shares its world with, but overall it still has a lot of considerable appeal to fans of the three films mentioned.
Young Lucas is your average kid trying to fit in. An easy target for the school bully, he is sweet-talked into attending a party by the queen of the hallway, although his father is intent on grounding him after a stunt in science class goes wrong. He sneaks out, but a Carrie-style prank causes him to transform into his true self - a monster. His evident embarrassment and intent on blaming his father for keeping this fact from him causes him to search for the mysterious Monster Island, where he might be able to gain some answers about his new-found identity….
Although the filmmakers' intentions are honourable in their objective, Monster Island may suffer during release via two factors - the other blockbusters on show and the comparisons we have mentioned with the established successes.
Writer Billy Flolick is certainly knowledgeable enough, given his pedigree with Madagascar and The Jungle Book, but the film may get lumped in with those more independent animation offerings that may not get the same wide release as a Pixar or a Disney feature. The film would have benefitted from keeping Lucas in the locality rather than Monster Island, making it all the more wacky in concept and execution.
That said, the animation is impeccably realised and the mannerisms and characterisation faultless. It certainly is a film that will appeal more to kids over discerning adults and critics like this writer. The design and colour scheme evokes memories of Laika and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, particularly in Lucas' sea journey to Monster Island. The animation will certainly hold the attention of the younger audience, so we salute it for this reason.
The story structure does borrow in part from the best of Pixar, which is a real shame, as with some real brain-storming, Monster Island could hold its own in the same way that Guardians Of The Galaxy could when compared to Star Wars.
Monster Island is a competent animated film and may prove to be a better bet on DVD and Blu-Ray. However, do give it a shot if you need another choice in your Summer movie-going calendar
MONSTER ISLAND / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: LEOPOLDO AGUILAR / SCREENPLAY: BILLY FLOLICK / STARRING: FIONA HARDINGHAM, ROGER L. JACKSON, KATIE LEIGH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW