Review: ‘Missing Link’ tells an amusing story with stunning artistry Special

Posted Apr 12, 2019 by Sarah Gopaul
‘Missing Link’ is another epic, Laika stop-motion picture that presumes the Bigfoot is actually an educated creature in search of friendship.
A scene from  Missing Link
A scene from 'Missing Link'
Elevation Pictures
Even after centuries of documenting and recording unique species of plants and animals, nature hasn’t stopped surprising us. Each year, new articles are published touting the discovery of a new species found in some previously unexplored — or in some cases, scoured — landscape. These creatures are often designed to be elusive and born with the skills to avoid detection and evade predators, like people, to aid in their survival. So who’s to say some of Earth’s greatest mythical beings are not armed with the same cunning, which is the reason there’s never been a confirmed sighting. In Missing Link, the Sasquatch decides he needs a change of scenery and a little help getting there.
Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) is an explorer, adventure-seeker and hunter of mythical creatures. The latter has caused him to be excluded from the gentlemen’s club of his peers as they think his pursuits of these legends is a joke. Having been unsuccessful in documenting his successes, Frost has one last chance to gain acceptance into the club: travel to America and find the Sasquatch. What he finds, however, is an intelligent, lonely, hairy man-beast (Zach Galifianakis) hoping to find happiness with his Yeti cousins in the Himalayas. Agreeing to help each other out and joined by Adelina (Zoe Saldana), an explorer’s widow, the trio make the long, cross-country journey to Shangri-la — with an assassin named Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) on their tails the whole way.
Laika Studios can always be relied on for clever narratives and extraordinary aesthetics. Few animators still use stop-motion for feature-length pictures, but the time between their releases is always worth the wait. Their style of filmmaking also produces a very distinct appearance, which audiences can both take in as an astonishing whole or focus on the incredible individual details of each character and scene. The sets are exquisitely meticulous, whether in the American forest or the widow’s lavish home or Frost’s cluttered office or the icy, hidden refuge in the mountains. Moreover, even the thoroughness of Mr. Link’s fur coat with each individual lock looking as if it was carefully placed in a layered pattern is mesmerizing.
While the legend of the Sasquatch is familiar to most people, this narrative adds another element of whimsy since Mr. Link is very human-like. He’s polite, well-read and very literal — a point that causes some trouble when Frost doesn’t choose his words carefully. The explorer is generally selfish, though because his interests and the creature’s align it can appear as if he’s taking Mr. Link’s needs into account. Of course, he’s destined to eventually learn his lesson and have a change of heart, but in the meantime his egotism is a source of laughter. Adelina, on the other hand, means it when she says she wants to help Mr. Link and she’s determined to make sure Frost does what he says. Unfortunately, in their way are the aforementioned assassin, his employer (Stephen Fry) and the Yeti leader (Emma Thompson).
A trek that would take weeks, if not months, is summarized by lines on a map and a brief glimpse of their transportation. They travel by horse, carriage, train, ship and foot, covering great distances while outsmarting and outgunning their pursuers. Consequently, even though the length of their journey is abbreviated, the presentation captures its distinctiveness — especially for someone who’s never left the state.
The filmmakers at Laika have an excellent sense of humour, which is present through this entire picture. Together, all the elements combine to create an entertaining movie that the whole family can enjoy… over and over again.
Director: Chris Butler
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis and Zoe Saldana