Jean-Loup Felicioli

The Other Side of Animation 71: Phantom Boy Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

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Well, since January is pretty much a month in which you stay the heck out of theaters, I decided to use this month to catch up on movies I didn’t get to review last year, and review them for this year. Let’s begin! A while back, I mentioned that the directors of A Cat in Paris were making a new movie called Phantom Boy. The Academy Award nominated directors, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol pretty much stepped up their game with their feature-length action crime thriller. Phantom Boy was released in the states in 2016 by our buddies at GKids, and brought in a solid cast that included Fred Armisen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jared Padalecki, Marcus D’Angelo, Melissa Disney, and Dana Snyder. It’s definitely a bit more ambitious than the directors’ previous film, but does it mean it’s better? Well, let’s just say that it’s in my top 20 of the year for a reason.

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The story revolves around this young boy in New York named Leo, voiced by Marcus D’Angelo. He is currently going through type of treatment, and while doing so, gained the ability to leave his body, and fly around like a phantom. Leo will need to use this ability of his, because while this is going on, a terrorist known as The Face, voiced by Vincent D’Onofrio, is threatening to shut down the entire city and cause chaos. Leo must team up with a young police officer named Alex Tanner voiced by Supernatural star, Jared Padalecki, and stop The Face from taking over the city.

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Like it’s sibling from earlier in 2016, April and the Extraordinary World, Phantom Boy can be summed up with a few words. Those words are “charming, funny, and entertaining”. It’s a film that is easy to get into, since it has a bit of everything. Its premise is interesting, the chemistry between the characters is great, the action is fun, and it can be quite a thrilling ride to watch the clock go down, and observe the two leads deal with The Face as they try to stop his plan. The vibe and mood you get with this film is like a really entertaining 80s family film. It’s dark and atmospheric like in the same vein of a crime thriller, but it has its well-written light-hearted moments. It’s creative, but not hard to grasp in how it works. It’s a movie that doesn’t drag its heels, but it also gives time for the characters to breathe, and have some of the events that are going on, sink in with them.

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The animation is great. It’s essentially the same art style used in A Cat in Paris, and it’s once again beautiful. The scenes where Leo is flying around are whimsical, and a joy to watch. While it might not have inventive scenes like the blackout scene from A Cat in Paris, it trades that in for probably some of the best villain chemistry in any animated film. The Face is a great comedic villain, and his comradery with his two goons and everyone else is one of the best highlights of the film. They even throw in this funny long-running gag where The Face tries to tell his dramatic backstory, and you never get to hear it. It’s like reading a Buzzfeed title, but not getting the actual article. The film even brings back an Easter egg from the director’s previous film, and gives that little fuzzball a lot of screen time.

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If I had to complain about one major problem I have with the film, it’s that it’s once again a rather simple story. On one hand, it should be kept simple, since you don’t want to overcomplicate the setting and make the rules of Leo’s powers super-confusing. On the other hand, I feel like there could have been more done with the powers, like what else could he do, or how did he specifically get the powers? It really seems like there was meant to be more deep themes about Leo leaving his sick body to get away from it, but they didn’t know how to expand on it. I also got confused by the ending. I won’t spoil what happens, but I never understood what exactly happened. It’s hard to explain without spoiling, but I don’t feel like telling you all how it ends. You will have to find a copy of the film and rent it for yourself.

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Still, despite the flaws, I really liked Phantom Boy. It’s creative, and still has a lot of the charm from the director’s previous film. It’s another high quality GKids release that I think everyone should own. It’s a good example of an animated gem that you can find if you choose to follow the indie or smaller animation releases and not just the big releases. Well, we got the good movie out of the way, how about we go into one of the biggest hit animated films from last year with The Secret Life of Pets? Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the review, and I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See it!

The Other Side of Animation: A Cat in Paris Review


(If you like what you see, go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work. If you want to, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. Thanks for reading and enjoy the review!)

That’s right, viewers, we are back in Paris. However, we are not seeing A Monster in Paris, but we are reviewing A Cat in Paris. This 65-minute French-animated film was directed by Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, and was produced by Folimage. If this company sounds familiar to foreign animated film buffs, this is the same studio that made Raining Cats and Frogs, and Mia and the Migoo, another distinctive-looking animated film. I decided to talk about this film since the creators behind A Cat in Paris have recently made a new movie, and, well, I’m excited! Let’s get on the catwalk and see how good this movie is!

A Cat in Paris is about a young girl and her police commissioner mother. The mother is voiced by Marcia Gay Harden, and she is currently trying to capture and arrest an evil crime boss named Victor Costa, voiced by J.B Blanc. While this is all happening, the young girl learns that her cat leaves the house at night to meet up with a cat burglar named Nico, who is voiced by the always great Steve Blum. A friendship grows between the young girl and Nico, they need to stop Victor Costa from getting a large artifact, and the police are all wrapped up in this plot!

Let’s begin with the good stuff. First off, for 65 minutes, the film does everything that makes a good crime thriller. It has a solid crime, some decent bad guys, some high stakes, likable characters that you want to see not get harmed, and a very atmospheric world. Seriously, the art style really brings you into the noir-style Paris. Its use of pastel-style colors really brings personality to the city night life. Some people might find the character designs a bit weird, but the animation is so beautiful and smooth. It’s a really stylish movie and it stands out among most animated films. I also like the character. Nico is a charming and rather friendly cat burglar, Victor Costa and his goons are goofy and entertaining, the mother’s relationship with her daughter is well done, and it can be pretty suspenseful at some points. It can also get really creative. For example, there is one scene later on in the film where Nico cuts the electricity to a house, and everything is just pitch-black inside the house where Costa is holding the girl hostage. Everyone is in this black background, and everyone walking around and talking are all simply white outlines. It’s hard to really explain, but it’s a fine example of creative 2D animation. The voice cast does a great job. I know you can say that Marcia Gay Harden has type-casted herself in this role due to her reoccurring role on Law & Order: SVU, but she pulls off being a tough cop and a loving mother. You even get a surprise performance by Angelica Huston, who plays the little girl’s nanny. For me, the performances of the goons, and Steve Blum as Nico steal the show.

 

Now, I can understand if people can’t get into this film’s story because of how simple it is, but for me, I don’t mind a simple plot if you execute it properly. My only real issue/non-issue with the film is that I wish it was longer. I feel like they could have fleshed out the relationship a little more with the mother and daughter, and maybe given a reason why Nico is a thief in the first place. Then again, I think they do execute these elements well, and maybe not dragging the length of the film out is for the better.

A Cat in Paris is an entertaining film. It might be short, and not as complex as some of the other films that GKIDS release, but in the end, it’s good to always have a fun movie to watch. It might be aimed more at a younger audience, but I would rather show A Cat in Paris over a lot of tripe that you see among animated films that are released in theaters. You can watch this on the American Netflix, but if you want to, go buy the Blu-ray/DVD combo to support the company so they can bring over more great films. You know, how about we talk about a Christmas special? I have an idea for one during the week of Christmas, but for now, how about we talk about a little guy known as Ziggy, and his wish with Ziggy’s Gift? Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Go See It!