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Monster Island (2017)

Monster Island – which bears no relationship to the 2004 B-movie of the same name featuring the unforgettable Carmen Electra and the late, great Adam West – is the latest movie-length feature from Mexican animator Leopoldo Aguilar.

Now, that was a terrible movie, but it was supposed to be terrible. Aguilar’s Monster Island is not terrible, it’s just, well, ‘meh’.

It’s not so offensive you’ll immediately channel-hop to get away from it on a rainy Saturday afternoon when you’ve already consumed all the remaining box-sets on your list, but in a way, that’s its problem.

Animation, with its limitless visual possibilities, has already produced some great monster movies – Monsters Inc, How To Train Your Dragon, Hotel Transylvania, Paranorman, Monster House, Monsters v Aliens to name just a few.  

Adding ‘Monster Island’ to that canon is rather like driving a Yugo into a garage full of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins and saying “hey, this thing can get you from A to B just as well you know!”. 

The truth is that ‘Monster Island’ is a movie out of time. The story - "I may be an outsider, that doesn't make me a freak!" - has been done bigger/better and smaller/cleverer many times before. The script feels as if it lost something in translation. The production-design is dull, reminiscent of mass-produced TV stuff and the CGI is dated and hence presumably inexpensive.

Animation fans can happily give this one a miss, unless they have a bunch of rowdy five year-olds they need to shut up for 80 minutes, which Monster Island might just accomplish - on cable, because it doesn't warrant the cost of a cinema ticket. 

The slightly-depressing thing is that this kind of stuff continues to get made at all. The financiers may walk away satisfied that their modestly-budgeted production has made enough money to ‘wash its face’ (in investment jargon) as it probably will, but one wonders whether obviously competent and – judging by Aguilar’s previous short movies – otherwise creative animators walk away from completing a movie like Monster Island with a real sense of pride and accomplishment.

A cursory glide around this site, and the internet in general, will reveal plenty of budding animators who are making beautiful, sophisticated and creative animation in their bedrooms, shopping in discount supermarkets and foregoing a social life to pursue their art.

It's likely that Monster Island is so deeply-average because the production company and financial backers preferred to play it safe. 

But true artists realise that the real risk is being average, producing something which is, at best, inoffensive or merely competent. It’s a pity that so many companies and financiers don’t seem to share the desire to impress, rather than just keep the wheels turning.

FROM  Kaleidoscope Entertainment
1hr 20m