Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mia and the Migoo

I always feel pretty weird seeing movies at the Museum of Fine Arts. Not so much because they have sub-par facilities - both the Remis and Alfond Auditoria are nice places, actually - but because you have to walk through the museum to get from the Huntington Avenue entrance to the screening rooms. So there's all this fine art on both sides, and because I'm usually arriving at the MFA with just minutes to spare (if that), I'm rushing past it, feeling like a boor who ignores great works in order to see some lesser art forms. Which I'm not, even if I were one to consider cinema a lower art form - the museum programs interesting, often challenging films. But then, on the way out, I feel like I'm sort of stealing if I do linger on the way to the exit - I bought a ticket to the films, after all, not the exhibits.

On top of that, there were just three of us at the Mia and the Migoo screening, and I was likely the youngest there at 37. Thus, I've really got no idea how kids would react to this movie. I think they'd enjoy it, but we adults who don't have them around all the time can be pretty poor judges of that.

Mia and the Migoo

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 19 June 2011 in the Museum of Fine Arts Alfond Auditorium (special engagement)

Mia and the Migoo isn't a new film; it played the festival circuit and various markets two and a half years ago, including the New York International Children's Film Festival. Apparently Matthew Modine saw it at one of those festivals, because when it popped up at that same festival two years later, his name was on it as a producer and he was doing a couple of the voices. That's the version that's popping up in some American theaters now, and that makes sense: It's mainly for young children, and even those old enough to read subtitles easily might not want to be distracted from the beautiful animation.

A construction site somewhere in South America suffers a series of strange accidents - or what would be accidents, if not for the giant footprints found nearby. The latest has trapped Pedro (voice of Jesse Corti) under a landslide. On the other side of the country, his daughter Mia (voice of Amanda Misquez) wakes up with a start, gathers her late mother's good-luck charms, and sets out on foot to find him, even though everybody warns her that the mountains and forests are populated by monsters. On the other side of the world, news of this disaster can't come at a worse time. The developer behind the project, Jekhilde (voice of John Di Maggio), is trying to raise money from new investors, and is stuck bringing his son Aldrin (voice of Vincent Agnello) along, what with the boy's mother at an Antarctic research station and his grandmother off with her new boyfriend.

Computers have become the predominate tool among those creating animated features today, but Jacques-Rémy Girerd appears to be an exception to the rule, at least where Mia and the Migoo is concerned. Though there are digital artists mentioned in the credits, the bulk of movie is created by hand, and the results are remarkable to behold: Mia's world is a painting, lush in color and detail but with visible brush strokes; it's never unreal but doesn't endeavor to be photo-realistic the way many other animated films do. The characters, meanwhile, are charmingly illustrated, with red cheeks on the children and a rounded solidity to all. The effect is akin to a children's book come to life, although the motion is more natural than most attempts to actually adapt those books.

Full review at EFC.

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