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[Fantasia 2021] The Spine of Night Movie Review

Movie Reviews Monday, 23 August 2021 17:44
[Fantasia 2021] The Spine of Night Movie Review

Due to play in theatres Late 2021 (please check local listings)
Coming to Shudder

Tzod (Lucy Lawless, Xena: Warrior Princess) is the latest guardian of the bloom, a flower which does more than protect the user in a very ambitious animated epic fantasy known as The Spine of Night. She wears it proudly instead of donning any other armour (much less clothes) because it bestows untold power and protection. 

After seeking shelter, another resident of the cave, The Guardian (Richard E. Grant, Withnail & I), is inquisitive, and the real stories unfold. This anthology series is certainly a love letter to the 70s animated aesthetic. Ranging from Eiichi Yamamoto's Cleopatra to Heavy Metal the Movie to Ralph Bakashi's Lord of the Rings for narrative and visual style, I'd say the tribute is well done.

Rotoscoping in the digital recording of actors to a hand drawn style is a long process. My only question is whether these animators studied anatomy. I'm sure no pig carcasses were mutilated in getting the details of splitting people right, but inquiring minds want to know.

Of the five tales, framing narrative included, the stand out is with the mythic origin about mankind being rejected by mad titans. Its David vs Goliath tale uses bold blacks to represent humanity against the electronic blue tattooed titans (gods), and a battle reminiscent of Zack Snyder's 300.

The artwork in this piece is unapologetic in its bloody sequences. The costume designs to represent varying cultures are fantastic. Some look inspired by Dune, and others of varying tribes from deepest Africa and the Amazon. We’re not dealing with sexualized physiques and this helps in making this work more appealing than not. But as a niche product, the question to watch or not to watch is hardly the question. It's whether there'll be more from the filmmaking team of Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt as they said this film took more than three years to produce!

4 Stars out of 5

Written by  Ed Sum

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