Missing Link (4 stars)

Missing Link

Hugh Jackman and Zach Galifianakis provide the voices in Laika's latest animated adventure

Laika, the stop-motion animation studio behind Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline and ParaNorman, returns with another visually stunning movie from ParaNorman's Chris Butler that is also a rather lovely family adventure.

Globetrotter Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is desperate to show his stuffy peers that he should be accepted as a member of their exclusive explorers' club. After his hilarious attempt to reveal the existence of the Loch Ness monster fails, he sets off to the Pacific Northwest to find another legendary creature to prove his worth – the sasquatch, otherwise known as the missing link between man and ape.

It turns out that the big-footed, hairy being – known as Mr Link (Zach Galifianakis) – not only exists, but can speak, write and walk upright. He's also lonely, and dreams of finding the legendary valley of Shangri-La in the Himalayas, where his distant yeti relatives are rumoured to reside. So, the unlikely pair set off on an adventure to discover it, with free-spirited explorer Adelina (Zoe Saldana) joining them, while dastardly outlaw Stenk (Timothy Olyphant) follows, determined to thwart their journey.

Set against a beautiful backdrop of forests, the Old West and snowy mountain peaks, this is a joy to look at (the ice bridge sequence is particularly breathtaking). There are nice visual touches throughout – Mr Link's expressive, rounded face is in contrast to the more angular human ones, for example – and the action sequences, such as the trio's fight with baddie Stenk on a steam ship, are equally impressive.

None of that would matter much if the story wasn't good but, thankfully, writer-director Butler (who also wrote the screenplay for Kubo and the Two Strings and worked on the storyboards of Coraline and Corpse Bride) has an enjoyable tale to tell, and he does so at a sprightly pace. There's a reasonable amount of crossover with last year's Smallfoot, but this is a gentler, less brash movie – and a quirkier one, too. With Jackman, Saldana and especially Galifianakis delivering fun vocal turns, it bursts with charm – and reconfirms (as if we were in any doubt) Laika as one of animation's most imaginative studios.

General release from Fri 5 Apr.

Missing Link

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 35min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Chris Butler
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Zach Galifianakis, Timothy Olyphant, Emma Thompson
  • UK release: 5 April 2019

Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Jackman) travels to the Pacific Northwest to find the sasquatch, and finds Mr Link (Galifianakis), who wants to travel to the Himalayas to meet his yeti relatives. It looks beautiful, the action sequences are impressive and the story and voice acting are fun. A charming family adventure.