Animation is often a tough one to crack. The top notch efforts from Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks and co all leave many companies in the dust vying for success in the lower leagues. Depending on what you’re looking for from an animated movie – strong visuals or just a good storyline – then Monster Island is either a half-decent way to pass the time with your family this Halloween or simply a mess to be avoided.
Truthfully from the second Monster Island starts it feels like it’s playing catch up. It’s a film that simply doesn’t deliver on the animation many of us have come to expect from modern era technology. Whether it’s to do with budget constraints or an experienced team or a strange creative decision it just feels quite jarring and many people will want to switch off straight away. If you can weather the storm and cope with the visuals then Monster Island offers a story that kids might like but adults will struggle to look past its faults.
Our main lead is Lucas (Phillip Adrian Vasquez), a boy who unsurprisingly finds out that he’s a monster. His dad Nicolas (Roger L Jackson) has tried to protect him but it’s time for the truth. A predictable plot point and it’s not as if Monster Island makes any effort to get any better. Compared to the complex and emotional high points of a Pixar movie this feels as if someone wrote it in their sleep and decided to cash in on Halloween. Animation has struggled to be taken seriously over the years but in recent times where the technology has come along leaps and bounds it has proven it can stand alongside live action and deliver. Not here though as this is more like a project someone did for their university media course.
Even the main villain Norcutt (Johnny Rose) is clumsy and a bit hokey and a real non-threat. There is mild – and I do mean very mild – attempts at character development but they never really pay off. Obviously it’s a tale of Lucas growing up and finding himself and becoming comfortable with who he is, but that’s not anything new and it’s been done a million times before in better, funnier and more successful ways. You’re better off watching Teen Wolf or something. It’s as if everyone involved in Monster Island did the research, watched similar movies and got inspired, but totally failed to grasp what actually made them successful in the first place.
You don’t really care about Lucas or his monster destiny or anything like that. Any attempts at humour are childish and eye-roll worthy and you’ll just find yourself looking at your watch and hoping time finds a way to speed up. I’m not difficult to please. I love animation. I love horror. I’ll quite happily sit there and watch Scooby Doo or something equally silly but that’s because it’s entertaining and manages to have a heart and decent characters. Monster Island somehow fails on every level possible and you have to question how it even made it to DVD. Surely someone read the script or looked at it and thought they could do slightly better?
Coming at Monster Island from the angle of someone that loves horror and animation, it’s a complete disappointment as an adult. Perhaps a few kids might enjoy it but with so many other options out there it’s hard to see why many would choose this over those. Maybe if you’re sick of watching Trolls for the hundreth time or something. It’s a forgettable mess that really shouldn’t have made it past the idea stage. One of the scariest things you’ll see this Halloween for all the wrong reasons.
Monster Island is out now on DVD.
Dir: Leopoldo Aguilar
Starring: Fiona Hardingham, Roger Jackson, Jenifer Beth Kaplan, Johnny Rose
Runtime: 80 minutes