After the hi-tech animation where you gasp at the realistic looking water, fur, feathers etc it makes a change to see a film whose animation is far more elementary, although if anyone saw the abomination that was last year’s ‘Lets Go Ape’ which attempted to climb the dizzy height of Pixar and fell flat on its badly animated face, there’s always an exception.
‘Phantom Boy’ is a different matter altogether being a French film set in a stylised New York. Written by Alain Gagnol and co-directed by him with Jean Loup Feliioli it features what appears to be a terminally ill boy called Alex bed bound in hospital awaiting the results of tests who finds that his spirit can leave his body in a kind of astral projection manner and enables him to flit around unnoticed and listens in on his parent’s grief. Already it’s subject matter is noticeably different from any other animated film and things progress further with the arrival of an injured cop recovering in the same hospital and as Alex is obsessed with becoming a policeman. The pair strike up a friendship and he finds that the cop is hunting down a mysterious villain called The Face (as he has a face that looks like Picasso drew it in his cubist period having downed a bottle of absinthe). Voiced by Vincent D’onofrio The Face plans to hold the city to ransom with a computer virus that will wipe out the city infrastructure and it’s here that Alex uses his astral powers to project himself into scenario’s where he can help the wheelchair bound cop bring down the villain.
It’s a highly unusual film which like the best of Pixar appeals to both children with its undoubtedly exciting set pieces (which wouldn’t look out of place in a live action film) and for adults too with some knowing jokes that will go over the heads of the younger audience.
It’s an utterly enchanting film with a melancholy undertone to the proceedings but with only a limited release its well worth searching out.
Here’s the trailer: