A starkly original and imaginative animation, Phantom Boy is destined to become a family favourite for years to come. Directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, who enjoyed success in 2012 with their Academy Award-nominated A Cat in Paris, set their latest tale in New York, using inspiration from comic books, film noir and abstract art.
The movie tells the story of Léo, a young boy in Manhattan going through a traumatic cancer treatment. Ill and exhausted, Léo finds solace in the fact that, once he falls asleep, he is able to leave his body and float around freely as a ghost, or phantom. The villain of the piece is a mysterious criminal known as The Man with the Broken Face, who proclaims himself king of New York before plunging the city into darkness, threatening to destroy all of the city’s electronic systems in 24 hours. In parallel is the story of Tanner, a reckless lieutenant whose frustrated captain sends him to man the lowly docks to stay out of trouble. After an attack from The Man with the Broken Face and his comic-relief henchmen, Tanner and Léo meet in hospital, where the former finds use of the boy’s powers in bringing the criminals to justice.
Though containing many dark moments, and the underlying bleak theme of Léo’s illness, Phantom Boy is undeniably uplifting, with plenty of humour, physical comedy and running gags. The vivid, deliberately homespun animation makes the characters appear to be constantly in motion, and the action and chase sequences blend perfectly with the more amusing moments. The English voice cast are subtle and natural, allowing the relationship between the characters to play out in a realistic way. Small moments, such as those with Leo’s parents, who remain strong and cheerful in front of him but break down in tears at home, add dimension to the film, which adults can enjoy as well as children. It is a welcome change from the pop song and special effects-laden extravaganzas often aimed at young audiences today, and strikes a perfect balance of genre and mood that all the family can enjoy.
Phantom Boy is released on 21st October 2016.
Watch the trailer for Phantom Boy here: