Nominated for Best Animated Film at the 2019 Shanghai International Film Festival, Guillaume Ivernel’s Franco-Chinese feature Spycies combines traditional Japanese anime style and the western action-adventure genre, with a unique focus: climate change.
Rogue feline secret agent Vladimir is banished to an offshore platform for disobedience, charged with protecting top-secret cargo in partnership with a rookie operative and hacker rat named Hector. A competent but arrogant James Bond type, Vladimir is irritated by the spacey rodent – whose main obsession is watching a soap opera starring his object of infatuation, a famous lady bee. When the classified material is stolen by villains under their watch, the two set out to save the world from environmental disaster.
The piece melds ingenious and humorous imaginary characters with virtually non-stop confrontations, battles and skirmishes. An unusual assortment of cartoon critters in suits, uniforms and dresses are presented; the most unique are the endangered species such as snow leopards and white rhinos, as well as the extinct mammoth.
Though there is an element of knock-you-on-the-head obviousness in terms of action and interaction – whereas traditional anime is more subtle – the visual effects are first rate. Comic characters abound, from Vladimir’s crocodile boss to an elephant agency director, an octopus receptionist, and a snake that morphs into a fire-breathing dragon after drinking coffee. The various combinations of incongruous creatures engaged in spy-world intrigue and everyday human pursuits are entertainingly creative and innovative.
Because violence is prominent in this work and the storyline could be too complicated for younger viewers, the movie might be better suited to older children and adults, who would appreciate the narrative’s use of animal figures in poking fun at human foibles and especially its focus on the environment.
Embracing climate change with a vital message about saving the planet – a cause at the forefront of social awareness – while providing a brilliantly inventive array of hilarious humanoid beasties, Spycies is a compelling and fun action-packed romp.
Spycies is released nationwide on 14th February 2020.
Watch the trailer for Spycies here: