I got a screener link straight from 2021 Sundance Film Festival. A nice surprise these days during a never ending lockdown to know filmmakers are still working. For some reason I did not receive the press release for Cryptozoa. The short description read “cryptozookeppers struggle to capture a baku,,, or should mystical creatures be displayed at a zoo or hidden”. An unusual premise to take in on first reading. The animated feature by Dash Shaw also came with a not so familiar but intriguing looking poster of characters standing in front of an entrance gate. Initial research on IMD found the film garnered nice reviews at the Utah Fest.
Creatures and more
Taking the plunge, I clicked the link for the 90 minute film. Certainly after the first few minutes, Pixar was out the window. Dash decided to set himself apart. The director’s world is filled with well known and not so well known mystical creatures. Lauren and Joan have charged themselves with the task of finding all the crypts for safe keeping in a Zoo type amusement park. Also on the trail is Nick with the duty of securing the beings for military use.
The premise has a core moral message inside a story that gets tangled up with so much happening at once. However, the constant bombardment at times feels as though Mr. Shaw decided on the heavy handed approach to compensate for some short comings in his story telling ability. There was a not a single laugh in the Dash’s second feature film. Why the heavy dose of cynicism?
Cryptozoo offers some stunning visual renderings for the viewer. Taking a chance to challenge viewers on the definition of animation still does not compensate for a script that needed a smoother impetus.
3 stars out of 5.
Running Time of 90 minutes
Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival from The Match Factory