Here we have a title that I remember from my childhood. It has been quite some time since I've sat to watch it, but I'm certain I was no older than maybe 10 at the time. I also would have caught it as a Disney Sunday Afternoon Movie, so it would have been edited much more, and to be perfectly frank, perhaps a bit more enjoyable.
The biggest problem with it is that there's a whole wack of seemingly unnecessary musical numbers that take away from an otherwise pretty good story. It often stops just to say "look what we can do", and I often found myself thinking "can we move on, now?" But if we take away some of the music, it actually becomes a nice, light-hearted family comedy, for the most part. That said, there's still an innocence to this one that's almost too innocent, often to the point of pure sap. Some might even look at it as being a touch creepy, at times.
As the film opens, we are introduced immediately to the underlying concept of the movie. A young boy named Pete (Sean Marshall) enters the scene, riding an invisible dragon named Elliot (, and running from the Gogan family (Shelly Winters, Charles Tyner, Gary Morgan, and Jeff Conaway). This cruel family claims to own Pete after having bought him to put him to work as a slave on their farm. Pete manages to elude the Gogans and their opening musical number, and hikes with Elliot to the town of Passamaquoddy, Maine.
Elliot, invisible while walking through town, causes a lot of damage, and the blame is placed on Pete. The pair turn a corner to have a talk about it, but are discovered by the town's lighthouse keeper, Lampie (Mickey Rooney). His ramblings of seeing a dragon are passed off as a drunken illusion to the rest of the townsfolk. But he's in for even more of a surprise when Pete and Elliot find themselves taking shelter in a seaside cave where they are discovered by Lampie's daughter, Nora (Helen Reddy) who takes Pete in.
In the meantime, every tale like this needs a villain who wants to capture the creature for his own selfish purposes. Enter Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) and his assistant Hoagy (Red Buttons). Terminus comes to town as a snake oil salesman, and barely manages to capture the town's attention with his own musical number. Business is okay, but when he gets wind that there's a dragon in town, he sees it as a unique business opportunity to use his various "parts" for a lot of different items he could sell that have the potential to actually work.
If I'm honest, there was quite a bit of material here that gave me genuine laughs. It's a comedic fantasy aimed a bit more towards kids, so when there's plenty of humor having to do with being drunk, and utilizing a lot of 'Three Stooges' style gags, it makes for a good time. This might date it a bit, depending on your perspective regarding good parenting methods. Such things include getting drunk to calm your nerves after seeing a dragon, as only Mickey Rooney can. But perhaps worse, the idea of a family trying to hunt a kid down to be a slave for them is downright scary. I have to admit that there were flash moments of camerawork here, regarding the Gogan family that I found creepy today, as a grown-ass slasher movie fan.
As mentioned before, I think this one would have worked a lot better with some of those musical numbers cut down. The musical numbers push it to a solid 2 hours plus, but it's a story that could easily take place within an hour and a half. With that said, this may very well have been what they went for at the time. In 1977, this was probably a great distraction for kids who were yet to be acquainted with things like video games and computers.
Today, it's still fairly passable, but there was also a remake in 2016 that may very well be better. I distinctly remember coming out of that one, and enjoying it for what it was. But after finishing this, while I had fun with it, it did prove to be a pretty sappy blend of the extreme end of innocence and the extreme end of whatever light trauma you could get away with as a Disney film. Just saying, but the remake averages an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, between critics and audiences. This one averages 57%. But if you wanna try this one out to get a little taste of Disney Broadway-ism fo a couple of hours, it still works.
Digging far down inside the barrel of forgotten Disney films, here we have a title that may sound familiar, but has seemingly fallen by the wayside. You may very well have heard of other titles brought to us from director Norman Tokar, though. He was responsible for a good run of 'The Magical World of Disney' between '62 and '82 (this would become a part of that lineup in 1982), several episodes of 'Leave it to Beaver', and he brought us film titles like 'The Apple Dumpling Gang'.
'The Cat from Outer Space' fits in with the light charm of something like 'The Apple Dumpling Gang', and is very "family Disney" in that respect. But for the life of me, I cannot fathom why it gets such positive reviews for what it is. Upon watching it, I had a great time with it, but for the same reasons I would have a great time with 'Manos' or 'Troll 2'. The only difference, really, is that one can forgive this a little more for being an innocent family movie. There's nothing too extreme here. The "so bad its good" quality mostly comes from a lot of the visuals. It's actually, otherwise, a pretty charming (but maybe a little boring) story, but it does shock me to see that it's rated quite fairly.
Of course, the story here is probably something along the lines of what you'd expect with a title like 'The Cat from Outer Space'. It's about a cat named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7 (Ronnie Schell), or "Jake" who needs to make an emergency landing on Earth. Due to circumstances beyond his control, a rescue party isn't able to be sent for him right away, so he takes fixing his ship into his own hands. He soon befriends a scientist named Frank (Ken Berry) who seems to understand how his ship's power source works, and together they set to work on repairs, taking place, in secret, within a US government facility, only accessible due to Frank's work for the government.
In the meantime, an industrial spy named Stallwood (Roddy McDowall), working for a criminal mastermind known as Olympus (William Prince) soon learns of their activities, as well as a collar that can provide telekinetic powers. Soon, Frank and Jake find themselves thrust into an adventure, when their love interests become involved - Liz (Sandy Duncan) and her cat, Lucibelle. It all culminates in one of the greatest action sequences in Disney history, featuring a beat up plane, flown by Jake and Frank (mostly Jake) chasing a helicopter very slowly, and the whole sequence is dragged out but hilarious. You might find yourself hitting rewind a lot here.
This isn't necessarily something I'd sit and pick away at, dubbing it one of the worst films of all time. But I will say that there's plenty here that needs to be seen to be believed. It may very well have worked okay for 1978. Not necessarily good, but passable. But to watch that older footage with today's technology in mind, it becomes pretty laughable. I honestly recommend checking it out just for a solid blend of laughs and WTF moments.
I think I remember talking about this with my peers way back in elementary school, never having seen it. I think it was even said to have been good. So, I could see this having the same sort of nostalgic tie that I have with something like the 'Boogedy' films I reviewed earlier this month. But as a first-time watch now, it's worth the view for cheesey purposes only. It's fun on the level where you're laughing at how silly it is. There's not too much to the story or characters. If you want a really good family film about he same sort of subject matter, look no further than 'E.T.' If you wanna gather the family around for a good, ironic laugh, though, this is available on Disney Plus.
Okay, so this one may not be quite as swept-under-he-rug as the other titles on this list, but I always considered it to be bypassed strongly for other films that this is essentially a combination of. Namely, these include 'Mary Poppins' and, far less fictional, 'The Sound of Music'. Let's face it, those two have gotten far more publicity over the years than this.
It's most definitely not without a few problems, so in comparison, 'Poppins' and 'Music' are probably the better films. But if I'm honest, I find this to be thoroughly overlooked. Most people I try to bring this up to either haven't heard of it, or have, but dismiss it as something kinda lame. But it holds 5 Oscar nominations, one of which it won for Best Visual Effects, and the reviews on it are mostly positive by audiences and critics alike. There's some dated things here I'll get to in a bit, but it still holds all of the classic magic that a Disney film from the early 70's can hold.
The film takes place in 1940, England, during World War II. Gathered in an evacuation center due to Nazi bombing raids, siblings Charlie, Carrie and Paul (Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan and Roy Snart, respectively) are the last kids of a massive group to be taken in. By law, they are sent to live with Eglantine Price (Angela Lansbury), an apprentice witch trying to live her life in secret. Once the kids discover her secret without much surprise, Charlie blackmails her with the secret in order to get something in return. The result is her giving a travelling spell that only Paul can control, by way of a bedknob from the upstairs bed.
When a notice that her correspondence course for witchcraft has come to a hault, she asks Paul and the others to help her by travelling to London to meet Professor Emelius Brown (David Tomlinson), the course's former headmaster. This all starts a journey to find all the right pieces to a puzzle that will allow her to use a spell to make inanimate objects move, hopefully in favor of the British war effort against the invading Nazis.
As I mentioned before, sadly, there's some dated aspects to this. The big one is Mr. Brown's attitude towards women, which is extra harsh because he's an overall likable character, otherwise. But he is heard to say things like "women are always losing things" without any sort of comeback, which will be bothersome for some. My other problem with it is, ironically, the song "Portabello Road", which starts about 45 minutes in, and keeps going for the better part of 10 minutes. It takes a decent stab at multiculturalism, bringing in various ethnicities for one big dance number including Scots, Jamaicans, Indians and Australians. But it kind of leaves you questioning "why" It seems to mostly be filler, but there may very well be a whole point to it that I'm just not getting. It's bittersweet.
I am happy to say that the fun of the film pretty much overshadows its problems. The adventure they go on gets pretty fun, especially when they manage to use the bed to visit the Island of Naboombu, where they blend animation with live action. Bear in mind that this predates 'Roger Rabbit' by almost 20 years, so though it looks dated now, at the time it was a pretty big deal. It's at least worth checking out if you're curious to see something 'Poppins'-like, because though it can't quite get on par with it, it's sort of like its little sister. If nothing else, you've gotta get a kick out of the way these kids talk.
I don't hear a whole lot of talk about it anymore, but back when I was a youngin', Disney had things taken over in a whole different way. Our weekday afternoons would consist of the 'Disney Afternoon' from 3:00-5:00, and then on weekends, there was 'The Magical World of Disney' (later renamed to 'The Wonderful World of Disney' for whatever reason).
Often, 'Magical/Wonderful World' would play Disney's collection of theatrical releases, but much of the early stuff was material made for the show. A couple that stand out as a memory from my own childhood are 'Mr. Boogedy', which appropriately aired on 4/20 of 1986, and its sequel, 'Bride of Boogedy', about a year later. Basically, what we have here is Disney's attempt at pulling off a story about the Boogeyman. It all worked pretty well for a straight-to-TV thing at the time, but at this point I just wanna bring it to people's attention as something pretty much in the realm of "so bad it's good".
'Mr. Boogedy' introduces us to the Davis family, who are excited to be moving to the fictional Lucifer Falls, New England, which may as well be "Nilbog". Carlton (Richard Masur) is a novelty salesman who's hoping to capitalize on interested customers, being the only novelty salespeople for hundreds of miles once they move. Together with his wife, Eloise (Mimi Kennedy) and kids, Jennifer, Corwin and Aurie (Kristy Swanson, David Faustino and Benjamin Gregory, respectively) they make the move, only to find themselves in what could be a haunted house.
At first, the rest of the family relates the strange goings on to the father playing practical jokes. But soon they find out there's a whole, dark history to a few ghosts who haunt this house, including Mr. Boogedy (Howard Witt) who a harbinger named Neil Witherspoon (John Astin) forewarned them about upon their arrival. I won't give away much more than that, but the history to these ghosts are dark enough that you kind of have to wonder what was going through their minds at the time. This, combined with the spectacularly bad visual effects of 80's TV and a cast of familiar actors have allowed 'Mr. Boogedy' to develop a sort of cult following in its ridiculousness.
Following it up a year later was the one I remembered just a bit more (probably due to watching the hell out of it) was 'Bride of Boogedy'. Richard Masur and Mimi Kennedy return to play the roles of the parents, but the only kid to come back was David Faustino. Otherwise, Jennifer and Aurie have been replaced by Tammy Lauren and Joshua Rudoy, respectively. Since the events of the first film, the Davis family have become very well-known and respected throughout the small village of Lucifer Falls by all but one, a general store owner named Tom Lynch (Eugene Levy). He's essentially just a grump who things the gags Carlton sells are stupid.
Long story short, the spirit of Mr. Boogedy comes back through the dreams of the children, and eventually possesses Carlton in an attempt to get his cloak back, which is where his power comes from. His power, by the way, seems to be shooting green, explosive or electric lights from his hands that do various things. You don't really get what it is, it's just something that poses a threat. The whole "Bride" aspect of the title comes from Boogedy looking at Eloise as his long lost love, Marion (yeah, that old story, also see 'The Mummy' and 'The Haunting'). A lot of it is similar to the first one, but it does manage to have its differences, including giving us a sort of secondary villain in Mr. Lynch.
These were both released in the late 80's and since faded into obscurity. However, since Disney Plus came along, they have decided to give us both titles. They are an easy back-to-back watch, altogether adding up to about 2 hours and 15 minutes. If you're like me, and love looking for ridiculous movies that will make you laugh for all the wrong reasons, it's a solid watch. Terrible, but in all the best ways. It's all a pure, thick slice of 80's cheese, and may bring back fond, first-scare memories if you caught these on TV back in the day.
Now, here we have something I consider very close to my heart. When I was a kid, and had no patience for old, black and white films (I've missed out on a lot of good stuff due to such stubbornness), this was my 'Christmas Carol' story. It was fun, had a great atomsphere to go along with it, and featured some favourite Characters, including Scrooge of 'Duck Tales' fame (a cartoon I really loved back then) in the lead role.
Back when I caught it on TV, it was a 30-minute special that aired after another 30-minutes or so of fun Disney Christmas stories. The grouping of it all together really used to ignite the Christmas spirit in me, as it all managed to capture everything great about the holiday. But of course, our main focus here is the story of Scrooge.
For the two or three people out there who don't know this story at all, Scrooge is a greedy old meiser who sees Christmas as a poor excuse to pick his pockets, and a holiday that hasn't exactly been kind to him. Upon coming home on Christmas Eve, he runs into the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley (a rather hilarious rendition from Goofy) who tells him he's gonna be visited by three spirits. These spirits are gonna help him sort his life out before it's too late and he has to walk around the afterlife as a lonely, chain-wearing ghost.
The spirits in question are the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), Present (that Giant from 'Mickey and the Beanstalk') and Future (A mysterious hooded character with a reveal I'm not sure is worth calling a "spoiler" or not). They all show him shadows of things that were, are, and are to become, giving him a reality check and hopefully, getting him to change his ways.
One can probably imagine how it all ends, but the journey is always interesting. In this version, so much of the story is punctuated by a humor to make it kid-friendly. However, something to be admired here is the overall atmosphere of things. It still carries a darkness to it, like any version should. But it also, otherwise, features great animation in front of some beautifully drawn set pieces that really and truly manage to give you some sort of Christmas spirit injection. The funny thing is, it's not even really bright and colourful, due to the mood that's being established. But somehow, you still get it coming through.
I have this one as "Under the Radar", because I find that no one ever talks about it anymore, or even knows it exists. Most of my generation remembers it, but there's a whole gap going on between us and the younger generation (ie, kids and teenagers nowadays). While there are plenty of other versions of this story to chose from, this is a great one that's short, sweet, does everything it needs to, and ages extremely well. I highly recommend finding it in some way, shape or form and checking it out again - if nothing else, it kinda hits you right in the nostalgias.
I had to see it, eventually. Most people I know have at least heard of this. Some have even seen it. But the general consensus is that this is by far one of the strangest decisions for a Christmas special that has ever existed. As one could imagine, it's based on the song of the same name - a pretty strange thing to land on in the first place.
However, much like the song, I've always considered this special to me more of a humorous novelty than something to be taken too seriously, so in all honesty, I've gotta cut this special some slack here and there. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's pretty bad. But it's also fascinating in what decisions it makes, which ultimately does make it pretty fun to watch, I'm not gonna lie.
Much of the plot involves the Spankenheimer family (yeah, I know) dealing with the cousin Mel (Michele Lee) that the song mentions. Someone playing cards in the song turns into a full-fledged villain here, as her big story is trying to get her money-grubbing hands on the family store. In the confusion, our "hero", Jake (Alex Doduk) is sent to go find Grandma, whom he discovers has been the victim of a Santa's reindeer hit and run. The rest of the special balances Jake constantly trying to locate his grandmother, and prove to everyone that Santa is real.
So, here's the thing. The plot is pretty ridiculous as it is, but there are parts to this that just go way overboard for a kids special, almost making it more of a cartoon for adults. One of the local cops even utters the word "broad" when referring to Grandma. But then, we have the overall random stuff to this as well, which is mostly what makes it so hilariously awkward to get through.
It is actually kinda hilarious how off his rocker Grandpa (Elmo Shropshire) actually is. There's a scene with Grandpa making a deal with cousin Mel where he randomly breaks out into song because he misunderstands a word. He also has my favorite bit of dialogue with Jake - when Jake tells him straight up that he's going out on his own to search for Grandma and prove Santa is real, he does it pretty casually, and Grandpa's response would be equivalent to Jake telling him that he was just going next door to his buddy's house. You kinda have to see it for yourself, but I can't deny it gave me a decent chuckle.
This is such a strange title. It doesn't fall into the "so bad its good" category, and it's not really good by any means, yet not necessarily that bad, if your mind can open up enough to it. What can I really say? It's worth checking out once, just for its craziness, but it's not necessarily worth revisiting - unless of course you're like me and wanna show your friends how goofy it is.
This one isn't what you'd call entirely "under the radar", but it does seem to be a title that no one really talks about. It's the same with the Halloween Special. Garfield pretty much just takes a back seat to that 'Peanuts' gang (which is fine, 'cause Peanuts does have more substance). I always enjoyed 'Garfield' (as long as he was being voiced by Lorenzo Music), but I do get that it's the same jokes over and over again. 'Garfield' is just a big part of my childhood, so naturally, I watched his specials with as much interest as I watched the 'Peanuts' specials. This was one of the stand-outs.
It's Christmas Eve morning, and Jon (Thom Huge) wakes up Garfield (Lorenzo Music) so they can head to the Arbuckle family farm for the night, along with Odie (Gregg Berger). The rest of it, is just family bumbling, as the Arbuckles celebrate their traditional get-together. There's sincerely nothing much to it, at all. But it still carries this particular charm with it, and does have a few good laughs, even today, with some of the dialogue. We also get to see a bit of Garfield's sensitive side in the end, which doesn't seem out of character for him here, so much as a nice moment.
I suppose the thing that keeps this Special good for me is, in fact, it's simplicity. It's just a family Christmas with some likable characters who could reflect almost anyone's family. Most notably, there's Grandma (Pat Caroll), a feisty, go-getter type, despite her age. There's a pretty tender moment in this special where she reflects on her late husband, and even though we never meet him, we get an idea of what he was about in just a couple of minutes. The scene is the heart of the special, to me, even though it really just comes out of the blue and has little to do with anything. I suppose, in a way, her monologue remains grounded in the comfortable family atmosphere, and it adds some Christmas heart to the otherwise whacky family.
So yeah, I suppose this is a pretty short review for a short special that no one talks about, but I recommend checking this title out at least once, just to see if you get the same feeling I get from it. In short, it's just a very simple and cozy family special. There really isn't a whole lot of depth to it, but that's what makes it appealing. We have movies that show family Christmas hubbub like 'Christmas Vacation', sure, but they tend to get a little over the top a lot of the time. This is just... comfort food. You know it's not great, but there's something appealing about it.
Going back to 1987, this particular Christmas special that has remained completely under the radar for audiences ever since, IS my all-time favourite TV Christmas Special. That's saying a lot, seeing as it has such things like 'Rudolph', 'Frosty', 'The Grinch' and of course, 'Charlie Brown' to contend with. But this came along when I was 5, and for whatever reason, very much into the California Raisins.
For anyone unfamiliar, the California Raisins were claymated jazz raisins for kids, who sang real soul songs our parents probably enjoyed. Their biggest hit was 'Heard it Through the Grapevine', and they were often used for advertising. For many of us kids, it worked... I still dunno why, but it is what it is. Here's a quick pick of their raisin commercials.
Anyway, they had their share of specials for kids, but their best featured appearance was probably right here in this one. They do their rendition of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' as the big finale song for this special. And yes, I'm a 36-year-old man who still considers this to be the best version of the song, even over the talents of Burl Ives (whose rendition is from the 'Rudolph' special). A bold statement, perhaps, but there you have my unpopular opinion.
The special is hosted by a Tyrannosaurus named Rex (Johnny Counterfit) and a Triceratops named Herb (Tim Conner). Together, they go through the 24-minute special, introducing us to claymated music videos that cover specific Christmas traditions. Aside from 'Rudolph', they also tackle 'We Three Kings', 'Carol of the Bells', 'Angels We Have Heard on High', 'Oh Christmas Tree', 'Joy to the World' and 'Here We Come a Wassailing'. All are done in comedic fashion, except 'Joy to the World' which... honestly just plain looks awesome, and is probably my favourite version of THAT song too.
The special can be easily found to stream on-line, and each music video is easily found on YouTube. It sadly made its last run on television (that I'm aware of) some time back in the 90s, and has been well-hidden ever since. It's a special that, when brought up to people, no one seems to really remember. However, more people remember the next special I'm about to cover more, and it ran back-to-back with this for a little while. It's funny what our minds retain.
If you ever get curious about more claymation and those crazy raisins, however, check out this special's director Will Vinton. He directed pretty much all of the 'California Raisins' specials, along with an Easter special (that I have yet to see) and much more. He was an interesting and unique talent, who really seemed to understand that some kids wanted the strange and unusual. He only just passed away on October 4th of this year, and didn't seem to get any recognition for his work, even if it's completely dated. It should be known that most of the songs on that list, I was introduced to through this special. It's worth a watch for a mere good 24 minutes. Good laughs, good music, good animation, and a good way to get into the festive spirit.
Here we have a rather fantastic ditty from 2014 that managed to get itself an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. But, much like its predecessor, 'The Secret of Kells' (both directed by Tomm Moore, and both similar in tone), it was forgotten about, and kinda swept under the rug. However, also like 'Kells', it's most definitely a film worth checking out.
The film opens by sowing us a happy family consisting of Father, Conor (Brendan Gleeson), pregnant Mother, Bronach (Lisa Hannigan), and son and overall protagonist, Ben (David Rawle). One night, Bronach heads out and disappears, randomly, but the presumption is that she heads out to die after giving birth to Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell). So the beginning is pretty heavy, and sets the tone for much of the rest of things.
Some years later, Ben is shown with her little sister, being a bit mean to her, as he blames her for the apparent death of his mother. All in all, he loves her, but there's that bitterness that sort of overshadows things, causing him to do things like scare her with some of his mom's old stories of Irish folklore.
One night, Ben finds out that Saoirse is a selkie (a being who can alter states between being human and seal) who is sent on a mission to free a bunch of faeries from Celtic Goddess, Macha (Fionnula Flanagan). He joins her on the mission, and along the way they meet all sorts of entertaining characters from Irish lore, providing us with the idea that the mother's stories are actually true.
With that in mind, this ends up being one of the most gorgeous looking animated fantasies I've had the pleasure of viewing. Even looking at the simplicity of the animation here, the film provides us with some pretty awesome creatures and characters and settings that are something straight out of a dream. In fact, the best one-word description I can come up with for this title is probably "dreamlike". It's just beautiful.
It's otherwise that sort of adventure film we've seen done a few times over. I personally found it sort of reminiscent of something like 'NeverEnding Story' or 'Labrynth' in its execution. However, the animation allows for a bit more leeway in imagination, and some of these characters are reminiscent of Ghibli material with just how imaginative they are in their execution.
It's an all around beautiful film, between its animation, dreamlike settings and characters, and the story really sticks to your heart when everything is all said and done. A lot of it has to do with Ben learning to be a big brother, as well, and slowly being able to forgive Saoirse, and love and help her as her big brother. It's just one of those films you finish and think to yourself "wow, that was just beautiful".
I hope to see more from Tomm Moore, and intend on eventually seeing last year's release, 'The Breadwinner'. He has this particular style that really lends itself to all-out fantasy, and his films are as overlooked by the academy as Hayao Miyazaki - and even he won for 'Spirited Away'. I hope to see Moore win his Oscar one day. Seriously, check out his films if you haven't yet. They're a great peek into Irish folklore, and make for some really beautiful family viewing. I absolutely loved this, it was right up my alley.
Continuing on with the theme of unknown Oscar-nominated, animated movies, here's one I once reviewed on the old site, in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Oscars. This one was nominated for Best Animated Feature, alongside such titles as 'The Princess and the Frog', 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', 'Coraline', and of course, 'Up', which ended up winning. When this title was mentioned, however, it was definitely the "what?" title that year, much like 'My Life as a Zucchini' was last year.
The story, in question, is based on the origin of the Book of Kells; a Latin manuscript containing the four gospels of the New Testament. It tells about a young boy named Brendan (Evan McGuire) who lives a sheltered life in a remote outpost. When a master illuminator named Aidan (Mick Lally) comes by with an ancient book. He calls Brendan to adventure, by sending him out into the wilderness to gather gall nuts to make ink with. In the forest, Brendan encounters various situations in which he has to face challenges as well as his own fears, and meets a forest spirit named Aisling (Christen Mooney).
As far as the rest of the movie goes, it's essentially a fantasy back story to something that exists in real life that I'm not sure a lot of us knew about. That is to say, at least I was blind to it. It seemingly went kind of ignored, despite it's nomination. But was it worth ignoring? Being a film having to do with religion and all, one might imagine it to be preachy in parts, it's anything but.
This movie has a lot to do with facing adversity head on just as much as it's a religious fantasy, if not more so. Most of this comes from the Vikings coming to attack the outpost while finishing this book holds the hope that it will draw back "evil forces", keeping them at bay. So there's a certain realism to this movie as well, covering the Viking raids of Ireland back near the end of the 700's.
Between the style of animation, making a historical and religious fantasy tale exciting, and even a bit of comedy here and there, I'd argue that it's the overall mood of the film that really makes it pop. It has this overall dreamy atmosphere going on throughout it, and it really shows with how beautifully animated it all is. When there's a scary scene, it looks and feels like a nightmare. When there's a pleasant scene, it looks and feels like some pleasant dream that might make you ponder things upon waking up. All in all, it's a rather intriguing escape.
It remains pretty under the radar as it is, but in my humble opinion it's well worth checking out. It's about an hour and twenty minutes, easy to get through, and it really does engage every emotion from the viewer. It seems clear to me that it was nominated that year for obvious reasons.