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Movie review: Missing Link

Movie review: Missing Link

Movie review: Missing Link

13 April 2019

A warm-hearted comedy that is equal parts slap-stick and sly one-liners, so there’s plenty for parents as well as the kids.

By Mark Hadley

In the mainstream media, the Theory of Evolution is regularly dressed in brilliant achievements and accompanied by belligerent pundits, who extoll the virtues of a godless universe. Where children are concerned, though, it adopts cuddly fur, a comic pot belly and an infectious grin – but the commentary remains the same. And so the curtain rises on Missing Link

Missing Link is the latest production from Laika Entertainment, the animation studio that produced the ground-breaking Kubo and the Two Strings in 2016. Like its forebear, Missing Link is a combination of CGI, stop-motion animation and live-action camera work.

The story centres on frustrated explorer Sir Lionel Frost, voiced by Hugh Jackman, who travels the world trying to earn a membership at London’s most exclusive explorer’s club. His goal is to present his peers with scientific proof of an undiscovered monster. 

However, when the Loch Ness Monster proves less than helpful, he settles for an excursion to America. Lionel has received news that the secluded woods of Oregon shelter the legendary Sasquatch.

What he discovers, though, is Mr Link (Zach Galifianakis), a ‘Big Foot’ who has grown lonely in his isolation. His goal? To be reunited with his Yeti cousins in the Himalayas:

“Your world grows bigger and mine is eaten away. I want to go to that cold place, and then I won’t be alone!”

The warm-hearted comedy that unfolds sees Sir Lionel agree to safely deliver Mr Link to his frosty relatives. It’s equal parts slap-stick and sly one-liners, so there’s plenty for parents as well as the kids.

And the supporting cast is a dream-team of voice actors that could easily push the film’s title off its poster – Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Timothy Olyphant… What caught my eye, though, was Missing Link’s choice of villain.

Though the ‘Big Foot’ holds the title role, the hero is very much Jackman’s Sir Lionel. He is a true Renaissance Man, diving into icy depths to save his friends, then donning tweed for a scientific debate.

His opposite number is Lord Piggot-Dunceb, a white-haired hunter played by Stephen Fry, who has bet Lionel he will never produce proof of the Sasquatch’s existence. Predictably, the villain hires henchmen to head Lionel and Mr Link off when it looks like they’ll triumph, but that is not his most disturbing characteristic.

The evil Lord Piggot-Dunceb is a stand-in for anyone who would oppose an evolutionary point of view. When Lionel declares that his discovery will prove, “… that mankind’s primate ancestors are no flight of fancy!”, his opponent responds, “I say that we are descended from great men, not great apes!”

Piggot-Dunceb quickly becomes the conservative Christian punching bag natural selection needs. The film proceeds to align denying evolution with every form of ignorant thinking imaginable, and Piggot-Dunceb storms from his club enraged, exclaiming to his manservant:

“These are dark days! Electricity! Suffrage! Evolution! We are on the brink of the precipice!”

When we discover that Lord Piggot-Dunceb would rather shoot animals than discover them, and is happy to turn the same guns on native tribesmen, we’re hardly surprised. What surprised me, though, was the character development our hero undergoes.

Sir Lionel starts the movie self-focussed and careless of other people’s concerns. He’s eventually brought to heel by his friend Adelina (Zoe Saldana) when he begins to treat Mr Link the same way. And by the time the curtain comes down Lionel has developed more of a servant heart. But it’s worth noting that this is not a state of mind you would associate with survival of the fittest.

In the evolutionary world, the highest goals are to overpower and devour those weaker than ourselves. Missing Link might take some sly swipes at Christianity, but it actually ends up adopting an attitude that has its origins with Jesus.

The ancient world had no context for humility until he came along. Roman philosophers actually taught it was a character flaw that needed to be eliminated. However, it was the founder of Christianity who gave the Western world the belief that thinking less of yourself was a good idea, and it was better to serve than be served:

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 4:11)

And this is the very principle that both Christians and non-Christians require their leaders to uphold today.

Which just goes to show, Missing Link might tell children a godless world makes more sense, but when it comes to the world we choose we still want God’s values to guide us.

Missing Link is rated PG and is now showing.

 

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