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  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Mia and the Migoo" is a charming and whimsical tale, that manages to avoid most of the clichés that commonly appear in this kind of stories.

    Basically, "Mia and the Migoo" is an ecological fable, that takes many elements present in the movies made by Hayao Miyazaki: A brave, yet calm heroine who is able to feel many things that others ignore; strange beings of ambiguous appearances and personality; the subtle treatment of themes such as the relationship of man and nature, and the family relationships as well...Of course, the final result is not at same level of complexity and beauty of the works of Hayao Miyazaki (Despite having many common elements and themes)However, even when this is not a masterpiece at same level of the productions of the Studio Ghibli, it is still pretty good, with a beautiful animation, charming and interesting scenes and good development of the story and the characters.

    My only complaint about "Mia and the Migoo" is that the ending feels somewhat rushed in comparison with the rest of the film...But despite that, I still enjoyed a lot this movie and I would recommend it to anyone.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mia, a little girl living in a dying village decides to go and see her father Pedro, working miles away on a construction site. This site has seen a number of weird sabotage events. Pedro, trying to investigate, disappears in a tunnel collapse. Mia will have to brave many obstacles to reach her destination. This beautiful animation film will stay in my mind for a long time. It is an ode to nature and the responsibility of our generation and our children's. The starting scene with the Tree is breathtaking at the cinema. You quickly forget the crudeness of the drawings and get sucked into the story through the warm voices and music. In my opinion, children from 3 years old can see it but adults should be the ones to really listen to the messages. If you've seen the French film 'Les Ch'tis' you will recognise in the character Le Migou, the French accent from Northern France. Enjoy!
  • Reviewed by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Morgan Bertsch, age 7. Video review here:

    This movie is a hand drawn cartoon from France. The voice overs were done twice, once in French and then in English. It is amazing that all the images were hand drawn. In order to really understand this movie and all it took to get this movie to the big screen you must watch the bonus features including the making of Mia and the Migoos. I am only seven which means it took them almost as long to make this movie as I have been alive. WOW! Six years of drawing, music, sound, voice overs and it is finally done. The art is amazing. The shadowing and colors are bright and happy and bring the characters to life. I could not imagine drawing ever frame of this movie by hand. Keeping this in mind while you watch it and you will see just how special this movie is. In a time of computers it is great to see people still using pencil, paper, ink and paint to create such a piece of art. The music is creepy and was created with a full orchestra and parts of the story are scary. So the music matches well. Perfect sound effects add to the believability and the attention to details they put into every picture is incredible. Mia has a dream that her Father is missing. When she wakes up she decides to go up to the mountains and see if she can find her lost father. He is trapped underground. Mia is fearless and has a spirit for adventure. She has a big heart but learns not to judge people by their looks alone. Along the way we meet many funny, strange and cute people and creatures. My favorite part was when Mia meets the Migoos.When she gets to the forest, she meets the scary Migoos who she discovers are not scary at all but funny and friendly. You can see through parts of them. They are able to get small and grow larger. There are many language differences so they have funny moments where they are trying to relate to Mia. It is the Migoos job to protect the tree of life. There are evil people out to destroy it. Does Mia find her father? Who finds out they have a heart after all? The ages are 6 and up I give it 4 twinkling stars. Be forewarned there is some bad language.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm a very big fan of the surreal genre in animation. So when I first heard how mixed the reception for this film was, worldwide, after watching its mesmerizing trailer, I first came to the conclusion that film critics were unfairly judging it, all because it wasn't anything like you would see from Studio Ghibli. I've seen too many surreal animated films unfairly judged this way, all because they just wanted to do their own thing. But to my surprise after watching this film once, I was shocked how dead wrong I was. This is made worse if you have ever watched my neighbor Totoro. Not to knock Mia and the Migoo down or anything like that, it's just that both films carry very similar ideas, but Totoro executed them far better, gaining the movie large amounts of critical reception. Mia and the Migoo had the potential to be one of, if not the greatest animated environmental film of all time, but failed due to its mediocre pacing and its general wrong sense of direction and focus.

    Story and Pacing- The idea of the story itself isn't bad. On paper it's actually pretty good. But there are problems. For a film that is 1 hour 30 minutes, it has WAY too much going on in the plot. The film barely wants to put focus on the scenes that are about the story, and instead focuses too much on the comedy aspect. Because of all that the movie's pacing is really broken. When a scene does focus on the story it never feels warranted. By themselves these scenes are good, but when in context to the story it just doesn't work that well. With all of this accounted for, it becomes really hard to understand the movie's environmental and core themes. Story 4-3/10, Pacing 3/10.

    Characters and Voice acting- The characters in the movie aren't too well defined. Mia is our main protagonist yet the film barely focuses on her. I barely cared about her, even when she was in danger. Same goes for virtually every other main character. Each of them barely has their own personality. What I am about to say isn't an opinion by the way, this is a legit fact. They put more attention on side characters we will never see again than on the main characters. I get the point that they were trying to give those people a lasting impression, but they tried way too hard. I did like how they handled the main antagonist at first. The film makers really humanized him at the beginning, and never made him pure evil. He was just a regular man, doing what a real business man would do. He made serious sacrifices. But thanks to the film's pacing and story structure, even he became a slave to the film's mediocre directing. By the end I had really mixed feelings towards his characterization. He's a good guy by the end, but the moments he acted a bit crazy seemed pretty justified by how the Migoo acted. The character Migoo is a hard one to understand. I personally hated him, or them? His or their actions feel completely randomized and never seem to make sense at all. Voice acting in the movie isn't bad in the slightest, but it's nothing special either. I've only been able to hear the English dub, so I can't give my opinion on the original French. Characters 4-3/10, Voice acting 6/10. #Animation and Sound track- The animation is no doubt the best part of this film. It uses an art style only unique to this film. The colorfully painted characters, animals and backgrounds are pretty nice. And while the frame rate isn't too solid, I would say the sacrifice was worth it, but only for the most part. The animation isn't totally perfect, or flawless. Since the environments are always saturated in bright colors, a sense on contrast isn't always there. Especially in places where there should be some. The film barely utilizes the animation which is a real shame, considering that over 2 years of work went into it alone. This is all because the animation is detrimented by the characters, the story, and the overall pacing. The cinematography isn't that great either. The sound track it's sort of okay. To be honest I barely noticed that the film had a sound track. Only one song stuck out, and it was at the end of the film. The use of real world sounds is pretty well implemented. Animation 7.8/10, and Sound track 6/10. #Re-watch ability 5-3/10. You're likely not going to come back to this film anytime soon. Sorry if I sound like a jerk, but it's hard not to be so blunt. I've watched the movie twice now, and unfortunately my feelings have remained the same. You're better off watching my neighbor Totoro if you want to see some of these ideas pushed to maximum potential.

    Watching this film was an experience that I won't forget any day, or any time soon into the future. I think Mia and the Migoo should be view as a case study of how not to make a surreal animated film. If you look up the movie's history you'll be surprised to find out that a lot of love and passion went into the product. The director/ creator sounds like a really creative and nice guy. He knew his project was limited in many areas, but he still made the film anyway. One hand he has my respect for sticking with his ideas in the end. On the other hand though I wish he would have realized that he didn't have the budget or time to bring out its full potential. I am happy to say that Jacques-Remy Girerd has gotten better over the years as a director. I can see why some people would say this is a good film, but that's more about personal preference. FINAL SCORE 5.1-4.6/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although this film has been around for a couple years, the English-language version with American voice actors was only released in the U.S. relatively recently, and I didn't get a chance to see it until today (mid-July 2011, near Boston Massachusetts).

    The appearance of the animation is truly amazing.

    It's layered 2D animation. The layering is used to great effect, for example when individual bushes apparently in the middle of a jungle suddenly move as though an animal were passing.

    Like older hand painted cel animation, each area of each character is mostly a single color with no gradations - but there are tweaks: rosy cheeks, shadows, bushy eyebrows and the like, and lots of highlights on the boundaries between areas (instead of uniform width black lines). The backgrounds are indescribable except to say they're extremely rich. They look highly variegated but without obvious brush strokes, rather like water colors. But the colors aren't pastels nor translucent, and the patterns aren't limited to variations on just one or two colors. The overall effect is rather like impressionist paintings.

    In fact the colors are so rich the comparison that came to my mind was the recent "Rio". Of course that huge budget and army of animators wins the color contest. But the fact the comparison even came to mind shows just how intense and varied the colors are here. (Are we talking about something qualitatively different when animated features cost more than $200 million?)

    There's a liberal sprinkling of CGI effects: falling snow, dappled shadows, blowing smoke, explosions, flames, fog, fire, waves on the surface of the water, reflections, shooting stars, raindrops. They're seamlessly integrated into the visuals and the story.

    The story has lots of very creative riffs, and touches on several potentially interesting themes (government corruption in South America, the huge gulf between the wealthy and the poor in South America, internal dissension sapping effectiveness, family tensions caused by tunnel-vision pursuit of money, possible extremes of global climate change, destruction of a pure environment by people, the disconnect between scientific research and current political actions, wisdom coming out of the mouths of babes, rural vs. urban, and so on). It even gets quite current a few times: one scene with a telemarketer calling on a cellphone right in the middle of a helicopter pursuit had me in stitches.

    All the bits and pieces and possible themes, although each interesting in themselves, for some reason I can't analyze don't cohere into a terribly involving or memorable story. Don't worry about that too much, though. It's not a negative, not actively unpleasant; it's simply the lack of an expected positive. Just let the story wash over and through you while focusing more on the visuals.

    One frequently used storytelling trope is starting a cliché but then taking it in an unexpected direction. An old hag gives an attractive ripe fruit as a present - but it's given with the best of intentions rather than being the poisoned apple we expect. A falling drop of water at first appears to be a tear signaling the start of a ridiculously sentimental bit - but it quickly turns out to be the first raindrop on a shower instead. And so on...

    The English translation and voice acting _appear_ to be fairly good, but are not memorably outstanding. (I wasn't able to see subtitles nor listen to the original sound track to compare though.) Double entendres and puns -the bane of mediocre translations- come through quite clearly. (For all I know, the English sound track _could_ actually be a crisper, punchier improvement on the original.) There's something for every age. Little kids will probably laser in on how independent and brave Mia is while at the same time she's so very close to her parents. Kids will probably never even notice some adult parts, such as Grandma's going on vacation with her "boy toy", or the boy toy's introductory line of dialog that seems innocuous at first but's a bit crude when you think about it.

    One refreshing change is the "monsters" are silly almost beyond belief. We've come to expect monsters to be if not somewhat foreboding, then at least rather dangerous simply because of their largeness. But these monsters seem more like a cross between Calvin and Hobbes and Swiss cheese.

    The boundary between "reality" and "dreams" is purposely porous and vague. Sometimes we don't know whether what we're watching is imagined, dreamed, magic, or just exaggerated ...and it doesn't matter. By the time we see an upside down tree with its glittering leaves _below_ the surface, it seems perfectly normal.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mia's dad is working on a cursed construction project in a haunted forest. Sensing something happened to him she heads off alone to see him. Along the way she meets a variety of weird and wonderful people, and the Migoo, a group of forest "spirits" tasked with guarding a tree at the heart of the world.

    This is a beautifully animated film seems to be a painting come to life. Its a visually rich and magical film to look at, producing repeated whispers of "Oh Wow" in the audience. Its truly a film with a look all its own.

    Unfortunately the story, which is magical and enchanting for just over two thirds of its running time kind of goes off the rails in the final third as the eco message at the heart of the story is sledgehammered home and the too many plot threads and characters are found to be going nowhere.

    Don't get me wrong I really liked most of this film, I just didn't like the sudden turn to into a sermon. The film was doing fine until it started to get preachy. (I won't get into the ending which is more a stopping rather than a conclusion since it leaves so much just hanging) Worth a look if you get a chance, but I'd wait for DVD.
  • I saw this film at the world premiere at the Festival d'Annecy 2008, in Annecy, France. The designs were charmingly old school and the movie seemed cute.

    Unfortunately, it's really badly written. The story, although it's for kids and revolves around a very classical them (mean greedy corporate suit destroys nature for money but little innocent girl meets magical beings and fights with only her innocence), is treated way too naively.

    Although the characters have clear goals, the story is really badly structured and the overall pace of the film is boring. The fact that the dialogue are extremely poor only makes it worse. They're awkward, sound awfully unnatural, are way too long and inefficient for conveying the needed information to the audience.

    So bad story, badly structured, served by bad dialogues. But the actors suck quite a bit too. I saw the movie in its original french version (my mother tongue), and the actors just sound awful and lack believability and every single one of their lines (the fact that they've been given amateur lines in the first place must not help).

    All of the above plus a million other details make a movie that just simply DOESN'T work. Every person I spoke to after the screening (many of them animation professionals) said they just couldn't get to care about the characters and that none of the emotion worked in the film. Nobody felt sad when something sad happened, nobody felt any kind of tension during the scenes where there was supposed to be some, the climax didn't work at all, etc.

    I'm here judging the film on its "film" qualities (writting, directing, acting), not on the technical side of things. But as a side note: the animation sucked balls, too. A few characters are cute, but the Migou (the strange creature) just look awkward and have an annoying personality.

    What was very promising seems just like the poor man's My Neighbour Totoro.

    It still bends my mind that it takes so long (6 years) to mount and produce such a film. The animation industry seems like a crazy place that needs to refine its financing channels...