'Luca' Review: Sea Creature Boy Makes New Friends & Memories On Dry Land
Okay, alright, just hit me with your best selection of Italian references (reFirenzes?) along with exaggerated hand movements so we will be done with them just in time to focus on the movie itself. Coming-of-age tale Luca hails from the previously mentioned country that brought you 'Suspiria', opera and gelato, with direction from Enrico Casarosa and the script from Mike Jones and Jesse Andrews. Taking place in the middle of 20th century, story kicks off with Luca (Jacob Tremblay) who is a mix between a sea monster and human boy, showcasing former when soaked with water and latter when he's dry. He meets a slightly older companion, Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), and two of them eventually go on to live in the town of Portorosso as humans after Luca runs away from home. They meet a girl named Giulia (Emma Berman) and the trio explore the town's offerings while Luca tries to evade his parents.
There was trouble to sense in the movie's first act since it kind of felt like a plenty of middling compromises were made in its storytelling, visual presentation and tone. It tries to be at its most humorous then with jokes that were terribly generic on top of the awkward timing that didn't give voice actors any time to react, while the relationship between Luca and Alberto is going between your-first-summer-crush and boys-just-being-boys, changing in mere seconds from one to other. There is however a sweet score by Dan Romer to hold your attention when necessary, with swirling bowed strings mixed with faster-paced plucked instruments, a needed consistency that lasts for the entire 90-minute runtime. It all creates a suitable backdrop for Portorosso, and lively characters within, mainly Luca and Giulia.
Movie picks up the pace in a major way in the middle portion when there are more adventurous elements in its plot and Giulia (and her father) becomes a bigger part of Luca and Alberto's journey. There are few breathtaking visual moments introduced as well, displaying wonderful artistry behind the colours, which is definitely where the animation shines the most (that shading of water and the beach especially). What is more disappointing is the overall character design; these human bodies just feel off from the ankles to foreheads, most apparent in Alberto for some reason where the talking animation isn't very smooth, and design behind the sea monsters also isn't all that memorable. The overall story revolving around Luca is quick and neat, sometimes obscure when it comes to him and Alberto, but the lessons are thankfully rather clear for any younger children watching.
Smileys: Colouring, score
Frowneys: Character design
Ay Lu, call me on my shellphone.