Not bad, this. An animated film that’s been put out by Paramount ahead of the broader relaunch of Paramount Animation, Capture The Flag‘s origins actually lie in Spain. The work of director Enrique Gato and his team, their approach has been commercially savvy. It’s a Spanish film, made by a Spanish studios, yet Capture The Flag is set in America, was clearly made with an English language audience in mind, and plays on fairly straightforward, universal themes.
It also has nothing to do with Unreal Tournament or Doom, sadly.
Instead, this is a family animation, which at heart is the story of a young surfer by the name of Richard – introduced in one of the sequences given away in the spoiler-y trailer – who finds himself trying to stop a billionaire from getting to the moon first, and trying to give the impression that the moon landings were faked.
So far, so not much. But what gives Capture The Flag some unexpected depth is the family story that’s actually at the heart of it. For young Mike comes from a family of astronauts, none of whom have yet been to the moon. More than that, his father and grandfather – Scott and Frank – don’t talk, and it’s not clear, at least at the start of the film, why that is.
What this means if you have two narratives going on. The first, the most crowd-friendly yet arguably least interesting, is the battle with evil billionaire Richard Carson, and the challenge as to who can win the race to the moon. Yet it’s the softly-drawn family drama that gives the film more heart.
Credit, too, to Gato, who – when he takes his characters into space – has a willingness to dial down the noise, and keep things quiet at key moments towards the end of the film. That said, it’s offset by robots and weapons and bangs and bluster.
The animation itself is fine and functional more than sparkly and vital, but then it’s the story and characters that carry Capture The Flag. Furthermore, the film is brisk, its 94 minute running time worked through at a good pace. Unusually for a January/February animation release – which can be something of a dumping ground – there are things to actually take away from this one too, that resonate after the credits have rolled.
Capture The Flag is a minor success, then, and proof that even if your story has been told before, character really can count.
Capture The Flag is in UK cinemas from Friday.
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