Review by Camden Ferrell
It’s not a secret that making stop-motion animated films is no easy task, and the immense dedication in each frame is what makes them so interesting to watch. Phil Tippet has done visual effects for iconic movies like Jurassic Park and Robocop and his feature directorial debut is Mad God, a stop-motion movie that has been in the making for many years. While the story isn’t always as cohesive as it needs to be, it’s hard not to love the passion and skill in the craft of the movie in its animation, world building, and ambition.
In this movie, we see a character called The Assassin as they trek through a hellish landscape full of tortured souls and other monstrosities from the mind of Tippet. We follow this journey as The Assassin tries to complete his goal and navigate this world that is not at all what it seems. This is an interesting foundation which makes a lot of room for unique characters, lore, and world-building which is where this movie seems to thrive the most.
Written by Tippet, this movie has the framework for a compelling narrative. However, the way it tries to tell its story with minimal dialogue can sometimes be an impediment or an advantage. Some ideas or plot points aren’t effectively communicated visually as opposed to verbally and that can lead the film to not feeling as coherent as it could have been. I understand that being a fully stop-motion movie, this can pose a creative and practical restriction, and I think with that in mind, the movie handles it well.
Even if some elements of its story don’t always flow together, the movie does a great job of pacing itself not too slow as to lose interest, but slow enough to allow the audience to fully take in the various intricate details in this nightmare landscape. At a brief eighty minutes, this movie goes by quickly and leaves before it has a chance to overstay its welcome. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eager to see more of this highly unique world Tippet created.
The most admirable thing about this movie is how as an audience member, you can deeply feel how much love, work, and passion went into each frame. Knowing how arduous stop-motion filmmaking is, it really allows you to appreciate what you’re seeing on screen. From a technical standpoint, what Tippet and his team have done is nothing short of brilliant. It may not have the big budget look of some major stop-motion films, but it’s visually stunning and impressive nonetheless.
If you’re a fan of stop-motion films or really the craft of filmmaking in general, this movie is a must-see if only for its technical achievement. The narrative doesn’t always work or convey its intentions in the most effective manner, but it’s still an interesting story that plays second fiddle to a world that is immaculate and captivating in all of its horrific splendor.
Mad God is now streaming on Shudder.