Missing Link lacks storytelling, character development


Lionel Frost (left), Mr. Link (middle), and Adelina (right) star in this stop-motion animated fantasy-comedy. This is the newest of Laika Studio’s stop-motion animated movies, ten years after their first stop-motion movie Coraline.

Michele Matson, Staff Writer

Although Laika Studio’s Missing Link has beautiful stop-motion animation, the story falls short of providing the same sense of wonder and inspiration.

Some of Laika Studio’s previous movies include Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), The Boxtrolls (2014), Paranorman (2012), and the most well-known of them all, Coraline (2009). Missing Link itself has the wonderful voice acting talents of Hugh Jackman as Sir Lionel Frost, Zoe Saldana as Adeline, and Zach Galifianakis as Mr. Link. Chris Butler directed the film.

The scenery is beautiful and tips its hat to western frontier towns, Victorian era and Spanish architecture, and Tibetan culture. The scenery in Tibet was especially beautiful. At one point in the story the characters are hiking in the Himalayan Mountains and come across a castle made entirely out of blocks of ice. Connecting the castle to a nearby mountain is a sleek ice bridge with no rails. A steep stairway leads to the entrance and hanging over the entrance is a red curtain. The entire castle has geometric shapes that make it feel like a Tibetan temple. The entire scene gives the viewer a lovely sense of wonder and makes you feel like there’s something bigger than yourself out there.

However, the story does not give you the same feeling. It falls short of providing emotional moments from the characters where they express their feelings and motivations. In addition, the plot does not give you a lot of exciting or dangerous moments.

However, the setup of the story is good: Lionel Frost heads out to the American west to discover a bigfoot named Mr. Link. Mr. Link says that there are no other bigfoots and wants Lionel to take him to the Himalayas so he can join a civilization of yetis there. During their journey, they meet the feisty Adelina Fortnight and are chased by the assassin Willard Stenk who was hired by Lionel’s rival Lord Piggot -Dunceby (voiced by Stephen Fry.)

Although the characters are unique and not stereotypical, they lack character development. The only character who really develops over the course of the story is Lionel. When we are first introduced to Lionel, he is depicted as selfish, only caring about himself and his own goals. As the story progresses, he becomes less selfish and proves this by defending Mr. Link from Stenk and Lord Dunceby. Adelina and Mr. Link were used to develop Lionel, with Adelina scolding Lionel for his selfishness and Lionel becoming sympathetic to Mr. Link.

Stenk’s character didn’t feel necessary for the story. His character did not change or further the plot like most villains do.

The characters just need time to allow themselves to express their feelings and motivations so that we can understand them and relate to them more.

What this story and its characters need is a touch of imagination, passion, and emotion so that the audiences can have the same feeling of wonder from the story that they get from the animation.