Luck Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Lasseter’s return to animation feels like a lacklustre clone of Pixar. Bullet Train is the better movie about fate & good fortune.
Genre: Animation / Comedy / Drama
Director: Peggy Holmes
Cast: Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Colin O’Donoghue, Adelynn Spoon, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Flula Borg, John Ratzenberger & Lil Rel Howery.
Run Time: 105 min.
US Release: 05 August 2022 (Apple TV+)
UK Release: 05 August 2022 (Apple TV+)
German Release: 05 August 2022 (Apple TV+)
I do love a good animated picture, especially if it is an original idea with a valuable message that a younger generation can learn from. I also like to give newer studios the chance to prove themselves, as is the case here with Skydance Animation, which had a turbulent time in the last years. Luck is their first animated feature, streaming on Apple TV+ and after watching it, I need to confess that I had hoped for something better. As it stands, this little flick is rather meh! So sit back, hold on to your shamrock leaves and horseshoes, as we dive into my review for Luck.
Sam Greenfield is unlucky. In fact, she might just be the unluckiest person in the world. As she accidentally stumbles upon a world that is unknown to humans, she notices that she entered a realm where magical creatures bring good and bad luck to people in everyday life.
Skydance Animation Studios had a rocky start. Formed through a multi-year partnership between Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media plus Ilion Animation Studios, Paramount unexpectedly pulled out after the hiring of former Pixar Animation / Walt Disney Animation Studios CCO John Lasseter. Apple Original Films finally replaced Paramount as a production company, as well as acquiring the distribution rights for Skydance’s Luck and Spellbound.
Ignoring the introductory singing and dancing opening credits, which is just an imitation of the Disney formula, the opening sequence is sweet and touching! We are immediately introduced to the protagonist, explaining her relationship to her surrogate sister Hazel. Sam’s daily life is plagued by unluckiness, serving as a solid comedic factor, but is overused one-too-many times plus becomes a repetitive trope. Nevertheless, the ending is pleasant enough. This is a well-constructed shell of a children’s flick that ultimately feels hollow inside.
The narrative starts off strong, opening with the subject of being an orphan; what it feels like to have been in the system all childhood long, without the chance of adoption. To make it more digestible for children, the emotions of disappointment and frustration were replaced with the fortune of luck. However, this aspect is quickly dropped and never picked up again. Sam’s need to help Hazel find a family that will adopt her, is quickly replaced by the glossy world of fortune, filled with all clichéd archetypes. This is where the picture starts falling apart completely!
As soon as the setting changes to the realm of luck, the scenario reaches a level of extreme mediocrity, with convenient problem resolutions, while everything falls into place for Sam. The pacing screeches to a near halt, adding convoluted side-stories that pop up left or right, not affecting the overall plot whatsoever! Add to that an easily foreseeable story and what the audience obtains is a boring film that holds no surprises. The comedic details work at times, though they mostly don't stick.
Luck contains a couple of good moments in character development that are emotional enough to make the audience care for its two leads. Although even those segments are sprinkled throughout the tedious middling part.
Eva Noblezada gave a good vocal rendition of Sam Greenfield, she plays her as a kind, likeable teenager, who just got out of the orphanage and onto her own two feet. Sadly, the character herself is written poorly, missing any sort of profoundness. She has no emotional repercussions about being left in the system all her childhood, nor resentments about never having found a family to adopt her. She is simply watered down to being a good-natured person, who thinks of others’ happiness before hers, yet even that trait is never truly explored. She pretty much becomes a side character in her own story.
Bob the black cat, who is voiced by the amazing Simon Pegg, is also robbed of any characterisation. His subplot is rolled out towards the end of the runtime, by then it is too late to care. I don’t want to get too much into details, to avoid spoilers, but I will say this much; his arc can be seen a mile away. In a nutshell, it has to do with being unaccepted by others, but once again, it just scratches the surface of the issue.
Jane Fonda & Whoppi Goldberg are further big names cast to voice Babe the Dragon and the leprechaun Captain respectively. The characters themselves are lamentably one-dimensional caricatures full of platitudes.
Flula Borg as Jeff the Unicorn is one of the very few comedic aspects that work. The unicorn with a German accent is hilarious, with his short romance arc being heart-warming. However, Jeff was not integral to the final product, simply stealing vital run-time from Sam and Bob.
The 3-D animation looks very good! Characters, including objects, have enough details to make them seem realistic, while facial features and body shapes maintain enough cartoonish attributes to set them apart from photo-realism. Nevertheless, as good as it looks, it is very noticeable that the animation style mirrors that of Disney / Pixar, which doesn’t come as a surprise, knowing who directed the movie and who is Head of Animation at Skydance Animation. It would have been nice to see something original, not a visual copy of one of the biggest animated studios.
The music, composed by John Debney, is like the narrative, very forgettably sombre, apart from Madonna’s cover song that was sung twice by Sam, yet doesn’t amount to anything.
Verdict: Skydance’s debut feature started very strong, with a good and honourable message but the topics at hand are quickly dropped, replaced by a boring plus predictable story about clichéd tropes of prosperity and misfortune. The ending brings it back to a pleasing level, yet by then it is too late as the complete middling section is nothing more than a dull average recital. The voice-acting is good, on-the-other-hand, the characterisation is missing depth, as well as development, while the animation style is a Disney / Pixar copy and paste. Even so, the computer animation is crafted with skill, with the cinematography being competently helmed. The colour palette is primarily green, representative of shamrock leaves and leprechauns, all associated with luck. In the end, this might be fun for little children, though adults should have a glass of wine ready. Luck obtains a mediocre 5.5 out of 10.
Have you seen Luck yet? Better save it for a rainy day, when there is nothing else to see. Leave a comment & thank you for reading!