Friday, October 29, 2021

The Spine of Night Review: A Unique And Ultraviolent Animated Adventure

Release date: October 29, 2021
Running time: 93 minutes
Written and Directed By:  Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King
Starring:  Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, and Joe Manganiello

In THE SPINE OF NIGHT, an ultra-violent fantasy epic, ancient dark magic falls into sinister hands and unleashes ages of suffering onto mankind. A group of heroes from different eras and cultures must band together in order to defeat it at all costs.

The Spine of Night is just a film that doesn't get made anymore.  An ultra violent fantasy epic in animated form, but also one that uses the rotoscope animation process from the 1970s.  The film feels like a video game come to life, with a similar type of computer generated but also hand drawn animation that evokes Dragon's Lair and its ilk.  It is straight out of some of the more extreme, violent animated films from the 70s like Heavy Metal and the Lord of the Rings animated films.  And The Spine of Night has an epic cast, with some very big names attaching themselves to this quirky animated film.  The names associated with it are those that I would have expected to be in a video game type nerd film, and I am very happy that they all signed onto this. And the writers really fleshed out this world, with a full backstory, entities, and power dynamics at play. You get the sense that there is more planned for this and that The Spine of Night is just an introduction.  

However, despite the Spine of Night being an interesting project--and to be clear, one that I am very glad was made--the film itself is not that entertaining.  The ultraviolent aspect of it is intriguing at first, but quickly wears thin as it goes on.  And despite it having some beautiful, stylistic animation, the speed at which it happens is not very fast.  It is strange because the animation feels like it could have gone faster, but goes at a slower pace for whatever reason.  I wonder if it is simply the result of the rotoscope animation style, but it does feel like it could have been faster.   And with the world being a fully fleshed out world, there is a lot of backstory that is just not explained.  You can appreciate just how much work went into this film, but overall, the story is confusing to follow because it goes through various worlds and eras.  But that being said, I am very happy that this movie exists.  The labor of love and effort that went into this is impressive to say the least.  And it revives a look and style that is just not made anymore, one that instantly gave me flashbacks to some movies from my childhood.

The Spine of Night is a unique, ultraviolent animated epic, with an all star cast, a deep world,  and a style that highlights just how much of a labor of love this film was.  

Watch it.

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The Spine of Night is available in theaters, on demand and digital October 29, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.  

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