Phantom Boy Review

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Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol return to the silver screen off the back of an Academy Award nominee with A Cat in Paris, now lending their indelible animation style to New York City, in Phantom Boy, an even more accomplished, moving and enchanting tale that wouldn’t seem out of place among next year’s Oscar nominations, either.

Marcus D’Angelo voices the lead role of the titular superhero Leo, a young child teared away from his parents and little sister to spend a while in hospital, having been diagnosed with cancer. Confined within these walls, he finds a way to escape his body, discovering he has the ability to float out of his body and soar through the air, through the walls and the clouds, he is phantom boy. When a wheelchair-bound police officer Alex (Jared Padalecki) is forced to retire from a case concerning a sociopath who intends on destroying the city, called The Face (Vincent D’Onofrio), he needs the youngster to work as his eyes on the outside, and try to put an end to this tyrant’s nefarious ambitions, and in the meantime help to save the courageous journalist Mary (Melissa Disney). It could come at a cost however, for there is a limit Leo can remain outside of his body, and if he doesn’t get back in time, he may never be able to return.

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The filmmaking duo have a remarkable knack for balancing so many themes and elements, for this production transforms into a real action caper as the narrative progresses, while at the same time remaining an intimate tale of a young boy facing up to his illness, and how his family are coping with his decline, as he appears to be unresponsive to the treatment. Add the enchanting elements that derive from the fantastical edge and here’s a really impressive production that is unable to be defined. It’s in the emotionally charged sequences where this title comes into its element however, subtle throughout, and extremely layered too.

The animation style is beautiful to see up on the big screen, as a surrealist style that maintains the flavour of the setting and yet always feeling otherworldly – epitomised in the Picasso-esque crafting of the lead antagonist’s face. D’Onofrio turns in a terrific, scene-stealing vocal display as the aforementioned villain, but – and apologies for the cliché – the greatest character within this tale is New York (so sorry), as the landscape of the city is so wonderfully brought to life within this picture.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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