Animation is a medium that has been consistently a fan-favourite. From the studio behind Toy Story (Pixar), to the brains behind the 2009 hit Coraline (Laika Entertainment), we have been treated to some fantastic animated movies during the last decade. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s studio — Lord Miller — is yet another company that has been distributing some great entertainment, including films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Lego Batman Movie. Now, their latest movie into their ever-expanding catalogue is finally dropping on Netflix this month! The Mitchells vs. The Machines follows a quirky, dysfunctional family who all go on a road trip to their daughter’s new film school of her dreams. However, their trip to California is upended and they find themselves in the middle of a robot apocalypse. Suddenly, they become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope for survival.
When the first trailer for Michael Rianda’s debut released last year, the film sounded like something I would enjoy. The road trip story blended with a technological apocalypse immediately hooked me. Plus, the story was from the same brains behind The Lego Movie, which definitely sounded promising. However, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is even better than I thought it would originally be! The animation is truly breathtaking to look at — it has a style that we rarely see in movies nowadays which blends sketchbook drawings with three dimensional imagery. Each frame is filled with vibrant colours that dazzle and pop right off the screen and there is never a shot that doesn’t look stunning. One scene in particular during the climactic finale, is one of the most gorgeously animated sequences I’ve ever seen in contemporary animation.
On the other side, the story is also something we have seen before. However, The Mitchells vs. The Machines puts an original spin on the formulaic source material which keeps the story fresh and filled with momentum. At its core is a plot surrounding on themes of family with a meaningful point to state about technology and how we as a society have became over attached to our phones, laptops and other devices. The characters are all so likeable too. The father-daughter bond between Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) and Rick Mitchell (Danny McBride) is one that feels very personal. The manner in which writer Jeff Rowe incorporates these personal plot-point into the story is executed brilliantly. However, I did feel that the film’s pacing did start to drag in the latter half for around ten to fifteen minutes. Scenes start to last a little too long, and even a joke would keep going — even though it didn’t feel fresh or funny anymore.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines will definitely be a crowd-pleaser this year. From its dazzling animation to its surprisingly human story, I was invested in every direction this movie was heading, in which its brilliant finale felt earned and left an emotional punch. It has some brilliant humour that children and adults will both enjoy, while having a relatable family dynamic at the centre of its story. The Mitchells vs. The Machines is overall an enjoyable animated debut from Michael Rianda!
The Mitchells vs. The Machines premieres globally on Netflix on 30 April 2021