When thinking about Kraken, you probably think of those disgusting, monstrous sea creatures. This comes as no surprise as that's how they've been portrayed in films such as Clash of the Titans, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. However, with their latest film, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, directors Kirk DeMicco (The Croods) and Faryn Pearl (Trolls: World Tour) show us that Kraken can be beautiful, heroic, and have a heart.
Ruby (voiced by Lana Condor) and her family live in Oceanside. Her mother, Agatha (Toni Collette), is a successful real estate agent, and her father, Arthur (Colman Domingo), runs a gift shop. Her little brother Sam (Blue Chapman) is like any little brother. A pain in the… but deep down, he's there for his sister. Ruby doesn't look like any other school kid, but her mother pushes her to blend in. She's allowed to do everything other kids do, apart from going into the water.
That latter puts a massive strain on her social life as the people around her like to go to the sea and/or beach, even more so because Ruby isn't 100% sure why her mum forbids her from going. However, when the boy she has a crush on, Connor (Jaboukie Young-White), falls into the ocean, Ruby jumps into the water to save him. You can already guess what happens next. She becomes a Kraken and discovers a side of her she didn't know existed.
At first, she's embarrassed by her Kraken identity, but soon she realizes that a brand-new underwater world is waiting for her. Therefore, she decides to take a deep dive into her mother's side of the family. Ruby encounters her Uncle Brill (Sam Richardson) and grandmother Kraken Queen (Jane Fonda), aka Grandmamah. She also soon finds out that her new best friend, Chelsea Van Der Zee (Annie Murphy), is a mermaid. Grandmamah once told Ruby about the war between Kraken and mermaids, but Ruby doesn't seem to care about that. According to her, the friendship with Chelsea can show the sea creatures how to live in peace with each other. But is that just the dream of a naïve young Kraken, or will the war finally end?
While the storyline of Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is a bit predictable, the beautiful animation and special effects make up for that. The seaside buildings ooze charm while every character feels exceptionally vibrant. For once, it's fun and joyful to be back at high school, and we're pretty jealous of the kids attending that vibrant prom. The realistic and ultra-vivid animations ensure that the movie doesn't become dull, even when the story falls a bit flat. The banging soundtrack adds a lot of power and upbeat to the overall film.
What makes this movie such a pleasure to watch are the characters. Condor (Alita: Battle Angel) turns Ruby into an expressive and lively character and gives her a warm and shiny personality. She's the heart of this movie, and you can't help but root for Ruby. Murphy (Schitt's Creek), whose red-haired character might be a nudge to Ariel, certainly makes sure that Chelsea oozes that confidence that Ruby lacks. When watching Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, it becomes clear that Fonda (Coming Home) is having a blast as Grandmamah. Whether it's the majestic personality trait of the Queen of the Ocean or the devoted and passionate grandmother, Fonda ensures that the Kraken queen is on point in every scene she's in. Richardson (We're The Millers) undoubtedly provides the humour in this movie as the goofy and carrying uncle. The moments between his Brill and Condor's Ruby are such delightful scenes.
Despite the predictability, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken has a lot of heart, vibrancy, and energy, and brilliantly voiced characters and will undoubtedly steal the heart of every moviegoer, young and old.
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is out now in UK cinemas