■ (Release Info London schedule; August 4th, 2019, BFI Southbank, London SE1 Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, England, SE1 8XT, 12:30 PM)
■ (Release Info UK schedule; August 23rd, 2019, Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre, Leicester 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG, 10:15 AM)
"Playmobil: The Movie"
For more than 45 years, children around the world have been delighted by the 7.5 cm-tall plastic figure toys known as 'Playmobil'. This year, the popular toys come to animated life in 'ON Animation Studio’s' beautifully crafted and imagined new movie.
Featuring a live-action prologue and epilogue, "Playmobil: The Movie" is centered on an imaginative young girl named Marla Brenner (Anya Taylor-Joy) who embarks on an epic journey after her younger brother Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) disappears into the vast and wondrous animated world of 'Playmobil'. As Marla tries to find her brother in this magical realm, she encounters a memorable cast of 'Playmobil' characters including a friendly food truck driver Del (Jim Gaffigan), dashing secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe), a modern fairy godmother (Meghan Trainor) and the power-hungry Emperor Maximus (Adam Lambert). After being reunited with her brother, her sweeping adventures teach Marla to break free from her structured adult life, reconnect to her childhood dreams and enjoy the endless possibilities of her imagination.
Like many animated family classics, "Playmobil: The Movie" is a 'Musical'. If a character has a song, you want to hear bits of that song to remind you of their want or their need, whatever it's. The movie begins with a song in the live-action world, where the main character Marla is aspiring to her future. She expresses her feelings about the world, and it sets up the whole journey. It encourages young people to go out there and conquer the world out there. The song serves as the musical peaks in the movie. We want to approximate life in a sense. We like to sing when we’re feeling very good or sad. So, the main character sings to celebrate a moment or feel the blues. Get wet in the rain and enjoy the ride.
The heroine of "Playmobil: The Movie" is Marla Brenner, a spirited young woman who's thrust into the magical world of 'Playmobil' when her young brother Charlie disappears into a fantastic toy universe. In the beginning of the movie, Marla is really excited about going out into the world and she has such a zest for life. When her little brother goes missing, they both end up on this mad adventure when they get sucked into 'Playmobil-Land', and she has to find him. Marla has a very grown-up sensibility and throws her into this eclectic wildness that's the world of 'Playmobil'. She has to face problems that she's not used to solving without the benefit of her digits, or a stiffness in her arms, or all those sorts of things. Something that's really fun about this world is that the film adopts the genre of that world and the film language of that world. She's really going to be a fish out of water as she's bounced from a world of 'Kung Fu' to a world of 'Sci-Fi'. All of a sudden, she's riding on the back of a dinosaur. 'Playmobil' lets you do that, because all of these worlds are so wildly diverse. Some of the obstacles that Marla faces in 'The Playmobil World' echo epic traditional film moments, allows to wink at the audience with clever homages to films as diverse as 'The Indiana Jones' movies, martial arts classics such as 'Crouching Tiger', 'Hidden Dragon', 'Gladiator' films and 'James Bond'-type spy capers. Marla who’s zooming out on her life, and then she has this adventure and comes back to it with a newly found perspective and a lot of gratitude. That's a very important, healing message. So, the movie is a really lovely story of courage and family love, but it’s also very funny and entertaining.
Charlie Brenner, Marla’s younger brother, whose imagination and sense of wonder, draws him to the amazing realm of 'Playmobil'. In the beginning of the movie, Charlie doesn’t see Marla’s point of view. She’s too strict with him. When he has to take responsibility, he really starts to understand that she was just doing her best to take care of them. As a result of their time in 'Playmobil-Land', their relationship changes. They get closer and they feel more like a family again. The film has a huge amount of care and attention and comes up with something that pays a lovely homage to the world of imagination and how toys fire up the imagination and make you connect with others. So the film as a whole will be imbued with that same kind of joy of discovery and the sort of family relationship between Marla and her brother is very sweet. One of the first characters Marla meets in 'The Playmobil World' is Del, a happy-go-lucky food truck driver who decides to help her along the way. He’s kind of a guy who gets by thanks to a lot of side jobs. The interaction with Marla changes his life in some ways. Del is certainly someone who's able to move between the different worlds of 'Playmobil' and as we get to find out, he also has a heart of gold. Initially, Del has selfish motives for helping Marla, but he soon reveals that he does have a big heart as the adventure unfolds. You don’t see his humanity in the beginning of the movie, but he and Marla navigate these worlds together to track down Marla’s brother. He has a lot of interactions with lots of people, so he’s a very useful person for Marla to accidentally come across.
Rex Dasher is a smooth and savvy secret agent. He's sort of 'Playmobil' world’s version of 'James Bond'. He exists to be a toy parody of 'James Bond', but it’s all sorts of the silliest bits of Bond, more of 'The Roger Moore-Era Bond' than 'Fhe Daniel Craig Persona'. 'The Fairy Godmother' is everything! She's amazing, super cool and down to earth. She comes to the aid of Marla when she needs her the most. She has a tattoo, and is edgy. She kind of has fishnets on her arms, and has pink hair and flowers in her hair. It reminds of 'The All About The Bass’ video with a little more edge. In the movie, 'The Fairy Godmother' helps revive Marla’s spirit. She reminds Marla that she can get through anything, that the power is in her. 'Emperor Maximus' is the villain of the movie, but he’s also completely out of his mind. In a weird way, he's lovable. He's a childlike spoiled brat of a dictator. He decides that his way of keeping control over the people is by giving them a big fight to watch, a la 'Rome'. He's completely obnoxious. He's the bad guy, but you kind of like him and hate him all at the same time. The 'Pirate Blood Bones' (Kenan Thompson) often gives pep talks to the rest of the bunch. He’s always like, ‘come on guys we can do whatever we want'.
During the journey, the main characters visit different worlds, the idea is to change the look and feel using the codes and cinematography of the genre each sequence refers to. 'The Viking' sequence is the entry in this world. It's contrast strongly with the real world we've left behind. It's vibrant, colorful, and the kind of messy battle you would find in "Braveheart" or "Gladiator". When Marla ends up in 'The Wild West World', audiences are taken to the dry, empty plains. We've this super strong light that’s used to emphasize her effort to get to the town, and the images are almost overexposed because of the sun being so strong. The pace changes too, using the classic western codes, slower camera moves, close up shots on the staring bad guys. Then she and Del escape to 'The Spy Sequence', which is treated like a retro futuristic 'James Bond' classic with surprising gadgets, an atmospheric night and villains with a dark plan. The lighting and mood of the exterior sequence compares to a film noir, the saturation is toned down to let more space to the shadows and lights, and there’s fog as well. This also contrasts with the bright lab-like villain facility and their super cool retro computers. Then there are wide open spaces of the drive on the highway, followed by the mix-and-match world of 'Constantinopolis' and the power-hungry 'Emperor. Maximus' has access to modern technology, so we can turn the games into a giant light show to really captivate the audience. We also move on to the busy, futuristic 'City Of Glinara'.
For this sequence the film reminiscences 'The Fifth Element', funny creatures, robots, infinite glass buildings and lens flares. In this 'Asian'-inspired city, the best place for a smuggler to hide would be a huge karaoke machine. First, there's the scary gray forest from which Marla is unable to escape, with all the many twisted trees, which are a metaphor for her tangled mind. Then, we move on to the shiny, colorful fairytale city which restores hope and send her back on her way to her brother. The challenge is to look at the broad landscape of 'The Playmobil Universe' and identify the kinds of characters and story, the film wants to develop. It’s about forgiveness and understanding, a fractured family finds a way to come back together. This feels like a worthy and meaningful story to tell. The characters are emotionally upended and turned literally into something else, and that transformation challenges them in a remarkable ways. Their journey inspires them to act courageously and offers hope that the best version of their life together is yet to come. Classic storytelling and universally relatable characters help strengthen the film’s broad appeal. Many of us grew up with 'James Bond' movies, Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns, and movies about knights and magical kingdoms. When we got together and started talking about genre jumping, we're like kids again, playing with toys in the living room. The film brings that same level of playfulness and joy to audiences around the world and remind them that with imagination, anything is possible.
We're able to contrast a young character that really has that sort of superpower to create worlds and have this expansive imagination contrasted against somebody that never really had that, and you see that missing component from their life and how essential it's. We've this opportunity to have 'Playmobil’s' really fun and silly multi-world, which also allows you go to a deeper place and talk about character and what it means to graduate from childhood into adulthood. This movie has this amazing ability to find magic in the mundane. When you think about the world of toys, especially 'Playmobil', they're sort of sitting there just waiting for a child to activate it and unlock it's magic. We see those toys from a kid's eyes, not what he has in front of him but what he imagines; the pirate in his hand has a stiff plastic cape, but when he plays he sees it, the cape floating in the wind. That’s what the movies does, which explores this idea of a wish fulfilment visually. The animation is based on how a kid would see the toys through his/her imagination. You see the arms and legs bending at 90 degrees, but we still maintain some of the iconic constraints of the toys. Their necks don’t bend. They've no fingers and noses, and surprisingly, we discovered that we didn’t need them. We can tell everything we want without fingers or noses. From time to time, the visuals remind audiences that we're still playing with 'Playmobil' toys. You see the skin change from something fleshy and organic to a texture that has little sparkles of plastic in it. One of the remarkable aspects of the film’s animation is how the animated 'Playmobil' characters each display their complex and special personalities with such elementary visual cues. We've a laid-back character like Del, who's very different from the villain 'Emperor Maximus'. But when you put them side by side, they are the same toys. They both have beards and literally come from the same mold.
"Playmobil: The Movie" provides the opportunity to remember how as a child we used to play with our favorite toys. Launched in 1974 'Toys' like 'Playmobil' are a gateway to your earlier memories. They can be like time machines as they take you back and immediately give that spark. It's very important to convey the true emotions that we all experience in childhood. The central part of the movie is the ability to bring back the feelings and spirit of childhood that come with playing with 'The Playmobil Toys'. With 'Playmobil', you get the feeling that anything is possible. You create the rules, and you become a character in this movie. Kids can be 'Knights', 'Vikings', 'Princesses' or 'Cowboys'. It’s not a girl- nor boy-driven toy. We often see boys and girls playing together in the world of 'Playmobi'. You've pirates, knights, police officers, firemen, brides, princesses, and children connect to these characters all over the world! You can mix the characters, the figurines and the worlds, and the only limitation is your imagination. You can travel through time, fly to the moon and be a pirate at the same time. They're quite serious about their game, but they've great fun! So it’s about serious fun as well as creating own stories. The world of 'Playmobil' offered us endless story possibilities.
Most fairy tales use a visual device that bookends the story. This film explores opening up a storybook or having a narrated opening, but none of it feels organic to the story. To have a dynamic contrast and stimulating visual from animation it's best to have a live-action opening and ending. The protagonist Marla has lost touch with the child’s point of view that she used to have. It feels right to show her in a live-action world where there's no magic. When she finds herself in a very magical situation, which is the entrance to the world of 'Playmobil', it becomes the catalyst for the whole movie. 'LEGO' is to construction, 'Playmobil' is to role playing. The film wants to reflect that idea in the movie since Marla literally gets turned into a toy and ends up in a magical world. This is mportant for a creative education. You can go through a lot of different experiences, but just like the main character in the movie, you should never forget about your dreams and your childhood. Know that anything is possible if you trust yourself and stay optimistic. It’s also the magic of imagination that you see in all of these distinct 'Playmobil Worlds'. Everything feels familiar, because for some of us, it’s not that distant memory. And for children, it’s a world that they know very well. The movie has both an honest, emotional core it, while being funny and entertaining at the same time. Simple plots with complex characters.
One of the special devices that sets the movie apart is that the characters get to travel to different realms, which allows to have fun with various cinematic genres. If you think of your favorite genre films like 'Westerns', 'Fantasy', 'Sci-Fi', 'Musicals', there are tropes that are familiar in all those movies. The film uses those tropes as our comedic framing device. As the characters travel through the different lands, "Playmobil" adopts the cinematic language, acting and dialogue from the different genre’s and just have fun with it. There’s a certain chord that animated movies strike inside you. Maybe it’s because you don’t expect them to affect you so deeply or have such a powerful meaning. Animated movies have this emotional impact more than regular live-action movies do. Audiences will really love this movie because it’s entertaining, very creative, and it will make you laugh and cry at the same time. It really hits you in the heart right from the beginning and keeps you engaged all the way. There’s a lot at stake, but there’s also a lot of honest emotion and we infuse the comedy all throughout the movie as well.
It’s always nice to go back to something that you loved from your childhood as it triggers an honest emotional response. This movie will make audiences remember the young person inside of them. That's why this is truly a family movie that everyone will enjoy. It's important because it reminds us that everyone is bound to grow up and take on responsibility of adulthood, but at the end of the day, you can't lose the child inside of you. This movie really reminds people to always be a little bit of a kid inside and to honor that, to honor the part of you that wants to play, create, and have an imagination. It's a great vehicle for positivity, and parents and children will leave the theater feeling upbeat and optimistic about the future. "Playmobil" is just an awesome piece of our culture.