Simians are characters that Jean-Francois Laguionie like to dive in to. He used them as characters back in one of his features in 1999. And now he returns with The Prince’s Voyage. In this newer animation feature, the simians look like they’re from an alternate universe, living through the turn of the 20th century. Abervach (Gabriel Le Doze) is the laughing stock of the scientific community. But through a boy, he finds a Prince (Enrico Di Giovanni) who seems like he’s from a mythical country across the sea.
From the way I write about Prince’s Voyage, it feels like the film shifts gears, literally, into the Prince’s perspective, as he creates a bond with a boy, Tom (Thomas Sagols). Tom then learns about all the things that the Prince tried to do in his own country, like draw up inventions that can make him fly. He’s a Da Vinci sort of figure in a film that makes attempts at building worlds that have their own sense of wonder.
There’s a lot of potential in depicting these humanoid monkeys, but it feels like it goes of the rails as it shifts between Abervach’s story and the Prince’s. The former’s story arc feels like it has a lot of contrivances. One of those include inadvertently letting both the Prince and young Tom to escape from his already loose grip. There’s also unnecessary intrigue with Abervach, as he tries to use the Prince. His assistant also has her own motivations that don’t lead anywhere.
This tale become slightly better when it focuses on the Prince’s A-plot instead of Abervach’s. And it makes a point in showing the shifting perspective that the 20th century civilization has on the Prince. He turns from someone that no one knows into an avuncular figure then into an ‘impostor’. As his weapons wash up on the shore, the civilization marks him as a harmful presence. It was a nice attempt at a metaphor but the abrupt execution kills things.
I’m indifferent as to whether or not animation uses dubbed voices or subtitles. But maybe the language barrier is one of a few that can hinder viewers from connecting from these characters. The voice acting might also be lacking here. And 2D animation is often good but this makes for one of those exceptions to the rule. Laguionie uses it to build worlds. But he rushes into creating more worlds instead of fleshing out the ones that he began with.
- Rated: G
- Genre: Animation
- Release Date: 5/18/2021
- Directed by: Jean-François Laguionie, Xavier Picard
- Starring: Catherine Lafond, Celia Rosich, Enrico Di Giovanni, Gabriel Le Doze, Marie-Madeleine Burguet, Thomas Sagols
- Produced by: Armelle Glorennec, Eric Jacquot
- Written by: Jean-François Laguionie
- Studio: Blue Spirit Animation, Centre National du Cinéma et de l'Image Animée, Film Fund Luxembourg, Mélusine Productions