Felix and the Treasure of Morgaa follows Felix (Gabriel Lassard), a 12-year-old boy whose father has been missing for two years. Felix believes that his dad is still alive. So he enlists the help of lighthouse keeper and retired sailor, Tom (Guy Nadon) to help him set out to find him. Felix and Tom journey across the sea to Darkshadow Island. There, they uncover a plot by the villainous Morgaa (Karine Vanesse) to keep the island’s secrets for herself.
Directed by Nicola Lemay, Felix and the Treasure of Morgaa is a fun but flawed journey that younger kids will likely enjoy. Though the final product is something of a mixed bag, there is a lot to like about Morgaa. Created in Montreal, the animation has a certain charm and style that makes it feel unique. With bright colours and adorable characters, the film feels like a comic book brought to life onscreen and is attractive to the eye. What’s more, the film features some amusing performances from its lead characters. As young Felix, Lessard has the right amount of charisma and pluck to give the film its charm. At the same time, Nadon’s performance as grumpy fisherman Old Tom provides something special for the film. He’s the necessary ‘wise but jaded’ character to balance out Felix’s innocence.
However, the issue with Morgaa is its frustrating mix of styles. Within Morgaa lie two very good stories that are worth telling. On the one hand, you have Felix’s journey to find his father. He sets out into the open seas and is fueled by a spirit of adventure. This tale, then, feels as though it could be reminiscent of the very best tales from the Tin Tin diaries. (Heck, Felix even has a craggily old sailor and pet as his companions.) On the other hand, the film swings in the opposite direction. Featuring a secondary plot involving a super villain and her financial schemes, Morgaa leans into a world that has the potential of The Incredibles. In both cases, either one of these stories are worth exploring as a feature unto themselves. However, when thrown together, the mix of diverging styles struggles to connect with the viewer.
At its core, Morgaa is about the treasures you keep. After having discovered the secret of the island, Morgaa’s motivations have become entirely focused on herself. To her, love is a commodity that is only valuable when it suits her interests (as comes into play with her own relationship issues later in the film.) However, Morgaa’s understanding of love reveals its flaws more deeply when held in juxtaposition with Felix’s sacrificial heart.
Though Felix and Tom have heard many stories about lost treasure, his quest is really about his long-lost father. In other words, while discovering hidden riches would be an added bonus, it pales in comparison to finding his dad. In this way, there’s a nobility to Felix that’s highlighted against Morgaa’s selfish movies. For Felix, the greatest treasure of all is the restoration of his family. And he is willing to do whatever it takes to save his father, even if it means putting his own life at risk.
In many ways, it’s unfortunate that the film never fully realizes its potential. Felix and the Treasure of Morgaa has some beautiful animation and an adventurous spirit. It has all that it needs to be charming and unique animated fare. However, even though the film has enough life to entertain little ones, Morgaa’s jarring tonal shifts keep the film from ever truly setting sail.