Un-Pheasant: Our Review of ‘Swift’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - February 20, 2020
Un-Pheasant: Our Review of ‘Swift’

Part of the reason why I’m never having kids is because I’d have to endure bad animation films like Swift, but let’s start with the good parts. Like most films that goes sideways, it has potential. It’s about a titular swift, Manou (Josh Keaton), who lands in a seagull nest. And the nest’s owners, Yves (Willem Dafoe) and Blanche (Kate Winslet), try to raise him as their own. Manou, as he grows into a fledgling, tires and fails to do things the seagull way. He eventually finds swifts who teaches him how to do things the swift way, but not before tragedies make both species discriminate against him.

Characterizing the seagulls as a species with discriminatory group think might have been a choice to make Blanche’s kindness towards Manou stand out more. What would have helped is if the film gave her more screen time. Alas, she only exists as someone to have fights with Yves. Together, they have to face the other gulls who practically form a lynch mob against him. I know that animation films have tough subject matters but the characterization here is just unpleasant, especially keeping in mind that children are going to end up watching this film.

There’s a concern about how both children and parents are receiving the cultural undertones here. The film takes place in Cote d’Azur, and the animation competently captures the vibrancy of that place. There’s a musical interlude that sounds like a five dollar rip off of a Sons of Kemet song. The voice actors playing the gulls are white while the ones playing the swifts are mostly black, like Arif S. Kinchen and Cassandra Steen. They try to make peace at the end for the sake of Manou. But the barbs the exchange with each other leave too much of an impression for me to take that ending seriously. Also, this film from a German company has villains that are rats. No.

Animators work hard only to get flack for sub par products like Cats or the new Lion King or this film. There’s some good here in that department, the animation is better than the script. Again, its depiction of Cote d’Azur. And they can never go wrong with creatures with feathers. However, some of the surfaces here look glossy especially when it’s dealing with some bright colors and scenes. Even the lines forming the birds’ skeletal structure feel too obvious. I’ve seen worse Academy shortlisted shorts. But when it comes to depicting both background and movement, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Swift will be available on Amazon and AppleTV, but our American readers can find out where to watch it theatrically here.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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