Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Axel: The Biggest Little Hero

Releases on DVD June 3, 2014
1 hr 23 mins
Rated PG
Animation, Adventure, Comedy



Leo Lee


Yuri Lowenthal as Axel
Colleen O'Shaughnessey as Jono
Kate Higgins as Gaga
Tim Curry as Papa Qi
Matthew Lillard as Lizard King
George Takei as Elder
Ed Asner as Bonta/Narrator
Marc Thompson as First Guardian
Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld as Second Guardian
Tom Wayland as Third Guardian
Marc Thompson as Fourth Guardian
Ed Paul as Fifth Guardian
Jeff Hylton as Sixth Guardian
Marc Thompson as Pootron

Review by Stephen M.

It never crossed my mind to have an animation of a cube shaped head with two hands and one foot as something that would be appealing.  But something about Axel and his friends that really start to grow on you as you watch the animation Axel: The Biggest Little Hero.  It's a coming of age story for the little hero not of our world.   

Axel (Yuri Lowenthal) and his friend Jono (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) are kids with a penchant for trouble as well as dreaming big.  Axel imagines himself as a hero and believes that he hears the voice of his people's last great hero telling him to save his people by looking for the lost Boonta Grove.  Boonta is a type of cactus which contains the life sustaining liquid of Axel's people.  In his journey, they most crossed a perilous desert ruled over by the evil Lizard King (Matthew Lillard) and meet new friends along the way.  It's truly a life changing experience for the brash, egocentric Axel, as he learns to respect and work with Jono and others.

Once you get over the initial shock of how the characters look, they're quite cute.  From a marketing standpoint the film reaches several markets from the young kids to teenagers.  The designs for the villains are robotic reminding me of Michael Bay's Transformers.  The animation is a smash up of styles that overall is simplistic and not overwhelming.  This is fine for a child watching this with no expectations.  Disney and DreamWorks animations are light years ahead in animation compared to this studio.

Overall, I would recommend this film for those with a young child.  The brash playful Axel along with his sidekick Jono was well made for the younger market.  Case in point, my seven year old daughter loved the film.  I asked her how many stars she would give out of five, and she said five.  Now I'm a little more stringent than her regarding pretty much everything in life.  The story tends to wander a bit and the animation could have been better.  The voice acting is a mix bag with my favorite being Axel (Yuri) and least being Papa Qi (Tim Curry).  The film seems to be a set up for a franchise for Axel and friends as we never get to see the Boonta grove.  But there's enough appeal there still to warrant watching Axel's journey further.


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