CULTURE TRUMPET – REVIEW – Luca
Disney and Pixar are back with their next animated family adventure, Luca. The Soul (2020) follow-up is being released into theatres and straight Disney+ subscribers. Unlike Raya and the Last Dragon and Cruella (2021), this studio’s 24th feature film is being included as part of Disney+’s base offering.
Does this water-based feature film hold up against Pixar’s strong back catalogue? Let’s dive in and find out…
“Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar’s original feature film “Luca” is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca (voice of Jacob Tremblay) shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, Alberto (voice of Jack Dylan Grazer), but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: they are sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface.”
The entire synopsis of the film can be found elsewhere so there will be jumps throughout the movie in this review.
As Luca opens the first thing to notice is how beautiful the landscapes are. Visually stunning, bright, colourful and you would be forgiven if you thought it was shot on location in southern Italy. Pixar has stepped up their game here with their digital landscapes as the foliage and scenes look photorealistic. The film sets the backstory of the humans and sea monsters quite quickly, they don’t live in typical Disney harmony. Saying that there’s always some sort of conflict in these ‘Happy Ever After’ flicks, I digress.
We meet Luca, a sea monster who lives under the sea with his family. He’s a sea shepheard whose job is to take the fish to pasture without being spotted by the humans on the land. Pixar opted to cleverly distinguish between the land and sea even more so than just looks in Luca. Whilst we are being delivered dialogue in Luca’s home there is a subtle yet very effective audio effect layered on top of dialogue and sound effects.
Once we meet Alberto we move to land and back to the sunny Italian Riviera. Whilst on land, Luca needs to learn how to walk and act like a human. We get some great comedic interactions here. Also, we start to develop the plot when Luca meets Alberto. They both want to own a Vespa. Enter Giulia, a young resident of Portorosso.
Little do both Luca and Alberto realise that Portorosso hunts Sea Monsters so their cover must never be lowered!
The three team up to win the Portorosso Cup, a triathlon around the town which has been one countless times by the baddie of the film, Ercole Visconti. He’s pointy, arrogant and a downright bully. Perfect for a Pixar nasty.
Whilst Giulia trains both Luca and Alberto we are introduced to Giulia’s Dad who has a striking resemblance to Flick Lockwoods Dad in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009). This was quite a distraction. Pixar could have come up with more of a unique design here for the tough father.
The relationship switches between the three main kids as Alberto shows his true identity after growing jealous of Luca and Giulia’s growing friendship after the two of them bond over a love of Astronomy. There has been much talk on the internet about Luca and Alberto’s relationship and what it ‘really’ means. Why not just view it as two young kids becoming great friends in a kids film? Good, let’s move on.
Towards the climax of the film, Luca reveals himself as a sea monster also to help save the day and win the race. The village sees them as the fun creatures that they are and two local villagers also reveal themselves as they had been living there all along. The nasty pasty Ercole loses the race and everyone starts living in harmony. Luca gets to go to school with Giulia and he can start learning about the human world.
In conclusion, Luca was a great film. Perfect for families to sit down and enjoy but also for fellow Disney grown ups. The animation is stunning and really felt an improvement on previous Pixar offerings. It was also refreshing to have a new story. The last two releases from Pixar, Soul (2020) and Onward (2019) revolved around death. Coco (2017) should be included in that as the films in between Coco and Onward were sequels to established franchises. The score from Dan Romer was incredible and really leant itself to setting the scenes as it mixed in some traditional Italian songs to sell the story. Luca is well worth a watch.
Movie: (4 / 5)