Orion and the Dark | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
The mind of Charlie Kaufman is unlike any other. His stories always carry such profound, existential weight that burrows deep into the viewers’ psyche. After watching Orion and the Dark, which was penned by Kaufman, I was left wondering - Why does this movie feel so damn ordinary?
Thematically, this feels like something Kaufman would write, as it deals with things like crippling fears and anxiety. Of course, this is a children’s animated movie, so you can only take those ideas so far before they become too mature for young audiences. It’s also based on a book, so there was only so far creative liberty could be taken. However, I think the issue lies more in the fact that Kaufman wasn’t the sole writer for this project. This makes for a stark contrast between a movie written for kids, and Kaufman’s darker ideas. I kept getting hints of something far more profound than the final product allowed.
That’s not to say this isn’t still an enjoyable outing the whole family can enjoy. Although Kaufman’s larger themes don’t quite translate to the screen in the way I’d hoped for, there are still some great messages to be found in this story. It teaches us about the importance of confronting our fears, and how sometimes being afraid is perfectly natural. There’s also some really nice stuff about generational storytelling, adding another interesting layer to the movie.
While the animation won’t dazzle you in the way Pixar or even other Dreamworks films have, it works quite well stylistically, with some fun creative flair peppered in. I particularly enjoyed Orion’s book of fears and the way his doodles were animated on the page. Also, while definitely reminiscent of Pixar’s Inside Out, I did also enjoy seeing the night entities brought to life as colourful characters with unique personalities.
Orion in the Dark can’t quite merge Kaufman’s writing style with a story written for young viewers, but it’s a valiant attempt that still yields interesting results. At a breezy 90 minutes, this is an easy recommendation if you’ve got kids looking for a fun new animated adventure.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett