Otherworld
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
otherworld This strange mixture of live-action and animation is extremely uneven--occasionally stunning to look at but far too complicated to follow. The live-action prologue (and epilogue) follows three teens on a boating day out to celebrate the 18th birthday of Lleu (Rhys), who's just found out he's adopted. Dan (Evans) feels like his life is out of control. And Rhiannon (Livsey) thinks she might be pregnant after a one-night stand. At sea, they spot a mysterious underwater world, and when they dive in they're propelled into an animated parallel 6th century land where they live out three ancient legends: Lleu confronts his parentage with a magician adoptive father, a mother who rejects him and a wife who seems made for him (and is!). Dan inadvertently sparks a brutal war between the Irish and the Welsh over the marriage of his sister. And Rhiannon lives a whole lifetime, gets married after a round of treachery, gives birth, is sentenced for a crime she doesn't commit and eventually falls in love.
These are completely separate stories with hundreds of characters who all look alike--it's impossible to remember who's who most of the time! The structure is equally difficult, arranged into TV-like episodes that lurch clumsily from scene to scene. It's mostly hand-drawn animation that alternates between jerky simplicity and sumptuous beauty. This wouldn't matter at all if the story were stronger. But it leaps around, making no logical sense time-wise and playing everything so seriously that it's almost laughable as a result, complete with a corny safe-sex message, despite the presence of a fairly graphic animated adultery scene. In fact, there's a heavily moralistic tone throughout, with lots of gruesome violence as the bad guys get what they deserve! And you also wonder about the target audience, as it's far too violent and sexy for young kids who usually watch animated fairy tales. It's just a pity the script isn't stronger, because this could have been an intriguing and fascinating film.

cert 12 themes, animated violence and nudity 16.Jun.03

dir Derek Hayes
scr Martin Lamb, Penelope Middleboe
with Matthew Rhys, Daniel Evans, Jenny Livsey
voices Ioan Gruffudd, Paul McGann, Philip Madoc, Lisa Palfrey, Sian Rivers, Richard Mylan, Paul Rhys, Clare Isaac
release UK 27.Jun.03
03/UK 1h44

Heroics: Evans, Rhys and Livsey, below.
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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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