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Yamasong: March of the Hollows

USA 2017
produced by
Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki, Adamo P. Cultraro, Mallory O'Meara, Toby Froud (executive), Heather Henson (executive), Ryan Bury (executive), James Andrew Felts (executive) for Dark Dunes Productions
directed by Sam Koji Hale
starring the voices of Abigail Breslin, Nathan Fillion, Freida Pinto, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Weller, Malcolm McDowell, George Takei, Edward Asner, Bruce Davison
story by Sam Koji Hale, screenplay by Sam Koji Hale, Ekaterina Sedia, music by Shoji Kameda, production and character design by Sam Koji Hale, visual effects by Eric McAvoy

marionation
Yamasong

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Back in the day, P'Torr (Bruce Davison) created the Hollows, a blend of living being and machine, to make the living more resistant against hostile enviroments on the planet Yamasong. But things turned sour when one of his creations, Yari (Whoopi Goldberg), took over and saw it her task to conquer all the tribes on Yamasong and transform them into Hollows by force, robbing their peronalities and making them her slaves in the process. As this was never P'Torr's intention, he banished all the Hollows to the prison moon and went into self-imposed exile on another plane of existence. Among the Hollows though was one girl, Nani (Abigail Breslin), who had fallen in love with turtoise-like warrior Shojun (Nathan Fillion) and has thus grown a heart. This resulted in Shojun being banished from his tribe, and Nani being left behind when the Hollows escape their lunar prison to once again try to conquer Yamasong. However, somehow Nani finds her way to Shojun, and they soon figure it's up to them to end the war between the Hollows and the creatures of Yamasong, and they are soon joined by the goatlike outlaw with a heart of gold Geta (Freida Pinto). Between the three of them they figure the key to making peace might lie with Lord Geer (Malcolm McDowell), an exiled Hollow who was once P'Torr's right hand man and who has always opposed Yari's plans of domination. Problem is though that he shares a special bond with Yari which means Yari can listen in on everything that's going on in his life, whether he likes it or not - and soon enough Yari's warriors have caught up with our heroes, and in a battle, Nani loses her body (her soul's entirely in her face though). But our heroes at least now know what their mission is, to find and awaken the rock god, the only being on this planet mightier than Yari. And after an expedition, that puts all the founding legends of their planet into question and that also included many a battle, our heroes arrive at the rock god's lair and do what they've come for. But awakening a creature more powerful than their mightiest foe might also mean having a bigger problem to deal with in the process ...

 

Especially if you've already grown tired of too many CGI-effects spectacles trying to outdo one another by creating bigger and bigger bangs while telling the same story over and over, Yamasong: March of the Hollows will seem like a breath of fresh air. Sure, enough in this movie is still CGI-enhanced, but in its heart it's a puppet movie relying mostly on practical effects and expert puppeteering, and the creatures designed for that one sure look splendid, as does the produciton design that somehow combines fairy tale and steampunk elements to a perfect whole that doesn't shy away from surrealist and/grotesque touches. So the film really is a feast for the eyes, and yet what really makes Yamasong: March of the Hollows is how good it is at building its very own world with its very own logic and laws of nature while at the same time telling a compelling and tense story that's romance, science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one, making this one above all else just a really impressive movie.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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