This time, there is no longer any doubt: Sony Pictures Animation is the studio to follow, the most creative of the moment in terms of animated films, the most original too. Over the years, he has regaled us at the cinema with the sagas “Storm of giant meatballs” or “Hotel Transylvania” (the fourth part of which will be released this summer), or on streaming platforms with the recent “The Mitchell against the Machines. », On Netflix.
House specialty: leave a great creative freedom to directors whose first film it is and who illustrate themselves with completely delusional scenarios. The new pearl of the studio arrives – because of the pandemic – this Friday on Netflix and is entitled “The Dragon-genius”. Another first film, written and directed by Chris Appelhans, previously artistic director on “Coraline” or “The Princess and the Frog”.
As the film takes place entirely in Asia, it was co-produced, as is now the norm in this kind of situation, by Sony Pictures United States and a 100% Chinese studio, and, for the record, the name of the illustrious Jackie Chan appears in the list of producers: the actor will have smelled the good deal, and he was right. “The Dragon-genius” tells a funny story of love, friendship … and magic.
Two kids from a working-class neighborhood, Din and Lina, are inseparable until Lina’s father decides to change his life to get rich. Lina soaring in the suburbs of luxury, Din spends ten years dreaming of seeing her again. He eventually found the opportunity, but it became very rich and difficult to approach. Chance will put a magic teapot on Din’s path: it hides a dragon capable of granting three of his wishes …
We think we can guess the rest: it was without counting on the audacity of Chris Appelhan, who imagined an absolutely delirious dragon-genius. Grumpy, deadpan, he would like to move on quickly, except that he will become attached to this young lover transfixed and… to life on Earth, because he himself was once human. You have to see this grumbling dragon, but full of curiosity, marveling at the taste of shrimp chips or at the concept, astounding in his eyes, of a supersonic plane.
An irresistible duo
Not very conciliatory at the beginning of his relation with Din, the Dragon-genius will gradually become his best ally, while multiplying the lines that kill, the quirky jokes and the reflections full of mischief: a treat for the spectator! In fact, Long – that’s his name – is the antithesis of the bland and completely failed creature of the recent Disney “Raya and the Last Dragon”. From every point of view: because in terms of graphics, Long, a red creature, strong, able to contort himself by adopting impossible angles, squarely bursts the screen – well done to the American and Chinese animators and graphic designers.
The scenario redoubling of surprises, action scenes, suspense and comic situations and, for his part, the young Din sparing no efforts to win back his friend, for whom he has more and more feelings, the kid and his dragon form an irresistible and enthusiastic duo, both heroes of a film that goes 100 miles an hour and can make everyone in the family have a great time, regardless of their age.
EDITOR’S RATING: 4/5
“The Dragon-genius”, American-Chinese animated film by Chris Appelhans (2021). 1h38. From 8 years old. On Netflix.