The 99 Unbound

The 99 Unbound


Reviewed by: David Graham

World spirituality combines with Islamic mythology in a technologically redundant CGI animation that isn't fit to be mentioned in the same breath as anything by Pixar - even their pre-Toy Story shorts. Director Dave Osborne's background in TV is sadly all too evident: The 99 Unbound might just about cut the mustard after school on CBeebies but its low budget and rudimentary design are cinematically embarrassing. Add in a Middle Eastern message that's frankly mystifying for adults never mind children - mixing elements of Fahrenheit 451 with Allah-worshiping nonsense - and it's hard to see who would enjoy this aside from trenchant admirers of the source comic.

Ninety-nine human attributes have been instilled in mythic gem stones, their power only unlocked by those who are pure of heart. His house invaded by the first four of these individuals, a young depressed man finds he may be one of those chosen to wield the stones' power in order to right the wrongs of the world. Hot on their tail are a group of wicked scientists and businessmen, who will stop at nothing to seize the stones for their own nefarious ends. The party of five must work together to bring peace to the world and thwart their enemies.

Copy picture

First and foremost, the 'animation' here lets the whole film down: it's crude and unappealing, with jerky camera-moves and hopelessly bland design conspiring to scupper any chance Osborne had at creating a spectacle. The voice acting is also appalling, injecting little in the way of humor or even life into the po-faced script. The mumbo-jumbo this film takes as its plot is eclipsed on a daily basis by the anime-inspired likes of Ben 10, and the woeful attempts at upholding a politically correct sensibility fall flat. The wheelchair-using hero proves insufferable, while even the bio-limbed baddie turns out disappointingly to have a heart (although precious little fashion sense, as highlighted by the tracksuit top he's afflicted with).

There are some interesting ideas here buried within a worthy concept, but by the time the characters have donned matching superhero-style gimp-suits, you'll be wishing it was tea-time already. Any kids subjected to this will likely throw a tantrum and, quite reasonably, demand to be taken to something that at least looks like it was made in their own lifetime. You could buy them a PS2 for less than the price of a family ticket and they'd at least be treated to better graphics. Or you could just take them home and make them watch the Dire Straits music video for Money For Nothing on a loop: its angular block-people at least had some charm. Utterly dismal - maybe the remaining 94 will have better luck.

Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2012
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An animated adaptation of Naif Al-Mutawa's comic strip 'The 99', this is an action packed adventure story, full of intrigue, conflict and diversity.

Director: Dave Osborne

Writer: Henry Gilroy, adapted from the comic strip by Naif Al-Mutawa

Starring: Aris Athanasopoulos, Erich Boehm, David Godfrey, Bruce Hayward, Lamont James, Dominique Kamras, Sara-Clare Lajeunesse, Dave Pender, Cole Promane

Year: 2011

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: UK, Kuwait


EIFF 2012

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