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‘Cryptozoo’ review: Unique animation and story is not for everybody

Wild and imaginative.

Cryptozoo is wild, imaginative, and in a sense, completely unsurprising. In a film about a world where cryptids are not only an accepted part of life, they are the target of hate crimes and bias, everything is on the table. This is not a bad thing; it just means that whoever is watching better be prepared to see anything, because that is exactly what they are going to get. 

The story sounds like it will be as normal as a story like this can be. Lauren (Lake Bell) has created the titular environment as a space to protect cryptids. She is also searching for the baku, a creature that eats nightmares. At the same time, the United States military is hunting down cryptids in order to weaponize them. Everything is on the line as both sides try to get what they want. 

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The animation will be familiar while still standing out. The opening scenes of Cryptozoo mix in psychedelia. Later, there are the herky jerky movement of paper cutouts. Many of the scenes will look like they are out of a children’s book. The style is child-like but never childish. The film has an obnoxious choppy style that is intricate and deceptively simple. It is a unique mix that remains eye-catching the entire time.

The story is filled with moral conundrums that make the characters endearing. Lauren is proof there are no easy answers in Cryptozoo. Other than to harm or take advantage of them, much of the world wants nothing to do with cryptids. Lauren is trying to integrate them into the human world, but her solution of using a zoo where she charges people to see cryptids in captivity is hypocritical at best – and she knows it. 

Cryptozoo will stand out due to its art, but it also has a strong story. Both force the audience to take in a lot. This will end up turning away many since the film tries to tackle so many themes in a relatively short time. For others, the multilayered writing will work in sync with the stunning animation. It is a mesmerizing and exhausting watch.

Cryptozoo releases everywhere August 20

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