The movie is based on a children's book by Emma Yarlett, and is set to premiere on streaming platform Netflix this weekend. It centres on an anxious school kid (voiced by The Little Mermaid's Jacob Tremblay) who encounters the physical embodiment of his greatest fear: the dark.
First-time filmmaker Sean Charmatz directs from a script written by Charlie Kaufman, whose previous credits include Adaptation, Being John Malkovich and I'm Thinking of Ending Things. The voice cast also includes the likes of Angela Bassett, Bridgerton's Golda Rosheuvel and Black Bird's Paul Walter Hauser.
The movie has secured its 100% rating based on 10 reviews at time of writing – and here's a round-up of what the critics have been saying:
"Despite its 3D CGI good looks, the film has an indie, handmade feel, which sits well with Kaufman's twisty, slightly meta tale. Small kids might struggle with the film's sudden changes of storyteller, but its smart explorations of fear and feelings are clear-cut, wrapped snugly in a rollicking adventure that sets misunderstood Dark against his cheerily annoying nemesis Light.
"Sprinkled with winking gags about film (Werner Herzog pops up, as does that Poltergeist cupboard that still haunts your dreams), this is a clever, all-ages charmer."
"It is a sweet-natured little tale, indebted to Monsters Inc and the whole Pixar canon but saved from being predictable with other borrowings (Back to the Future, Inception), as well as its various metafictional levels of storytelling."
"To its bones, this is a Kaufman joint, and while it has an unusual sweetness – there's a straightforwardly wholesome father-daughter relationship – it is full of existential dread, big ideas, and a strong resistance to anything too neat, too Hollywood. That a major studio has allowed someone like him into the safe enclave of kiddie films should be celebrated; children need to be exposed to more of his dark materials."
"If Inside Out could be described as Pixar doing Charlie Kaufman, the new animated feature Orion and the Dark is essentially Charlie Kaufman doing Pixar. Technically speaking, the film comes courtesy of rival studio Dreamworks, and is premiering on Netflix. But in its polished spectacle, its anthropomorphising of abstract concepts, and its aspirations to tug on the heartstrings of kids and adults alike, the project definitely resembles something from the house Woody and Buzz built.
"And part of its charm rests on seeing the mad genius behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich try to work within the bounds of all-ages formula without being completely consumed by it."
"While it might not be as visually impressive as something like Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs or Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, Orion and the Dark falls into this line of films from remarkable filmmakers attempting to present difficult and complex ideas to a younger audience.
"It's a delightfully smart and ambitious story that is equally powerful for children and adults alike."
Orion and the Dark premieres this Friday (February 2) on Netflix.
You Might Also Like