Unrated, 75 minutes
Animated and suitable for all ages
Intriguing, unique animated feature "Secret of Kells"
"The Secret of Kells" is an Irish-French-Belgian animated feature that was recently nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar (and surprisingly so, over many other well-known films) and the intriguing story, set in the 9th century, is intriguing in that its hand drawn, a rarity in animation these days. Colorful, leisurely and talky, its unique story will appeal more to animation enthusiasts than to children, who may be a bit bored a few minutes in.
Irish animator Tomm Moore, who created his own animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, directs and writes his first feature film, about a young medieval boy in the 9th century named Brendan (Evan McGuire), who is being apprenticed by his uncle Abbot Cellach (Brendan Gleeson, the only name actor and recognizable voice here) in the art of illuminating and writing a book that will help protect their town, Abbey of Kells, from some nasty Viking invaders. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator named Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide.
'The Secret of Kells" is a unique, intelligent and enchanting animated adventure that may not carry mass appeal but is worthy to be seen, particularly for those with an interest in animation. Moore's hand drawn characters are colorful in a washed-out way, unlike the bold hues of the CG Pixar features. The film lacks energy to keep the young ones truly interested, and there are a couple of intense scenes involving battles with the Vikings that may scare some of the younger ones.
"The Secret of Kells," as inimitable as it often is, was a surprise nominee among the Best Animated films at the Oscars recently, as it was selected over many other mainstream and far more widely-seen nominees such as "Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs." Still, it's an alluring, enjoyable journey (and at 75 minutes, a short one), suitable for the whole family and worth a view.