Missing Link trailer: Hugh Jackman and Zach Galifianakis team up in adorable LAIKA adventure
What’s eight feet tall, a little over 600 pounds, covered tip to toe in fur, and a legend believed to be the tie-up between humans and their primitive ancestors? Mr. Link, of course.
LAIKA introduced fans around the world to the mysterious Mr. Link on Thursday, November 8, when the studio released the first full-length trailer for Missing Link.
Written and directed by Chris Butler, who previously collaborated with LAIKA in 2012 to direct the stop-motion comedy horror pic ParaNorman, the forthcoming film follows Mr. Link — a “funny, sweet, and adorably literal” beast voiced by The Hangover trilogy star Zach Galifianakis — as he recruits the Indiana Jones-type explorer Sir Lionel Frost, voiced by X-Men film franchise icon Hugh Jackman, to be his right-hand man on a journey through the Pacific Northwest of the United States, across the world, and into the valley of Shangri-La to meet with his relatives.
The unlikely pair aren’t alone on their escapade, however, as Zoe Saldana’s fearless adventurer Adelina Fortnight joins Link and Frost to make the mission a three-person one. Together, the trio encounters strange creatures, wondrous landscapes, eye-popping dangers, and plenty of peril before they discover the true meaning — and actual location — of family.
The trailer establishes the central story, naturally, but it also gives viewers a look into the whimsical, colorful, larger-than-life world LAIKA crafted with Missing Link. Renowned for its stop-motion animation, LAIKA has made some of the most gorgeous animated features in recent memory. These include Coraline, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings, and the above-mentioned ParaNorman, all of which received Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature in the year they debuted. The studio also produced Tim Burton’s 2005 film Corpse Bride, developed a dream sequence for 2007’s King of California, worked on the television series Slacker Cats, and created stop-motion and claymation footage for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
Missing Link appears — both visually and in terms of the feel-good nature of the story and relationship between the central characters — to be standard, stunning stuff for LAIKA. But, as writer-director Butler previously explained, the film found inspiration in a place that’s quite interesting for stop-motion animation: early 1980s action-adventure movies, namely George Lucas’ Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“As a kid, I’d say, by far, the movie that influenced by the most was Raiders of the Lost Ark. So I wanted to do a big bold colorful adventure movie for stop motion, and that’s where Sir Lionel Frost was born,” Butler shared with iO9 in late October. “He’s the world’s first cryptozoologist, an investigator of myths and monsters and he comes across the missing link … [then] he agrees to take him on an adventure around the world to seek out Mr. Link’s lost relatives. So it’s a big epic roller coaster ride… A kaleidoscopic travelogue.”
Making such a huge film in stop-motion format was no easy task for Butler, who described Missing Link as “by far … the biggest movie [LAIKA’s] ever done in terms of the scope and scale.” The feature also marks a first for LAIKA, as it’s the first movie of the studio’s to feature adult characters, and achieves something LAIKA president and CEO Travis Knight has said the studio has “never tried before” — making a “raucous comedy entwined with a swashbuckling epic” that underscores “the universal need to find belonging.”
“We basically took a grab bag of everything we’ve done and tried to push it farther,” Butler explained. “I think on paper there’s no way this movie should have been made in stop-motion, but we did it anyway.”
By the look of things, LAIKA has another hit on its hands with Missing Link, which could see the studio go five for five on Oscar nods come the 2020 awards season.
Also featuring the voices of Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Timothy Olyphant, Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Ching Valdez-Aran, and Amrita Acharia, Missing Link is due out in theaters sometime in spring 2019.