"The Inventor" Review

The Inventor

Director: Jim Capobianco
Starring: Stephen Fry, Marion Cotillard, Daisy Ridley
Studio: Blue Fox Entertainment
Genre(s): Comedy
Rated: PG (For some thematic elements and nude art images)

There is a hobby that I have that is in some way an extension of what I do on this blog and my YouTube Channel, and that is to discuss movies on X (the site formally known as Twitter). As with most people on that site, I have friends and certain individuals that I love connecting with, however, the most interesting group that I interact with is Twitter users in the animation community. Though we all agree that animation should be taken more seriously as an art form, few of us seem to agree on whether or not animation is in a good state right now. You have those who like the modern takes on the hybrid 2D/3D style of animation you find in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem."

Others I speak to wish for a return to a simpler time with 2D animation. Some love stop motion while others wish stop motion weren't so consistently scary. Then you have people like me, who believe that animation is in a great place while always having room for improvement. However, in truth, isn't that how it is with movies in general? Aren't movies always aiming for Heaven and always stopping short of Jupiter or Mars? The reason I love animation so much is because it is free from the logic of reality.

That means animation can be whatever it wants, and I feel without those constraints it is easier for filmmakers to fail at it. This may be why I am sympathetic towards "The Inventor." This is a movie that I believe on any other day I would give two stars. It is a movie that is about Leonardo Da Vinci and the conflict he has in regard to making the art he wants and the statues that make him money. He wants to use his art to help answer the questions of the universe and define what a 'soul' is, yet he is constantly held back because he is always working with kings who have more interest in their towns and weapons to defend said towns; they care nothing about the unsolved answers of the universe.

With a combination of stop motion animation and old-fashioned hand drawn 2D animation, I can imagine getting this film off the ground was a bit of a miracle in itself. After all, you are talking about two animation styles that haven't been considered "mainstream" in quite some time. Animators will often talk about how difficult it is to convince a studio to put resources into these types of projects. Once said resources are granted, who is out there to make the art? In some ways, I can see the reality of making this movie inspiring how the characters relate to one another in the story itself (if the director can't sell his vision to a major studio, why should Leonardo have an easy time showing the king of France his drawings of death).

I also want to note that the movie has been written and directed by Jim Capobianco, a Pixar veteran who won an Academy Award for "Gerri's Game" before having his dream project, "Ratatouille," taken away from him. The man has started and failed to complete a lot of films in his career, and that is a shame because he is creative and talented. Am I really going to sit here and give the man a bad review after he finally got his chance to direct a full-length feature film? For that matter, am I going to bury a movie that was a life-long passion project for him (he would also direct the short "Leonardo" in 2009, showing his lifelong fascination with the inventor).

Alright, so "The Inventor" isn't the most revolutionary film I've seen. It's not going to turn too many heads. It might not even be one of the best animated films I've seen this year. All that being said, "The Inventor" is charming, well-meaning, cleaverly animated, and has a pure heart that has been lacking in even some of this year's best animated films. It is easily something that the whole family can enjoy and maybe even inspire kids to dream big even when government bureaucracy is trying to get in the way of your dreams. I have no idea how hopeful that sounds, but in the end, it worked for me.