Unicorn Wars

Alberto Vázquez’s animated Unicorn Wars has been billing itself as Bambi meets Apocalypse Now. The film that it most reminded me of, though, initially, is Peter Jackson’s almost unendurably repulsive, anti-classic Meet the Feebles, in which adorable muppets suffer through a series of truly nightmarish horror sequences. 

There are no muppets here. But the adorable, Disney-influenced art substitutes an analogous neotenous squelch. Teddy bear soldiers are at war with the unicorns of the magic forest, and Vázquez delights in drenching his adorable protagonists in blood, urine, puss, and sociopathy. 

The wilfully mean-spirited desecration feels at points like wallowing in unpleasantness for its own sake. But the film has a larger point than adolescent snickering. 

The two central teddy bear soldiers—resentful, curdled Bluey and his sensitive, kind-hearted twin brother Tubby—have diametrically opposed reactions as they discover the ugliness and pointlessness of the war. Tubby wants to put the mission behind him and learn to reconcile with nature and with his enemies. Bluey, though, wants to destroy everything that hurt him and everything that didn’t. The sequences in which his dewy visage is transformed by a toothy snarl into an avatar of cruelty and mindless rage are among the most effective in a very accomplished film.

Vázquez also owes a debt to Tolkien and to Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. The war on the unicorns is a symbolic destruction of the natural world and of the possibility of freedom and joy. The film’s portrayals of birds, forest animals, and frogs are hyper-detailed and limpid. In contrast, we catch glimpses of a slimy, amorphous monster, which calls out with a mother’s voice to lure smaller, weaker things into its lair. It is a metaphor for greed, hatred, war itself, and also for fascism, which embodies all the others as it consumes our better selves—teddy bears, unicorns, and all. 18+, 80 min.

Limited release in theaters and wide release on VOD

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *