Igor (2008)

Rating: B-

Dir: Anthony Leondis
Star (voice): John Cusack, Eddie Izzard, Molly Shannon, Steve Buscemi

After clouds descend on the land of Malaria, the inhabitants switch from farming to evil science, producing devices to strike fear into the rest of the world. The scientists who invent such things all have their “Igors”, hunchbacked assistants who pull switches, etc. But when his master explodes in the course of an experiment, one Igor (Cusack) seizes the chance to step into the spotlight, and do what no other scientist had been able to do, create evil life. He assembles a monster, Eve (Shannon), only for her to develop acting aspirations rather than the hoped-for malevolent tendencies, after a chance encounter with James Lipton. Still, Igor is intent on winning the Evil Science Fair, and this brings him to the attention of Doctor Schadenfreude (Izzard), who wants to use Eve to become the ruler of Malaria.

Is there any way to review this and not mention The Nightmare Before Christmas? Probably not.It’s a very similar setting, where “normal” notions of what’s right and wrong are reversed, with a hero whose efforts to do what he thinks is correct end up backfiring. The animation, which is CGI and not stop-motion, is certainly aiming in the same direction, and to be honest, these aspects suffer in the comparison. However, on its own, it stands up well, and certainly kick the ass of the inferior Coraline. There are enough quirky sidelights and sarcasm to make this more than just for the kids, not least Buscemi as one of Igor’s earlier creations, who is both immortal and suicidal.

The pace does drop off in the middle, because it’s fairly apparent exactly where this is heading, and the film doesn’t bother to deviate from that path. Given the undeniable imagination that goes into the setting and characters (even if somewhat derivative), it’s a bit of a shame they didn’t bother to do more with the plot, especially in the second-half.