This French sci-fi epic uses cutout stop-motion, creating something that looks like traditional 2D cartoons but using paper cutout figures, as Terry Gilliam did for Monty Python and Trey Parker and Matt Stone did for the pilot episode of South Park. Adapting Stefan Wul’s novel Oms en serie, director Rene Laloux uses the cutout medium to create a surreal world that looks like something out of Dali or Bosch.
Here, humans are a minor species on a planet ruled by Traags, humanoids a hundred times our size, who regard us somewhere between pets to be cherished and pests to be eradicated. War breaks out between the two species and threatens to destroy them both. In the meantime, statues dance, rockets get stomped on, and silly hats get worn.
The combination of futuristic sci-fi and retro animation technique is fascinating; it makes the story feel more classic than it is. The movie’s visual imagination — tall, blue-skinned aliens, tentacled predators, and gnarled jungles — seems to anticipate the world of James Cameron’s Avatar.