European production company Dreamin’ Dolphin Film brings us the CGI animated movie ‘Latte and the Magic Waterstone,’ directed by Mimi Maynard, Regina Welker, and Nina Wels. It made its premiere at the 2019 Schlingel International Film Festival and was released in the United States on Netflix.
Latte (Ashley Bornancin) is a hedgehog who lives in a forest that is experiencing a drought. The animals generally tease her, put off by her independent nature and her lack of a family. She makes up for this by claiming her father was a king and therefore, she is a princess. The animals get word that the Bear King (Danny Fehsenfeld) has stolen the “Magic Waterstone” which provides water to the whole forest. Most are hesitant to believe this tale, but Latte and her squirrel friend Tjum (Carter Hastings) go on an adventure to find the stone and bring water back to everyone in the forest.
I will say for this movie, the animators did a good job with the background animation. Taking place in a forest, the way the trees, leaves, grass, mountains, and caves were all done in a good style that was enjoyable to see. The leaves moved in a realistic fashion that was smooth, as did the flow of water for the various scenes.
The character designs were decent. They were not iconic looking or groundbreaking, but they were animated well and each character, with the exception of the rabbits, felt like they were given a unique flare. Latte is well done and I thought how they animated her hedgehog roll was good and had a nice feel to it.
My problem is with the story. It is a bit mediocre in the sense it had a few issues that were left open. There is a new wave in filmmaking, particularly with European cinema, where they will introduce characters as MacGuffins to just kind of move the plot along, but their importance diminishes or they vanish altogether. This was incredibly glaring in this movie. We are introduced to frogs, beavers, and other hedgehogs who just appear for less than five minutes, but then they just disappear. They do have callbacks at the end of the movie, but it felt like a rush, “Oh yeah, we have to give them a point at the end.” Obviously, smaller characters are important to a story, but I felt like this one just had too many.
There were also a few things I felt were unresolved. For one thing, why did the Bear King steal the stone, to begin with? It is mentioned that the bears experienced a drought, but if the stone provides water for everyone, why did it exclude them for a time? Also, what is the story behind the disappearance of Latte’s father? It is mentioned several times and she even mistakes another hedgehog for her dad, but it is never resolved.
That being said, the story has an interesting premise, decent characters, and enough cartoonish action to keep the kids entertained. I also think the voice actors did a good job with their characters. The original version of the film was in German and I thought the English cast did a good job with the dub.
Bottom line, yes Latte and the Magic Waterstone has a few issues, but it is kid-friendly and I believe they will enjoy watching the forest animals go on this adventure.
PARENTAL CONCERN: Cartoonish violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: The Bear King always wins.
Check out the trailer below:
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