REVIEW: ‘Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness’ Is an Animated Bright Spot

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Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness - But Why Tho

Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness (Hopper et le Hamster des Ténèbres) is a Netflix Original animated kid’s film directed by Ben Stassen and  Benjamin Mousquet with a screenplay by David Collard, based on the graphic novels by Chris Grine. Chickenhare (Jordan Tartakow) was found by the king-to-be, a master adventurer in his time. And as he grew up, he dreamed of being as great an adventurer as his dad. But as he grows through his teenage years, he becomes self-conscious about his being a hybrid between a chicken and a hare. So when Chickenhare finds his chance to prove himself by locating a fabled artifact, he accidentally sets his power-hungry uncle Lapin (Danny Fehsenfeld) free from prison and winds up on an adventure of swashbuckling and self-discovery.

Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness is a rather good movie. It’s spectacularly animated, its voice cast puts in great performances, its music is fun, and its lesson is well-learned. I was immediately struck by the visuals of the movie. It’s made with sharp, luscious CGI that feels like it was constructed with enormous care. This is an adventure film, and as such is filled with action sequences, and they are all so fluid with fun shot after fun shot. The movie’s environments are diverse, the characters, who are all different kinds of animals, are unique, and again, everything is just so smoothly animated.

I quite enjoyed the voice acting and the script too. Chickenhare is a fun fellow who is always optimistic despite his chief character flaw of being a big self-doubter. For whatever reason, his best friend Abe’s (Joe Ochman) accent is hilarious to me. He is often the comic relief, both physically and with one-liners, and while some are a bit too corny or going for the adult laugh a bit too hard that they feel out of place, he’s generally pretty funny and enjoyable. And Meg, the new friend the two make along the way, is a pretty well fleshed-out character, not relegated to merely the “badass woman” role and nothing more. It would have been nice if she was not the only female character in the whole movie, but I certainly appreciated the nonstop support and encouragement to be his full self that she gave Chickenhare throughout the movie.

The movie really was quite good about reinforcing its primary message about how our unique qualities are what make us shine rather than a cause for being down on ourselves. The fact that Chickenhare not only sheds his trepidation but is handily rewarded for it in some rather cool and unexpected ways is fun to watch. And it’s always reinforced by excellent animation. The only issue I really took was with the Nativism presented in one of the crew’s trials. A band of pigs are Native-coded and it’s not presented in the most illustrious way. However, this sequence also contains some of my truly new favorite action moments in animation. There is a very particular and extremely cool way the pigs function and the way they are animated is something I would have been obsessed with as a kid and am kind of obsessed with now.

Chickenhare also features an excellent score by Puggy. It’s got tight homages to Indiana Jones and rad brass numbers all the same. It adds a lot to the atmosphere of this already pretty fun movie.

Netflix’s animated children’s movies run the gamut in quality, but Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness is certainly among the better endeavors. It’s somewhat simplistic in its conceit, but its animation is spectacular and as a whole, it’s quite fun.

Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness is streaming now on Netflix.


Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Netflix’s animated children’s movies run the gamut in quality, but Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness is certainly among the better endeavors. It’s somewhat simplistic in its conceit, but its animation is spectacular and as a whole, it’s quite fun.