Mad God Review – Fantasia International Film Festival 2021

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Have you ever seen a movie that has your jaw constantly on the floor? A film that inserts the question “How the hell did they manage to do that?” in your head over and over? Phil Tippett’s magnum opus, Mad God, will do all of this for you and more.

Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve met Phil Tippett through his legendary work in animation. He was the key The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; he created the drawings of Jabba the Hutt and AT-ATs; he gave life to jurassic park dinosaurs Dragon hunter creatures, insects in Starship Troopers, and the robot sequences in Robocop. He is a master of his trade and Mad god is a reflection of this: a stop-motion part of exceptional craftsmanship that took more than 30 years to manufacture.

A capsule descends from the sky. He overcomes artillery fire to sink into a nightmarish world. A heavily protected masked man emerges – a sort of steampunk explorer – to navigate a grotesque landscape populated by masturbating dolls, ghoulish experiences, and amorphous creatures. He passes giant figures defecating on the mouth of an indescribable giant mutation which observes him with his blood-soaked eye.

As the Explorer delves deeper into this hell, you begin to wonder if he is the Mad God? Who is it? The answer hinges on the opening of the film, which shows a quote from Leviticus highlighting the cruelty of a God who, over the scenes, has clearly forgotten everything about his people, leaving them to rot in their human filth.

The film takes us to many worlds filled with horror. There are industrial landscapes populated by faceless disposable workers, a psychedelic Lewis Carroll field in which eerie bugs play poker, a city in ruins, among other miserable places. Throughout the journey, we encounter Kubrick-Esque monoliths, monsters made of flesh and metal, inhuman doctors, breathtaking Black Death-inspired creatures, and mutant battles. There is no right and wrong, just cruelty and chaos explored through themes of exploitation, destruction and frenzied capitalism.

The film is an insane mesh of unique styles, tones, inspirations and ideas that come to life in meticulous detail. Even if you’re not on board with its quirky storytelling, there’s still something to admire. Creatures are the product of amazing levels of imagination, and the animation is filled with life and emotion; there is disgust, fear and despair. In the worst case, you will feel admiration for this sensory universe. As a mad god himself, Tippett forces you to admire his deranged creations, perhaps even to feel satisfaction at the audiovisual anarchy on display.

There is no dialogue in Mad god, only a few sounds and babbling eyes, a lot of eyes watching intently and moving. Sound design is the key to immersion in creation: stages, dissection, guns, explosions, dismemberments, trails, ticking and crushing. It is a sonorous cornucopia that is perfectly used to populate this horror. Dan Wool’s wonderful score just brings the extra touch of emotion.

Mad god is a nightmare of blood, machines and violence that exploits human fears. It’s a beautifully deranged artistic achievement of epic proportion and uncompromising vision that comes to life with a mind-boggling imagination and some of the best animation you’ll ever see.

Mad god had his North American premiere to Fantasia International Film Festival 2021.

Mad god

9.5 / 10

TL; DR

Mad god is a nightmare of blood, machines and violence that exploits human fears. It’s a beautifully deranged artistic achievement of epic proportion and uncompromising vision that comes to life with a mind-boggling imagination and some of the best animation you’ll ever see.


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