“I’ve always felt a little different than everyone else, so I did what any outsider would do. Made weird art.”Katie Mitchell
Following an unconventional family unexpectedly caught in a robot uprising, The Mitchells vs The Machines is really about family relationships, and the need to find common ground and ways to communicate. Continuing the looser approach to animation style from Into the Spider-verse, the art direction blends detailed 3D animation, flatter cell-shading, and sporadic flairs through 2D overlays. The result lends the incredibly polished production a handmade feel, mirroring Katie’s amateur filmmaking and bringing to mind the creative low-fi filmmaking in Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind. Reference humour spans the generations, from Internet memes to older movies (numerous nods to Kill Bill are an unexpected choice). Like Wall-E there is an underlying warning about lazy reliance on technology, although it’s all rather on the nose, with the disaster caused by a young billionaire tech entrepreneur named Mark (“It’s almost like stealing people’s data and giving it to a hyper-intelligent AI as part of an unregulated tech monopoly was a bad thing”). Its depth may be limited to its family dynamics, but spending a couple of hours with the Mitchells is raucous fun and it is hard not to root for a family who plainly love one another, even if their abilities place them at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Incredibles.