LADYBUG AND CATNOIR (France 2023) ***
Directed by Jeremy Zag
Opening in theatres this week for a limited release following its streaming on Netflix, this animation from France is no Pixar or Disney blockbuster but a much smaller budget little entry that has its charm and enjoyment.
The film contains the fairy tale elements of magic, a reluctant hero in this case a female one to be current with the times, a nasty villain and a little romance. The film begins with a sage named Wong Foo, introducing himself and then what the feature’s story is about “Do you believe in magic?” he asks. The miraculous, he describes, is a series of gems granted to the greatest heroes for the conquest of evil. To stop the evil, Wong Foo foresees that two heroes must arise - Ladybug and Catnoir, the title of the film. The film that introduced the audience to a girl going to school, feeling sad that she has got no friends. But she sings a happy song, nevertheless. The clumsy girl walks to school, the scenery depicting Paris in the morning.
This exciting Miraculous (the original title of the movie) origin story follows shy Parisian teenager Marinette (Cristina Vee Valenzuela) as she starts the year in a new high school. On her way home, Marinette saves a mystical old man, the Wong Foo at the film’s start who gives her the Miraculous gem, transforming her into the superhero Ladybug, bestowed with powers of creation. At school, Marinette has fallen for Adrien (Bryce Papenbrook), the sheltered son of millionaire fashion designer Gabriel Agreste (Keith Silverstein). Meanwhile, Adrien has been transformed by another Miraculous gem into the superhero Cat Noir - and begins to fall for Ladybug, his opposite. Unaware of each other's true identities, the duo team up to battle the supervillain Hawk Moth, who in reality is none other than Adrien's father, seeking control of the Miraculous gems to bring his wife back to life. With Hawk Moth sowing chaos and destruction across Paris, Ladybug and Cat Noir's talents are put to the test in fierce battles with his minions.
Yet still greater tests lie ahead. Can Marinette, as Ladybug, find the courage to believe in herself? Her mother has told her, yes a little corny here, to believe in her heart. Will this star-crossed hero and sidekick become something more to each other when their masks come off? No genius to guess the right answer.
The animated feature is from France’s Zag Studies with the director serving as co-writer and songwriter for the film. A neat little French entry, no competition to Pixar and Disney but has its French charm which is hard not to like.