Yamasong: March of the Hollows, 2017.
Directed by Sam Koji Hale.
Starring Nathan Fillion, Abigail Breslin, Whoopi Goldberg, Freida Pinto, Peter Weller, Malcolm McDowell, George Takei, Ed Asner, and Bruce Davison.
When the Hollows escape their prison it’s up to Nani (Abigail Breslin) to stop her mother from destroying Yamasong.
A prison moon is already stretching it, but fill that prison with Hollows, the mechanical beings the title tells us are going to be marching, and there’s only one way this story can play out. All that’s left is to fill in the details.
Yamasong: March of the Hollows is the feature length follow-up to the short film, Yamasong. Directed by Sam Koji Hale, and executive produced by Heather Henson and Toby Froud (Labyrinth), a recap explains that Nani escaped the prison in the short and returned, no longer completely machine but with a patchwork heart. The beat of that heart is what sends the prison moon plummeting to Yamasong, the planet the Hollows were trying to conquer and now want to conquer again. Boasting a massive head that’s reflective of her stature, Nani’s mother, Yuri (Whoopi Goldberg), leads the charge against Yamasong, but Nani knows her tactics are wrong and teams up with a terrapin friend, Shojun (Nathan Fillion), to try and stop her.
The short film was nine minutes long, so condensing it to a five-minute recap should suffice, but when you’re dealing with a standalone movie you don’t expect to not know anything. You might not need a full explanation for why Shojun and Nani have switched eyes, and maybe the short wasn’t much more explicit, but it’s always going to bug you, the not being sure. Mostly it’s what went on between Shojun and Nani that’s left underdeveloped. The rest of the recap is useful backstory, but either Yamasong could’ve done with another way to deliver this information or the recap should’ve been shorter, but the short film should be supplemental, not required viewing.
Filmed entirely using puppets, a few of which have animated mouths, Yamasong has a martial arts component as well. It’s how the various species do battle. Seeing their different fighting styles, and how they reflect the animals they look like and where they’re from, is the best part of Yamasong. Shojun lives near the water, where fish can swim and fly, and the hook on a string he uses for fishing is also the weapon he uses in combat. Freida Pinto voices a super cool ovis named Geta, who lives in the snowy mountains. We see her head butt people and charge at them, as rams are apt to do, and it’s a great foundation to build upon, that really emphasizes place and this new world that’s being drawn for us.
Like the best villains, Yuri struggles to understand why people dislike her and, more interesting still, while she’s the main antagonist in this movie there’s another group that poses an even bigger threat to Yamasong. Known as Tricksters, these creatures are like White Walkers – not in the movie much but going to have to be dealt with eventually. You get to the end of the film and, sure, there’s a conclusion, but it’s not really over because the Tricksters are still out there. Does that mean there’ll be a sequel? Nothing’s promised, but any movie that promote puppets and practical effects deserves a signal boost.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★