Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness
Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness 2018
This is the third movie in a trilogy from comic studio slash low budget animation studio Arcana. The first movie felt a little overly kiddish, the second was a little darker and a little better. The third movie finishes out the trilogy and ends up falling somewhere inbetween the two. This has always been a lower budget animated series, but somehow the lower budget is felt a lot more in this final chapter. And I’m still not overly familiar with the mythology behind HP Lovecraft but of the three, I think I’ve either just started to get the hang of it after watching it over the course of three movies, or it was less dense this time around. It’s still an odd choice for what appears to be a children’s film but it’s not a bad ending to the trilogy. And even though this is a less popular film, it’s still a fairly recent release which I will be going into full spoilers so here’s your warning.
One of the biggest issues with this film which didn’t seem to be as much of an issue in the previous two films is the noticeable lack of budget. There is a lot more action in this film than in the previous two but unfortunately the budget was not able to keep up with that action and it made everything look much lower quality. The movement of the characters are not smooth, the effects for the magic spells are fairly mediocre and they don’t integrate very well with the characters themselves. This wasn’t as much of an issue in the first two which were more about the exploration and adventure rather than the fight. It also doesn’t help that there is a lot of magic being thrown around and the spells always end in a childish sounding and ultimately repetitive “ooh-wah”. The one high point was that it introduced a couple new creatures. And while the Night Gaunts weren’t that impressive, the weird tentacle starfish coral looking creatures were fairly imaginative and creepy looking.
The more interesting thing that this movie brings into the fold is a random time travel aspect. Although the means of the time travel is never really addressed, we are introduced to a new character voiced by Jeffrey Combs. He introduces himself as a half-forgotten cousin but eventually reveals to be the future version of the young Howard Lovecraft. He also warns of the destruction of the Earth by means of Howard’s Cthulu-lite friend Spot when he turns fully into Cthulu, destroyer of worlds. There is an introduction of a larger number of characters that are part of a magical school. For the most part, none of them make much of an impact aside from their look. Professor Armitage voiced by Mark Hamill is a welcome return as Hamill always brings his A game to any character he voices.
Howard Lovecraft as a character has been on an interesting journey over the course of these three films. While he hasn’t initially gone through that much of a character growth or coming of age, as he started the first movie as a character with bravery, intelligence, and resourcefulness. In the second movie he gained knowledge in the form of magic, and in this movie he really brings everything around to what he’s learned over the course of the three movies by bringing it back around to love. He also learns the danger of too much knowledge as there is one moment where he over-exerts his magical abilities. It’s a small moment, and not given a lot of weight compared to the rest of the movie, but it’s nice that it’s there. The love aspect does feel a little more like a trope as there is the very typical scene where he confronts his previous friend who has become basically a controlled, evil version, and brings him back through the power of love and friendship that he learned from his mother.
It’s difficult to talk about this movie as a stand-alone piece as it draws very much from the previous two films. As a trilogy overall there are some interesting elements throughout, especially the designs based around the writings of HP Lovecraft. The story that it tells is fairly unremarkable and the animation itself is low quality as is the majority of the voice acting outside of a couple cameo roles. The darker sensibility behind the story makes it stand out a little bit to other low budget animated films but when all is said and done, I wasn’t especially impressed outside of a couple creature designs. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.