Few films in 2023 carry a story like The Primevals. The action-adventure channels excitement and thrills through the lens of Ray Harryhausen. The iconic stop-motion and visual effects artist behind Jason and the Argonauts left an indelible footprint in the industry. David Allen, the director of The Primevals, drew heavy inspiration from Harryhausen.

The Primevals Fantasia

Allen earned an Oscar nomination for Young Sherlock Holmes and helped create one of the greatest werewolf transformations in history with The Howling. With a keen visual eye, he stepped into the director’s chair. Unfortunately, Allen passed away in 1999 before the film could be completed. However, in 2018, Charles Band and Chris Endicott restarted development. Now, The Primevals completes its miraculous journey to theaters with Allen as the credited director.

As one might expect, Allen’s vision for the special effects and creature designs are marvelous. The Primevals follows a scientific team as they go into the Himalayas. A Yeti has been discovered by indigenous hunters, and its remains have been shipped to an American university. The school’s professor Claire Collier (Juliet Mills) begins to organize an expedition. She recruits Matthew (Richard Joseph Paul) a former student whose research suspected the existence of the Yeti. The rest of the team includes veteran adventurer Rondo Montana (Leon Russom), local guide Siku (Tai Thai), and fellow student Kathleen (Walker Brandt). Together, the five-person team discovers a world beyond imagination.

The Primevals Fantasia

Allen’s original designs, combined with Band & Endicott’s storytelling, make for an incredible world. The creatures, settings, and visual effects channel far more than the throwback feel. Instead, the authenticity radiates from the screen. The techniques and visuals are perfectly executed and recreate the legacy of Harryhausen’s wonder. While we’ve seen CG remakes of this work, nothing has remotely lived up to the love put into every frame of The Primevals.

Additionally, the cast perfectly delivers the tone of these adventure films. In particular, Mills and Russom create perfect characters to bring the niche style to life. Russom could easily have been slotted next to Todd Armstrong or John Phillip Law. Meanwhile, Mills turns Collier into a character with far more agency than the traditional heroine in adventure films.

The Primevals Fantasia

With excellent character designs and a pitch-perfect vintage aesthetic, The Primevals is an excellent throwback. The work of Allen and his friends creates a handmade love letter to an era gone by. The stop-motion shines throughout. The crew rallies together to bring their friend’s vision to life, and the results are impeccable. It’s hard to imagine film more heartfelt antidote for a moment when overstuffed CGI has become too commonplace.

Alan’s Rating: 8/10

What do you think of The Primevals? Let us know in the comments below! Catch The Primevals at Fantasia 2023.

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