Dzhanik Fayziev directed, produced and wrote Cosmoball. The military sci-fi story revolves around a group of children fighting to save the world as athletes playing the dangerous, high-flying sport known as Cosmoball. The game was created to distract the people of Earth from the hardships of life, but it also serves as a way of discharging Wave Eaters – a ball of energy that is essentially a nuclear bomb – which can only be discharged after an athlete strikes it five times.
Right off the bat, Cosmoball’s story is convoluted and clunky. It’s essentially a family friendly version of Ender’s Game with the dazzling visuals of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
That said, Fayziev’s vision and design for this movie are undoubtedly inspired. The film opens with a cel-shaded storybook which introduces Belo and Chero as the warring intergalactic forces of good and evil – a war which results in worldwide famine and the destruction of Earth’s moon. The artwork is gorgeous and looks like something you’d find in the Okami artbook. Personally, I wish the entire movie was done in this style; however, the set pieces in this movie from Anton’s (played by Evgeniy Romantsov) hometown to the dandelion stadium are impressive given this movie’s lower-budget production.
Speaking of visuals, the villains of this movie are the standouts. Valaya’s (Mariya Lisovaya) costume looks like something out of J.J. Abram’s Star Trek franchise, and it blends seamlessly with the CGI sequences involving Chero. The design of Chero is also impressively detailed considering that he and all the scenes he’s in are completely computer generated. I’m not sure why the movie opts to turn Belo (Evgeniy Mironov) into a CGI character, but unfortunately the last act devolves into a video game cut scene.
The juvenile design of the creature Chero rides around in is questionable when you consider that his original ship looks like a cross between an alien spider and octopus. I’m not entirely sure why they decided to make it look like a rip-off DreamWorks’ Abominable. The Sputniks are a welcomed addition in this space adventure, despite not looking as realistic as the other elements of this movie .
Although Cosmoball has some pacing problem thanks largely to the addition of several subplots in the middle of the film, the movie is charming at times and is mildly entertaining.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The Big Comic Page was provided a preview copy of the film and the disc does not contain any bonus material except a trailer for Cosmoball and other upcoming movies.
The movie also has an English dub, which is fine, but the American cast tries to convey the inflections such as when characters yell or whisper in a sinister tone with varying degrees of success. I recommend the original Russian audio with English subtitles.
Cosmoball is available on Digital, Blu-Ray and DVD March 23, 2021.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511