Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Young Jimbo has a crap life.  It doesn't really get much worse for a kid than it does for Jimbo.  His father is abusive and his mother... well when his mother isn't getting whooped on by his dad, mom is whooping on Jimbo.  Unfortunately for these dregs of society, Jimbo has super powers, and now his parents aren't bothering anybody anymore.  Young Jimbo is a prodigy or sorts, thus this animated films title 'The Prodigies', and considering he's suddenly become an orphan and stuff, he's taken in by the benevolent Mr. Killian, taught how to control his powers and has become a responsible adult dedicated to helping others and finding other prodigies like himself so they don't have to suffer as he did.  Oh well, so much for that. 

Jimbo (voiced by Jeffrey Evan Thomas), is now a college professor working for Mr. Killian (Dominic Gould) and is married to the lovely animated Ann (Lauren Carter), who by chance is with child.  Jimbo has designed a unique online videogame program to seek out these gifted young people, and darn if he doesn't get five unique hits which means he has five awesomely diverse prodigies to seek out.  There's Liza (Isabella Van Waes), the beautiful blonde girl training to be a supermodel, Sammy (Nilton Martins) the repressed fat kid whose rich parents can't wait to get rid of him, Harry (Dante Bacote), the Black kid from Chicago whose sister and primary caregiver is prone to excessive gambling and going upside Harry's head, Lee (Sophie Shen) the Asian girl who doesn't do much of anything, and finally Gil (Jacob Rosenbaum) the picked on abused kid who is probably the last person on Earth who needs superpowers. 

Tragically however Mr. Killian passes away leaving his company to his daughter Melanie (Dailly Monira) who sees little need for a money sucking program designed to seek out freaky kids and is set to shuttle the program leaving these kids in a lurch.
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Jimbo, being the genius that he is, comes up with this brilliant idea to monetize these kids, via some kind of super genius kid TV game show.  I gotta admit at this point the movie kind of loses me because this seems like the dumbest idea ever, and I have no clue how any of this relates to saving kids with supreme mental abilities, but we are forced to go with it.

Of course at this game show is where everything goes straight to pot as one of the kids is brutally raped with the other kids being unable to stop this since they are unaware of their superpowers.  But not anymore.  They blame Jimbo for not being there for them, they blame the city for not taking the crime seriously, they blame Melanie for covering it up and they blame the world for existing.  And with Gil taking control as their defacto leader, they have a plan to fix the world and it's not a good plan.  It's going to be up to Jimbo to call upon his own long dormant superpowers to save us all from the onslaught of 'The Prodigies'.

Directed by Antoine Charreyon, who is an accomplished videogame designer, his feature film debut is slick looking, makes fabulous use of motion capture technology, possesses a couple of really amazing effects laden set pieces but has a narrative that can best be described as… odd.  Videogames are notorious for having strange, meandering storylines since there are some of these things you can play for months before reaching the end, and certain things have to happen at certain times to keep the interactivity flowing or otherwise the player will put the down the controller and contemplate doing something worthwhile with his life.  We're casually ignoring the fact that we've been playing 'Red Dead Redemption' for a couple of hours day for the last three weeks.  Regardless of all of that, 'The Prodigies' seems to suffer from some of these videogame narrative foibles with a story that has the strangest plot points, and travels towards an endgame, that while plenty grand, I mean if I was playing a videogame this is something I could see myself pressing an awesome combination of button controls to stop from happening, but in a movie most of what we see here is just plenty ridiculous. 

It is this odd, uneven narrative which keeps 'The Prodigies' from reaching its full potential because there is a lot about this movie that is really sweet.  The character animation style lacks a lot of the microprocessor destroying minutia in modern animated films such as hair strands and water droplets, but the style used was very effective here and the environmental designs were very nice.  The voice acting was solid, if not spectacular, the basis of the narrative was a good one, as it should be since it does have tinges of the X-Men and has more than a slight resemblance, simply by chance, to the recently released and superior live action film 'Chronicle'.  We also appreciated the adult nature of the film, one that had some very difficult scenes that probably could've only been done in an acceptable and palatable manner via animation, and as we mentioned before there were a couple of set pieces that effect wise were simply spectacular. 

Ultimately though, as usual, these things usually boils down to the story that they have to tell and all the pretty explosions and big earth destroying concepts filling up the cupboard can't help a fractured storyline.  I'm still of the opinion that 'The Prodigies' is worth seeing as it did have a lot to offer, including some solid entertainment value, it just left me with the feeling that it could've been so much better.
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