Novaseed (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

NovaseedDirector Nick DiLiberto’s animated science fiction epic could be considered a part of a new “Heavy Metal” anthology if we ever get a remake any time soon. DiLiberto’s animated epic owes a lot to Ralph Bakshi and the sensibilities of the original animated movie, except without any of the exploitative and misogynist overtones. “Novaseed” is a classic hero journey tale of a mastermind rising to power in a post apocalyptic wasteland and one hero stepping up to stop him and save someone very special. When the world is threatened by the maniacal Dr. Mindskull, the government begins looking for champions to step up and challenge him.

DiLiberto pulls a switcheroo on us and a clever turning of the cliché, as he features a gladiator match with a lion-man who automatically becomes the film’s hero once he manages to step forward and prove his courage against his sword wielding foe. From there, hero Nac claims the enigmatic prize that everyone in the world is searching for, and is confronted with Mindskull who challenges Nac’s opposition. DiLiberto’s animation is very low budget and apparently seemed to be based around rotoscoping much in the way Ralph Bakshi exercised for his epics. While the apparent style is hard to discern at first glance, it becomes apparent and tends to elevate the material well.

Due to the low budget our hero Nac is, for the most part, mute for his time on film. Through this drawback, his character presents an action speaking louder than words movement with his character exposition until the very end. “Novaseed” is a strong and unique science fiction animated adventure that relies a lot on simplicity and recognizing its own limitations during the narrative. It has a very “Mad Max” and Bill Plympton sensibility to it with massive desert wastelands and futuristic warriors roaming the land and plundering while Nac seeks to escape the clutches of the government and battle Mindskull. All in all, it’s very much a tribute to the eighties underground animated films and one that I enjoyed, simply for its understanding of why Bakshi’s films stand out among the other animation in the medium.

If you love briskly paced, action packed, violent post apocalyptic sagas and with a rough around the edges sincerity, “Novaseed” will win you over as it did me.