LFF 2022: Unicorn Wars – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 33 minutes, Director – Alberto Vázquez

A group of teddy bears are rapidly trained to be sent to war against the unicorns of the forest, however they’re not prepared for just how brutal it will be.

There are many comparisons and ‘cross-betweens’ that can be, and have been, made about Unicorn Wars. However, it’s perhaps best described by its base idea. Teddy bears at war. A brightly coloured parade of cuddly characters are sent off, after a quick round of training, to war against the unicorns of an unfamiliar forest – having had it drilled into them that teddy bears are the master race and that all unicorns should be dead. However, none of the ensemble, or for that fact the audience, are prepared for just how brutal the fight will be.

There’s a surprise early on in the film when during a scene in the communal showers of the training camp – branding the phrase “Honour, Pain and Cuddles” – where we’re shown a lot more teddy bear penis than might have initially been expected. It’s an amusing shock which let’s us know exactly what this kind of film is going to be, until the next stage where things are ramped up even more. In the forest we see characters ripped apart, bloodied and beaten amongst the true horrors of semi-magical warfare, where some a more up for the fight than others. There’s certainly a fair deal of humour to be found, largely in the clearer scenes such as one of the strangest drug trips to be put on screen in the last few years.

It’s in the more dramatic leanings where things feel a bit less balanced. While in some instances the tonal variation works it’s sometimes uncertain just how much due to it often being presented in, or against the backdrop of, the light of the comedic elements. Especially when certain elements of the warfare are presented with rather clear satirical edges, particularly leaning into an over-the-top or fantastical nature to create the humour.

Such dramatic elements are clearer in the second half of the film as we begin to see more of the characters and the way that they interact with the world around them, particularly two central siblings who have rather different views on the war in general, or at least attitudes to combat style. It leads to a feeling that things, even at just 93 minutes, are a bit narratively drawn out, starting to dampen the film as a whole. Much of this, again, largely comes down to the clash between the comedic and the dramatic. The two simply never quite join together properly meaning that you can often see, and feel, the joins and gaps throughout the film making for a slightly bumpier ride than is initially started.

There’s amusement and chuckles to be had with Unicorn Wars, you’d hope so with that concept, however the more dramatic and narrative elements cause for an uneven ride as they never quite blend with the more fantastical, and at times just plain weird, edges.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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