Dreambuilders is a computer-animated movie where the humans look cute but hide an ugliness that comes from suppressed emotions. It’s not entirely clear what this movie is trying to do, though it has some intriguing moments. It feels like this should’ve been a live action movie, but by turning it into an animated feature, the crew was able to reach for a level of fantasy that otherwise would’ve been hard to achieve.

In this Danish animated tale, Minna’s life is turned upside down when her dad’s fiancée Helena, and her horrible daughter, Jenny, move in. One night, Minna discovers a world behind her dreams in which alien-like creatures known as ‘Dreambuilders’ construct and direct the dreams that we experience whilst we sleep. With this newfound knowledge, Minna, who desperately want Jenny out of her life, learns how to manipulate her future stepsister’s dreams. But interfering with people’s dreams has dire consequences and when Minna goes too far one night, Jenny can’t wake up. Minna must enter the dream world one final time to face the dreams she has created, in order to save Jenny and her new family.  

Credit given where is due, the animation looks polished and there’s plenty of imagination to keep even the smallest children entertained. Unfortunately, the story itself lacks some imagination and piles the clichés, resulting in a rather bitter aftertaste. Frustration, is a feeling that comes to mind, where Minna’s feelings suddenly don’t matter anymore and Jenny’s brat-attitude becomes the star of the show. Toned down, this could’ve made everything more breezy and enjoyable, but it weighs heavy throughout, making ‘Dreambuilders‘ a chore to sit through.

The “dreamstages” itself, connected to each other by floating railways, are the place where the real magic lies. Beautifully designed as if it’s a projection of a child’s own dreamworld. But again, even this world feels constrained, since the story makes it seem rather easy for Minna to jump from one dreamstage to another, finding those of her family members in no time, as if they are the only people in the world entitled to dreaming. The few jokes rarely land and some use of popular words, such as “lit”, feel uninspired and forced to resonate with teenagers, which don’t really seem like the key demographic of this movie.

Dreambuilders has a basic premise that has been explored on the big screen many times before, this time injecting it with a hint of Wonder Park and Inception, creating a bitter fantasy dream vehicle that tries very hard but fails to pull any heartstrings.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Screening in cinemas all over Australia from January 7 through Rialto Distribution.

Review – ‘Dreambuilders’

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), January 6, 2021. Rating: PG. Running time: 81 min.

PRODUCTION: A Rialto Distribution release of a First Lady Film production. Producers: Sunit Parekh, Nynne Marie Selin Eidness. Executive producer: Solveig Langeland.

CREW: Directors: Kim Hagen Jensen, Tonni Zinck. Screenplay: Søren Grinderslev Hansen (original idea: Kim Hagen Jensen). Editing: Rikke Selin. Score: Kristian Eidnes Andersen.

WITH: (voices) Robyn Dempsey, Emma Jenkins, Luke Griffin, Tom Hale, Karen Ardiff, Brendan McDonald.

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