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Flatpack Film Festival Review: Adventure Time

2nd April 2014

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A colourful audience at Birmingham’s Flatpack Film Festival was treated to a unique viewing of back-to-back episodes of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time.

Adventure Time has as its central characters Jake, the enchanted, sarcastic dog (John DiMaggio) with Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada) for an adoptive brother and a Korean-speaking wife who appears to be a cross between a rainbow and a unicorn, Lady Raincorn (Niki Yang).

In association with Cartoon Network, American producer Pendleton Ward brings us this wacky, PG-rated animated series, which is packed with random characters and surreal events. For the last four years, the cartoon hit has successfully bridged the gap between children and big kids all over the world.

It’s just wonderfully weird. Every ten-minute episode presents a brand new dimension of nonsensical fun. When Finn and Jake are not busy goofing off, shape-shifting between various magical realms or speaking skater-boy prose, the unlikely heroes are battling against evil forces - for example the Lich (Ron Periman) is a homicidal creature, bearing the appearance of the Grim Reaper but twice as big, with a skull face with large ram horns attached.

Like its contemporaries Family Guy and The Simpsons, Adventure Time delivers a healthy combination of adult punch lines for its older fans and slapstick humour for the younger ones. One of the great things about cartoons is the simple fact that anything is possible - and here nothing is too daring or strange for series creator Ward.

In ‘Bad Little Boy’, for example, Adventure Time steps over the dark side when Marshall Lee the Vampire King (voiced by Danny Glover, also known as rapper Childish Gambino) treats love-struck Fionna mean, to keep her keen.

The cunning vampire raps in a sinister tone: “Don't you know I'm a villain?/ Every night, I'm out killin’/Sendin’ everyone running like children.” He’s hardly the classic charmer, engaging Fionna in vicious fistfight after snatching her beloved cat. Whilst many might argue that this scene embraces gender equality, others may resent seeing a little girl smacked around by her crush.

Highly imaginative and without fear of ruffling a few feathers, Adventure Time is unrivalled for its originality. 

Flatpack Film Festival takes place yearly in Birmingham. This year's festival is now finished, but you can still visit the website here.

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