Adam Cook’s review:
Despite only making three feature films, Rene Laloux left an indelible mark on the field of animation. Whilst best known for his surrealist masterpiece, Fantastic Planet, all three of his films were packed with complex ideas and moments that live long in the memory. Time Masters is often seen as his weakest film, and objectively speaking it probably is, yet it is arguably his most accessible and charming feature.
Even as an unapologetic fan I am not blind to its faults: the episodic structure and inconsistent pacing can make the film rather sluggish at times whilst most of the characters are afforded the scantest of development. The animation is also inconsistent (no doubt not helped by farming it out to an inexperienced team in Hungary to keep costs low) which is perhaps the biggest travesty when the art direction is so strong. It is in this foreign world, created by the legendary Jean Giraud (comic book God, Moebius), that the film comes alive. Moebius was a master at creating worlds and characters so utterly unique that it is a joy to see his visions undiluted by, or filtered through, outside sources.
Time Masters is also a film that genuinely creeps up on you. It explores big themes and has a brilliant metaphysical twist yet it is still a film that can be enjoyed and appreciated by a young audience. However, despite my deep affection for the film it is impossible to recommend without hesitation. Many won’t like it, they will find it ponderous, badly animated and dated, but if you are able to look past the faults then you may well find this world as enchanting as I do.