UK Release Date: 15th August 2014
Runtime: 97 minutes
Director: Juan José Campanella
Writer: Juan José Campanella, Gastón Gorali, Eduardo Sacheri, Michael Broadbridge
Starring: Rupert Grint, Anthony Head, Ralf Little, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Brydon
Synopsis: A young man attempts to beat his villainous childhood rival in a football match, with the help of a team of sentient table football players.
In a World Cup year, a film like The Unbeatables should have been a simple open goal at the box office. Focused on table footballers coming to life, it should have been able to tap into the UK’s national love of “the beautiful game”. Unfortunately, it’s an absolute mess of a film.
Amadeo (Rupert Grint) is a young table football champion. The peace of his village is shattered when old rival Flash (Anthony Head) returns and challenges Amadeo to a game of real football. Outgunned, he receives unlikely help when his table football players, led by Skip (Ralf Little), come to life.
Right from the start, there’s an enormous issue at the heart of The Unbeatables. The film was originally a Spanish production and has been dubbed into English, presumably because its target audience is too young to read subtitles. A lot of work was done to rewrite the film’s dialogue to match the animated mouth movements as closely as possible.
| "Right then guys, who wants to take me on?"
The act of rewriting the film, however, has had a truly bizarre effect on the finished product. The dialogue in The Unbeatables is awful. It’s either bizarrely stunted or utterly incomprehensible, with just about every aspect of the film completely lost in translation.
A cast of Britain’s top comedy talents pack The Unbeatables, but even the likes of Rob Brydon and Peter Serafinowicz are unable to make the lines work. Their considerable talents are wasted on nothing but doing silly voices and trying to make sense of dialogue that would make Wayne Rooney seem like Shakespeare.
It’s a real shame given that The Unbeatables is very visually interesting. Its European origins give the animation a wonderfully offbeat, surreal edge that really deserves to be mined further. A bit more surrealism would certainly beat the seemingly endless football match that covers the entire third act.
| "I’ll flatten the village and crush you."
For all of its intrigue, The Unbeatables is a ship that was always doomed to sink once it made its clumsy leap into the English language. The quirky feel of the animation is lost behind awkwardness and cliché. The filmmakers really missed a sitter here.
Pop or Poop?
The Unbeatables is a bizarre film. It received decent reviews in its original Spanish iteration, but the English dub isn’t so much uneven as a complete waste of time.
Any humour, charm and intrigue has been lost in translation, leaving behind an empty vessel of disappointment. Although, if you’re a football fan in England, that’s probably exactly what you’re accustomed to.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.