"Cryptozoo" Review Summary: Simple scripts Cannot Match wild visuals

Today sees North America's most interesting indie animated release in some time. Dash Shaw's Cryptozoo caught our eye at Sundance, where it won an award; on Wednesday, we premiered an exclusive clip. And now, through Magnolia Pictures, it's out both in theaters and on video on demand.

Set in a world where mythical creatures are real, Cryptozoo portrays a clash between self-appointed protectors of the beasts and those who wish to exploit them to violent ends. Shaw wrote and directed the film, a follow-up to his feature debut My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea. Jane Samborski served as animation director.

Cryptozoo has received mixed-to-positive reviews, with many critics praising the ambitious design while critizing the relatively flat script. The film currently holds a 71% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Writing in The Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang echoes many critics by arguing that the storytelling lacks complexity:

Slant's Jake Cole agrees, singling out the ending for criticism, yet still finds much to admire in the film:

For The A.V. Club's Noel Murray, the problem is not just the writing, but also the voice acting:

Reviewing the film out of Sundance for Variety, Jessica Kiang put a more positive spin on the script's simplicity:

The New York Times's Beatrice Loayza is even more enthusiastic, enjoying the story, score, and animation alike: