Chris’ Movie Review: The Red Turtle

Chris’ Taking A Look Back

The Red Turtle (2016)

Rating: 6/10 (Fine)

This was a movie that got nominated at the Oscars but, to my knowledge, wasn’t playing anywhere close to me at the time. That and I’m not even sure if it was playing in America. but regardless of that, The Red Turtle is a film that took me awhile to get around too. And being the semi Ghibli expert that I am, I had to watch this movie eventually. Now it’s just a question of whether or not it was worth my time viewing?

Plot Summary

A man gets trapped at sea during a storm. After everything clears up, he awakes on a deserted island. Without much hesitation, the man starts to build a raft. But then he comes across a turtle that keeps destroying his potential rides home.

The man is stuck, frustrated, and has a taste for vengeance towards a certain red turtle.


The Red Turtle is a silent film (other than the occasional yell or “hey”). So the strength of the movie comes from depicting emotion from the characters and creating atmosphere from their side surroundings. And The Red Turtle semi exceeds at this.

For starters, this film is sort of slow. It’s not too say that dialogue is needed to progress a movie, Transformers is a good example, but the film is slow in it’s pacing. Scenes will drag on a little too long to get their point across. Which, yes, they are trying to tell a story strickly through visuals but most of the scenes get their point across in the first few seconds they are on screen.

Now that paragraph is going to cause a bunch of debate amongst viewers. On one hand, slow moving scenes in this type of movie will be enthralling to some. The point of having these slower moving scenes play out is to create atmosphere and mood. On the other hand, most people will get antsy with this concept because they either get the point or there isn’t enough going on in the scene to keep their interest.

A lot of this will come down to how much patience you have for a film like this. Because both sides have valid arguments. I, personally, fall in-between. I see the beauty in the slow moving scenes but I also see why someone would skip this movie altogether. And I wouldn’t fault you either way on how you feel about it. 
The animation of The Red Turtle has a lot left to be desired. Studio Ghibli is notorious for having creative imagery and out standing looking animation, but you can tell that The Red Turtle didn’t get the “Top notch” treatment from the company. It more or less got the “Here, give this to the new guys” type deal.

The quality of the animation isn’t garbage, but more that it’s serviceable. It’s not too say that silent movies need 100 percent perfection but they animators are trying to convey a ton of words without any being said from scene to scene. Having that extra boost of quality would give the film just that extra kick to help it stand out amongst the rest…but unfortunately it falls flat a few too many times.

Some of the better aspects of the animation is the character expressions. Even though the faces are very plain, they are able portray a great deal of emotion with what little they have. The major negative is the scenery surrounding the characters. It’s very dull and the atmosphere isn’t built up that well because of it.

Some viewers may disagree and say that this movie’s simplicity is what gives it charm. Which is a fine point to make. Simplicity does have it’s place but in a silent production, like this, you need to bring out the best in each area of the film to make it appeal to the mass audience. Because, however which way you slice it, this movie is still a silent film.

The Artist (2011) is a good example of what quality can do for a movie. The winner of the 2011 Oscar’s for Best Picture, The Artist is another silent film. The major difference is how good the production value is of the movie. There was a lot of time and effort put into the film and it really showed when it came to viewing it. The Red Turtle is one that if it had the same level of quality driven into it, it could’ve been just a great as The Artist and it could’ve produced a mass market of fans. But, to my knowledge, this movie didn’t do so well amongst the people of the world.

The quality of The Red Turtle is what holds this film back from being great. There is a good story here but it’s just not told in the most interesting way for today’s audiences. Which, yes, I do fall victim to the previous statement. Even though I give every movie a fair shot to impress me, there are some that just don’t do much for me. Whether it’s the script, characters, direction, actors, visual effects, and so on. It really comes down to, can you keep me entertained with what’s on the big screen? And The Red Turtle just happens to fall under the “It has good aspects, but there’s not enough here to keep me coming back for more.”


The Red Turtle is a movie that needs patience to watch. Even if you’re a Ghibli fan, it’s hard to fully recommend this movie. Of course, everyone should give it a chance so that you can broaden your horizons on films, but for those who don’t have the time to always sit back and watch movies at their own leisure, it’s really hard to tell that person they should give up 80 minutes of their life for this film.

The Red Turtle can most likely be found at your local Walmart, Target, and so on. You can find it online as well, for free. You’ll just have to dig around a bit to find it. Unless it’s on Netflix now and I didn’t see it. Then that’s my bad.

As usual, thanks for reading!


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