Remember that time when soccer saved the world?
Set after a galactic war took place near the Earth, Cosmoball is a fantasy adventure that tells the story of Anton (Yevgeny Romantsov), a young man who cannot find work as he cares for his sick mother. In a world struck by poverty, the rest of the population is obsessed with an inter-galactic soccer game called Cosmoball. For each match (which is broadcast around the world in the sky), the entire planet stops to watch the game and forget their troubles. Everyone, that is, except Anton. Anton focuses his life on his everyday problems but that has given him a bitterness towards the sport. However, when Anton discovers some incredible powers of his own, he is coerced into playing the sport himself. In doing so, he also learns that the fate of the galaxy may actually depend on the game he has despised his entire life and his role is more important than he’d expected.
Based on the French animated series Galactik Football, the film may be a wild and silly affair but is actually also fairly fun as well. While the CGI isn’t always top notch, the film absolutely carries the stylized look and feel of animated hybrids of the past. Directed by Dzhanik Fayziev, Cosmoball is not a film that wants you to believe that its grounded in our everyday world. Instead, it wisely takes an ‘otherworldly’ approach that feels more akin to Lana Wachowski’s Speed Racer than it does the Marvel Universe. In doing so, the film is allowed to remain campy enough to for kids to enjoy while still carrying a story with some heart.
I don’t know if this film was expensive to produce but it does look expensive. And that ends up working to its favour.
In some ways, the film offers some interesting social commentary as well, especially surrounding media consumption. For instance, Anton’s bitterness for the country’s obsession with Cosmoball highlights the world’s need for distraction. For the last two decades, the world’s obsession with this [literally] ‘global sport’ has merely provided an escape from the large-scale poverty that they’re experiencing. To them, Cosmoball has become a release that allowed them to cheer for something at a time where everything seemed hopeless. However, in doing so, they also absolved themselves of responsibility. However, after [spoiler?] the world is saved, the first comment made by the public is ‘Let’s get to work.’ Interestingly, with Cosmoball no longer necessary, the people cease ‘looking up’ and begin to focus immediately on making the world a better place themselves. Suddenly, their immediate situation matters more than their entertainment and they recognize the power they have to bring change to their circumstance.
It’s worth noting that the film’s style is ultimately the main story here. Performances by the cast are largely unremarkable (though they do seem to be having fun playing in this world.) What’s more, as it moves between wild fantastic elements and earthly social problems, the script does feel wonky in parts and sometimes feel as though it rushes the journey.
However, Cosmoball is entertaining enough to forgive these missed opportunities. Wild with an adventurous spirit, the film pops with colour and energy and, as a result, may be provide the necessary distraction that kids are looking for.
Cosmoball is available on VOD on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021.