Gargoyles: The Movie (1995)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/6/00
Cast: Keith David, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis

With the success of such serious minded cartoons as "Batman: The Animated Series" and "X-Men," Disney attempted to appeal to a more mature audience with this supernatural drama series. Unfortunately, later episodes get more juvenile as they start to rely more on sit-com material and morality issues ("In today's episode we learned that..."). "Gargoyles: The Movie" is an edited version of the initial pilot mini-series, and is about twenty minutes shorter than the five episodes that originally aired. The series begins in the Middle Ages with a castle under siege. It is protected by strong and magical gargoyles who are stone during the day and become flesh and blood at night. Unfortunately, the gargoyles are betrayed by their human friends and nearly all of them are wiped out. Only a handful remain, placed under a curse that they shall remain stone until the castle reaches above the clouds. Fast forward to present day, where a wealthy and devious technology baron named Xanatos (Jonathan Frakes) obtains the stone gargoyles and places them in his lofty skyscraper. When night falls, the creatures awaken from their long slumber and form a cautious alliance with Xanatos, who appears to be their friend (but we all know better). NYPD detective Elisa Maza also shows up on the scene to investigate Xanatos's questionable doings and ends up befriending the gargoyles as well. And so the stage is set. What will the fate of the gargoyles be, and will they be able to survive the perils of modern day New York?

The result is a very well crafted show, that only suffers from the awkward mixture of adult drama and kiddie humor. Naturally, the "stranger in a strange land" gags get really old really quick as the younger gargoyles get into all sorts of mischief on the streets of New York, but the interpersonal relationships between Goliath (Keith David), Elisa, Xanatos, and Demona (Marina Sirtis) are very interesting. Much to their credit, Disney has succeeded in creating a strong, intelligent, and sexy female lead in Elisa Maza, who to the best of my knowledge is Disney's first (and possibly only) heroine who carries a gun. Nice work. As you would expect from Disney, the animation is top notch and the voice talent is superb.