Plot: Elias is a young rescue boat with some big dreams, as he longs for adventure and the life of a rescue boat in a larger town. He sees countless boats pass through en route to Big Harbor, the largest city in the area, but compared to his small harbor, it seems like its on the other side of the world. His skills are quite good however, even better than he might think and when a tough rescue stands in his path, Elias has to push himself further than ever before. But he is able to haul in a stranded boat on his own, earning massive praise and celebration in the process. His actions have also garnered the attention of Big Harbor, where he is asked to join the rescue team and as it has been his dream, Elias heads to Big Harbor. But will his dream job be all that he has hoped, or will he find it isn’t all he had envisioned?
Entertainment Value: I’ve seen a good amount of low budget, independent animated features and while Anchors Up isn’t on par with Disney/Pixar, it is a solid watch and should entertain younger audiences. The narrative is a simple, familiar one that has universal elements and while there are no surprises here, the positive messages are welcome and the target audience won’t mind the predictable approach. I do like that some obstacles are thrown in Elias’ path, so he does have to overcome some odds and make some choices. Some films of this kind just avoid tension and conflict, so I was glad to see Anchors Up give Elias an interesting development arc. So yes, it is an underdog story with all the tropes, but it is told with passable skill. The pace is on point and the movie clocks in at just over 70 minutes, so even young viewers will short attention spans should be hooked in here. Again, it is unfair to compare this to polished, big budget studio animation, but Anchors Up is a solid feature.
The movie’s lower budget roots are evident in the animation, though the visuals are more effective than many similar independent animated features. I’d put the visuals on par with television shows that use CGI animation, as it looks smooth and well executed, but lacks the polish and sparkle of the big studios. This results in a simpler, less detailed overall visual presence, especially in the backgrounds and world building, which are less than stellar in this case. The character designs are fun and likely to delight kids, though aren’t the most original creations. I think I’ve seen many shows that take a similar visual design approach, so it is familiar, even if well crafted. The voice talent is not memorable or all that great, but the cast gets the job done. Anchors Up was a Norwegian production, but for this review, I had access to the English language version. Again, not bad, just no stand out performances here.