The classic novel finally gets a decent adaptation treatment for a modern audience.

Cast and Crew Information

Martin Sheen as Arthur Square
Kristen Bell as Hex
Michael York as Spherius
Tony Hale as King of Pointland
Joe Estevez as Abbott Square

Screenplay by Seth Caplan, Dano Johnson and Jeffrey Travis, based on the novel by Edwin Abbott Abbott.
Directed by Dano Johnson and Jeffrey Travis

Availability Information

Available on DVD for home or classroom use from Amazon (linked here) or from the official site.

Premise

It’s a two dimensional world, where a shape’s social and political standing is determined entirely by the number of sides that shape has. The circles rule with their infinite sides, and fiercely protect the populous from the absurd and heretical notion of a third dimension. Generally regarded as an effective teaching tool for geometry, it serves at least as well in demonstrating the dangers of racism and other appearance-based prejudices.

High Point

For the record, in my day job, I’m a teacher. This is the first educational video I’ve seen that’s worth watching outside the classroom.

Low Point

I’m not sure enough people would recognize the final image for it to have the impact it should.

The Review

As usual, it’s hard to get originality when you’re dealing with an adaptation. Still, given the introduction of new characters and modification of the ending,
both of which change the details of the material without distorting the message or purpose, I give it 4 out of 6.

The animation is nicely done, using CGI to represent the story far more effectively than hand drawn animation could have done. It’s a representation that allows the viewer to appeal directly to experience and instinct. There’s a distinctive style, and the insertion of the Mandlebrot set (a fractal which can be treated as a regular shape of non-integer dimensionality) was a touch I particularly enjoyed. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is well told, staying generally true to the source material, and quickly introducing the world fairly effectively. It’s a bit predictable, but so is the source material. I give it 4 out of 6.

The voice acting is very well done. They hired talented and recognizable actors to fill in the voices, who play their parts very well. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production is nicely done. The nature of the world requires more ambient lighting effects than anything else, but the diffusion and generation of the light, as well as the quantity of ambient light, are both well done. Using darkness for Spaceland really adds to the depth and breadth, helping to drive home the broader expanse of the world. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. It’s fairly entertaining as it teaches the math and tolerance, though its predictability does take some of the edge of the normal plotline suspense. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a well done movie, well worth screening for those who need to learn about geometry or the dangers of racism and thought police. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Flatland: The Movie receives 32 out of 42.