Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Netflix’s Maya and the Three Animation Show Has a Grand Design

Maya and the Troika, which premieres Friday on Netflix, is a great animated film by Jorge R. Gutierrez, whose early works include the 2014 feature film The Book of Life and the 2007 Nickelodeon series El Tigre: The Adventures. Manny Rivera. ” Fans of any of them will feel right at home in this Mesoamerican epic, which combines folk motifs, comedy and action, based on anime; admirers of both should be filled with joy. Too long absence for exceptional talent.

Maya, stretching over nine episodes, is a long story with intricately detailed action and abstract plot. However, it feels – although it really can’t be, given that it takes a lot of help to create an animated object – that the journey from the sketchbook to the screen was short. His eccentricity, even his occasional awkwardness, is indistinguishable from his poetry. To say that it can be a little corny and sentimental, although usually as a joke, to take things away from the brink of sentimentality, is only to say that he has a heart; in any case, it affected me visually and emotionally, both on the second viewing and on the first. (And it’s worth revisiting to better understand the thoughtful design and capture the story snippets you might have missed when looking at the photos. There is a lot to keep track of.)

As the story begins at an unspecified time long ago, Maya (Zoe Saldana, who was also in The Book of Life) turns 15 and is about to become officially crowned princess of the Theca kingdom, like in the Aztec. (A short excerpt featuring an eagle, a snake, and a prickly pear points to the legendary founding of Tenochtitlan, the ancient predecessor of Mexico City.) Although she is being trained to become a diplomat like her mother (Sandra Ekihua, Gutierrez’s wife and companion.)), Maya envies the adventures and adventures of her beloved but lackluster brothers (all played by Gael Garcia Bernal).

Lord Miktlan (Alfred Molina) is an ambitious god of war in the Netflix movie Maya and the Troika.


Thus, she escapes at night into the “illegal bare-fisted pit” to fight an opponent 20 times her size; she has courage, but she is also a bit of a foolish teenager. (The show has a lot of battles, both battles and ultimately courtship, in the sense that Fred and Ginger didn’t get along until they danced together – this is a teenage romance, among other things.)

Maya’s journey to the battle pit only brings her a dislocated shoulder; Ahead is the coronation, which is attended by representatives of the other three kingdoms of history. But he is interrupted by Zatz (Diego Luna), the prince of bats, a cute underworld kid who throws a bomb regarding Maya’s true origins. The prince announces that he has come to take her to her “rightful kingdom in the underworld” where she will be sacrificed, as casually as if he announced that he had not forgotten to collect milk when he was at the grocery store. (Her biological mother is a mild spoiler – Lady Micte, the goddess of death, played by Kate del Castillo; family is a recurring theme.)

Everything goes on as usual, with puzzles to be solved and prophecies to be interpreted or misinterpreted. After Maya’s excitable father (voiced by Gutierrez himself) is unable to crush the power-hungry Lord Miktlan, the god of war (Alfred Molina), the daughter goes to other kingdoms, gathering allies on her way, like Dorothy on the yellow brick road. They are all somehow damaged or caused accidental destruction to their community or family and live separately: from the lands of the jungle comes Chimi (Stephanie Beatrice), a gifted archer who adorns her pale face like a Day of the Dead figure and seeks to apologize to her mother. who died in childbirth; from Caribbean-influenced Luna Island, Rico (Allen Maldonado), a street kid looked down on for his “peasant magic”; and from the Golden Mountains, which could mean that it is the Andes, Picchu, the soft-hearted barbarian (Gabriel Iglesias). Each has its own background. There is also Maya’s large domestic jaguar, Chiapa, which is a kitty.

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“I am the Eagle Warrior to lead them all,” declares Maya, who may be overly self-confident.

A tall bad guy with a glowing staff and a poncho decorated with skulls.

Bad gods Khtabai (Gray Delisle-Griffin), Bone (Alanna Ubach), Chivo (Carlos Alazraki), Skull (Gray Delisle-Griffin) and Vucub (Eric Bauza) in Maya and Three.


Gutierrez, who was born in Mexico City and raised in Tijuana, took many Aztec and Mayan deities as inspiration and directed them towards his own goals before studying animation at CalArts; this is not a caricature translation of Popol Vuh, which you would not like to show your children anyway. Rather, he built an original world from the anthropological, architectural, topographic, and mythological details of various Mesoamerican civilizations. (He doesn’t account for human sacrifice, except for the sense of self-sacrifice.) His gods are more like the villains from Batman, with their thematic designs, abilities, and obsessions announced through title cards (a device the animator used in El Tigre “). Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Rosie Perez and Eric Bauza are among the actors who voice their voices. Also present are Queen Latifah and Wyclef Jean as the Luna royal family and Rita Moreno as the mysterious, slightly crazy good witch Ah Puig, who appears everywhere. This is a stellar production.

Like Behind the Garden Wall by Patrick McHale, Ghost Town by Elizabeth Itoh, Space Child by Craig McCracken, Midnight Gospel by Pen Ward and Duncan Trussell, and Gutierrez’s own Book of Life, The Maya and Three. “Feels like a personal outsider like his heroes. Big studio cartoons, while they can work very well, can often feel cleaned up, massed and anonymous, with one looking, feeling, and sounding a lot like the other. Computer animation especially tends to be monotonous, erasing the artist’s hand in favor of “naturalism”. Gutierrez combats this with crazy, rich, baroque designs, otherworldly palettes, inventive napkins, split screens and 2D breaks; nearly every character is meticulously armored or decorated, and those familiar with his work will recognize his quirky approach to noses. And while the image has a letterbox for a widescreen effect, the action sometimes spills over into black bars above or below the bezel, as if it simply couldn’t be contained.

There is something about Maya and the Three, not entirely naive, but a willingness to step back a little – to dare to be a little dumb on the one hand and heavy on the other. There are joking references to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, The Lord of the Rings, Mr. T. and the Smiths (“Dying next to you would be such a heavenly way to die,” Rico says. Chimi, decorating a line from 1985 ); there is a Spanglish Batman joke. But the series is also full of death and darkness and is no less touching, as the action takes place in a world where death is not the end. Quite the opposite: history strives for transcendence – and achieves its goal.

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