The sweeping, full-throated romance of the last act might not work for some, who could conceivably argue its dominance leaves gaps in Sérgio’s professional life, but it makes for an emotionally satisfying ending.
The opportunistic genre-welding holds together thanks to vivid performances. Bolger makes a slightly implausible character arc completely convincing, graduating from panicky improvisation to grim determination.
It’s a low-budget effort with high ambitions, something that’s hard not to admire, and while it often feels like the teaser for a bigger and better movie, it’s perhaps a sign that Hardiman is setting sail for Hollywood next.
Lowish-level titters are in evidence – mostly care of Kristen Schaal as Dave’s tech aide – while an analogue finale on a scrappy-looking airfield offers passing respite from the multiplex’s usual VFX-bloated city smashing.
All the exertion – fleshed out in visuals that veer from Astro Boy-aping cutesiness to interestingly rough closeups, as if the animation itself is fraying in the heat of battle – pays diminishing dividends. The panoply of powers begin to seem interchangeable, the character arcs dim.
Vivarium is a lab-rat experiment of a film, with flat, facetious humour and a single insidious joke maintained and developed with monomaniacal intensity. In its way, this film is an emblem of postnatal depression and simple loneliness.