Unicorn Wars REVIEW – One of the Most Surreal War Films Ever Made

Unicorn Wars REVIEW
Unicorn Wars REVIEW

If there is one word to summarise Alberto Vasquez’s style as a creator, it’s “distinctive.” Starting off as a comic book artist, the Spanish director/writer would move into animation and create shorts featuring anthropomorphised characters in gritty situations. His most famous work, the 2015 movie Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, is a feature-length adaptation of one of these shorts.

While Birdboy can be described as Animal Crossing after a nuclear accident, Unicorn Wars is Apocalypse Now meets The Care Bears. A Spanish French adult animated fantasy drama/ horror partially adapted from the short Unicorn Blood, the story follows two brothers, Tubby and Bluey (voiced by Jon Goiri and Jaione Insausti, respectively), training to fight in an age-long war against the unicorns when their unit is tasked with going on a deadly mission. As they venture into the jungle, they have to face the realities of war and their relationship with each other.

Vasquez’s work focuses on the darker side of humanity and morality, and though Unicorn Wars may feature cutesy teddy bears, it is brutal. While predominantly focusing on the futility of war, environmental conservation and radical zealotry, family drama is also covered. Bluey is an ambitious but spiteful soldier that craves approval, and Tubby is the frequently bullied but softer-hearted and caring of the two. Unlike Birdboy, there are also some moments of comedy throughout Unicorn Wars – a personal highlight is that the mantra of Bluey and Tubby’s training camp is ‘honour, pain and cuddles.’

Unicorn Wars could have just relied on its concept of being an animated movie of warring fantasy animals, but the writing is exceptionally well done. As with any good war film, it’s less about the conflict itself and how war affects those it touches. They may look cute and talk about how cuddly and lovable they are, but the bear society is basically a colonialist superpower that believes the forest is theirs by divine right. This kind of plot isn’t anything new, but Unicorn Wars is unique enough to stand by itself.

The aesthetic of Unicorn Wars is a welcome difference as well. Compared to his previous film, which mostly had a dark, desaturated colour palette, Unicorn Wars is bright and colourful. There’s a psychedelic aesthetic to the jungle that the bears explore – and especially in a scene where the bears eat magic worms – and the whole movie is beautifully animated, but this also adds to the horror at points since there’s no shortage of gore and bloody violence when battles break out.

There are two issues with Unicorn Wars, though. Without going too much into spoilers, one is a particular subplot involving a monster that is only really brought up at the beginning and the ending of the film. Though interesting conceptually, the monster’s inclusion detracts from the rest of the plot. It would’ve improved Unicorn Wars’ story if it had been completely cut out or given more development. The second is all the teddy bear penis. It’s not overtly sexual in any way, just a weird choice.

With that being said, Vasquez’s work continues to amaze. It’s reassuring that he wasn’t just a creative one-hit wonder with Birdboy, and I eagerly anticipate his future work. Unicorn Wars is a must-watch for anyone who is a fan of adult animation or horror. Despite the previously mentioned subplot, it is dark and gritty with a compelling narrative.

Review screener provided

READ NEXT: 10 Best Animal Attack Movies to Watch If You Liked Cocaine Bear

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.

Unicorn Wars REVIEW
Vasquez masterfully contrasts the cuteness of teddy bears and unicorns with the horror of warfare.