To quote the Wicked Witch of the West for no specific reason at all, what a world what a world! The animated environment that The Croods are plunked down is was so vividly rendered that I kinda wanted to will myself into a pile of prominently-browed pixels and go all Purple Rose of Cairo for a bit. I loved the design of their Neanderthal wonderland - the bizarre menagerie of prehistoric creatures were a delight (that cloud of piranha-birds were especially giving my twelve-year-old-inner-child a major case of glee-begotten goose-pimples) but the landscapes, vast and colorful and drenched with lovely old-school cartoon detail (you definitely feel like you're in an updated Road Runner cartoon more than once) were all a pleasure to take in too.
I mean I had positively negative anticipation for this movie, expecting to let it play in the background while I did other things, but as kinda by-the-numbers and addicted-to-action-set-pieces as its storytelling is (not to mention that it totally abandons its lead female character mid-way through to take up her father's less interesting emotional journey) I was still totally sucked into by its visuals time and time again. Which was maybe most unexpected of all - the character designs seemed so strange and kind of off-putting in the trailers (big lumpy misshapen weirdos, the lot of them) that I figured I was set for something straight-on ugly and ill-conceived. This was not the case. I mean I still won't totally go to bat for the character designs themselves, and the voice-work was all pretty routine, but man I loved the creativity on display in all the outer corners of this thing, and the camera just loves to race around in these environments, trying to top itself again and again. If nothing else this would probably make for a wonderful video-game to play.