Fly Like a Seagull, To the Sea

Years after Finding Nemo depicted seagulls as dopes who only spoke one word, Swift gives them their due. Rats with wings these are not, instead spending their days guarding eggs from actual rats, as if literally fighting against stereotype.

In execution, Swift isn’t anything unique or remarkable. Entering the wrong nest after his is raided, a swift Manou joins a seagull family, making them surrogate parents, but unable to grasp Manou’s differences. In that, Swift finds a simple parable about being yourself, and telling parents not to shoehorn their kids. Rather, celebrate their uniqueness. In the finale, everyone joins together, escapes danger, and Manou turns hero. An adopted child feels included, and all feel equal.

The positive message and brief length make Swift harmless

Other than a brief journey alongside a chicken (suggesting a meat-less lifestyle), Swift isn’t telling a new story. Characters come from a textbook on kid’s movie scriptwriting, and personality wanes. The benefit though is the setting, on Nice’s coast, flush with sunsets, ocean views, idyllic life, and nature. Soaking in the visuals works better than focusing on the routine story. That also helps avoid a bizarre, awkwardly sensual romance where the birds clean fleas from one another, treating it like foreplay. Not Bee Movie weird, but out of place anyway.

Swift offers so little to talk about. It’s likely less fetching to kids than other notable animated fare, derivative even to inexperienced movie watchers, and struggling to entertain. If there’s something notable to Swift (the international title shortened from Manou the Swift), it lives up to its name. Action is frequent, and utilizes the French environments to their fullest. A race travels through forests and waterfalls, glistening until the end, although staged in a pedestrian way. Pacing keeps up the energy.

The positive message and brief length make Swift harmless at least, perfect to keep kids occupied, assuming they stick around.


A little low in resolution, aliasing and flicker do harm certain wide shots. The issue is small though, hardly negating the overall look. Texture works in feathers, plants, rocks; they all appear in full. Strong detail is evident throughout, giving the images scale when needed. Seeing coastlines, a market, or storms near the horizon show the animation’s beauty.

Making full use of the sun, color saturation comfortably warms. Hues glow. Manou’s blue feathers, the gull’s orange beaks, green plants, and more all exhibit fantastic density. At night, the moon casts a brilliant navy over scenery.

High in contrast and helped with excellent shadows, depth holds its form. Dimensionality brings a 3D-like appearance to Swift. A light grain filter doesn’t pose a challenge to this encode, if an odd creative choice for an animated film; most prefer absolute clarity.


Given the focus on flight, the DTS-HD track disappoints, caused by the minuscule channel separation. Wind will pass, rain falls, but the characters themselves limit movement between speakers. The soundstage lacks the design typical of animation, smaller in scope.

LFE brings an A game, accentuating the soundtrack. During the finale, thunder rolls in and waves crash, which in audio terms, is the boldest sequence in Swift.


Translated from French, the 13-minute making of isn’t without merit, but doesn’t offer much interesting either. A Willem DaFoe interview runs five minutes, nothing more than playful fluff.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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A derivative story sinks the otherwise gorgeously animated Swift, set in France and using the locale for all it can.

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