Journey to Yourland {Children’s International Film Festival/CHIFF} – Film Review

Life is proving hard for 10-year-old Richard ‘Riki’ Tomski (Mack Keith-Roach). A young boy with a heart defect currently moving into an apartment with his mother (Helen McAlpine).

Riki can escape into his imagination as he plays with his toys but he is becoming frustrated. Why is it that he and his mother are moving away alone and why is he unable to get in touch with his policeman father (Donald Pirie)? Things are changing around him and at such a young age, he doesn’t quite understand why. 

While investigating a strange glowing beacon from a neighbouring building Riki is attacked by bizarre giant crows! Inadvertently, Riki comes into the possession of a powerful stone which teleports him into the strange parallel world of Yourland.

Lost in this strange dying world, he soon meets new friends including the daughter of Yourland’s president, Emma (Selma Hansen) and General Tidling (Tyler Collins), her cheeky talking monkey companion! Riki soon becomes tangled up in Emma and Tidling’s quest to save this world from devastation. Along the way, he’ll cross land and sea, visit amazing automated cities, and hopefully not be tempted by Metal Man (Mark McDonnell), a literally-named robot who seeks to save Yourland for his own nefarious reasons!

Part of the Children’s International Film Festival (CHIFF), Journey to Yourland is a light-hearted, if at times a little scary, animated adventure for kids of all ages. Directed by Peter Budinský this animated Slovakian/Belgian/Czech feature is quite an ambitious production, taking 5 years to complete. It is a little rough around the edges but I think the filmmakers’ young target audience will be much more forgiving of these faults than adults.

While of course not being able to reach the grandeur of Disney or Dreamworks, the animation of Journey to Yourland is charming in its own way. The basic 3D style reminded me instantly of the early 2000s point and click adventure games that I enjoyed so much.

But it is the creative steampunk style of the film’s world design which I think makes it stand out so wonderfully. Riki’s ‘real world’ apartment building is presented early as drab and depressing, “a grey block between other grey blocks” as he puts it. When he is teleported to Yourland, he’s carried upon the giant walking robot named Treadfoot, and sees magical creatures just like those which he imagines when playing with his toys. 

Across epic deserts to Spitfish, a mechanised city by the bay, to a perilous ocean voyage. Riki must reach the tower where the President has locked himself away, so that Riki can help save Yourland and hopefully find a way back home. While the main story is told with 3D animation, flashbacks are presented creatively as 2D storybooks establishing Yourland’s history and how things got this bad. As Riki sleeps, he sees visions of his mother and father searching for him, almost as if the real world is reaching out to him and calling him back.

The film touches on some heavy themes that children can be forced to deal with but aren’t approached often in movies, such as the confusion a child may feel in growing up in a fractured home environment. Riki becomes angry with his situation and his adventure in Yourland helps him mature and deal with these life hurdles.

Unfortunately, some of the film’s themes are only brushed up upon without fully being realised or explored. The subject of climate change is brought up and then is quickly dropped, never to be mentioned again. These faults highlight that this is a film primarily for children without any underlying depth which adults could better appreciate.

Journey to Yourland is a charmingly ambitious children’s film from first time director, Budinský. While not breaking any new ground, its vibrant world and exciting finale should make it a joy for younger audiences.

Journey to Yourland will be playing as part of the Children’s International Film Festival (CHIFF) that begins from May 27 until June 12.
For more information and ticketing, visit:

Sign up to receive weekly updates on our most recent reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *