Infinity Train is a promising Cartoon Network project that comes our way courtesy of Owen Denis, previously a writer and storyboard artist for Regular Show. You might have caught it as a hatchling in its 2016 pilot. But in 2019, it has unraveled into a 10-episode miniseries that is a must-see for animation fans.
What is it?
A game-coding bespectacled adolescent named Tulip (a mellow and no-nonsense Ashley Johnson) is disgruntled by the recent divorce of her parents. She runs off alone to camp, only to enter a mysterious train that has popped out of nowhere. Before she knows it, she finds herself trapped in the train, with only a wasteland in view from the window. Oh, and she has a green-glowing mysterious number fused into her hand. She must move forward if she hopes to find a way out.
She acquires a sidekick, the talkative One-One, a robotic drone sphere with legs with a split personality, veering from giddy (Jeremy Crutchley as the Glad-One) to sardonic (Owen Dennis as the Sad-One). Car-to-car, Tulip encounters odd worlds in each train, some with puzzles, some with luscious landscapes, some with societies of non-humans, and one with a corgi kingdom that leads to her alliance with its fuzzy corgi leader (Ernie Hudson).
The idea of a surreal train car-to-car adventure is a familiar template, while also opening fresh creative choices. Infinity Train brings to mind Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, where the hero must move forward car-to-car on board a train to defeat the conductor, as well as the Adventure Time episode “Dungeon Train,” where the hero moves forward to fight monsters.
How is it?
Infinity Train is as crazy as Alice and Wonderland and similar whimsical tales. It’s giddishly childish and filled with colorful characters, as you’d expect in a high-quality Cartoon Network production. It’s comparable to another stellar Cartoon Network miniseries, Over the Garden Wall, where the world is imbued with mysteries, some revealed, some unexplained. It holds simple lessons on coping for children enduring changes in their lives (loss in this case), while offering a suspenseful adventure, like hopping to the next wacky video game level.
There’s a lot I don’t want to reveal about the plot (you really should experience it yourself), but my personal favorite episode involves the heroine viewing her memories and wandering through a dimension that allows her to communicate with her own reflection, who has an entertainingly antithetical personality.
It’s a Miniseries…but there’s more?
Infinity Train churns toward a tight conclusion with some open-ends. Before I saw the series, I was surprised this was a 10-episode event. A car-to-car adventure surely should have yielded more possibilities, more vistas, and more worldbuilding. But this is a complete package. Or so it seems.
Infinity Train is a miniseries with an established ending, but the door is left open for more. Without giving away the conclusion, Infinity Train does end on a promise: “Infinity Train Will Return.”
/Film Rating: 8 out of 10
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