Sundance (2022) review: Family friendly ‘MAIKA’ is universally entertaining.

SYNOPSIS:
Ham Tran’s Maika follows 8-year-old Hung, who is still coping with the death of his mother and having difficulty connecting to his father, when his best friend moves away, along with others in his apartment as a greedy landlord conspires to push everyone out so he can sell the place. One night, as Hung retreats to the roof to be alone and watch the night sky he witnesses an errant falling star hitting the ground by a lake near his town. Hung hops on his bike in search of adventure. He arrives at the crash site, and instead of a meteor, discovers an alien girl from the planet Maika, who came in search of her lost friend. As Hung helps Maika find her friend and get back to her home, she inadvertently helps Hung make new friends and mend his broken heart. But danger lurks everywhere, as Hung is not the only one who knows of his new alien friend…


A grieving boy comes face to face with an alien girl trying to find her way home. Their adventures will bring unadulterated joy to Sundance 2022 audiences. Maika‘s cinematography is eye-popping. The production team dressed the sets and the actors in ways that hypnotized me. It’s the perfect eye candy for kids and parents alike. 

Our three youngest leads, Phu Trong, Diep Anh Chu, and Tin Tin are darling. These kids are out of this world fantastic. Their relationships are the purest and most honest I’ve seen in ages. You’ll double over in fits of giggles at Hung and Maika’s first interaction, while unexpected sidekick Beo takes the comedy to the next level.  

Maika has a familiar arc with all the finesse of E.T. and the charming goofiness of Little Rascals. Maika stands out with the emotional pull of grief and unconditional love. Add in some family-friendly subplot hijinks, all wrapped in a hilarious and sweet package, and you’ve got yourself a hit. With a whimsical score, every aspect of this film is enchanting. I laughed and cried a lot. Dub this in every language because its messaging is undeniably universal. It is a magnificent addition to Sundance 2022. Maika’s future is written in the stars.


Director/Writer:                      Ham Tran
Producers:                             Jenni Trang Le, Duy Ho, Anderson Le, Bao Nguyen
Executive Producers:           Quang Binh Nguyen Phan, Bich Hien Ngo Thi
Associate Producer:             Vi Vincent Ngo                           
Editors:                                  Ham Tran, Jayson Cabugason, Eunice Goh Yi Hui
Cinematographer:                 Minh Cong Trang
Composer:                             Christopher Wong
Cast:                                       Phu Truong, Diep Anh Chu, Tin Tin, Ngoc Tuong, Kim Nha
TRT:                                        105 min
Country:                                 Vietnam


To find out more about the entire Sundance 2022 lineup, click here!

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.