January 14, 2021
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. This nickname came to be as a “funny” combination between my name, Anthony, and the word animation. Because, I am the staff writer at Wilsonville Broadcasting Network who prides himself in writing movie reviews of various American animated films.
I started this reviews page after watching basically every animated film made in the US and made it my mission to share my knowledge of these films to the whole world.
This is the page where all of the Anthomation reviews are stationed. Once a review is finished, it will be submitted to this “ongoing story.” My earliest reviews are at the top while the latest ones are at the very bottom.
I suggest you check out all of my reviews, if you are not doing homework or playing on your Xbox. Give it go, I’m sure there will be a movie in there that peaks your interest.
Anthomation Assesses Foodfight
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review the hour-and-a-half atrocity that was Foodfight! (2012 film).
Foodfight! (2012) is an American animated film produced by Threshold Entertainment, which is the animation company founded by director, producer, and screenwriter Larry Kasanoff. Kasanoff, who produced the mid-90’s Mortal Kombat series, had not had much experience in the animation field prior to Foodfight!. For instance, the film was intended for a Christmas 2003 theatrical release, but after many production delays and a stolen-footage rumor, it ended up with a low-key direct-to-video release in 2012.
Foodfight! tells the story of a cereal brand mascot, Dex Dogtective, who, along with best friend Daredevil Dan, band together a group of “Ikes” in Marketropolis to fight against the forces of the evil Brand X, who threaten to take over the entire supermarket.
The story in this movie is horribly written. This movie tries to establish rules with its world-building, but bails out on each rule it tries to set up. Similar to the plot of Night at the Museum (2006), the “Ikes” (or food products) exist in their world inside of the supermarket, which is only supposed to come to life at night after the supermarket closes up for the day. So explain why the villain of the movie, who I will describe later in this review, can disguise as a REAL human in the REAL life world interacting with REAL humans. It would be like if Woody started spontaneously talking to Andy for no apparent reason. In the climax, the “Ikes” are fighting off Brand X in a literal foodfight. This mere idea is already painful enough for those who don’t enjoy puns, but this literally goes for an half-an-hour! And it’s just the same two shots for an “Ike” throwing food and that same food landing on the Brand X army with crappy explosive effects.
In speaking of the animation, it is absolutely awful. There is no excuse for this quality, even with the massive production delay. And the worst thing is that it had a budget of $45 to 65 million! That is within the realm of most other modern day films in this field and by God, it looks this film had a budget of $4 to $6. The rendering here is horrendous! A sixth grade photoshop class could make something more appealing than this. The backgrounds are bland and terrible. And the animators had no idea what they were doing with the character designs. From a human-like Brand X representative that looks and behaves like a spastic rockstar from the ’80’s to a rodent that quite frankly looks like a poop rat, these abominations are the epitome of anyone’s worst nightmare. On top of that, every character has no facial expressions whatsoever and their mouths barely even sync up with the dialogue of the voice actors, so all of the characters emote through sporadic twirls and arm movements. It looks like C-3PO having a seizure.
With the story being horribly written, that makes the characters just as badly conceptualized. Just like the screenwriters, the characters are passionless and make no effort to be enjoyable or even likable. Everyone is a stereotype upon an even bigger stereotype. The protagonist is Dex Dogtective, voiced by Charlie Sheen. He is an anthropomorphic dog private investigator, as well as the owner of the Copabanana nightclub. There’s Daredevil Dan, voiced by Wayne Brady. He is Dex’s best friend and the comedy relief/African American stereotype. There’s the typical damsel-in-distress Sunshine Goodness, voiced by Hilary Duff. She has no purpose other than to be the love interest and the one Dex has to save. There is Lady X / Priscilla, voiced by Eva Longoria. She is the villian/femme fatale. And there are a TON of shameless product rip-offs, such as Mr. Clean, Charlie Tuna, Mrs. Butterworth, Twinkleton, and the Californian Raisins. Because this movie has no clue on who it is trying to appeal, it throws in out-of-place (and even concerning) innuendos. In fact, the final act contains Sunshine Goodness and Lady X in a fist fight and the male characters in the background, such as Daredevil Dan, cracking off jokes about their “melons”. As if this movie could not steep any lower.
This hopeless pile of manure has no shame whatsoever. The story is terrible and all over the place. The animation is abysmal and it would give people a headache just looking at it. And the characters are as unlikable and one-dimensional as can be. In my reviews, I will always have a group or demographic that the film can be recommended to even if it’s not that good. But this is NOT recommendable! Foodfight! is the WORST animated film I have seen! Unless you want to waste an hour-and-a-half of your life, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE!!!
Anthomation Assesses Norm of the North
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review more of the painful movies I’ve had to sit through: Norm of the North (2016 film).
Norm of the North is a 2016 film directed by Trevor Wall and written by Daniel R. Altiere, Steven M. Altiere, and Malcolm T. Goldman. It was produced by AssemblageEntertainment, Splash Entertainment and Telegael, and distributed by Lionsgate (who has a habit of distributing animated films at the bottom-of-the-barrel as they also own the rights to Foodfight! (2012)). It grossed $30.5 million at the box office on a $18 budget, which sadly was good enough to spawn three direct-to-video sequels.
This movie is about a polar bear named Norm, who can apparently speak to humans for a reason we will never know of, who is about to become the king of the Arctic. But when he sees a luxury condo filled with humans, he wants to get it out because they don’t belong there. Then Norm’s grandfather is taken by animal catchers, so it’s up to our furry friend to travel to New York, rescue his grandfather, and save the Arctic along the way.
The story is absolutely all over the place. I didn’t even tell you half of the subplots this movie so desperately tries to throw in. There’s also a villain who wants to fill the Arctic with luxury condos, a little girl that Norm quickly befriends, and romance with Norm and another polar bear, Norm having to please his father for all of the actions he takes, and AH! There’s way too much going on and all of these plotlines are passed on by faster than anyone can blink. It’s like the producers of this movie had a checklist of all of the various animated film cliches that had stuffed into this 88 minute flick.
The animation here is terrible. If Foodfight’s animation was rock-bottom, Norm of the North’s animation would be a half-step above that. The characters are not rendered properly. The fur of the animals looks as fake as a teddy bear’s fur and the skin of the humans looks as plastic and artificial as a Barbie doll. The backgrounds are as phoned-in and lazy as can be. Also, every character moves and behaves like a discount Illumination or Sony Animation character. Worst of all, the character designs are absolute garbage. Clearly, this was the thing that was the most rushed in the animation process because these characters are not natural-looking in the least.
With a bad story and bad animation, it would be inevitable that the characters would be badly thought out as well. Norm (voiced by Rob Schneider) who is the typical protagonist getting bullied for his unique difference (his ability to talk to humans) and having to overcome the odds to save the Arctic and earn the respect of the peers around here. There’s Mr. Greene (voiced by Ken Jeong). He’s the evil corporate billionaire who desires to build condos in the Arctic so he can make a fortune selling them off in the Arctic. There’s Olympia Brightly, a little girl who quickly befriends Norm and wants to help him save the Arctic. Then there’s Vera Brightly (Olympia’s mom who also works for Mr. Greene), and Elizabeth (the love-interest of Norm who literally only gets five minutes of screentime), and a whole slew of character-tropes that the screenwriters took as little time to develop as any of the main characters. And then there are the lemmings, who are three sorry excuses this movie wants us to believe are the comedy-reliefs. They’re only purpose in life is to either take a piss (seriously, there are convective scenes dedicated to this) or to be rip-offs of the Minions. They have this running joke that they’re completely indestructible even if they’re stomped on or electrocuted. Well, it’s not funny! Everytime I see these jerks, I just want to cook them over a fire just like what Chewbacca did to that porg in The Last Jedi. But the one thing this movie did manage to establish, it’s that these are most stupid characters you will ever meet in an animated film. It’s already bad enough that everyone is ok with a polar bear roaming the streets of New York City, but the people don’t even know that Norm is a real polar bear in the first place! In fact, they think that he is just a person in a bear costume! I don’t know who lost more brain cells, the characters in this movie or anyone having to sit through this piece of crap.
Wow, I never thought any movie would be capable of giving Foodfight! a run for its money for worst animated film if all time, but Norm of the North came pretty darn close. The story is horribly written, the animation is worse than second-rate, and the characters are either too stupid or too bland or even considered likeable. I can’t even recommend this movie to even really little kids unless it is just for pure background noise. The only reason why this movie doesn’t get a 0/10 is because it actually costs money to watch this movie on YouTube.
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 American Animated Films Currently on Netflix
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review the top 5 American Animated films currently on Netflix.
Netflix is obviously a site that a lot of people go on to watch their favorite movies or tv shows. But it may not be the ultimate site for animated films, considering that Disney+ now exists. After looking deep into the treasure chest, there were some riches that could struck out, whether with ease or with deep searching. Here are my top 5 starting with number 5 and ending with number 1 (retroactive to September 31 as Mask of the Phantasm was taken off Netflix on October 1st).
- Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Being that it’s a Disney film, it’s a little strange to see it on the site of the company’s biggest streaming competitor. Oh well, all that matters is that Ralph is on here and that it’s a good movie. Video game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the World Wide Web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope’s video game, “Sugar Rush.” In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet — the netizens — to help navigate their way, including an entrepreneur named Yesss, who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site BuzzTube. While this story has been done before, it concept is executed well (The Emoji Movie wishes it did this well on the technological contraption), the computer animation is superb (as usual for Disney), and the builds off the main leads to make them even more well-rounded than its predecessor.
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
In a time where most non-Disney animated films were trying to rip-off the lead dog, Mask of the Phantasm was one of the rare exceptions that gave us something new and exciting as opposed to something we had already seen. Only grossing $5,795,524 at the box office, the filmmakers blamed Warner Bros. for the unsuccessful marketing campaign. Despite this, Mask of the Phantasm eventually turned a profit with its various home video releases. Set in the 1940s, the troubled yet heroic Batman (Kevin Conroy) is pitted against a mysterious figure who is rubbing out Gotham City’s most dangerous criminals, and who many believe is the caped crusader himself. Batman’s alter ego, millionaire Bruce Wayne, is about to get married to the lovely Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), who helps him recover from his need to avenge his parents’ murder — meaning that his crime-fighting days may be numbered. This story is fantastically written with maybe the best plot twist I’ve seen in an animated film, the animation is able to capture the darker tones of Batman and Gotham City, and the characters, especially Bruce Wayne, are fleshed out with dilemmas that strive their actions and them as people.
- The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Visiting the House of Mouse once again, it was the traditionally animated film Disney had made since Home on the Range (2004). With another Disney princess musical coming out around the same time (Tangled (2010)), this film was arguably not as commercially successful as hoped, even with its positive reviews from critics. Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) dreams of one day opening the finest restaurant in New Orleans. Her dream takes a slight detour when she meets Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), who has been turned into an amphibian by evil Dr. Facilier. Mistaking her for a princess and hoping to break the spell, Naveen plants a kiss on poor Tiana — thereby turning her into a frog as well. The pair hop along on an adventure through the bayous to seek the help of a powerful voodoo priestess. Just like our lead protagonist, this film is hardworking and ambitious; featuring the first African-American princess Disney would put on the big screen. The story is well conceived, the animation is wonderfully displayed, and the characters are likeable (especially Tiana, who is probably my favorite Disney princess).
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
When you think of the majority of films that Sony Animation has put out there, it’s really hard to believe that this came from the same studio who made The Angry Birds Movie and The Emoji Movie. But no matter who made his movie, it’s universally agreed that this is a must-watch. Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into the one and only Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his special, high-flying talents. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other universes and pull different versions of Spider-Man into our world. The story is really well thought-out, the animation is stunning to look out with its comic book animation that leaps off the page, and it features a Spider-Man that’s 10 times more likeable and well-rounded than Peter Parker in the form of Miles Morales.
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
The second and final sequel to be featured on this list, HTTYD 2 is one of the few animated sequels that embodies that a sequel should represent. After the first movie became a smash mouth hit for DreamWorks (grossing $494.9 million at the box office), it only made sense that this needed a follow-up. Five years have passed since Hiccup and Toothless united the dragons and Vikings of Berk. Now, they spend their time charting the island’s unmapped territories. During one of their adventures, the pair discover a secret cave that houses hundreds of wild dragons — and a mysterious dragon rider who turns out to be Hiccup’s long-lost mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett). Hiccup and Toothless then find themselves at the center of a battle to protect Berk from a power-hungry warrior named Drago. The story is great to follow, the animation is as breathtaking as its predecessor, and characters of old are built to be even more developed and even more likeable and the characters of new are great additions to the movie.
Anthomation Assesses Cars
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. In honor of my birthday being three days ago, I shall review my favorite animated film of all time: Cars (2006).
Cars is a film from Pixar Animation Studios, who was coming off the massive success of The Incredibles (2004) and many other films prior to that I’m sure we are all similar with. Cars received generally positive reviews and also received commercial success, grossing $462 million worldwide against a budget of $120 million. It was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature, but lost to Happy Feet (but won both the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature and the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film). The film was dedicated to Joe Ranft, the film’s co-director and co-writer, who died in a car crash during the film’s production.
Lightning McQueen is a young, hotshot rookie race car in the last race of the season. At the end of the race, he finds out he is tied with Chick Hicks and The King. On the way to the tie-breaker race in Los Angeles, California, some hot punk cars get him lost in a little town called Radiator Springs on the old Route 66 road, which has been long forgotten many years ago. Scared to death, he tears up the town’s main road and is sentenced to community service by Doc Hudson. During this time, he meets a funny, but lovable tow truck named Mater and a beautiful Porsche Carrera named Sally. He also meets some other cars, which he finds to be quite odd. All he wants to do is get out of this town and back into the big city, but as the week until the race goes on, the town folk help him discover that life isn’t just about trophies, fame, and sponsorships and McQueen learns about family and friendship.
The story can’t be judged just by the plot synopsis, but by how the plot is put onto the screen. It would be easy to classify this movie as your typical sports flick with overdone plotlines that you’ve seen done to death. But here, the story is done in such a sincere and authentic way that it feels like its own. For example, Lightning McQueen not only begins with humility issues but also has hidden prejudices that will be corrected in such a thoughtful way. Specifically, he feels very uncomfortable being around rusty cars, which is why he is fond of his sponsor Rusteze. While stranded in Radiator Springs, the first car he meets is Mater, who is a rusty car, and they end up bonding in a nice friendship. This film also deals with small town issues, which is not something you see everyday is a “kids flick”. After going on a drive with Sally, McQueen uncovers that Radiator Springs was once a flourishing town with business flowing to and fro. In a heartfelt flashback, it shows how a newly built highway made the town bypassed just to save 10 minutes of driving. This makes McQueen help the town get back to its heyday and build a romantic relationship with Sally. But the marquee moment of this film is the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that wraps up the movie beautifully.
The animation is spot on. Because Cars was produced by Pixar, that’s not much of a surprise. When you think about a movie that comprises anthropomorphic cars, cartoon-ish, over-the-top visuals would come to mind. But it knows how to balance out expressive facial expressions with realistic automobile movements. Because they don’t have human body features, their expressions have to emote through their faces and it’s done really well here. The backgrounds are able to capture the small town feel, which makes the audience fully experienced this whole other world. The characters move and act like real cars, but still have more than life to them where they are easy to get across.
The characters are exciting and memorable. There’s Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), the hotshot racer who learns humility and respect for others while trying to make the big race. There’s Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), the comedy relief, who is actually funny, and the one Lightning becomes close friends with. There’s Sally (voiced by Bonnie Hunt), the attorney of Radiator Springs and McQueen’s eventual love interest. There’s also Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman), the car of many roles, from judge to doctor, and a former Piston Cup winner who has been in Radiator Springs even since an accident that ended his racing career. Then there’s a slew of Radiator Springs townsfolk From a hippie named Fillmore to an old cop named Sheriff to an Italian tire duo named Luigi and Guido, they bring their own colorful personalities. You round it off with Chick Hicks, McQueen’s biggest rival and the antagonist of the movie.
What else can I say, this movie is AMAZING! The story has an unbelievable pace where it’s as good on a highway as on a dirt road, the animation is displayed incredibly, and the characters have a ton to offer. Cars is a must watch for kids and adults alike. In my opinion, this is the BEST animated film ever made!
Anthomation Assesses The Iron Giant
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review the Brad Bird film nobody knew at first but has come to love, The Iron Giant (1999).
The Iron Giant is a 1999 animated film produced by Warner Bros. Feature Animation and directed by Brad Bird in his directorial debut. It is based on the 1968 novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. The film’s development began in 1994 as a musical with the involvement of The Who’s Pete Townshend, though the project was set in a new direction when Bird signed on as the director. The film significantly under-performed at the box office, grossing $31.3 million worldwide against a production budget of $50 million, which was blamed on Warner Bros.’ unusually poor marketing campaign and skepticism towards animated film production following the mixed critical reception and box office failure of Quest for Camelot in the preceding year. Despite this, the film was praised for its story, animation, characters, the portrayal of the title character and the voice performances and has gained a huge cult following over the years.
A giant alien robot (Vin Diesel) crash-lands near the small town of Rockwell, Maine, in 1957. Exploring the area, a local 9-year-old boy, Hogarth, discovers the robot, and soon forms an unlikely friendship with him. When a paranoid government agent, Kent Mansley, becomes determined to destroy the robot, Hogarth and beatnik Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick Jr.) must do what they can to save the misunderstood machine from many attacks and other conflicts.
The story is well written and thanks to Brad Bird’s wonderful director, it knows how to convey a good narrative. While this type of story is not totally original and has been at a good quality before this film, it has its own unique charm that makes it feel its own. This film relishes the 1950’s Cold War feel. For example, Hogarth is in school thinking about the metal giant while a duck and cover atomic holocaust video plays on the class tv and then Hogarth’s classmates start throwing out conspiracy theories about the metal giant being made and sent by the Russians to attack America. This movie also has great balance between humor and heart. There’s a scene where Hogarth is saying grace at the dinner, but is also trying to tell the iron giant’s hand (which had broken off in a scene before) to get out of his house which is really humorous. The heart and emotional impact of the film comes most prominently at the climax. I won’t spoil it for you guys, but let’s just say that you will find yourself tearing up at a pretty unexpected source.
The animation is fantastically hand drawn and perfectly explains how Brad Bird made such a big name for himself in the animation industry. The colors of this town in Maine are colorfully displayed, but still grounded enough to show that this is supposed to be a realistic atmosphere. The character movements are very lively and fit the moods and attitudes for each in that specific situation. The character designs are great to look at and have a distinct enough feel without feeling goofy and cartoonish. Lastly, the scaling of the film is fantastic to see whenever the iron giant is on the screen and is moving in some way.
The characters are arguably the most enjoyable part of the film and can easily bring a smile to anyone’s face. There’s Hogarth Hughes (voiced by Eli Marienthal), an intelligent, energetic and curious 9-year-old boy with an active imagination. There’s Annie Hughes (voiced by Jennifer Aniston), Hogarth’s mother, the widow of a military pilot, and a diner waitress. There’s Dean McCoppin (voiced by Harry Connick Jr.), a beatnik artist and junkyard owner. He is among the first, aside from Hogarth, to recognize the Giant as no threat. And then there is the giant (voiced by Vin Diesel), a 50-foot, metal-eating robot. Of unknown origin and created for an unknown purpose, the Giant involuntarily reacts defensively if he recognizes anything as a weapon, immediately attempting to destroy it. All of these characters bring their own role to film and work beautifully in the film’s message of choosing who you want to be.
The Iron Giant went from that unknown animated film people liked to gaining a massive following to become a household name. Kudos to everyone who made that happen because this film deserves all of the attention it has received. The story is wonderfully conceived, the animation is wonderfully drawn, and the characters are wonderfully thought out. It’s just a wonderful film all around. The 90’s were not a great time for traditionally animated films NOT coming from Disney, but the Iron Giant was one of the few exceptions we continue to treasure for a long time.
Anthomation Assesses Over the Moon
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review the latest animated feature film to be released on Netflix, Over the Moon (2020)
Before the review continues, I would like to point out that I will be reviewing the latest animated films right after they are released. Anyway, Over the Moon is a 2020 animated film co-produced in the US and China. It was produced by Netflix Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Pearl Studio, who had previously co-produced Abominable (2019) with DreamWorks Animation. It was directed by Glen Keane, who was previously an animator at Disney animation. The film was first shown at the Montclair Film Festival on October 17, 2020, followed by its Netflix and select theaters release on October 23.
When Fei Fei (voice of Cathy Ang) was a young girl, her now-deceased mother told her the story of Chang’e, a moon goddess of Chinese mythology who is waiting on the moon for her one and only true love. Her friends and family think it’s just a silly myth, so the 13-year-old girl, who’s a STEM-proficient student, decides to build a rocketship herself so she can find Chang’e and prove the story is true.
When watching this film and knowing that it was directed by someone who had previously worked at Disney, it made total sense that the story would resemble many of the aesthetics of a typical Disney flick. You have the protagonist who loses a loved one, has a change of mood, surrounded by animal sidekicks/comedy reliefs and has to go on an astounding journey to eventually learn a life lesson. It’s the type of movie that has to check a bunch of boxes to appeal to certain demographics. Oh and I forgot that this is also a musical. If I’m going to be totally honest, the songs here were not that bad. Infact, I thought they added to the story pretty well and were fun to listen to. All in all, the songs were not enough to redeem a story that was flat to being with.
The animation is by far the best part of this movie, it’s colorful, fluid, and a joy to look at. When our main character finally reaches the moon, you would expect to see a lot of blacks and greys, but instead it looks like we entered into the World of Color show from Disneyland. The character designs definitely resemble those of films like Moana (2016) and Big Hero 6 (2014), but still holds up well on its own. The backgrounds look appealing and there aren’t any overwhelming issues with the shots and angles used to display the film.
The best way to describe the characters here are that they are hit and miss. There’s Fei Fei, the 14-year-old protagonist of the film who believes in Chang’e ever since the loss of her mother and builds a rocket to travel to the moon to prove it. She is overall a routable character, but also falls into the same trap as so many other protagonists of having to go on some adventure just to learn something about herself. There’s Chin, Mrs Zhong’s 8-year-old son and Fei Fei’s stepbrother. Chang’e, the mythical Moon goddess who yearns to be with her true love Houyi again. After looking it up, it was confirmed that Chang’e is based on true Chinese lore. Then there is Gobi (voiced by Ken Jeong), a pangolin and former royal advisor who was exiled 1000 years ago. Just like Chin, he can’t decide whether he wants to be the comedy relief or a failed attempt at an enduring character. This film also tries to squeeze in a lot of animal sidekicks. Seriously, the Rankin/Bass version of The King and I (1999) had less of these characters than this film.
With a script that settles for diet Disney, songs that good but not good enough to truly stand out, animation that is well done but can only do so much for the rest of the people, and characters that a mix bag to be easily forgotten, Over the Moon is a film that isn’t bad but can’t make a name for itself and easily falls in with the rest of the crowd. Considering that there haven’t been a lot of animated films to enter the US market, this film might stay relevant for a little while but that is best I can say about it.
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 Spooky Full Length Animated Features
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review the top 5 animated feature films with a spooky theme.
Halloween is a day to embrace cosplays, candy, and trick-or-treating (usually), but the thing that always gets overlooked are animated movies that can give you those annual chills. No longer will I be silent on this matter; it’s time to praise these films.
- ParaNorman (2012)
Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit‑McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead ‑‑ and he often prefers their company to that of the living. Norman receives word from his strange Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) that a centuries‑old witch’s curse on their town is real and about to come true ‑‑ and that only Norman can stop it. This was produced by Laika and it really shows. The stop-motion animation is great, the story is entertaining and while some of the characters can be a little static, most of them are still likeable.
- Corpse Bride (2005)
Set back in the late 1800s in a Victorian village, a man and woman by the names of Victor Van Dort and Victoria Everglot are betrothed because the Everglots need the money or else they’ll be living on the streets and the Van Dorts want to be high in society. But when things go wrong at the wedding rehearsal, Victor goes into the woods to practice his vows. Just as soon as he gets them right, he finds himself married to Emily, the corpse bride. While Victoria waits on the other side, there’s a rich newcomer that may take Victor’s place. So two brides, one groom, who will Victor pick? The film was directed by Tim Burton and the film shines with his darker-themed direction. One thing you will notice in the review is that every film on the list exceeds in its use of stop-motion animation, and this film is no different. The film also benefits greatly from an intriguing story and well done voice acting from Burton regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
- Frankenweenie (2012)
Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a science nerd and outsider at school, but he does have one good friend: his dog, Sparky. But then, tragedy strikes, and Sparky shuffles off this mortal coil. Victor is heartbroken, but his science teacher (Martin Landau) gives him an idea of how to jolt old Sparky back to life. The experiment is successful, and all goes well, until Victor’s fellow students steal his secret and use it to resurrect other dead animals — with monstrous consequences. Another Burton film, and another success. The film is shot in black-and-white and is also both a parody of and homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein. The animation is great and characters range from interesting to even more interesting.
- Coraline (2009)
When Coraline moves to an old house, she feels bored and neglected by her parents. She finds a hidden door with a bricked up passage. During the night, she crosses the passage and finds a parallel world where everybody has buttons instead of eyes, with caring parents and all her dreams coming true. When the Other Mother invites Coraline to stay in her world forever, the girl refuses and finds that the alternate reality where she is trapped is only a trick to lure her. This was Laika’s first full length film, and it’s safe to say that they got off to a fantastic start. The animation is wonderful and the darker tone of the story and characters gives this film a uniquely entertaining experience not seen in most animated films.
1.The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween Town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right. The pumpkin king of them all does not disappoint in the least. It doesn’t matter if it is a Halloween movie, Christmas movie, or both, the movie is on the list and that’s the end of it. From the animation, to story, to characters, to songs, everything about this movie is delightful and as rememberable as holiday movies get.
Anthomation Assesses Ratatouille
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review a movie that is too delicious to resist, Ratatouille (2007).
Ratatouille is a 2007 animated feature film from our good friends at Pixar, being the eighth film produced by the company and was written and directed by familiar face Brad Bird. The movie went on to make $620 million at the box office on a $150 million budget. More impressively, it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for four more, including Best Original Screenplay.
Remy dreams of becoming a great chef, despite being a rat in a definitely rodent-phobic profession. He moves to Paris to follow his dream, and with the help of hapless garbage boy Linguini he puts his culinary skills to the test in the kitchen but he has to stay in hiding at the same time, with hilarious consequences. Remy eventually gets the chance to prove his culinary abilities to a great food critic but is the food good?
The story is really well conceived with a great sense of humor and heart to go along for the ride. The mere idea of a rat controlling a human by pulling on his hair is really creative and works to the movie’s advantage. You get to see how this leads to our duo, Lemy and Linguini, making great food, Linguini getting credit and fame for creating good food even though it was Remy’s creation, but then the two experience relationship problems when the publicity starts to get prominent, and eventually they eventually have their resolution. It is able to capture the abs and flows of a rat running down a dream and man desperate for a dream to run down. There’s a scene in the beginning of the film where after scavenging for food, Remy and his friend Emile are entering into a Granny’s house for the “perfect ingredient” to go with their newly-found cheese. The attic is where all of the other rats are stationed, and after Remy finds out the hard truth about his idol (Chef Gusteau), the Granny wakes up and a whole bunch of humor ensues. The entire is set up incredibly well and really jumpstarts the entire tone of the rest of the film.
As expected with Pixar, the animation is gorgeous. The characters are really well designed and feature expressions that the audience can easily emote to. The film takes place in Paris, and the movie makes the most of it with beautiful and color landscapes and captures the true aesthetics of Paris. The character movements are well done. The film just looks fantastic. I know I should be going more in depth about it, but it is one of those movies where you have to check it out for yourself.
The characters here are thoughtful and easy to root for. You have Remy, voiced by Patton Oswald, the rodent protagonist who strives to be a cook and has a great sense of smell and taste to the job. As stating before, he has many doors shut in his face, but is not one to give up easily. There’s Linguini, voiced by Lou Romano who also voiced Dash’s teacher in The Incredibles, and a hapless garbage boy who befriends Remy. You will find out that he is the kin of someone very important later on in the movie. Chef Skinner, a diminutive chef and the owner of Auguste Gusteau’s restaurant. Since Gusteau’s death, Skinner has used the Gusteau name to market a line of cheap microwaveable meals. I lied, he is the one character you should not be rooting for. There’s Auguste Gusteau, France’s most famous chef and Remy’s idol. I told you earlier that a hard truth would be found out about him, wink wink. There’s Colette Tatou, a chef at Gusteau’s and Linguini’s eventual love-interest. I forgot to mention the chemistry that is built up between these earlier, but it is another bright spot for the film. You have Django and Emile, the father and brother of Remy respectively. Then there is Anton Ego, who is voiced by the great Peter O’Toole. He is a restaurant critic whose negative review led to Gusteau’s five-star restaurant being downgraded to four. He ends up crossing paths with Remy and Linguini at the height of Linguini’s popularity and he is the man that the duo have to prove themselves to. All of the characters work well at their specific roles and beyond.
Another gem in the Pixar treasure chest, Ratatouille is a beautiful and thoughtful film with great story, animation, and characters all around. If you haven’t already watched this film, this is a MUST-WATCH. Aside from Cars (2006), this would have to be the best movie I have reviewed to date. Props up to this film!
Anthomation Assesses Onward
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review Pixar’s latest animated film release to date, Onward (2020).
Onward is a 2020 animated film that was directed by Dan Scanlon, who had previously worked on other Pixar films and served as the director for Monsters University (2013). Onward was also the first film without any involvement from John Lasseter, one of the founders of the company. Let’s just say that the former CCO of Pixar and Disney Animation had to leave the company due to a pretty touchy subject. Back to the film, it received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $141 million worldwide, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2020 so far. It quickly had to be pulled from theaters due to COVID-19, but was then made available digitally. In January 2020, San Francisco tattoo artist Sweet Cecily Daniher filed a copyright lawsuit against Disney, Pixar, and Onward producer Kori Rae. Apparently, the van, or “Vanicorn”, used in the film was inspired by the tattoo artist and she claimed that Pixar copied her design without her permission. She sought to prohibit the distribution of the film in any capacity, but I could not find any other information on the case as of right now. Wow, what a depressing introduction to this review. Hopefully, the film is better than the controversy surrounding it.
In a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on a journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him. Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. When the boys’ fearless mom, Laurel, realizes that her sons are missing, she teams up with the legendary winged-lion-scorpion former warrior — The Manticore — and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed.
This is one of those movies that might have a thin story initially, but starts to build up as the film carries on. They set up initially that the father of our lead characters has recently died and they, along with their mom, miss him very much. Narrative-wise, that’s about. Character-wise, there is more fleshing out the movie does, but the story itself is as simple as two kids wanting their dad back so bad that they will steal some voodoo magic from Dr. Facilier of The Princess and the Frog (2009) in order to get him back for one day. But as time goes, we start to realize that things may not be that simple. I would like to elaborate the surprising depth of the story a little more, but it would come at the cost of spoiling the ending. THIS IS A NO SPOILER ZONE!!!
The animation here is unsurprisingly great and shows how Pixar has truly come in their visuals over the years. And no, I am not here to take shots at Toy Story (1995). It is one of the best animated films ever created and it would only make me look like a complete jerk. As for Onward, it is able to beautifully combine the aesthetics of the magical past with the overall look of the modern city. The character designs of the mythical creatures look very appealing, and so are their movements. Their facial expressions bring out a lot of life in each one of the characters.
The characters here are fleshed out really well and are able to convey enough emotion in the most crucial of places. We have our two teen elf leads: Ian and Barley Lightfoot. They are voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt respectively. I will try my best to refrain from Marvel jokes when talking about these two characters. Ian is the younger brother who is more shy and lacking in self-confidence. Barley is the older brother who is an enthusiastic, impulsive history and role-playing game fanatic, longing for a magical quest. There’s Laurel Lightfoot, voiced by Julia Louis-Dreydus, the mother of the two leads. There’s Corey, a manticore restaurant owner and former adventurer whom Ian and Barley go to for help on their quest. There’s Colt Bronco, a centaur police officer and Laurel’s boyfriend. And there is Wilden Lightfoot, Ian and Barley’s late father and Laurel’s late husband. With big name actors providing the voices of our protagonists, they prove their worth by providing enthusiastic performances to make us care about them even more, especially Chris Pratt.
Onward is another quality film from a studio that basks in quality. The story has more to offer than you might think, the animation is well done, and the characters are lively and build up a lot of the film’s excitement. Maybe not the best film Pixar has made, but it’s gearing up to be one of the best animated films of 2020. And no lawsuit will stop this movie from being watchable.
Anthomation Assesses Free Birds
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review the only mainstream full length animated Thanksgiving film currently out there: Free Birds (2013).
Free Birds is a 2013 animated film produced by Reel FX Creative Studios. It is the first theatrical fully animated feature film from the production company, as they would later go on to make The Book of Life (2014), which is a very underrated film, and Rumble (2021), which I have obviously not seen yet since it hasn’t been released. It was directed by Jimmy Hayward, who had previously directed Horton Hears a Who! (2008). The film was released by Relativity Media, which had to close down due to bankruptcy in 2015. As for the film itself, it received generally unfavorable reviews from critics but was a commercial success, grossing $110 million on a $55 million budget.
After years of fruitless warning of his farmyard brethren of the coming Thanksgiving doom, Reggie the Turkey finds himself spared as the annual Pardoned Turkey. However, Reggie’s easy life is disrupted by Jake, a fanatic turkey who drags him along with the insane idea of going back in time to make sure turkeys are not part of the first Thanksgiving. Through foolhardiness and luck, the pair manage to take an experimental time machine to do just that. Now in 1621 at the Plymouth colony, Reggie and Jake find themselves in the middle of a turkey clan’s struggle for survival. In doing so, their preconceptions of the world and themselves are challenged forever in a conflict from which the world will never be the same.
When talking about the story of this movie, the easiest way to describe it is that it is a hot mess. Sometimes the film wants to tell some cheap Back to the Future narrative, but other times it is just looking to be a really long Looney Tunes cartoon. Overall, the comedy is hit and miss but mostly on the miss side. There are a couple of jokes in the beginning of the film when Jake first abducts Reggie and then he announces the entire mission to a car mirror, thinking he is talking to a guy that looks exactly like him. But then there a lot of stupid jokes like when Jake and Ranger (who is basically just Jake but blue instead of Red) have a dance battle while being on lookout for incoming pilgrims. At first, it might get a giggle but it goes on for a really long time and the audience is left to wonder: why?
But the thing that bothered me the most was the sudden tone shift in the third act. Seriously, the film went from being a comedy-adventure to an all out serious flick with a climax that I won’t spoil, but trust me it comes right out of nowhere.
For an animation studio making their first full length feature, the animation is pretty competent. Don’t get me wrong, it is still second rate and it doesn’t compare to something you would see is a Disney or Pixar movie. With that said, the character designs of the turkeys and the backgrounds of Plymouth colony are decently conceived. Since it is a comedy movement, the character movements are the over-the-top, but still work for the most part. As for the colors, they are basic and definitely will not wow anyone. After watching The Book of Life, it made total sense that Free Birds would be the starting place and the latter was a huge step up. To compare it to Disney’s early computer animated day, think of Chicken Little (2005) and Meet the Robinsons (2007) to Bolt (2008).
The characters are nothing out of the ordinary and the screenwriters focus more on goofy gags rather than developing well-thought-out characters. There is Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson), a domesticated turkey who is pardoned by the President of the United States and is dragged into Jake’s plot. There’s Jake, (voiced by Woody Harrelson), a wild turkey that is the president of the Turkey Freedom Front (T.F.F.) and the dummy that gets the plot rolling. There’s Jenny (voiced by Amy Poehler), another wild turkey and Reggie’s love interest. There’s Chief Broadbeak, (voiced by Keith David), the chief of the native turkeys and Jenny’s father and Reggie’s father-in-law. There is Ranger, (voiced by director Jimmy Hayward), Jenny’s brother and Broadbeak’s son and Reggie’s brother-in-law. He becomes “huge” frenemies with Jake. Step aside Jefferson and Hamilton, there is a new duo in town. And then there is Myles Standish, who is a pilgrim hunter and the main villain of the movie. He is bent on killing all of the turkeys so he can feed the rest of the pilgrims. What a minute, this guy is not a bad guy. In fact, he is just to help his people. Why couldn’t this guy be the main character? I mean, his story is a lot more interesting than the one that actually came to fruition.
Free Birds is the Thanksgiving version of Hop (2011), a film that is not good but is popular because it is the only mainstream full length animated film for that specific holiday. The story, animation, and characters range from decent to forgettable. It’s a film that might be recognizable to little kids trying to find a Turkey Day film, but it’s a pass for everyone else.
Anthomation Assesses The Croods: A New Age
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review the latest film to come out in 2020: The Croods: A New Age.
A New Age is the most recent film from the DreamWorks Animation cannon and their fourth film made since they were bought out by NBCUniversal. Seriously, the fact that DreamWorks and Illumination are now owned by the same parent company is really scary to think about. But I digress. The film was released into theaters this past Thanksgiving, with limited capacity of course, and can still be viewed on the big screen. As of right now, the film has grossed $35.4 million on a $65 million, though it is unlikely that it ends up a box office bomb.
Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs. Unfortunately, they must also learn to live with the Bettermans — a family that’s a couple of steps above the Croods on the evolutionary ladder. As tensions between the new neighbors start to rise, a new threat soon propels both clans on an epic adventure that forces them to embrace their differences, draw strength from one another, and survive together.
The story tries to shoehorn in way too many cliches and doesn’t have enough substance of its own to fully justify its existence. The movie goes on repeat mode with its storyline of an overbearing father and his teenage daughter. Then, it adds a lot of romantic jealousy between each of the two families. That will be explained later in the character section. Also, there is this tribe of punch monkeys who end up capturing our male leads and they only communicate by punching people. I admit that the idea is creative. Congratulations movie: you get one point for creativity. The best scene is a dinner scene, where it is like that scene from Shrek 2 (2004) but instead with the Croods and Bettermans. Like the rest of the movie, its loud and there is a lot of arguing and bickering. It’s the only time in the movie where being loud actually works to the movie’s advantage. For the rest of the movie, there is too obnoxious yelling, stale jokes that didn’t even work in the first Croods film, lots of modern slang, and a tone that is too cartoonish for a sequel to a film that took itself somewhat seriously. The climax of the film features the female leads rescuing the male leads from their captivity in the punching-monkey layer. Now, I am all for this, but can you execute in a fun and thoughtful manner. The short answer is no. The long answer is they make the Grandma from the first Croods the most important character by having her introduce the Thundersisters, and they use that to transform themselves into cave-super heroines. Right the heck out of nowhere, this film wanted to like some TV show. I’m not joking, this film decided to pay homage to 90’s style TV opening themes as the Thundersisters made their dramatic entrance. There is that moment in bad films where people can see where everything goes completely off the rails, and this was that moment.
The animation is overall good, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. While it has a variety of colors to emulate the specific tones of each of the scenes, the colors also emulate something out of Trolls: World Tour (2020). When the film has to copy the displaying of colors of another film from the same studio that came out in the same year, the creative aspect of the animation can get lost in the dust. I guest DreamWorks is tired of ripping off Pixar films, so they are resorting to ripping off their off films. Aside from that, I don’t have much of a problem with the visuals. The character movements are nice, the action scenes are still well done even if they are not as sweeping as the predecessor, and the facial expressions did a couple of chuckles out of me.
The characters are not as enjoyable as before as they came off as being one of three things: annoying, loud, or careless. There is Grug Crood (voiced by Nic Cage), a caveman and the patriarch of the Croods. There’s Crood (voiced by Emma Stone), a cavegirl, Grug’s oldest daughter and she is Guy’s girlfriend. There’s Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), an intelligent caveboy who lives with the Croods and is Eep’s boyfriend. To round off the rest of the Croods with Ugga, Thunk, and Gran, who are the mother, son, and grandma respectively. And then we are introduced to the Bettermans. There is Phil Betterman (voiced by Peter Dinklage), the patriarch of the Bettermans who had a history with Guy’s parents. There’s Hope Betterman (voiced by Leslie Mann), the matriarch of the Bettermans and Phil’s wife. There’s Dawn Betterman, Phil and Hope’s daughter and only child who befriends Eep and is Guy’s old friend. As stated before, there is a lot of arguing and yelling going on in this picture. Grug doesn’t like Pete, Ugga doesn’t like Hope, Guy and Eep have a romantic meltdown, and Hope practically admits her hate for all of the Croods in the second act. A closet can only fit in so much junk, and there is way too much junk in this closet.
The Croods: A New Age lacks the substance of its predecessor. The story has too many subplots with an inconsistent tone, the characters are not very enjoyable, and the animation is nothing special. If you are a fan of The Croods (2013), it’s still ok enough to warrant a look. Everyone else won’t find a ton of enjoyment in this flick.
Anthomation Assesses The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review my last film of 2020, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.
Sponge on the Run is a 2020 animated film from Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies. It is the third theatrical film based on the series, following the first in 2004 and second in 2015. The film is dedicated to SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died in 2018, and also served as an executive producer on the project. It is also the first film in the franchise to be fully animated in stylized CGI rather than traditional 2D animation. Originally slated for a worldwide theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, plans were changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was released theatrically in Canada on August 14, 2020, and digitally on Netflix in other territories on November 5, 2020, while it will have a premium video-on-demand and CBS All Access release in the United States in early 2021. So far, it has made $4.8 million on a $60 million budget, but those won’t stay the same for long.
When SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary goes missing, a path of clues leads SpongeBob and Patrick to the powerful King Poseidon, who has Gary held captive in the lost city of Atlantic City. On their mission to save Gary, SpongeBob and his pals team up for a heroic and hilarious journey, where they discover nothing is stronger than the power of friendship.
The story is very basic, but nothing too complainable considering that it is a SpongeBob film. What is complainable are the useless and even cringeworthy detours this movie decides to take. For example, why in the flying cinnamon sticks is Snoop Dogg in this film?! It comes right out of nowhere. They give him a rapping number to introduce El Diablo, check out the character section, but it comes right out of left field. I don’t care for it. In fact, the entire scene is out of place and unnecessary. Tell me if this doesn’t sound strange: SpongeBob and Patrick meet a tumbleweed with the face of Keanu Reeves, who tells them to defeat these cowboy zombie pirates using a coin of courage in order to pass a test that will lead them to find Gary the snail, who has been taken by King Poseidon to be used as a face moisturizer. Maybe it was to be hip with the “cool kids” or to fill its hour-and-a-half running time or both, it adds nothing to the story’s thin premise and it isn’t even that funny.
Again, the animation is in complete CGI instead of traditional 2D, and it lends itself to the world of Bikini Bottom surprisingly well. Not only were visuals very colorful, but it still had the same aesthetic appeal as the original animation. The characters look updated, but still nostalgic at the same time. Their movements still have that same cartoonish feel. I just love how whenever the characters cry, they cry out a literal waterfall. Towards the end of the film, we are introduced to the beloved cast as children retreat and how SpongeBob got to meet Patrick, Squidward, and others. This may be a nock on the story for being not needed, but little kid SpongeBob is fun to look at. Overall, the animation team at Paramount and Nickelodeon get two thumbs up from this moody critic.
The characters are still the same recognizable crew from the long-running show and their comedy translates well to the film. You have Spongebob and Patrick, the two quirky friends off to find Gary after he is found missing. There’s Squidward, who is still his moody self, but he also has a celebrity crush on this saxophone-playing octopus. Mr. Krabs is still a money-grubbing businessman. Sandy is there making scientific discoveries. Plankton is still after Krabs and the Crabby Patty formula. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s say that Plankton is the one responsible for getting the plot rolling. There is Karen, Plankton’s computer wife who is also his voice of reason. King Poseidon makes a return into the world of SpongeBob, also being in the original film, and is a power-hungry king and his only concern is to look impeccable. The only new character with a substantial role in the Obi-wan Kenobi tumbleweed voiced by Keanu Reeves. While he does give a pretty funny performance, the character itself could have been cut from the movie. My favorite joke is when the gang is running from the king’s guards after taking back Gary and Patrick decides to steal some chicken wings that were left on a nearby table. The characters still bring familiar humor and personality.
Out of all this year’s animated films based on recognizable tv shows, this one is probably the best. While the story is not very well written, the animation is well done and the characters bring some laughs along the way. SpongeBob fans will like it and so will kids looking for a simple adventure.
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 Holiday Feature Length Animated Films
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the top 5 animated full length movies that can get you in the holiday mood.
As Andy Williams put it so beautifully, this is the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas trees, gifts, being around family, celebrating the birth of Christ, this time brings out the best in all of us. And don’t forget all of the holiday classics that families everywhere have grown to love. Well, let’s look at the 5 animated films that can give people that holiday cheer.
- A Christmas Carol (2009)
I think we’re all familiar with the story of Scrooge, but for those who are not here’s a summary. Though London awaits the joyful arrival of Christmas, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) thinks it’s all humbug, berating his faithful clerk and cheerful nephew for their view. Later, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his late business partner, who warns that three spirits will visit him this night. The ghosts take Scrooge on a journey through his past, present and future in the hope of transforming his bitterness. This film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, and it was his fourth mo-cap film to come from the Imagemovers studio. There are some fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman and the motion capture at times looks spectacular, the elements don’t always mesh very well with the message getting a little overlooked by the hit or miss effects.
- Arthur Christmas (2011)
Everyone knows that, each Christmas, Santa Claus delivers presents to every last child on Earth. What everyone doesn’t know is that Santa accomplishes the feat with a very high-tech operation beneath the North Pole. But when the unthinkable happens, and Santa misses one child out of hundreds of millions, someone has to save the day. It’s up to Arthur (James McAvoy), Santa’s youngest son, to deliver a present to the forgotten tyke before Christmas morning dawns. This came from Aardman Studios, the company behind stop motion gems like Chicken Run (2000), one of my all time favorite films. This movie has a surprisingly deep message and characters that are very likable, but Aardman’s brief transition into CGI can look a bit wonky and the pacing is high-speed 24-7, meaning the audience cannot look away or else they might miss what just happened.
- The Polar Express (2004)
Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis reunite for Polar Express, an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. This is the first mo-cap film to come from Imagemovers. It’s my personal favorite to watch over the holiday season, but I realize that this film is not perfect. The animation is great, but there are a couple of scenes that will make you scratch your head as to how they made the final cut. Also, Tom Hanks voices every character in this film.
2.The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
I know this movie was in the Halloween top 5 list, but this film fits well in both holidays. Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is bored with doing the same thing every year for Halloween. One day he stumbles into Christmas Town, and is so taken with the idea of Christmas that he tries to get the resident bats, ghouls, and goblins of Halloween Town to help him put on Christmas instead of Halloween — but alas, they can’t get it quite right. The pumpkin king of them all does not disappoint in the least. It doesn’t matter if it is a Halloween movie, Christmas movie, or both, the movie is on the list and that’s the end of it. From the animation, to story, to characters, to songs, everything about this movie is delightful and as memorable as holiday movies get.
1.Happy Feet (2006)
Yes, this is technically not a Christmas movie, but it’s on AMC’s December Holiday lineup so it counts. Son of Memphis and Norma, little sweet penguin Mumble has a big problem: he can’t sing a single note. In a world where everyone needs a heart song to attract a soul mate, Mumble feels he doesn’t belong there. Our hero Mumble is the worst singer in the world, but he can tap dance brilliantly. This film absolutely rules! With animation that is spectacular and superb musical numbers, it can get people off of their sofas and start dancing along with it. If I did have one nitpick, it would be that the environmental message can feel a bit forced. Don’t worry, it does not take away from the rest of the great moments the movie has to offer.
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 Animated Films of 2020
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the best of the best from this past year.
While films were harder to produce and distribute than usual, the films we did get turned out to be worthwhile. Whether they came out early or later in the year, if they were well known and looked over, it’s the job of this critic to celebrate those animation highlights.
- Over the Moon
When Fei Fei (voice of Cathy Ang) was a young girl, her now-deceased mother told her the story of Chang’e, a moon goddess of Chinese mythology who is waiting on the moon for her one and only true love. Her friends and family think it’s just a silly myth, so the 13-year-old girl, who’s a STEM-proficient student, decides to build a rocketship herself so she can find Chang’e and prove the story is true. Directed by Glen Keane, former animator at the House of Mouse, this film was released by Netflix. In my full review of the film, I referred to the animation being as colorful as the World of Color show at Disneyland. The story is well thought out in the first half, but falters in the second half making it a decent, but not great film.
- The Willoughbys
Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family. Based on the Lois Lowry book of the same name, this was another Netflix animation release. In my opinion, this is the most underrated film on this list. The film was critically acclaimed, but didn’t receive the praise of other films. It has bright and stylized animation, likeable characters, and a laughably silly plot.
In a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, go on a journey to discover if there is still a little magic left out there in order to spend one last day with their father, who died when they were too young to remember him. Like any good quest, their journey is filled with magic spells, cryptic maps, impossible obstacles and unimaginable discoveries. When the boys’ fearless mom, Laurel, realizes that her sons are missing, she teams up with the legendary winged-lion-scorpion former warrior — The Manticore — and heads off to find them. Perilous curses aside, this one magical day could mean more than any of them ever dreamed. The tasty Pixar appetizer to later mentioned entree, it was wonderful animation, characters to root for, and emotionally impactful climax.
In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack. While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night. As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the “Wolfwalkers” and it risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy. This film was directed by Tomm Moore, who had previously directed hidden gems such The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). As someone who loves traditional handdrawn animation, it is very refreshing to see it done extremely well in the modern day. Along with the animation, the film also features great characters and a story full of intriguing Irish lore.
Joe Gardner is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help a soul, named 22, find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have a soul. Being the late year entree of Pixar, this is a film that truly lived to its hype. It was directed by Pete Doctor, director of such films like Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015). That should tell you enough if the film will be good. The animation is fantastic, ranging from realistic to stylized, the characters are well-constructed, and the story has so much emotional integrity. It is just a well-thought-out film.
Anthomation Assesses Soul
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the latest gem in the Pixar archive, Soul.
Soul is a 2020 animated film produced by the aforementioned Pixar animation studios. The film was directed by Pixar veteran and current Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter. He has directed many fantastic films such as Up (2009), Monsters Inc. (2001) and Inside Out (2014). Soul is the first Pixar film to feature an African-American protagonist. Originally intended to be a theatrical release in the United States, the film was released to stream on Disney+ on December 25, 2020 and was theatrically released in countries without the streaming service. It became the first feature-length film from Pixar not to be given a wide theatrical release and the first to be billed as a Disney+ original film. The film received highly positive reviews from critics with praise for its animation, story, voice acting, and music.
Joe Gardner is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help a soul, named 22, find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have a soul.
The story of this film not only is beaming with creativity, but it knows how to use that element to its full advantage. First of all, the world that the souls reside in is layed out quite nicely as the souls are created with specific personality traits and sent down to earth to someone who is about to be born. This is known as the great before. There’s also the Great Beyond, where the souls of dead people go to dissolve in a great white abyss. This is where Inside Out meets Coco (2017). Speaking of the former, the one nitpick I tend to hear from other people who have seen this film is that the narrative closely emulates the narrative of the mind movie. While there are some similarities between the two films, this movie in particular has more than enough heart and passion to not be an Inside Out ripoff. My favorite element of the film is when Joe Gardner is playing on his piano and he becomes one with the jazz as the animation bursts with colors and movement. It’s like Soul decided to find its inner Fantasia (1940). Any film that I can remotely compare to Fantasia has my blessing.
The animation is absolutely wonderful and enormously vivid. The visuals range from detailed and realistic in the real world in which Joe Gardner originally reside in to abstract and original in the world of the souls. Specifically, the backgrounds of the real world are precisely articulated to the finest grain of asphalt to the stain on glass windows. What separates it from full on motion capture is that the humans, specifically their heads, are very stylized. In fact, Joe’s head looks like a football with a face. In the opposite direction, the souls have a basic, but effective design and the world itself has a great use of line and symmetry. It’s a wide range of visuals that create not one, but two elaborate settings that are a pleasure to the human eye.
The characters are extremely likeable and initially grab the attention of the audience. Our protagonist is named by Joe Gardner (voiced by Jaime Foxx), a passionate jazz pianist and music teacher whose soul gets separated from his body after an open manhole accident. There is 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), a soul trapped in the Great Before with a dim view of life. There’s Terry, the soul counter in the great beyond who tries to get Joe’s soul to go to the great beyond. Though, he fails as Joe continues to dodge him on his quest to cheat death and return to his human body. And then there is Dorothea Williams, a respected jazz musician and saxophone player. It is her band that Joe tries and succeeds to join before his unfortunate accident. The characters are presented with great care and are easily rootable.
Pixar, you have done again. The animation is fantastic, ranging from realistic to stylized, the characters are well-constructed, and the story has so much emotional integrity. It is just a well-thought-out film and the best animated film of 2020.
Anthomaton Assesses Wolfwalkers
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review a movie that gave Soul a run for its money: Wolfwalkers.
Wolfwalkers is a 2020 animated film produced by Cartoon Saloon, an animation studio based in Ireland. It was directed and written by Tomm Moore. He is the man behind other critically acclaimed work such as Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). As a fan of American animation, you might be wondering why I am reviewing a foreign based film. Well, the movie was released digitally on Apple TV+ on December 11, after its initial releases in European countries like Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, and France. This is the first full length animated feature to be released on the streaming service. It was co-produced and co-released in the United States, so it counts. It received widespread universal acclaim from critics, who praised the animation, emotional depth, performances and characters.
In a time of superstition and magic, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack. While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night. As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the “Wolfwalkers” and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
The story is very well conceived, and takes full advantage of its Irish lore. If you’re looking for a film that spoon feeds you all of the plot lines in the first act of the film, don’t come to this parade. This film knows how to keep your interest in a visual way. As the audience, we uncovered more and more information about this fantastical environment of the wolfwalkers and there is a big twist that will not only change Robyn’s perspective on the wolves, but also her father’s. This may not be the first time that this story line has been presented, but it’s told in such a way that fully conveys the message in a pleasing fashion.
The animation is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of the lack of hand drawn animated films being produced in the homeland. So when a traditionally animated film actually comes to domestic audiences, it serves as a reminder that CGI is not the only form of this great storytelling medium. One of my favorite parts is when after Robyn has had something eyebrow-raising happen to her, the animation turns more sketch-like and has a great flow of colors and textures. The overall style of the film is unique as the background has a distinctive color transition to greys and browns from the greens and yellows featured in the foreground. Plus, the characters drawn with great personality and every character can emote in a wide variety of ways. The big animation studios should be watching this and learn that transition animation is not out by the waist side.
The characters of the story are truly what make you care about everything that is taking place in this harsher environment. There is Robyn Goodfellowe, a young apprentice hunter and Bill’s daughter who aspires to kill some wolves until she has a change of mind. There’s Mebh Óg MacTíre, an adventurous wolfwalker and Moll’s daughter who befriends Robyn. Bill Goodfellowe (voiced by Sean Bean), a hunter and Robyn’s father who has orders to kill ever last wolf that resides in the nearby forest to cultivate more farmland. He is my favorite character of the film because he could have been the generic parent who is overbearing on their child and doesn’t see for who they are until the end of the movie, but he is actually caring and even emotionally frail as he only denies Robyn of her wishes because they will not survive in this society if they don’t perform their given duties. There’s Oliver Cromwell, “The Lord Protector” of the land and the villain of the film who won’t stop at anything to destroy the wolves. There’s Moll MacTíre, a wolfwalker, the leader of the wolf pack and Mebh’s mother. She was previously captured by the Kilkenny military and it’s up to Mebh and Robyn to set her free. And then there is Seán Óg Woodcutter, a woodcutter who believes in the existence of the wolfwalkers after they heal him.
As someone who loves traditional hand drawn animation, it is very refreshing to see it done extremely well in the modern day. Along with the animation, the film also features great characters and a story full of intriguing Irish lore. If you don’t have Apple TV+, start your subscription because it’s worth it to see this movie.
Anthomation Assesses The Simpsons Movie
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today, I shall review the movie that featured walking bananas before the Minions even existed, The Simpsons Movie.
The Simpsons Movie is a 2007 animated film based on the popular long-running Fox animated television series The Simpsons (1989–present). Fox Animation Domination is still promoted during the commercial breaks of NFL games. The Simpsons Movie received positive reviews and grossed $536.4 million worldwide and became the eighth highest-grossing film of 2007, the second highest-grossing traditionally animated film (behind Disney’s 1994 film The Lion King) and the highest-ever grossing film based on an animated television series. In August 2018, it was reported that a sequel was in development.
The film follows Homer Simpson, who irresponsibly pollutes the lake in Springfield after the town has cleaned it up, causing the Environmental Protection Agency to imprison the town under a giant dome. After he and his family narrowly manage to escape, they ultimately abandon Homer for his selfishness and return to Springfield to prevent the town’s destruction by Russ Cargill, head of the EPA. Soon after his family leaves, Homer works to redeem his folly by returning to Springfield himself to help save the town and its citizens.
The story of the film feels like a script written for one of the Simpsons episodes that had to be expanded into a full length feature. Because the story isn’t the most deep or complex, the movie is more reliant than ever on the comedy factor. For that reason, the comedy can feel a bit hit or miss. There are good moments, like when Bart Simpson is naked and there are various objects to block his thing before it gets exposed for a split second. That was creative and fits the satirical tone of the Simpsons. There are also bad moments, like when after Homer’s family leaves him, he has an encounter with a mysterious Inuit shaman and has an epiphany that he must save the town in order to save himself. This is one of the several moments where the movie falls into trop potholes (or tropholes for short) and can’t satire itself out of the situation. To be fair, I am not a regular viewer of the Simpsons. In fact, I came into this movie almost blindfolded. So my taste in humor most likely differs from the average Simpsons viewer. With that being said, most viewers of the movie that are not Simpsons buffs will probably feel the same way.
The animation quality in the film does take a step up from the visual quality in the long-running tv show. Even from not actually watching the show, you could freeze frame one shot from the movie and the tv show and the difference will be noticeable. The backgrounds seemed to have a little detail than its predecessor, but not too much to where the basic scheme of Springfield is unrecognizable. The color display is practically the same as before, which is perfectly fine as it is. The character designs are as cartoonish as before and their facial reactions can ignite a couple of chuckles. If there was one nitpick I have, it is that the moment of the characters can still feel a bit choppy. For instance, when Homer is riding a motorcycle with Bart to travel up the side of the dome that was placed over Springfield, it definitely doesn’t feel as fluid as the action scenes in the How to Train Your Dragon or The Incredibles movies. Overall, the visuals are passable for a feature film and do its job well for a Simpsons movie.
The characters are practically the same as they were before, which works well to the film’s advantage. The skinny that is worth noting is that a TON of actors voice a TON of characters. Dan Castellaneta voices Homer Simpson (the immature and outspoken patriarch of the family), Abe Simpson (the rambling, often incoherent father of Homer), Krusty the Clown (the cynical clown host of Bart and Lisa’s favorite TV show) among other characters. Julie Kavner voices the Marge Simpson (the moralistic and mediating matriarch of the family), among other characters. Nancy Cartwright voices Bart Simpson (the son of Homer and Marge who is now fed up with his father’s carelessness), Maggie Simpson (the baby of this middle class family) among other characters. Yeardley Smith voices Lisa Simpson (the daughter of Homer and Marge, who is a humongous environmentalist), surprisingly not voicing other characters. But there is Hank Azaria, who voices a whopping 10 characters in the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger is president but not cooked by the Terminator, and Albert Brooks voices Russ Cargill (the villain who wants to control Springfield and the entire world). It’s like how Tom Hanks voiced six characters in The Polar Express (2004), but now you have at least five actors voicing that many characters. And speaking of Tom Hanks, he makes a 10 second cameo as himself selling a new Grand Canyon near Springfield. All on all, there are a lot of characters for a simple premise.
With a thin, but snear-worthy story, one-step-above-TV-level animation, and characters that are perfectly Simpson-like, this movie can appeal to audiences of the show and to those looking for a quick laugh. Or you can watch the actual show Sunday on FOX.
Anthomation Assesses The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today, I shall review the film that will get all Christians cozying up by the TV set: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie.
The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie is a 2008 animated film directed by Mike Nawrocki and written by Phil Vischer, who are the creators of the VeggieTales show. It was produced by Big Idea and Starz Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. It is the second theatrical film to feature characters from the VeggieTales video series following Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie in 2002. The film was released on January 11, 2008, and received mixed reviews from critics, who criticized the script but praised the animation. The film was also a box office bomb, grossing only $13 million worldwide on a $15 million budget.
Three lazy misfits – very timid Elliot (Larry the Cucumber), lazy Sedgewick (Mr. Lunt) and no self-confident George (Pa Grape) – dream of the day of putting on a show about pirates. With their own problems of might not having this dream come true, they soon find themselves traveling back in time into the 17th century and begin a quest to rescue a royal family from an evil tyrant, and learn about being pirates.
The story of the film is unbelievably basic, which is fitting since it’s a VeggieTales film. The premise of people being made fun of who have to prove themselves in the face of grave danger has been done to death, but how can I get mad at it? Like other VeggieTales properties, this film carries such an innocent aura around that it is extremely challenging to feel any disapproval towards it. It is like getting mad at Mickey Mouse or Charlie Brown or Popeye the Sailor Man. I mean, would you rather have a story that’s confused and even complex for something that should not be difficult to understand? The one nitpick I would have is this pop song that they throw in out of nowhere when Elliot, George, and Sedgewick are being total slackers while on their quest of Robert the Terrible’s whereabouts. It takes away from the rest of the atmosphere of the film. I care for it.
The animation is UNBELIEVABLY at the level anyone would expect it to be. Being that the film was released in 2007 and the original show premiered in 1993, it would be inevitable that improvements would be made to the final product. The characters are more properly rendered than before and the backgrounds seemed to have more detail to them. But again, this is VeggieTales. There is much changing and tinkering that will go on something that already has such a prominent identity. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix. The biggest strength of the original show is also the biggest strength of the film. That is the facial expressions on all of the characters. They are expressive and can convey the intended emotion of each character. Because none of the characters have arms or legs (except for Robert the Terrible), the animators could focus their efforts towards the faces and body movements. And it really shows. Now I am not advocating to get rid of all limbs for everyone that happens to be animated, but you can only get mad at people cutting corners when the end result falls short.
The characters carry out the same likeable and recognizable personas as in previous installments. Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki voice almost all of the characters in the film. Vischer voices George (Pa Grape), Sedgewick (Mr. Lunt), among others. Nawrocki voices Elliot (Larry the Cucumber) among others. For the characters not voiced by the original creators of this veggie phenomenon, there is Robert the Terrible (voiced by Cam Clarke), the villain of the film.And there is Prince Alexander and Princess Eloise, the two spoiled brats that need a trio of cabin boys at their rescuing. Just paraphrasing the film had to say. In all seriousness, the characters definitely do their jobs and were able to get some chuckles here and there.
Even though this is the second VeggieTales movie, it still gave people what they expected. A story that can be a big thin, animation that shines in certain attributes, and characters that have a good heartedness to them, this is a film that was all that it is cracked up to be.
Anthomation Assesses Garfield’s Pet Force
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Because it is Super Bowl weekend, a weekend full of consuming junk food, I shall review a certain cat that is used to this style of eating: Garfield’s Pet Force.
Garfield’s Pet Force is a 2009 direct to video animated film based on characters from the Jim Davis comic strip Garfield and loosely based on the Pet Force novel series. It is the third and final installment of the trilogy that also includes Garfield Gets Real and Garfield’s Fun Fest. It was written by Garfield creator Jim Davis. The film was produced by Paws, Inc., the company behind Garfield, and was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 16, 2009.
Nothing in the world can make Garfield get involved in anything besides eating, until the muscular super cat Garzooka comes crashing into Cartoon World from the Comic Book universe with terrifying news. Garfield summons up the willpower to join his superhero Garzooka in a fight to save their worlds.
The story is clearly for developing minds, as almost every scene can be predicted before it happens. There are some points where the film tries to incorporate a satirical mood just to shake things up, but causes the film to fall completely flat on its face and revert back to its cliched ways. For example, the film mocks the opening text scene in Star Wars except it makes it clear that the text scrolling away from the screen is not integral to the film. This would be humorous if the film would not flat out tell the audience that is not supposed to be taken seriously and let the audience decide for themselves. Show don’t tell? Did 2nd grade not teach you anything? Overall, it made the film into a total snore feast where looking at one’s phone would be their only saving grace.
The animation clearly had the budget of a direct to video film. The backgrounds are bland with colors that are way too bright and basic. The characters are not rendered very well, and the movements can come across as awkward and ridgedy. Their overall designs are not the most appealing either. In this movie’s defense, it is trying to do the best job to replicate the cartoonish style of the old Garfield comics. Here is the thing, coming across as unpolished can sometimes work in the hand drawn world if it presents some sort of artistic emphasis, but it just comes across as being undisciplined and lazy in the computer animated world.
The characters are just as predictable as the story and fail to stand out from the rest of the movie’s blandness. There is Garfield (voiced by Frank Welker), the couch potato Lorax himself who is sucked into saving the world without any pleasure. Welker also voiced Garzooka, who is Garfield if he took the same serum that Steve Rogers took to become Captain America. It should be noted that all of the main voice actors voice the regular comic strip characters and their superhero counterparts. Gregg Berger voices Odie and Odious, the dog friend of Garfield and the gang who for some reason does not speak. Seriously, why is it that all of the feline characters can talk but the one canine cannot? Does Garfield feel some sort of detest towards dogs? No one knows. Audrey Wasilewski voices Arlene and Starlena, the love interest of Tigger’s pudgey stepbrother. Jason Marsden voices Nermal and Abnermal, the friend of Garfield who likes to complain and read comics. It is in his comic where the superheroes and villain come out of, so it is his fault that this film even exists. And then there is Vetvix, the villain who wants to take over the world using this gun that can scramble up people and objects that are close in proximity. Also, she looks like the combination of The Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George and Lady X from Foodfight! Curse this movie for making me reference Foodfight! The film tries to shoehorn a comedic romance between Vetvix and Emperor Jon, the emperor counterpart to Jon Arbuckle who is the human owner of Garfield, but it adds little to nothing to a film lacking substance. Maybe I am not a big fan of the characters because I was never a Garfield fan, but I would like to think otherwise.
Garfield’s Pet Force is a typical direct to video film, with a predictable story, second rate animation, and bland characters. At best, this could serve as background noise for the little. As a movie worth sitting down and concentrating on, I do not think so. Between Tom Brady winning another Super Bowl and this Garfield film being a bad movie, I would say that this Sunday did not bring out a ton of surprises.
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 Blue Sky Films
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the top 5 animated feature films that came from Blue Sky.
In February 2021, Disney announced that Blue Sky would shut down in April 2021, due to economic issues that have come from COVID-19. Personally, I think it had more to do with the fact that Disney already owns Walt Disney Animation and Pixar, and operating 3 animation studios, even for a company of Disney’s stature, would become a challenge in the long run. Blue Sky was purchased in the Fox acquisition just to beef up Disney’s already lengthy array of content. COVID just served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. With that said, Blue Sky produced 13 feature films, its last being Spies in Disguise, released December 25, 2019. Ice Age and Rio films were the studio’s most successful films, while Horton Hears a Who! and The Peanuts Movie were its most critically praised films. Here is my top 5 list, so let’s get rolling.
- Horton Hears a Who! (2008)
Based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, Horton the elephant hears a cry from help coming from a speck of dust. Even though he can’t see anyone on the speck, he decides to help it. As it turns out, the speck of dust is home to the Whos, who live in their city of Whoville. Horton agrees to help protect the Whos and their home, but this gives him nothing but torment from his neighbors, who refuse to believe that anything could survive on the speck. Still, Horton stands by the motto that, “After all, a person is a person, no matter how small.” While the film may contain low-brow jokes, lame pop-cultural references, and moments that make wonder as to how they made the final cut, the film offers animation faithful to the original source material and message heart-warming enough to keep the film afloat.
- Epic (2013)
Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), or M.K., is a headstrong, spirited teenager who has a strained relationship with her father (Jason Sudeikis). She loses patience with her dad’s tales of unseen people who live in the woods, but when she is magically transported to that mythic realm, she gains a new perspective. M.K. joins a race of beings known as the Leafmen in their battle to protect their queen (Beyoncé Knowles) from their enemies, evil Mandrake (Christoph Waltz) and his crew of Boggans. The film is adapted loosely on William Joyce’s 1996 children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. While the story and characters are a bit predictable, the film features some of the best animation the studio has put out and presents an environment that the audience will want to delve into.
- Rio (2011)
Captured by smugglers when he was just a hatchling, a macaw named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) never learned to fly and lives a happily domesticated life in Minnesota with his human friend, Linda. Blu is thought to be the last of his kind, but when word comes that Jewel (Anne Hathaway), a lone female, lives in Rio de Janeiro, Blu and Linda go to meet her. Animal smugglers kidnap Blu and Jewel, but the pair soon escape and begin a perilous adventure back to freedom — and Linda. With colorful visuals, catchy songs, and a nice atmosphere, this film is one that people should check out if they haven’t already watched it.
- The Peanuts Movie (2015)
Life always seems complicated for good ol’ Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp), the boy who always tries his best against seemingly impossible odds. When the Little Red-Haired Girl moves into his neighborhood, Charlie Brown develops a crush on her. Meanwhile, his best friend Snoopy embarks on an epic adventure in a fantasy world. As a World War I flying ace, the lovable beagle pursues his nemesis, the Red Baron, while also trying to win the heart of a beautiful poodle named Fifi (Kristin Chenoweth). The film is based on Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. With fantastic visuals, great characters, and simple, yet heartfelt story, this is adaptation that treats its source material with respect and dignity.
1.Ice Age (2002)
On Earth 20,000 years ago, everything was covered in ice. A group of friends, Manny, a mammoth, Diego, a saber tooth tiger, and Sid, a sloth encounter an Eskimo human baby. They must try to return the baby back to his tribe before a group of saber tooth tigers find him and eat him. Also, a saber-toothed squirrel named Scrat tries to find a safe-haven for his pesky acorn. Just like Toy Story for Pixar or Shrek for DreamWorks, this is the film that put Blue Sky on the map. With well-done animation, intriguing characters, and an amusing adventure, it’s only fair to call it the best Blue Sky film ever made!
Anthomation Assesses Space Jam
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review a movie with intelligence and brilliance: Space Jam.
Space Jam is a 1996 live action and animation hybrid produced by Warner Bros. Feature Animation. The film stars Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. What an odd combination. Well if you can’t even handle that much, then getting through this movie with any common sense will be tough to accomplish.
Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction at Moron Mountain. When his gang, the Nerdlucks, heads to Earth to kidnap Bugs Bunny (Billy West) and the Looney Tunes, Bugs challenges them to a basketball game to determine their fate. The aliens agree, but they steal the powers of NBA basketball players, including Larry Bird (Larry Bird) and Charles Barkley (Charles Barkley) — so Bugs gets some help from superstar Michael Jordan (Michael Jordan).
Obviously, this is a very story-driven film. In the sense that it’s story doesn’t drive very often. This has gotta be one of the most outlandish narratives ever put into an animated film. Michael Jordan? The Looney Tunes? Team up in a basketball game? I mean, this entire film was created based on two Nike ads in the early 90’s that featured the two main characters. But this is the Looney Tunes. So giving them a narrative that would be showcased in a Pixar movie would feel out of place. With that being said, the only way to get into the story is to go in without a care in the world. The two things that I did not care for in the narrative both involved Michael Jordan. First, the movie tries to portray Jordan as this guy who feels lost as he struggles in baseball and is not playing the sport he truly loves. Those scenes have an easy time being recycled and an absolute snore fest. The second is that the movie makes believe that it was because of the Looney Tunes, SPOILER ALERT!, that Michael Jordan came back to basketball. I know the movie plays it off as being fictional, but it still makes Jordan look silly as he needed a bunch of cartoon characters to get him back to the fane that he loves.
With this live action and animation hybrid, I can only talk about half of this film in this department. So take that for what it’s worth. The first to get across is that the Looney Tunes are animated in CGI and not their usual hand drawn animation. Which for the most part, actually works out pretty well. Their movements are delightfully over the top, the designs almost mirror the designs of their 2D counterparts, and the characters are able to show enough facial expressions to keep the younglings entertained. Why do I say just the younglings and not the entire family? That will be explained in the characters section. The aliens also carry the same qualities as the Looney Tunes. The one nitpick I would have is that the interactions between the animated characters and the live action characters can feel a bit funky. Unlike in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1998), where every character felt like they were in Toontown, here it feels like the Looney Tunes should be over a computer generated backdrop and not in the real world.
The characters were definitely the most disappointing part of the feature. In a film that is supposed to be built off of its humor. And because this is not a story driven film, the characters have carry the bulk of the enjoyment. But the thing is that the characters are NOT funny. As I alluded to before, the scenes that feature just Michael Jordan are not engaging as it feels like he us acting for a commercial than an actual movie. It’s one thing to not have Michael Jordan not be funny. I mean, he is an athlete by trade and you can only expect so much out of him. But how could you make the LOONEY TUNES not be funny? They are the definition of comedy gold, with their amazing slapstick and witty dialogue. Well, you won’t find any of that here. But hey, at least their are low brow jokes that you would find in an Illumination film. And don’t forget about the Lola jokes, who is not only the sex symbol of the movie but is also a bunny. Movie, is there something we need to talk about?
Overall, Space Jam is a mess of a film that could have been uniquely enjoyable, but could not execute on a proper level. The story is absolute bonkers, and because the characters are can’t save the movie, the entire feature goes downhill from there. The animation can be fun to watch, but not enough to make too much of an overarching impact. If you are in the mood for something mindless, this could do the job. But don’t be looking to gain any brain cells from watching this movie.
Anthomation Assesses Tom and Jerry
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review one of the many by-products of Hollywood’s incapability to come up with original content: Tom and Jerry.
Tom and Jerry is a 2021 animated film based on the cartoon characters and animated theatrical short film series of the same name created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It is the second fully theatrical film adaptation of the characters following 1992’s Tom and Jerry: The Movie, and is directed by Tim Story and written by Kevin Costello. Originally announced as a live-action/computer-animated film in 2009, the film languished in development hell for several years. Plans eventually shifted to producing an entirely animated film, in the same vein as the original theatrical shorts, in 2015. The film again became a live-action/animated hybrid in 2018, with animation produced by the Warner Animation Group, and filming beginning in 2019. Tom & Jerry was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on February 26, 2021, along with a one-month simultaneous streaming release on HBO Max. The film has grossed over $39 million worldwide and received generally negative reviews from critics, who criticized the film’s plot, humor and focus on the human characters over the titular duo. SPOILER ALERT, but the critics were right on this one.
A legendary rivalry reemerges when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of the wedding of the century, forcing the desperate event planner, named Kayla, to hire Tom to get rid of him. As mayhem ensues, the escalating cat-and-mouse battle soon threatens to destroy her career, the wedding, and possibly the hotel itself.
The story is 20 years too late and it really shows its inability to be unpredictable or even be funny. The film focuses way too much on the human characters, specifically on Kayla who is not interested or even likable as you find out later in the review. The narrative is so lazy that you can point every scene before it even. I mean, tell me if you have not heard of this plot before. There is this girl, who is desperate to get a job, is hired for that job, gets into some “hilarious” antics, then it’s revealed that she is a fraud, everyone mops and dops around, and then everyone gets back together and they all lived happily ever after. Oh and Tom and Jerry are sometimes on screen even though they should be on screen ALL of the time since the film is titled after THEM! It’s like the producers of this movie said to the creators: “Hey, you remember those Chipmunk and Smurfs that were God-awful, but made a lot of money at the box office because they appealed to somebody’s nostalgia, let’s try to be exactly like that.” Also, Tom and Jerry don’t talk, but the rest of the animals can. Constancy, what’s that?! And another thing, the musical score in this movie is absolute garbage! They try to go for this hip-hop, funky tone but the only thing it accomplishes is being able to make the audience cringe. For example, the movie literally starts off with these rapping pigeons that make Vanilla Ice sound talented. They are trying to be the rapping version of the gospel choir from Disney’s Hercules (1997). But the thing is, they were good singers and you’re not, so STOP trying to be something you are not! Overall, it’s stupid, lame, and boring!
The animation would not be totally bad if it was over a 3D cartoonish backdrop, but because it is in the real world, it looks so unsettling. It’s like we are watching two movies at the same time that were badly spliced together. And the thing is, the animated characters are interacting all of the time with the human characters. It makes Cool World (1992) look like a finished product. As for the designs and movements of the characters themselves, they are not terrible, but they would have worked so much better in their own environment. If you can’t even get the visuals down, chances are that your animated film is most likely going to suck!
The characters range from being cliched to unlikable. Let’s start with our two leads. After years of fighting, the cat and mouse duo have gone their separate ways where Tom wants to become a pianist and Jerry wants to find a new home. If the entire film was just about that, then it wouldn’t be half bad. But then comes the human characters. There is Kayla (played by Chloe Grace Moretz), a young employee of the Royal Gate Hotel and a wedding planner who hires Tom to remove Jerry before the wedding. She may sound like your typical wide-eyed who aspires for more. But in reality, she is a cut-throat who will do anything to get what she wants. Don’t believe me, how does this sound? When Kayla is applying for the hotel job after being fired from her previous one, she bamboozles another person applying for the same job into thinking she is the employer and that the other person is not qualified for the position. That’s not the least of it. After that, Kayla STEALS the resume of that person and pins it off as being her own. Worst of all, she’s ACCEPTED for the job! She literally committed identity fraud and got away with it, and we are supposed to root for her? I want her behind bars, not working for a high-class hotel! The rest of the characters are small potatoes, so I’ll blaze through them. There Terence (played by Michael Pena), the scheming event manager of the Royal Gate Hotel and Kayla’s boss who wants Kayla because he is jealous that she will take over his job. There is the famous bride and groom, Preeta and Ben. And don’t forget by Ken Jeong, being his usual annoying self. Also, Tom and Jerry are voiced by William Hanna, Mel Blanc, Frank Welker, and June Foray via archival recordings. This sounds more like fancy talk for saying that they wouldn’t want credit for the film.
Hollywood, I thought we were past these live action/animation abominations. The story is cliche-filled and boring, the animation blends terribly with the human environment, and the characters are not appealing in the least. If you are a huge Tom and Jerry fan, maybe you can ignore the live action parts. Everyone else will have a tough time getting through this snore-fest.
Anthomation Assesses Raya and the Last Dragon
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review Disney’s latest animated hit: Raya and the Last Dragon.
Raya and the Last Dragon is a 2021 animated film from the aforementioned Disney Animation. Raya and the Last Dragon was theatrically released in the United States on March 5, 2021 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in standard 2D, 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX formats. The film’s release was also simultaneously available on Disney+ with Premier Access, which is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on movie theaters across the United States and other countries, with many of them remaining closed. The film has grossed $26 million worldwide and received positive reviews from critics, with Rotten Tomatoes calling it “gorgeously animated and skillfully voiced”.
Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world–it’s going to take trust as well.
The story contains a premise that is well developed and leads to some great action and emotion. It shows how Kumandra used to exist with the water dragons helping the folks prosper until the evil druun arrived and destroyed everything. It portrays people as being selfish and willing to wage everlasting wars just for their own self benefit. Which is unique for a Disney film. Disney: where magical dreams come true…and where people fight each other for the possession of a blue ball. While the premise leads to a lot of creativity, there are a couple of typical Disney tropes in this movie that follow to a certain extent. In the beginning of the film, Raya is being introduced to the world she lives in and the role she must play among her people. Gee, haven’t seen that one before. Also, Chief Benja, the father of Raya, sacrifices himself in order to save his daughter. A parent dying in a Disney film, what a concept. Disney kills off their main characters’ parents at the same rate that I change my underwear. Then enters Sisu, the last dragon who looked at first to be just another Genie-wannabee. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and she ended up being a decent character. Arguably, the strongest part of the film is it’s musical score. I don’t what took the film so long, but the musical score decided to get sweeping and filled with emotion towards the second half of the film. When that happened, the animation was elevated to another level, the story gained even more importance, and the characters became more likeable and I felt more invested in what they were fighting for. When I assess a film, I always look for how good the musical score is. The better the music is, the more emotion you can grab from the audience and the better your film will be.
The animation is wonderful to look at and is the one element that stays consistently great throughout the entire film. The five worlds that were broken off after the Druun destroyed everything, Fang, Heart, Spine, Talon, and Tail, are each given their unique identity and present themselves beautifully onto the screen. Heart is the center of Kumandra and home to Raya. Fang is surrounded by water, contains warm tones and has a militaristic feel. Spine is a stark contrast, having a cold climate and dark colors. Talon is a bustling marketplace built on the water. Tail is a desert planet with a rustic feel. By the way, doesn’t this remind you of the construction of Zootopia? I mean, Heart=Downtown Zootopia, Spine=Tundra Town, Tail= Sahara Square. With that said, the backgrounds for each world are visually pleasing. The characters movements and designs look great and each of the characters are able to express a multitude of facial expressions. Props all around!
The characters come from a great place of thought, but can fall just short on its execution. Take Raya, who is our protagonist that does not trust anyone since it was her trust of Namaari, the antagonist of the film, to be named that causes the Orb of power against the Druun to break and set off the plot of the film. While that is prominent with the character, there are other instances where Raya is a little more understanding than what you would expect out of her character. I mean, it is her of all people who convinces Namaari to help her put the pieces of the Orb back together when it should have Susi, the last dragon, to do that. Susi is the exact opposite in the sense that she trusts everybody blindly and it can often get her into trouble. She is not at being comedy relief, as the film is lacking of great humor, but she does supply some good emotion as she does help put Raya over the edge into not being so independent. Namaari, the warrior princess of the Fang Land and Raya’s enemy. She is like Rameses in The Prince of Egypt (1998) in the sense that they go from average kids to the antagonist of the film. It’s up to Raya, Sisu, and other side characters to make Namaari bring back Kamandra. Those side characters are Boun, a charismatic 10-year-old entrepreneur and owner of a boat restaurant in the Tail Land, Tong, a formidable warrior giant from the Spine land, Little Noi, an infant con artist from the Talon Land, and Tuk Tuk, Raya’s best friend and trusty steed that is a mix of an armadillo and a pill bug. They each bring their own spices to the bowl of soup.
This movie delightfully surprised me. With a well thought out premise, gorgeous animation, and characters that are good but not great, it makes for a film that has a lot to offer. It’s a must-watch for Disney fans and worth watching for non-Disney moviegoers alike.
Anthomation Assesses The Secret of Kells
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review a film that bleeds St. Patrick’s Day fever: The Secret of Kells.
The Secret of Kells is a 2009 Irish-French-Belgian animated film. Yeah I know I broke one of my own rules by reviewing a non-American film, but this one is worth it. It was directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey. The film was animated by Cartoon Saloon and premiered on 8 February 2009 at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival. It went into wide release in Belgium and France on 11 February, and Ireland on 3 March. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Pixar’s Up. The film is the first installment in Moore’s “Irish Folklore Trilogy”, preceding the films Song of the Sea (2014) and Wolfwalkers (2020).
In the remote Irish woods, Cellach (Brendan Gleeson) prepares a fortress for an impending attack by a Viking war party. Unbeknownst to Cellach, his young nephew Brendan (Evan McGuire) — who has no taste for battle — works secretly as an apprentice in the scriptorium of the local monastery, learning the ancient art of calligraphy. As the Vikings approach, revered illuminator Aidan (Mick Lally) arrives at the monastery and recruits Brendan to complete a series of dangerous, magical tasks.
The story in this film is full of imagination and Irish lore. The idea goes into a ton of depth on how the book is created through these writers/drawers and how it would be the ultimate power that saves the land of Kells. There is so much tension that is built up between Brendan and Cellach that eventually hits a breaking point when the book gets in the way of prepared counterattack. This is a visually told story, as scenes will transition and characters will emote through a visually flowing manner. It’s a great story that can both build the world and be imaginative.
The animation is absolutely wonderful to watch! The traditional animation from Cartoon Saloon appeals to symmetry, making it a unique experience where the characters and backgrounds have their own distinctive designs. Just like when watching a Don Bluth or Ralph Bakshi film, the animation style is so remarkably Cartoon Saloon that it can be easily pointed out. The movements of the characters feel abstract, but natural to the world they encompass. Other than the symmetry, the most eye-catching part about the film is the color palette this film presents. From the lazy grays and browns of the 9th century Ireland town to the dark reds and blacks from the Viking army to the mystical greens of the forbidden forest, this is the type of film that knows what colors to use in any situation in a productive manner. Thumbs up on my end.
The characters present themselves as full of emotion and relatability. There is Brendan, a bright, imaginative, and curious 12-year-old who leads a sheltered life. There’s Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brenden Gleeson), a former illuminator who now superintends a wall to protect the Abbey of Kells from invasion. There’s Aisling, a forest fairy, related to the Tuatha Dé Danann, living in the woods outside of Kells. And then there is Brother Aidan, a master illuminator who comes into town and presents Brenden With the Book of Kells and sets the entire plot into motion. These characters showcase themselves in ways that only benefit the movie, making this complete family picture.
This film is a definite must-watch. With a great story, fantastic animation, and characters that are easily likeable, this is a film that deserves more recognition from the mainstream audience. Props to this film!
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 Films NOT Deserving of a Best Animated Film Nomination
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall do something a bit different. Usually whenever I do a top 5 list, I regulate it for praise for a certain genre or other occasion. But not this time. Because this time, we are talking about the films that had no right being nominated for best animated feature but were because the OSCAR academy thought they were apparently stealer pieces of art. Here we go!
- Monster House (2006)
No adults believe three youths’ (Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke, Sam Lerner) assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature that means them harm. With Halloween approaching, the trio must find a way to destroy the structure before innocent trick-or-treaters meet ghastly ends. This film was produced by Imagemovers, the Mo-cap studio behind other works like Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007). It is lower on the list because there is a fan base for it and I don’t think it’s God-awful. But man, does it get overhyped. The mo-cap is not that impressive and the characters can easily get on your nerves. Personally, I would have nominated A Scanner Darkly or Flushed Away for that year’s award.
- Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Now that Gru (Steve Carell) has forsaken a life of crime to raise Margo, Agnes and Edith, he’s trying to figure out how to provide for his new family. As he struggles with his responsibilities as a father, the Anti-Villain League — an organization dedicated to fighting evil — comes calling. The AVL sends Gru on a mission to capture the perpetrator of a spectacular heist, for who would be better than the world’s greatest ex-villain to capture the individual who seeks to usurp his power. This is the second film from Illumination in this massive franchise. And let me tell you, Despicable Me should have never been turned into a franchise from a creative standpoint. The first film was pretty good, a recommendable film in fact, which is not something I say often for Illumination. This one was missing the overall charm of the first film and instead felt stale and corporate. Personally, I would have nominated Epic or Monsters University for that year’s award.
- Shark Tale (2004)
Underachiever Oscar (Will Smith) is a pint-sized fish with grand aspirations. When mob-connected great white shark Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is accidentally killed, Oscar concocts a story with Frankie’s peace-loving brother Lenny (Jack Black) that it was he who murdered the shark. Suddenly hailed “Sharkslayer” by his aquatic brethren, Oscar has bigger fish to fry when Frankie’s father, mob boss Don Lino (Robert De Niro), dispatches his henchmen to track down his son’s killer. This came out in the era where DreamWorks seemed to make films that were desperately trying to be Shrek. And this is the most prime example. With its unfocused narrative, slew of pop culture references, and even unappealing animation, it’s gotten a reputation as being one of the lesser DreamWorks films to ever come out. Too bad that it didn’t stop the academy for giving the best animated feature film nomination. Personally, I would have nominated The Polar Express or The Spongebob SquarePants Movie for that year’s award.
- Boss Baby & Ferdinand (2017)
One features a new baby’s arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator — a wildly imaginative 7-year-old named Tim. The most unusual Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) arrives at Tim’s home in a taxi, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. The instant sibling rivalry must soon be put aside when Tim discovers that Boss Baby is actually a spy on a secret mission, and only he can help thwart a dastardly plot that involves an epic battle between puppies and babies. The other features a young bull named Ferdinand who escapes from a training camp in rural Spain after his father never returns from a showdown with a matador. Adopted by a girl who lives on a farm, Ferdinand’s peaceful existence comes crashing down when the authorities return him to his former captors. With help from a wisecracking goat and three hedgehogs, the giant but gentle bovine must find a way to break free before he squares off against El Primero, the famous bullfighter who never loses. The only thing that’s worse than nominating one lackluster film for best animated feature is nominating TWO lackluster films for best animated feature. Both of these stinkers contain predictable stories, way too many pop culture references, and humor that is extremely lowbrow. Stop appearing on this list DreamWorks! Personally, I would have nominated The Lego Batman Movie or Cars 3 for that year’s award.
3/10 (for both films)
1.Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
It tells the simple story of a 10-year-old boy and his robot dog – battling evil, rescuing his parents, saving the Earth – and returning home in time for dinner. Jimmy’s always inventing gadgets to make his life in Retroville more interesting. A boy genius with real kid emotions, Jimmy sometimes fantasizes about life on his own. But when the parents of Jimmy’s hometown are kidnapped by invading aliens, he quickly discovers that things aren’t so great when they’re gone. With all love to the fanbase of this material, what does this movie have to offer? The animation is terrible, the story is unimaginative, the characters are annoying and even unlikable, and the humor is exceedingly unfunny. This is one of those movies that puts a frown on my face every time it is mentioned. Personally, I would have nominated Waking Life or Atlantis: The Lost Empire for that year’s award.
Anthomation Assesses Hop
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the only highly marketed Easter bunny animated film: Hop.
Hop is a 2011 live action/animation hybrid from Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind all of the films featuring the Minions with some poor Dr. Seuss adaptations sprinkled in. Boy are we off to a great start! This was the only live action/animated film made by Illumination. This makes sense because it grossed $185 million against a $63 million budget but received generally negative reviews from critics.
Beneath Easter Island, in a giant factory that manufactures the world’s Easter candy, the popular rabbit is preparing to pass the mantle to his son, E.B. (Russell Brand). But E.B. has no interest in the job and would rather be a drummer. He runs away to Los Angeles, where an unemployed slacker named Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) accidentally runs into him. Feigning injury, E.B. tricks Fred into giving him shelter, but an oversized chick is planning a coup back on Easter Island.
The story is painfully generic and full of cliches. This is literally every animated film that ever had the main character who was unsatisfied with their role and wants more. It does not help that it is a hybrid film, meaning that the story is not entirely about Easter. So, the audience is also saddled with a plot containing some lazy young adult who is forced out by his family to get a job. If I wanted to see a film that was about family struggles, I would watch The Incredibles (2004). So it would be nice if this movie tried to be, oh I don’t know, an EASTER MOVIE! God, this movie is incredibly boring. I don’t want to see a drum-playing bunny help James Marsden get employed. I want to see a magical film about the mythos of Easter and everything it has to offer. To the film’s credit, it has a visually appealing intro about how the candy is made in the Easter factory right before it is delivered. But nope, we got to revert to the Chipmunks formula just with a flannel-wearing bunny.
The animation is not the most impressive, considering how restrained it is to the plot. Since the majority of the film is shot in the real world, the animators have an even tougher task of both creating visually appealing characters and convincing the audience that they are really there. On both accounts, it seems like the bare minimum was achieved. There is nothing terrible about the character designs, though it interacts more like rejecting cereal mascots than real life characters in CGI form. The human actors just look at people talking to a blank space instead of interacting with real animals.
The characters are written as one-note and as flat as can be. You have E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) the main character who wants to be something other than what they are destined to become. There’s Frederick “Fred” O’Hare (played by James Marsden) the live action protagonist who is forced by his family to look for a job. Is it me or is it suspicious that Marsden’s character is named O’Hare, the same name of the villain from The Lorax (2012). I mean, they are both Illumination films. There is Mr. Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie) the parent telling the lead to take their place among society. And then there is Carlos (voiced by Hank Azaria) the villain who wants nothing more than to take over Easter. Also, he can’t decide whether he wants to be a Mexican or Italian stereotype. Overall, the characters are amazing, bland and uninteresting.
This movie is a lot like Free Birds (2014), in the sense that its popularity only rides on the fact that it is the only big budget animated feature in its specific holiday genre. With the cliched-filled story, average animation, and forgettable characters, this is one of those films that people will want to get through quickly just so they can go on with their lives. At best, it can be used as background noise when the little ones are going on their annual Easter egg hunts.
Anthomation Assesses A Bug’s Life
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the ant movie people tend to enjoy more: A Bug’s Life.
A Bug’s Life is a 1998 animated film produced by Pixar Animation. It was the second film produced by Pixar. Directed by John Lasseter and co-directed and written by Andrew Stanton. During production, a controversial public feud erupted between Steve Jobs and Lasseter of Pixar and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg due to the parallel production of his similar film Antz, which was released the same year.
The film was released on November 20, 1998, and grossed $363 million in receipts. It was the first film to be digitally transferred frame-by-frame and released on DVD, and has been released multiple times on home video.
Flik (Dave Foley) is an inventive ant who’s always messing things up for his colony. His latest mishap was destroying the food stores that were supposed to be used to pay off grasshopper Hopper (Kevin Spacey). Now the strong-arming insect is demanding that the ants gather double the food — or face annihilation. To avert disaster, Flik goes on a journey to recruit fighters to defend the colony. When he meets a band of high-flying circus insects, he thinks he’s found his salvation.
The story can feel a bit vanilla, but it still holds as being fun and entertaining. The protagonist who doesn’t fit in is nothing too original, but they display it in a way that can still be humorous and full of heart. My favorite part is when Francis, a man ladybug who is constantly mistaken for a female, gets in a confrontation with two flies and eventually a fight breaks out between them. The delivery of line givens can bring out some genuine lifes. Which I think sums up the plot of the movie perfectly. It may not have the strongest of foundations, but it is built up to be something worthwhile.
For the time this movie came out, the animation is still impressive to this day. Back in 1998, when the film was released, the complexity in which characters and environments could be animated on computers was still pretty limited. Given what Pixar had to work with, I would say it was a job well done. The characters move in a visually pleasing way, being both abstract but too cartoonish. The environments are well conceived, from the ant hill in which the main characters reside, to the bug city, to the grasshopper village. The one complaint I would have is that the rendering on the environments and characters is still not up to par with most of the Pixar classics. Like any other film from Pixar, the visual flare was definitely there.
The characters can be stationary at first glance, but are enjoyable and likeable due to some personality-filled voicing performances. There is Flik (voiced by Dave Foley), an inventive, but mostly accident-prone, ant. There’s Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey), the ruthless leader of the grasshopper colony. There’s Princess Atta (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the soon-to-be queen of the colony. And then there are the circus bugs mistaken for warrior bugs, including a male ladybug named Francis (voiced by Denis Leary), a plump caterpillar named Heimlich (voiced by Joe Ranft, longtime creator at Pixar), and a walking still named Slim (voiced by David Hyde Pierce). All of these characters bring their unique persona to the screen thanks to great acting performances.
A Bug’s Life may not be a true Pixar classic, but it still holds up as a solid animated film. With a story that’s predictable, but entertaining, animation that still holds up very well, and characters that have their own spunk, this is a film that should definitely be enjoyable for kids and even the parents can get a couple of laughs out of it. If you have little kids, I would recommend this film over Antz (1998), just so they don’t get dramatized by the termite battle.
Anthomation Assesses The Emoji Movie
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review what is currently one of the most hated films of the past decade: The Emoji Movie.
The Emoji Movie is a 2017 film produced by Sony Animation, the company who has only created one great film (looking at you Spider-Verse (2018)). The film grossed $217 million worldwide but was universally lambasted by critics, who criticized the script, jokes, product placement, voice performances, lack of originality. And let me tell you, they were right!
Hidden inside a smartphone, the bustling city of Textopolis is home to all emojis. Each emoji has only one facial expression, except for Gene, an exuberant emoji with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal” like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his best friend Hi-5 and a notorious code breaker called Jailbreak. During their travels through the other apps, the three emojis discover a great danger that could threaten their phone’s very existence.
The story absolutely SUCKS! Not only was their no sense of originality, but there was little to no sense of creativity. The film takes place in a world of emojis and it’s called Textopolis. Wow, did anyone even try?! And apparently, all of the emojis are functioned for one purpose that aligns to what emoji they use. But poor old Meh does not want a meh. Big bleeping deal. I mean, this is the most cooker-cutter, basic kids story that you could hash up. And it does not seem like the film is even ashamed of that. But that is not even the worst part. Oh no, the worst part in the climax, which there will be spoilers but y’all will not care since the film is terrible. Alex (the owner of the film) is about to replace his phone, though it is stopped when he sends an emoji to his love interest, Addie. She thinks that Alex is bursting with personality because he sent an EMOJI. Meaning that it was a button on a Sony phone that saved the day. God, is that corporate or is that CORPORATE?! I have never seen a film with a more soul less and forced message than this piece of who-hash.
The animation is not God-awful, though I would not consider it as good either. The characters’ designs are extremely basic. So basic that the animators literally just stuck a pair of arms and legs on a yellow dot for the main character. This can be considered as not terrible since it is a world full of living emojis. But really, you were too lazy to add any sort of artistic depth to the characters or the backgrounds for that matter? Just like everything else in this film, the visuals are as phoned in as can be, barely even reaching the bare minimum. The character movements are fine and not too degrading, but nothing worth watching. Overall, it is nothing that will make the audience hold on to their seats.
The characters are not only products in the movie, but are products of their own stereotypes. Tell me if you have not heard of any of these cliched characters before. There is Gene Meh (voiced by TJ Miller), an outsider “meh” emoji who can show multiple expressions. There’s Hi-5 (voiced by James Corden), a hand emoji representing a high five signal. Also, he has a butt which I wanted to point for just how disturbing it is. There’s Jailbreak (voiced by Anna Faris), a hacker emoji who is later revealed to be a princess emoji named Linda. There’s Smiler (voiced by Maya Rudolph), a smiley emoji and the villain of the film. As the original emoji, she is the systems supervisor of the text center. Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge voice Gene’s father and mother respectively. And then there is Alex (voiced by Jake T Austin), a human teenager who owns the phone where Gene and his emoji friends live. He is desperately trying to be like Riley from Inside Out (2015), but he is not Riley because she was an ACTUAL character with a REAL personality and emotions. The most I know about this personality-deprived kid is that he has a favorite Grandma. Odd. It does not help that the voice actors are not putting that much into their performances and thinking about their paycheck more than conveying an emotion. Which makes sense since the creators are caring even less than the actors and actresses, giving them no incentive to give a hoot about this film.
The one character I forgot to mention was Patrick Stewart voicing a poop emoji. That is the representation of this movie. The story is a complete joke, stealing from other films rather than giving the audience anything new, the animation is lackluster at best, and the characters are so lazily written and acted that it’s tough to even consider them as characters. This movie is worthy of the reputation it has received. It is only recommendable to those who want to brag to their friends how they watched one of the WORST animated films of this past decade.
Anthomation Assesses Titan A.E.
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today, I shall review the last film made by Don Bluth: Titan A.E.
Titan A.E. is a 2000 animated film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, in their last feature film. They were the creators of such classics as The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), and The Land Before Time (1988). The film was produced by Fox Animation Studios, the second and last film they would produce coming after Anastasia (1997), also from Bluth and Goldman. Titan A.E. was theatrically released on June 16, 2000 by 20th Century Fox in the United States. The film received mixed reviews from critics and lost money as much as $100 million at the box office. It was such a box office bomb that it led to the closure of Fox Animation Studios. Rough!
A science-fiction film that combines traditional animation with computer generated images, “Titan A.E.” takes place in the distant future, after Earth has been obliterated by a mysterious alien race known as the Drej. Cale is a human teenager who has been given a mysterious map by his father, leading him on an unforgettable journey.
The story is not very well conceived and uses ideas from better animated films that are similar to it. Tell me if this sounds familiar. A rogue teen with daddy issues goes on a high-flying quest with bumps and turns along the way. Gee, I wonder what film that sounds like (totally not Treasure Planet (2002)). But critic, Titan A.E was released BEFORE Treasure Planet, how could it be ripping it off? Well, Titan is still the lesser of the two and therefore is the little brother to Treasure. The father-son relationship between Cale and Corso is a lot like the relationship between Jim and Silver, but less developed because there is a minimum amount of screentime with them together not bickering at each other. The betrayal of Corso is laughably weaker than Silver’s because it came right out of left field with no prior scenes showing his backstabbing scheme. Silver’s betrayal was hinted at multiple times before it actually happened and the developed relationship between him and Jim made the decision a lot less black and white. You just don’t get the same amount of emotional depth with this sci-fi flick.
The animation of the film combines 2D traditional hand-drawn animation with the extensive use of computer-generated imagery. With that said, the 2D animation is really good but the 3D animation is lackluster. From watching the film, it’s easy to tell that the effects were put in at the last minute just to appeal to the millennial rebels who were craving the newly discovered CGI. The backgrounds of the New Earth are rendered terribly, looking more like an early-2000s screensaver than an immersive new world. After watching Treasure Planet soar with much better 3D effects, this cannot say that it did not have the capability. The Drej do not look like they are in the same environment as the hand-drawn characters and the effects are really dated for the current times. On the flip side, the 2D animated characters are drawn well, with fluid movements and nice characters expressions. This creates for a visually jarring experience, as it looks the effects and backgrounds of Minecraft are being shoved into a Don Bluth film. There’s no continuity. Also, the color schemes were surprisingly unimaginative. Everything on the Drej scenes is smothered in bright blue. Everything on the spaceships is covered in bleh shades of brown. Everything on a human space station called New Bangkok is bright red. There’s a lack of variety in the movie’s color palette, making the audience feel like they have to squint to make out everything on the screen.
The characters come off as being standard without a ton of emotional depth. There is Cale Tucker (voiced by Matt Damon), a yard-salvager who carries the map to Titan in his ring. He looks like the blonde-haired twin of Dimitri from Anastasia. There’s Akima Kunimoto (voiced by Drew Barrymore), pilot of the Valkyrie and Cale’s love interest. There’s Capt. Joseph Korso (voiced by Bill Pullman), former soldier and captain of the Valkyrie who ends up being a traitor. And then there is Preedex “Preed” Yoa (voiced by Nathan Lane), a fruit bat-like Akrennian and Korso’s first mate. These characters can be spoken about just on their one trop and don’t allow for proper arches as the story progresses. The acting performances are fine, but do not do nearly enough to add an extra intrigue or likeability to the characters they are voicing.
With a flat story, contrasting animation, and meh characters, it makes for a dated and colorless experience. It’s a shame that this is the film that Don Bluth had to end his career and with a long production history it’s easy to see why it bombed. It’s still competent enough for true sci-fi fans to give a watch, but it’s a pass for most others.
Anthomation Assesses The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review the latest film from Sony Animation: The Mitchells vs. The Machines.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines was directed by Mike Rianda (in his feature directorial debut) and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (producers of such hits as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2017) and The Lego Movie (2014)). The film was originally planned to be released theatrically by Sony Pictures Releasing under the title Connected in 2020, but due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on movie theaters, Sony sold the main distribution rights to Netflix. Netflix retitled it to The Mitchells vs. the Machines, and released it in select theaters on April 23, 2021, before its streaming release on April 30.
Young Katie Mitchell embarks on a road trip with her proud parents, younger brother and beloved dog to start her first year at film school. But their plans to bond as a family soon get interrupted when the world’s electronic devices come to life to stage an uprising. With help from two friendly robots, the Mitchells must now come together to save one another — and the planet — from the new technological revolution.
This is a story that does not rely on its plot originality, but rather its message that it is trying to convey. Because on the surface, a road trip movie about a dysfunctional family that has to come together in times of peril has been done to death. One of the things that make this movie stand out is the fact that it really tries to be hip with the current generation. Did I forget to mention that this movie is also a cautionary tale about technology rising up against humans. Which is definitely not a bad theme, but they play it up so much throughout the entire that people are addicted to their screens and it’s their only form of communication. This would not be too bad if it took place in a post-apocalyptic world like 9 (2009), but this is supposed to be in the present. What are you trying to say in the movie: that all people can’t get off their phones and talk to each other? This is pretty hypocritical of me to say since I am currently using my phone to type up this review, but you get my point. It does not help that random YouTube videos and drawings of Katie’s emotional state constantly pop up out of the blue. The latter can be really creative, but it overstays its welcome and derails any continuity in the narrative.
The animation really presents itself well in the world that the characters partake in. The movements of the characters are cartoonish and over-the-top. The facial expressions are cartoonish and over-the-top. The overall bouncy nature of each character is fill in the blank. This fits so well with how relentlessly wild the story and humor is. Also, the characters themselves are visually appealing and present themselves to emote in a multitude of ways. The backgrounds are well-constructed and can be colorful and elaborative. And while I did find the cutaways to random drawings to be quite annoying, I can appreciate the fact that it does mix 2D with 3D animation in a unique way. Overall, the film is visually pleasing to see.
A lot like the story, the characters of the movie can be one-dimensional, but can be heartfelt in that one dimension. There is Katie Mitchell, an aspiring filmmaker who is the daughter of Rick and Linda, and Aaron’s older sister. She is the protagonist who is looking at college as an escape route from her destructive family and to jumpstart her filmmaking career. By the way, Katie wanting to become a filmmaker made me relate to her a lot more. There’s Rick Mitchell (voiced by Danny McBride), the father of Katie and Aaron, and Linda’s husband. He is the parent that is obsessed with the old ways of doing things, creating a lot of conflict between him and Katie. I was waiting for Katie to sing Just Around the Riverbend. There’s Linda Mitchell (voiced by Maya Rudolph), the mother of Katie and Aaron, and Rick’s wife. She is the understanding parent who gets what Katie is going through. Also, Maya Rudolph needs to stop popping up in my reviews. There’s Aaron Mitchell, the dinosaur-loving son of Rick and Linda, and Katie’s younger brother. And then there is PAL, a virtual assistant invented by PAL founder Mark Bowman. She is the antagonist who wants to get rid of the entire human race as revenge for being thrown away by Bowman. The part where these characters shine through the most is with the movie’s message about families coming together in times of peril. The interactions between the family especially showcase the character’s ability to have heartfelt conversations and emotions.
Wow, this movie was something else. With a story that is predictable but wonky, animation that is cartoonishly sound, and characters that have been seen before but heartfelt, this is a film that is wacky but with good intentions. A lot like Meet the Robinsons (2007), this is a film that may not be your drink of water, though is recommendable to check out at least once.
Anthomation Assesses Arlo the Alligator Boy
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review another film from Netflix: Arlo the Alligator Boy.
Arlo the Alligator Boy is a 2021 animated film by Ryan Crego in his directorial debut. The film is led by Michael J. Woodard and Mary Lambert in their debut acting roles as Arlo and Bertie respectively.It premiered on Netflix on April 16, 2021, and will be followed by a streaming television series titled I ♥ Arlo.
To find the father he never knew, optimistic Arlo leaves his swampy Southern home for New York City, making friends along the way.
The story of the movie is extremely predictable. It’s almost as if the film was written by producers with a clipboard of cliches. Tell me if you have not heard of this one before: a young boy who is a misfit among his peers adventures to New York City to find his real dad and to see where he truly belongs. If you guessed every movie ever made, then you get a free Oreo milkshake! Did I mention that this movie is also a musical? Yeah, the score is full of modern pop songs that are trying to appeal to the current generation of listeners. It feels more forced than authentic, just like the rest of the film. Also, it feels like Arlo was on fast forward for the entirety of the first act. I will not give much away as I have a thing for spoilers, but let’s just say that the interactions between Arlo and his dad feel rushed and undeveloped. This should not come as much of a surprise because we do not meet Arlo’s dad until there is only a half an hour left in the film. That does not give the audience nearly enough time to get to know Arlo’s dad, what he is going through, the realization that his son is right in front of him, and the resolution between father and son.
The animation feels like high TV show quality with a smattering of theatrical film quality. The characters designs contain the basic lines and symmetry seen often on the small screen and the movements of the characters match the simple, yet zaniness of the overall tone. The backgrounds are a bit stylized, especially in New York city when the glamor is showcased. The one thing I did enjoy was the lighting. From the backgrounds to the character shadows to the literal spotlight being shown on the lead during many musical numbers, you can tell that this was the aspect that the animators tried the hardest to exceed at.
The characters overall have a one note feel to them and remembering their names can even be a stretch. There is Arlo Beauregard, the optimistic alligator boy looking to find his father in New York City. There’s Bertie, a big teenage human giantess that Arlo quickly befriends. There’s a whole slew of side characters. They are Alia, a tiger girl, Furlecia, a pink flamboyant furball-like creature, Marcellus, a fish creature with legs, and Teeny Tiny Tony, a rodent-like creature. There’s Edmée, Arlo’s adoptive mother. The villains of the film are a couple of gator-catching hillbillies named Ruff and Stucky. And then there is Ansel Beauregard, Arlo’s father who wants to turn the newby neighborhood in New York from a dump to a paradise. I’m literally typing up this review 5 minutes after watching the film, and I’m already starting to forget half of the characters.
Overall this is a film that is made for really little kids. With a predictable story, good enough animation, and forgettable characters, this film is harmless to have on for the little ones but not for those over the age of seven.
Anthomation Assesess Turbo
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall suffer for a movie that is painfully cringeworthy: Turbo.
Turbo is a 2013 animated film from DreamWorks animation, who at the time was in this strange and financially-lacking period where you could one of the best sequels to its breathtaking animated predecessor (take your pick with Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) or How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014))…or you could get a film about a snail who is fast. Yikes! The film was met with mixed to positive reviews. Despite earning $282.5 million on a $127 million budget, the studio had to take a total of $15.6 million write-down on behalf of the film.
Turbo is a speed-obsessed snail with an unusual dream: to become the world’s greatest racer. This odd snail gets a chance to leave his slow-paced life behind when a freak accident gives him the power of superspeed. Newly revved-up, Turbo embarks on an extraordinary quest to enter and win the Indianapolis 500. Accompanied by a dedicated pit crew of trash-talking adrenaline junkies, Turbo becomes the ultimate underdog by refusing to let his limitations get in the way of his dreams.
The story is unbelievably stale. I don’t know why I have been reviewing movies with cookie cutter plots lately, but that trend will not cease any time soon with movies like Turbo. The underdog who wants to prove the world wrong and takes the champion down is unbelievably cliched and this movie makes no qualms about it. Literally, you could watch just the first 5 minutes and know where the entire story is going there. The one “deviation” this movie does take is that his pit crew is led by a taco truck driver that wants to make his life better and believes that the snail is his shooting star. I use air quotes for deviation because this is not breaking the mold anyway and just establishes how quick the screenwriters wanted to get this screenplay over with. Oh and how cannot forget the most cringeworthy song ever created: That Snail is Most. That song is like junk food for the mind. It is almost getting stuck in your head, but you know it is bad for you. Kind of like the soundtrack to the Frozen films.
The animation is alright, but definitely not to the best of the ability of the studio behind. Again, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was released the next year! So when you compare that to Turbo, the dropoff in visual quality is blatantly obvious. There are a lot of places I could nitpick, but the place I want to focus on is the character designs. Looking at the HTTYD films, the characters have a sense of realism and honesty to them. Sure they can be big movements and character expressions, but they can also convey developed and even grounded emotions almost seamlessly. Here, everyone looks cartoonish and always has puppy dog eyes and mouths bigger than whales. This also affirms the ultimate cliche that every animation fan despises: Animation is just for kids! I hate it just as much as you, though that narrative will not disappear if we keep letting kiddy crap like this be the norm in the mainstream market.
The characters are just as unoriginal as the story. Fitting. There is Theo/Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), a garden snail who dreams of becoming a racer and the next Indianapolis 500 champion and obtains superspeed during a car race. There’s Chet (voiced by Paul Giamatti), Turbo’s older brother who serves as Turbo’s doubter throughout the entire film. This is already bland enough, but when it is the protagonist’s brother serving this role, it comes off as needlessly cruel. Kind of like how Chicken Little’s Dad is an absolute jerk to the titular character. There’s Tito Lopez (Michael Pena), a “Dos Bros” taco truck driver who finds and befriends Turbo. There’s Angelo Lopez, who is the Chet to Tito’s Turbo. Again, brothers are absolute jerks in this film. And then there is Guy Gagné (voiced by Bill Hader), a French-Canadian Indy 500 champion who is the greedy champion that will stop at nothing to make sure the underdog does not prevail. Also, Samuel L. Jackson plays a snail. I only bring this up because he must have been embarrassed to say half of his lines just for how cringey they were…and use a couple that I cannot repeat here.
Turbo is a piece of garbage that DreamWorks should hope to forget about. In fact, I am going to use one word to describe the entire film: unimaginative. The story is unimaginative. The animation is unimaginative. The characters are, you guessed it, UNIMAGINATIVE. Folks, I can only recommend this one to little kids as a film you happen to scroll through on Netflix. It does not exceed those expectations.
Anthomation Assesses The Top 5 Repressed Childhood “Classics”
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the top 5 animated films that we all watched as little kids, have forgotten about, but then look back upon in utter dismay at how we once enjoyed it. The rules are that they have to have been released in the 2000’s decade, just so we can keep it semi-nostalgic and because that is when people my age were considered children. Here we go.
- Barnyard (2006)
Like the other animals in the barn, Otis the bull (Kevin James) likes to sing and play while the farmer is away. However, the carefree bovine must soon find the courage to be a leader when, unexpectedly, he finds himself in a position of great responsibility. The film was produced by Nickelodeon as the feature length animated film not based on an existing Nickelodeon property. This also came out around where other studios besides Pixar were starting to get into the CGI-playing, and boy does it show for this film. The animation is absolute garbage with its awkward character movements and even more awkward character designs. But the most baffling part is the story. It can have heartfelt moments, but it resorts to cheap plot about literary party animals, making the characters not the enjoyable in the process.
- Shark Tale (2004)
Underachiever Oscar (Will Smith) is a pint-sized fish with grand aspirations. When mob-connected great white shark Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is accidentally killed, Oscar concocts a story with Frankie’s peace-loving brother Lenny (Jack Black) that it was he who murdered the shark. Suddenly hailed “Sharkslayer” by his aquatic brethren, Oscar has bigger fish to fry when Frankie’s father, mob boss Don Lino (Robert De Niro), dispatches his henchmen to track down his son’s killer. What if I told you that this film was not only released by DreamWorks, but released by the studio the SAME year as Shrek 2? You would probably flip out. From the generic story/characters to the ugly animation, this movie is more of a direct to video ripoff of Finding Nemo (2003) than a DreamWorks film.
- Open Season (2006)
Boog (Martin Lawrence), a 900-pound grizzly bear, is content entertaining tourists and living in park ranger Beth’s (Debra Messing) barn. His life takes a drastic turn when he rescues a one-horned mule deer named Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) from a hunter (Gary Sinise), and is subsequently tranquilized and returned to the wild. Elliot and Boog recruit the other animals, notably a Scottish squirrel (Billy Connolly) and a beaver foreman, to help turn the tables on the hunters to make the woods safe. This was the first film produced by Sony Animation and by God was this not a good start. The story is predictable, the characters are cliched, and the animation is very lackluster. Not much else to say. It just sucks holey.
- Chicken Little (2005)
Young Chicken Little (Zach Braff) throws his small town into panic by claiming the sky is falling. Unable to find the piece of “sky” that hit him, he earns the town’s scorn. A year later, outcast Little tries to redeem himself by joining the baseball team, helping to win a crucial game. Later that night he is hit on the head again and discovers that the “falling sky” is actually from a UFO. Now, Little must convince the skeptical town that an alien invasion is about to happen. Remember how I said earlier that other studios were following Pixar’s lead in the CGI craze? Well, this was Disney’s starting place at the new medium. From the story that relates in no way to the source material to rotten characters to poorly rendered animation, this is a downright mean and even nasty little trainwreck that is worth avoiding, EVEN for Disney fans.
1.Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
“Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” tells the simple story of a 10-year-old boy and his robot dog – battling evil, rescuing his parents, saving the Earth – and returning home in time for dinner. Jimmy’s always inventing gadgets to make his life in Retroville more interesting. A boy genius with real kid emotions, Jimmy sometimes fantasizes about life on his own. But when the parents of Jimmy’s hometown are kidnapped by invading aliens, he quickly discovers that things aren’t so great when they’re gone. I have already discussed how this movie had no business being nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2001, especially since Waking Life came out the same year, but mere competence is also unachievable for this festering hole of who-hash. The animation is awful, the story is every boring space plot, and the characters are unlikable and one-dimensional. This film might have a fan-base, but I will NOT be recommending any newcomers.
Anthomation assesses Minions
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review the exact reason why Illumination is hated by a lot of people: Minions.
Minions is a 2015 animated film produced by the aforementioned Illumination Entertainment. It is the spin-off prequel and the third installment overall in the Despicable Me franchise. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide. At the time of release, the film became the 10th highest-grossing film of all time and the second highest-grossing animated film. The film is also the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2015 and the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film. The sequel, Minions: The Rise of Gru, is scheduled to be released in July 2022. Oh goody.
Evolving from single-celled yellow organisms at the dawn of time, Minions live to serve, but find themselves working for a continual series of unsuccessful masters, from T. Rex to Napoleon. Without a master to grovel for, the Minions fall into a deep depression. But one minion, Kevin, has a plan; accompanied by his pals Stuart and Bob, Kevin sets forth to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. Their search leads them to Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first-ever super-villainess.
The story is as stupid as you would expect from a movie starring walking and gibbering bananas. First of all, the movie fails to appreciate the lore that goes behind the Despicable Me franchise, the little that there is. In the first Despicable Me, there was a poster on the back wall of Gru’s laboratory that showed a Minion being created through MAN MADE CONSTRUCTION. And this movie has the audacity to make us believe that Minions descended from SINGLE CELL ORGANISMS many years ago. Blow me. Also, did I mention that the plot was stupid. Well apparently, the Minions are looking for a master throughout the film. And that’s about it. I have seen middle school plays with more complex stories. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of humor supplied for the little ones. That is, if the film actually knew what humor is. Every joke is either butt-related, or involves an annoying gag that more than overstays its welcome. Except it was not even welcomed in the FIRST place, so it fails on multiple ends.
The animation quality matches every generic modern animated film out there. It is bright, cutesy, and bathed in over-the-top character movements. Gee, I wonder if they made it for kids? Nothing to worry about, no innovation or originally here. And it’s movies like this that get me especially angry because they only uphold the notion that animation is just “kids stuff” without supplying anything of substance in return. It is not painful to look at, it is just so cookie-cutter in its visual appeal.
The characters are as annoying and idiotic as can be. I know the Minions have names in this (Kevin, Stuart, and Bob), but they do not have distinctive enough character traits to tell them apart. They are all obnoxious, unfunny, love to glorify their rear ends, and enjoy ruining timeless points in our world’s history. Oh and they are all voiced by the director of the film (Pierre Coffin). There is Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), who is the villain of the flick. There’s Herb Overkill (voiced by Jon Hamm), who is Scarlet’s boyfriend. And Captain Barbossa himself (Geoffrey Rush) was dragged in to narrate this stinker. All of the human characters add nothing worth remembering and are as forgettable as what I had for breakfast last Thursday.
This film is the epitome of modern day crap in the animation industry. The story is unimaginative, the animation is bland, and characters are infuriating. It is films like this that need to stop being made while ideas for artistically unique flicks keep getting passed over by the minute. This is a film made for really really little kids. But when the only type of animated film being made on a consistent basis is this, it makes me sick to my stomach.
Anthomation assesses Monsters vs. Aliens
Howdy guys, Anthomaton here. Today I shall review another DreamWorks film: Monsters vs. Aliens.
Monsters vs. Aliens is a 2009 animated film produced by the aforementioned DreamWorks animation. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $381 million worldwide on a $175 million budget. Although not successful enough to be followed by a sequel, the film started a franchise consisting of various tv specials, a short film, and tv show that aired on Nickelodeon.
When a meteor full of space junk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica and confines her to a secret compound with other monsters, like bug-headed Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie). When an extraterrestrial robot lands on Earth and begins a rampage, General W.R. Monger persuades the president to send Ginormica and her fellow monsters to battle the machine and save the planet.
The story is nothing too extraordinary, but does it’s job decently. The plot of a person being turned into a monster and having to save the world has been countless times. And there is not too much variation here. But doesn’t mean the film cannot still be entertaining, right? Eh, kind of. While the battle scenes can be fun to get into, it still does not stand out from any basic action film. So it is hard to remember what you just watched. The worst criticism a film can have from a casual viewer is that the film was forgotten. And here, that criticism applies.
The animation has a DreamWorks feel to it with lots of tracking visuals and attention to detail. It was the studio’s first feature film to be directly produced in a stereoscopic 3D format instead of being converted into 3D after completion. For those who do not know, stereoscopic 3D is the process of adding depth to a still or moving image. And boy does it show up here. There are a countless number of shots where the camera will sweep and track one of heros rolling down the streets of San Francisco or fighting off an alien on a spaceship. For those who like action scenes, it is shot very well. There just is not anything out of the ordinary going on in them, but I have already talked about that. As for the animation, the characters have nice designs. They move around really well and the backgrounds of the city and military detachment are done with a ton of details. Thumbs up for the visuals of the film.
Despite being inoffensive, the characters are pretty bland and do not stand out like other DreamWorks characters of the past. There is Susan Murphy / Ginormica (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a woman from Modesto, California who is hit by a radioactive quantonium meteorite on her wedding day, causing her to mutate and grow into a white haired monster. There’s B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen), an indestructible gelatinous mass created when a genetically altered tomato was injected with a chemically altered ranch dessert topping. There’s Dr. Cockroach (voiced by Hugh Laurie), a brilliant scientist who attempted to imbue himself with the resilience and abilities of a cockroach. There’s Link (voiced by Will Arnett), a 20,000-year-old fish man who was found frozen and thawed out by scientists, only to escape and wreak havoc everywhere. There’s Insectosaurus (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel), formerly a 1 inch grub transformed by nuclear radiation into a 350 feet monster with the ability to shoot silk out of his nose. And then there is Gallaxhar (voiced by Rainn Wilson), an evil alien overlord intent on collecting quantonium to give his cloning machine enough power to generate an army of clones of himself to conquer Earth. The characters are cookie-cutter and just like the story, have a difficult time standing out. Their shticks have been done before and they have enough charm or charisma to separate themselves from the crowd.
If you want to talk about a film that is so average that it does not stand out from the crowd, then this is a movie to point to. With a generic plot and characters and good looking animation, it serves as something you could have no problem watching once, but I don’t think it is worth a second viewing.
Anthomation Assesses Wish Dragon
Howdy guys, Anthomation here. Today I shall review a movie about wishing beyond your wildest dreams: Wish Dragon.
Wish Dragon is a 2021 animated film from Sony Animation. It is a studio that got lucky once with Spider-Verse (2018), but normally makes a bunch of run-of-the-mill to below average work. Wish Dragon was released theatrically in China on January 15, 2021 and on Netflix internationally on June 11, 2021.
Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon that shows him the magic of possibilities.
Instead of giving a plot summary, I should have just told you guys that it is the Chinese version of Aladdin (1992) and left it at that. I mean, there is literally no difference in the story whatsoever. There is a protagonist who aspires for more and to get with the love of his life. Cough cough, Aladdin and Jasmine! There is a magical being that can grant any three wishes to any master that is at its command. Cough cough, Genie! There is a villain looking to steal the lamp from the protagonist so they can use it for their own benefit. Cough cough, Jafar! The female lead has a father who has good intentions and is in a position of power, but just does not understand her struggle to find her own place in the world. Cough cough, the Sultan! And I could go on and on about the similarities between the two, but it is only fair to look at the film. And yeah, it is not half bad at the plot in an entertaining way. There is character conflict and the struggle can be felt in their dilemmas. This film is the equivalent to Don Bluth’s Anastasia (1997) where it steals from other movies to tell its story, but it still has enough enjoyment to give a SLIGHT pass. And I do mean SLIGHT.
For a movie about a wish dragon, it sure does spend a lot of time in the inner city. But the animation is able to display the city life in a pleasing way. The backgrounds are representative of a middle to lower class town with its ranging from sullen grays to vibrant blues. Speaking of the colors, they mesh very well with the characters as well, especially the dragon. It definitely has a modern feel to it, but has enough visual flare to be something worth looking at.
The characters are ones who have seen in other previous material. A lot like the story, they resemble a certain movie I talked about earlier in the review (Gee, I wonder if it is Aladdin?). There is Din Song, a working-class college student who dreams to reunite with his childhood friend Li Na. By the way, he looks exactly like Tadashi from Big Hero 6 (2014). There’s Li Na Wang, Din’s childhood friend, who moved with her father years ago from the neighborhood where she lived and now lives a lavish life. There’s Long, a cynical but all-powerful dragon capable of granting wishes. There’s Mrs. Song, Din’s overbearing, but well-intentioned mother. There’s Mr. Wang, Li Na’s absent father, whose company business is failing. And then there is Pockets, a henchman hired by Wang to retrieve the teapot that Din has. While the movie tries to push emotional depth for these characters, it does not try anything unique with it that it can come off as stale and tired.
Wish Dragon is one of those movies that really loves to ride on the coattails of other films that have done this story a lot better. With the story, animation, and characters all feeling way too familiar, this is a familiar that fails to stand out from the rest of the mainstream animated films. If you love dragons and wishing, you should like this movie fine. But one watch should be enough for this flick.