hit-or-miss movie predictions

Hit-or-Miss Movie Predictions: SING

sing01
(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Welcome back to Hit-or-Miss Movie Predictions! This is where I give my first impressions of upcoming animated films, and point out the good, the bad, and the interesting. In the end, I shall predict if it will be a hit, a miss, or something different altogether.

To me, and I will repeat this for my Worst to Best list, 2016 has been an amazing year for animation. It’s easily one of the strongest years for certain companies like Disney and Pixar, but the indie scene has also been quite satisfying, with films like Miss Hokusai and Long Way North. Yes, we have had some clunkers like Norm of the North and The Wild Life, but in terms of pure overall quality, 2016 has been fantastic. In an interesting situation, the animated film to close out the year is Illumination’s second highly anticipated film, SING. This cgi-animated film is being directed by Garth Jennings of the duo, Hammer & Tongs, the directors of the 2005 film, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It boasts a pretty expansive cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Tori Kelly, Peter Serafinowicz, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, and Nick Offerman, to name a majority of the cast. When the first trailer came out, it definitely got a mixed reception, with some being cynical about its Jukebox-style musical, and bland character designs. I still have some concerns, since I feel like Illumination is starting to show its flaws, but I know early screenings have been mostly positive. Now then, let’s begin shall we?

STORY

sing02

At least you can say that the set-up for this film is easy to get into. Matthew McConaughey plays a koala named Buster Moon, who runs a theater with his partner in the business, Eddie, a sheep played by John C. Reilly. Unfortunately, the theater is going through some hard times, and is in close proximity of closing down. In a last ditch effort to gain some business, they hold a massive city-wide singing competition that gets the attention of many citizens of this animal world. These include a crooner jazzy mouse named Mike, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, Ash, a female Porcupine rocker voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Meena, a teenage elephant played by Tori Kelly, Johnny, a gorilla played by Taron Egerton, Rosita, a pig/mother of 25 kids voiced by Reese Witherspoon, and Bob, a German-accented pig voiced by Nick Kroll. Who will win? Will the competition be a hit?

Animation/Art Direction

sing03

Illumination Entertainment, if anything, has shown that they were quick to adapt in terms of animation. They improved super-quickly in just a few years. Even if some of their films are the worst things of all time, like their version of The Lorax, you can’t deny that the film has great animation, and it’s no different in SING. It’s great fluid animation. On the other hand, the character designs are a mixed bag. They are harmless, but they don’t really stand out a whole lot. However, even if they are bland looking to some, they are still able to look alive and express themselves.

The Cast

sing04

While having a cast with some big names in it doesn’t mean your film is going to be good, it still doesn’t mean that it can’t be impressive. It’s actually nice to see some actors that you wouldn’t normally see do voicework, like Scarlett Johansson. It’s also going to be the second time in 2016 that Matthew McConaughey will be doing voicework, and something that I have noticed about animated films recently is that some actors are actually attempting to immerse themselves into the roles, instead of voice-mugging for the audience. There is no excuse for actors in animated films to stop caring, even if you can’t see them visually on the screen. It’s even hard to tell that Matthew McConaughey is actually the lead character, due to how “into it” he is as Buster Moon.

Any looming concerns about the movie?

sing05

The biggest problem with films from Illumination is that they don’t really have the best storywriters. Even by their standards, Despicable Me probably has the best of everything about them, but even then, it’s still not that amazing of a film. It’s good, but it lacks the substance that you would see in Pixar, DreamWorks, or Disney. Not every film needs to be at those companies’ levels, but there needs to be a standard in terms of storytelling. SING has always had the looming criticism from early screenings and first impressions that the story isn’t really original. Not being original is fine as long as you execute it well, but that was the big problem with Illumination’s previous film The Secret Life of Pets. It had good animation and it got the personality quirks of the animals down, but the story was boring, with clichéd characters. It’s not a good sign when you can tell what’s going to happen way before it actually happens.

sing06

It also doesn’t help that Illumination has pretty much shown off the entire film through its advertising. That is one element that Illumination has always been called out for. They advertise their movies about six or eight months in advance, and flood the market in those months with clips, trailers, and ad spots. It makes me and many other people fatigued by how heavily they advertised it. They need to probably do two or three trailers at most. It leaves to no surprising moments in the film, since they showed it off in the trailers. I hate this about trailers, since they essentially ruin everything. Give Storks credit, they showed off a lot of the best jokes in their trailers, but they didn’t show off all of them. I know this doesn’t hurt the company in any way, since they make so much money off their movies that it’s ridiculous, but I know if I go see this in December, I’m going to go in knowing what’s going to happen. Will I enjoy it? Probably, but I’m not going to be surprised like I was with Kubo and the Two Strings or Miss Hokusai. On a side note, if SING becomes a financially successful film, I really don’t want to see them make a sequel. This looks like a one-off film. It’s like making a sequel to UP. It’s entirely pointless.

Prediction: Hit?

sing07

This film will probably do well, since Illumination Entertainment’s films always rake in the money, even if the films themselves are not that great. I thought at first that this was going to be Illumination’s version of Shark Tale, a film that was made with no other reason than to get big celebrities together, say a couple of catchphrases, and make a soundtrack of popular songs. As the trailers have continued to be shoved into our faces, with no way of avoiding them, it definitely showed it had more to it than what everyone was thinking. I think SING will be a hit, since it has a tad more soul than what it might advertise. Early screenings of the film have been positive, but due to 2016 being a raging dumpster fire in terms of the overall quality of films this year, I don’t trust early previews, and you really shouldn’t. Early buzz for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was great, but then it came out, and people hated it, with a small minority of positive reviews. Still, I have hope for SING. I do think Illumination has something there to be a great studio, but they never quite do it for me with their films. Will they get better? I hope so.

Hit-or-Miss Movie Predictions: Zootopia


(If you like what you see, go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work. If you want to, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. Thanks for reading!)

Welcome back to Hit-or-Miss Movie Predictions. This is a series of first impression articles covering the newest trailers on animated films, and breaking down the good or bad that the trailer offers.

Disney has been on a streak of critically acclaimed movies over the past seven years now. Sure, some were more well received than others, but overall, they were good movies. It’s interesting to see that their next film, Zootopia, does take a few more risks than past films. First off, it’s one of the very, and I mean very few Disney animated films that use humanoid animals, the other two being Robin Hood and Chicken Little. Anyway, if you want to see the trailer for yourself, I will make sure to hyperlink it here. Now then, let’s break down the impressions.

 

Animation/Art Direction

I mean, this is Disney after all, you shouldn’t expect anything but great animation, with visually pleasing worlds and expressive characters. Like I said above, it’s interesting to see Disney do another film with human-like animals like in Robin Hood. It all looks fantastic. I also love the little visual jokes, like the hippos playing volleyball with giraffes, or the rhino cop fist-bumping the little bunny cop, and how the fist literally pushes her. It’s a film that was allowed to be creative and open-minded with its designs and world.

 

Humor

Unlike the humor you see in that piece of garbage Norm of the North, Zootopia seems to love its satirical take on society, and has a lot of visual gags with the animals they chose use. I already listed the volleyball match above, but it seems like a film that has jokes in the foreground, and in the background. Some jokes were predictable like “MR. Big” is actually a tiny animal, but most of the jokes and gags seen in the trailer and clips made me smile.

 

Story

Ginnifer Goodwin plays Officer Judy Hopps, a newly hired cop in the city of Zootopia, a city where prey and predators live together in peace. However, not everything is as peaceful as everyone thinks. An incident is causing certain predators to go crazy. While trying to solve this case, she teams up with a foxy con man named Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman. Can they solve the crime and save Zootopia?

 

Casting

Personally, I like the casting. Disney and Pixar always seem to get casts that fit the characters, and not just pick the biggest celebrities right now because they have the most buzz or are super popular. Zootopia’s cast includes Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, John DiMaggio, Nate Torrence, Jenny Slate, Mark “Rhino” Smith, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Maurice LaMarche, and many more. I think the only one that stands out as “ we got her on name value alone”  is Shakira, who plays Gazelle, a pop star that is famous in the city of Zootopia. Kind of feels like they missed an opportunity in making her an animal based on her name, like a shark and calling her Sharkira. I guess I’ m slowly growing to say bad puns and dad jokes.

 

Any concerns?

For as much as I like the moral of the story that they are advertising, “don’t stop and keep on pushing no matter what”, I am concerned this film will be predictable. We have seen these kind of buddy cop comedy films before, and while I still want to see the movie, I don’t want to go through the film already knowing when something is about to happen. I wonder if Disney will put any creative spins on the overall film and tropes that are in this feature.

 

Prediction: Hit!

If this was Disney in the mid 2000s, I would have been more cautious, but since this is current Disney, and their past few movies have been great, I have no doubt that this will be a good, if not simply entertaining movie. It seems to take advantage of its set-up and how all the characters are animals. We will have to see next month if this film will be successful. I hope it is, since I want to see Disney do more than just princess films. Not that their other upcoming film, Moana doesn’t look amazing, but Zootopia seems like an interesting film, which I guess was probably greenlit due to how much money Disney made from Frozen. Still, I hope Zootopia is good!