negative review

The Other Side of Animation 100: Delgo Review

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(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 review!)

Well, here we are! The 100th animation review. I’m honestly pretty proud of making it this far. The main goal was to talk about the lesser known animated films, because that is more interesting and fun to talk about, than the big named animated films. Over the 100 reviews, I have seen the animation world change, like DreamWorks being bought by Universal, Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings making a huge fight for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, and watching as GKids becomes a bigger deal among animation enthusiasts. It even led me to talk about stuff I normally wouldn’t be interested in, like the Oscars and their new ruling for animated features. I have also gained a good sizable following from people who enjoy animation and maybe haven’t heard about some of the films I talked about. I can’t wait to see how the industry moves forward for the next 100 reviews. Now, this is a special occasion, and it deserves a special movie. Since I make it a tradition for every 10th review to be something infamous and notorious, well, it was not hard to pick what can be considered one of the biggest animation disasters of all time with Delgo.

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While, for some reason, it is incredibly hard to find information on Delgo, it is known as the biggest failure in terms of a wide release theatrical animated feature. The film was directed my Marc F. Adler, who also produced it and came up with the story for the film. Supposedly, the film took a span of nine years from start to finish. Instead of getting help from Hollywood, he went out of his way to get outside help to fund, animate, and create this notorious flop. They even did stuff that probably added more to the cost by flying out to each individual actor’s place of living to voice their lines there, and not have them come to them. Heck, two of the actors actually died before the film was released. After being put together by “fresh out of the university” animators, who went under stage names for obvious reasons, Delgo was released in over 2,000 theaters with the help of Freestyle Releasing in 2008. Unfortunately for all the work Marc F. Adler and his crew did to be the next big animated hit with no help from Hollywood, the film was an utter failure from critics, the three film-goers who actually went to see this, and financially. Out of a meager $40 mil budget, not including other things like small marketing and such, it only recouped a little over $900K. Yeah, when you can’t even break a million, that says something for the quality of this film. I also held back the review for Delgo, because not only is it one of the biggest bombs in terms of animated films, it pretty much killed everyone’s career or killed their careers even more so than ever. Think about it, name one actor or person behind the scenes that went on to do better things after this film. None of them really had a career after this film. Maybe some success in more recent years, but this was a career killer for sure. So, after almost 10 years since its release, how does the film hold up? Well, let’s find out.

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The story takes place in this very Dark Crystal-like world known as Jhamora, where two different beings live. Some of these beings are humanoid lizard people, and the others are the same type of humanoid lizards, but can fly. Our story follows the journey of Delgo, voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr. He lives in a post-war world, where the flying individuals invaded and attacked his people. Suffice it to say, he and a majority of his people have a hate for the ones that can fly. One day while hanging out with his friend, Filo, voiced by Chris Kattan, he ends up running into the princess of the flying people named Kyla, voiced by Jennifer Love Hewitt, and her two generals, Bogardus and Raius, voiced by Val Kilmer and Malcolm McDowell.  After getting to know her some more, Delgo finds out about an evil plot from an exiled flyer named Sedessa, voiced by Anne Bancroft in her last role before her death, and must save the day with the help of his friends and the princess. Can he stop the two nations from getting into another catastrophic war?

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Let’s talk about the animation first. I think with talking about this film in general, it’s good to start off with its most glaring visual flaw. For a film that took eight or so years to make, it’s really ugly. I would argue it’s the ugliest theatrical animated film that I have ever seen. Yeah, Norm of the North had probably objectively worse visuals, but that was meant to be straight-to-video before it was forced into theaters. Delgo was meant for theaters and for that standard alone, it’s lackluster. It’s no better looking than Spark, and that film came out nine years later. It has all the hallmark signs of bad animation. It has stiff movements, flat textures, character designs are bland or really unappealing to look at, and movements and characters riding animals feel like there is no weight to them, and everyone is in front of a green screen. I want to know what exactly happened. This film had a budget of $40 mil. That’s $10 mil more than Toy Story. Heck, Delgo probably would have looked better if it came out around the same time Toy Story came out in 1995, but it came out in 2008, and it looks incredibly dated. I want to know what happened. Not in a stereotypically angry reviewer sort of way, but in a curious kind of way. Was it bad direction? Was it animators who were not that great and too fresh out of art school? Like, one day, I would love to see what happened with this film in some kind of documentary with people who worked on it or invested money into it. Anyway, the film’s art style is definitely trying to capture a vibe and atmosphere similar to The Dark Crystal, since they made their own universe that isn’t based on a book or a preexisting property. It doesn’t work, since the designs do not translate well. I wonder if they couldn’t update the technology or the designs in time, because nothing looks good. The entire film looks like a rough draft of what to do next, but they either ran out of money or time to get it out there. After all that time making the film, we are left with a world that’s not interesting to look at with ugly character designs.

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So, the animation is really terrible, but what about the characters and story? Well, the director and overall person in charge of this film, Marc F. Adler, wanted this to be the next big Lord of the Rings and Star Wars-style epic. You know, something that’s fantastical and epic, but set in a fictional world. Well, from start to finish of this film’s production, we have had the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Original Star Wars Trilogy rereleased in theaters, and the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. Too bad this film couldn’t fix or update its script or characters to not feel dated on arrival. These characters are nothing more than just walking templates. You have the brash naïve young hero, the annoying side-kick, the pretty girl, the two evil generals to do the two general storyline of one staying evil and one redeeming himself, an evil villain for no other reason than to just be evil, bland side characters, and the hero’s parents who have two minutes of screen time before being axed off. They do nothing original or interesting with the characters in this film. They even make some of them unintentionally unlikable. For example, Chris Kattan’s character’s “wacky” antics actually gets Val Kilmer’s character axed off. Way to go. Even the story itself is so recycled and boring, that it becomes a tough sit. I know some people are like, “you have to judge this from the point of view of a kid watching this movie”. Well, you know what? No kid actually went to see this, and it didn’t become a cult hit like Cats Don’t Dance. I think kids made it clear that this film would bore anyone to tears. Even the fantasy elements have been done before. Why do you think I keep comparing it to The Dark Crystal? Fights are also not that fun to watch. Everyone is too floaty, and unlike Kung Fu Panda, which came out the same year, they don’t take advantage that, hey, they have animation and can make fights as amazing as they want them to be. Apparently, while making this film, they hired real-life people, and filmed them for reference for the animators. It really does show that it looks like motion capture when it wasn’t. It takes something as creatively unlimited as animation and makes it boring. How do you do that? For a medium that has been improved, perfected, and reinvented over a span of 71 years, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to when Delgo was released, Delgo makes the entire medium of animation boring. Congratulations, that is quite the hyperbolic task.

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None of the actors bring anything that voice actors couldn’t have brought themselves to the table. Everyone sounds so wooden and uninterested, and that’s a shame. You have actors like Val Kilmer, Malcolm McDowell, Eric Idle, Michael Clarke Duncan, Burt Reynolds, and Melissa McBride in this movie, and none of them were there to be interesting. That’s another problem with the film, the actors they got to be in this movie. None of them were that great or super popular by 2008. Times change, and actors drop out of popularity, because they pick movies that don’t help them stay relevant. I think the only one who did a good job was Michael Clarke Duncan, but that’s because he was awesome, and is one of the few actors I honestly miss since his passing. What about everyone else? They were there for a paycheck. Yeah, that’s a proper way of going into a movie, not to improve your talent or leave a lasting impression, but just to get money.

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This film is so aggravating to sit through as a movie. Why? Because I was never once pulled into the movie, I was never once caring or feeling emotionally invested, and never once was I in a good mood watching this. All this time, money, and talent wasted on a movie that’s so bland, boring, forgettable, and a waste of time, when I could have been watching something else. This is why people are so angry with bad movies. They took time and money to see a movie, did not like it, and felt like they got conned. I can even get the idea of sitting through something bad for entertainment, like watching M.D. Geist or for some strange reason, Norm of the North. Delgo is a film that came out a decade late, and other films that have had the same elements have been better and more entertaining.

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So, what can I find to say that’s good? Well, like I said, Michael Clarke Duncan was one. I think he’s a hugely entertaining actor with a unique voice. I will also give this film the very tiniest amount of credit that it was at least trying something original. It wasn’t original in terms of themes, characters, and execution, but it wasn’t based on a book or preexisting property. In a time where films are coming out that are based on nothing, but preexisting properties wildly ranging in quality, with better original movies being left in smaller releases, this one dared to be something that stood out. It doesn’t work, but hey, at least you tried to make something original.

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Without a doubt, Delgo is the worst animated movie that I have ever seen. It doesn’t do one thing correct, and even though it’s only 80 minutes long, it feels like three hours. If I had to choose a film that I would love to never watch again, it’s Delgo. From start to finish, everything is wrong. On the other hand though, I feel badly for the people that wanted this to be a reality. You work hard for almost ten years getting outside investments and tech, along with the actors you want to make the movie your big breakout hit. Sadly, upon release, you realize that all that work went down the drain as you watch your project go down in history as one of the worst animated films of all time, and one of the biggest box office disasters of all time. Actors lose any potential future acting gigs, and your name is stuck to this project. In the end, I do feel badly that the project failed. It had potential, but it was squandered by incompetent development, and trying too hard to not get big studio help. We might like to complain about how bad big studios are, but sometimes, it’s good to have one that has your back. I would only recommend checking out Delgo if you are super curious about bad movies or about bad animation in history. Otherwise, just let it be. Well, 100 reviews is quite a feat to make, and I want to thank everyone who read, commented, and helped me get through any personal obstacles. It was a fun journey to get to 100 animation reviews, and I’m excited to see what will happen in the next couple of  years in the film and animation industry, as we make our way to 200 reviews. Next time, we are going to check out and review the best animated film of 2017 that I have seen so far, with In This Corner of the World. Thanks for reading, I hope you all liked my 100 reviews, and will love 100 more, and I will see you all next time.

Rating: The Worst/Blacklisted

The Other Side of Animation 99: Digimon The Movie Review

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(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 review!)

There is nothing wrong with having nostalgic attachments to a movie. As we grow up and absorb the media of TV shows, films, games, books, and so on, we will have fond memories and attachments to these things. However, there is nothing wrong with being critical of those things either, if you go back to them and they don’t hold up. When it comes to reviewing, one thing that I have run into a couple of times is where I was honest and critical of something, and got pushback because it was super nostalgic to those people. I think the thing that makes me a great reviewer is that I don’t hide behind a persona. I don’t sugarcoat my opinions. If I like something, then I really like it. If I don’t like something, I honestly don’t like it. I’m not going to be hyperbolic or lie just to get views or to keep people happy. Now then, let’s talk about Digimon The Movie. This is a very notorious animated “film” from Japan that Fox Kids and Saban Entertainment pushed out into the world because, at the time, they were jealous of WB making huge bank on the first Pokémon movie. Unfortunately, as most people will tell you, this is not technically a movie. Instead of having one grand adventurous film to just simply dub and shove into theaters, Fox had three specials that ranged from 20 minutes, 40 minutes, to 60 minutes. Instead of releasing them as an anthology film with three complete stories, like “Tales of the Digimon” or something simple, with a $5 mil budget, they chopped it up, and sewed the separate stories together into a “complete” movie. As a result, the film only made $15 mil. While technically not bombing and being a small financial hit, it feels like a waste of time. Especially since this was probably everyone’s first introduction to the amazing Mamoru Hosoda and Dragon Ball Z director Shigeyasu Yamauchi. Yeah, Mamoru Hosoda, the man behind The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast directed two of these specials that got cobbled together into one movie. Now then, let’s digidive into the movie. I am sorry/not sorry for the pun.

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There is something shown before the actual film that I will get to when we talk about the overall experience. The actual “plot” begins with a story that supposedly takes place before the start of the first series. The story then cuts to a plot that I think takes place after the show, since the kids from the show are back in the human world and have to take down a virus Digimon that is threatening to blow up the entire world with nukes. The final part of the story goes a few years into the future, where we follow some of the protagonists from the first and second series. They try to find this kid who was constantly mentioned in the previous two plots as he deals with one of his two Digimon going evil. Before I move on, I know that is not a hugely stellar way of summing up what’s going on, but yeah, you will see why it sounds so chopped up.

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First off, if anyone says that The Emoji Movie is the most cynical cash grab animated film of all time, yeah, Digimon The Movie is, in my opinion, worse in every way possible. The film doesn’t even start with the Digimon footage, it starts with this obnoxious short from the series Angela Anaconda for five straight minutes. Five minutes out of the 88-minute run time, is stolen by this hugely unrelated property. That’s like if we had a Dragon Ball Z movie, but the first five minutes were taken up by a Pokémon short. These first five minutes aren’t even connected to the story, so why have it? By the way, these five minutes are not just in the theatrical version like some cute and darkly comedic PSA from Alamo Drafthouse about turning off your phone. It opens up every single copy of the movie. Why?! Kids are there to watch Digimon. Why waste their time!? Even after that bit of pointless and jumping into the actual “movie”, the film opens up with an action sequence you are going to see 10 minutes later.

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The pacing and the overall flow of the story of this film is so utterly terrible. The film will jump into the future after every “chapter”, and since this is a cobbled together nightmare, nothing is truly connected to one another. Everything moves at a breakneck pace, and most of the dialogue is either huge amounts of exposition, bad puns, or tech talk that only fans of the show would get. The film oddly says that you can watch this without knowing much about the show, but you really can’t. It’s very hostile about getting everyone on board with what’s going on, which is probably why a lot of the dub is exposition. You can’t feel emotionally attached to anyone or anything, because even if you didn’t know that this was a Frankenstein monster of animated specials, the story doesn’t really give you fleshed-out characters or time to breath. In the end, you get characters that have no real arc or endearing personality to them. This is especially true with Willis. This character is just one of the worst aspects of the film. Not only is his character dumb and inconsistent, he is only in one of the actual specials that make the overall film. That’s right, a character that is constantly mentioned throughout the entire movie as a plot point to keep the three stories connected, is only in the last 30 minutes of the film. Due to the cobbled-together nature of the film, they also ruin the tension that is “gained” while watching the film. The second act is a way bigger ordeal with a virus Digimon taking down all electronics, and launching nukes in all directions like it was in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol or something. After that, though, the film then dials it down to a more personal story, and that would be fine, if we didn’t just skip into the future once more and again, nukes. Normally, I would say the acting is pretty good, and to be fair, the actors from the show are doing their best, but they move at such a fast-pace and have such poor dialogue, I don’t really care for any of them. Again, there are no stakes, since the movie flip-flops so much. There is a lot of action, and even as a mess of a film, Hosoda’s art style and animation make the fights fun to watch, but it’s all very hollow. You sit there watching what should be cool action sequences with fun designs, and yet, there is no tension, since nothing makes sense. In general, what makes a good movie and a good story are the characters and how they are played in the experience. You want to see them overcome a challenge and succeed, but since this film can’t and I really do mean can’t give you that, everything rings hollow. They even try to shove in a forced moral of Willis learning what true friendship and teamwork is, and oh boy, it doesn’t even make sense, or fit in with what happened.

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I’m sure Saban had their hands tied behind them by Fox/Fox Kids to make this heaping dumpster fire, and had to come up with something, but I don’t even think kids that this film was aimed at would understand what was going on. Yes, sometimes kids will not know what quality entertainment and movies are, but at the same time, Pokémon: The First Movie gave them a complete story. Granted, the story was hypocritical and went against the overall theme and idea of Pokémon, you had a plot and characters in which to invest. I guess the people who were in charge of this didn’t have any wiggle room either, since this “film’s” budget was a paltry, by even then $5 mil. It probably went more towards buying the rights to the “I love the 90s” sound track, and to have the late great Don LaFontaine narrate the trailer. I’m sure everyone at Saban was just dreading this heap, since they knew every single day of the week they worked on this that it was so cynically motivated. Yes, I would have thought they would have more say in the matter, due to how powerful they were as the content provider of two of Fox Kids’ best series, Power Rangers and Digimon, but still. It’s hard to come up with what’s really wrong with this film, since it’s not even a real movie and is more a hatchet job with a huge script rewrite to make everything fit. Even if this was a movie as presented, it’s loud, way too flashy, annoying, and pointless.

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So, what is actually good about this disaster? Well, the animation is pretty good. Let’s not beat around the bush, the TV show had a really lousy budget and character designs until later series, looked kind of clunky with the large heads and thin bodies. Hosoda and the director of the third part, Shigeyasu Yamauchi, do polish up the designs a bit, and everyone is very expressive, and their movements are smooth. You can even catch a lot of Hosoda’s earlier quirks. For example, you know how the internet in this film is portrayed as a wide open space with Ferris wheels and floating gears? Yeah, you see that motif used in his other films like The Girl Who leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. Outside of that, there is not much else. I mean, besides some nostalgia for, of the time, current tunes.

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On one side of the coin, as a movie, it’s one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Probably one of my top five worst, but I would have to think about it. It has horrible pacing, bland characters, too many characters, too much exposition, and no tension or any real reason to feel invested into it. It’s constant flash and noise. On the other side of the coin, it’s one of the most, if not the most cynical cash grab theatrical animated film of all time. It’s only goal in life was to be made to get some of that sweet Pokémon money that WB was making back then, but with no real effort into actually giving the fans a good project. It’s a shame because this franchise is not a stranger to complex story elements and themes of death. In all honesty, Digimon had a lot more edge than most anime aimed at a younger audience. It still had its goofy and terrible elements, but it has aged better than most kids shows. If Fox really wanted this to be a huge hit, they probably should have just released the specials that were made direct-to-video, or release it as an anthology or compilation DVD. That way, they wouldn’t force Saban and the writers to cobble together some mess of a plot and make their brand look bad. Just avoid it unless you really do want to see what happens when a distributor pushes out an animated film with the only goal in mind is to make a profit. I feel badly for the people who had to work on it, since I’m sure cobbling this entire thing together was not an ideal situation, but they still gave it to us, and I’m not going to give the film a free pass because people liked it when they were kids. So then, we are here at the 99th review, and are going to be moving on toward the 100th review with what I consider the worst animated theatrical film that I have ever seen. I won’t tell you what it is, but you will just have to find out next time. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review, and I will see you all next time.

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation 60: Bling Review

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(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 review!)

With this year being very popular for animated films big and small, it’s definitely showing that the movie industry and media distributors are grabbing animated properties left and right to be able to call their own. Sony Pictures Classics bought the rights to distribute The Red Turtle, GKIDS got their hands on Miss Hokusai, a popular 2015 entry from the Annecy Film Festival, and Netflix bought The Little Prince when, for some unknown and quite frankly stupid reason, Paramount dropped it. Sadly, that means that some companies are going to pull a Central Park Media or LionsGate, and buy up any animated films they can, not caring if it’s good or bad. This is why I’m looking at one of Google Play’s exclusive films, Bling. This is a Korean CGI-animated film produced by Digiart Productions, the studio behind the infamous rip-off film The Reef. The writing on the wall, in terms of quality, is no better seeing the writers, who worked on films like Alpha & Omega, Outback, and The Reef. Yeah, this is going to be one of those movies. Let’s dive in and see what the damage is.

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The story revolves around a young man named Sam, voiced by John Carter himself, Taylor Kitsch. He is a robot maker, who lives with his three robots, Wilmer, a pig robot voiced by Jon Heder, Kit, a monkey robot voiced by Jason Mewes, and Okra, a frog robot voiced by Tom Green. Throughout his entire life, all Sam wanted was to marry the love of his life, Sue, voiced by Jennette McCurdy. However, when an evil mastermind named Oscar, voiced by Jason Kravits, and his robot, Victor, voiced by James Woods, wants to take over the city, it’s up to Sam and his robotic friends to take them down.

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Let’s get the bad out of the way, first. In the first few minutes of the story, you get a lot of the film’s biggest problems. First off, the moral message. In the first five or so minutes, the movie basically says, “to be a good piece of wedding material, you need materialism!”. Forget about actually knowing about one another, bonding over dates and social sequences, and after a while seeing if you are into each other enough to want to spend the rest of your lives together. Because you know, you can simply marry anyone if you just pimp out a hugely expensive ring showing your self-worth. And this theme is everywhere in this movie, making a lot of the characters rather unlikable, and having an incredibly cynical drive to them. I don’t know if this was the intent, and the writers had a stupid moment that made them skip over this huge issue of the film, because I would like to know, but holy macaroni, this brings the film down immensely. Like I said, the characters don’t really have personalities, and some of their dialogue sounds incredibly forced and contrived, especially with the monkey robot that is obviously inspired by the Journey to the West story. The other characters are simply forgettable or oddly tame, compared to their actors. Like, how do you have Tom Green, infamous for Freddy Got Fingered, and somehow make him act like he got hit with a sleeping spell or some kind of tranquilizer? In the end, that may be a blessing if you have ever seen Freddy Got Fingered, but I digress. He brings no energy to his snarky cynical robotic counterpart. This film also has the failure of comedy. I just recently rewatched The LEGO Movie, and it made me realize how incredibly funny that film is, and how animated films can have good comedy, but nope! There is no excuse for this film going for low-brow humor, like its excessive amount of fart jokes (all of them coming from the pig robot), when other animated films are raising the bar with their wit and clever writing, like in Zootopia. Why would you just have okay writing and not hit it on the mark every single time you deliver a line or joke? Seriously, there needs to be higher standards in animation and filmmaking, in general. Apparently, someone loved the fast-forward button, because the first part of the movie moves at a really fast pace. It doesn’t let us get a breather or a break to be embraced into this film’s world, or learn about the characters (you never learn why Sam decided to make robots at all), which is really generic and not interesting or memorable, like the city in Big Hero 6 or again, Zootopia.

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In terms of animation, it looks more appealing-if-generic to look at than Norm of the North and Underdogs, but it’s also not technically impressive looking. It’s slightly better than what we can do with TV show CGI animation these days. Some of the action scenes are decent, but not super-engaging. After watching Kung Fu Panda 3 and The LEGO Movie, you can do action in animation, and for a film that tries to have so many fights, the sequences are not up-to-par. This is also when we have seen Kubo and the Two Strings, and how that film is being ambitious with a more action adventure-oriented experience. I know I sound harsh in saying “well, they aren’t trying hard enough when others are showing how much effort they are putting into their movies”, but I’m being honestly harsh. There needs to a level of quality these days due to how many people aren’t going to the theaters anymore, but that’s mostly because Hollywood thinks we will watch anything, and just ignore the super high quality effort put into some movies.

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I don’t want to come off like an utter jerk, because I do have a few, if minor, positive comments to say about Bling. Even though its animation is not good, I will say it’s more pleasing to look at than Norm of the North and Underdogs. It’s rather impressive that Korea and China are upping their animation budget, even if it still won’t reach Pixar or Disney levels, yet. It might have this plastic/soft clay look to everything, but it sort of works for some of the robot designs. I found the only actor to actually put any effort into his or her acting is James Woods as Victor. Honestly, he has the most interesting personality and development as a character.

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While it might not be as bad as Norm of the North or Underdogs, it’s still the third worst animated film of this year. I’m rather surprised that I found something worse than Ratchet & Clank, The Wild Life, and Ice Age: Collision Course. I think it saves itself only because of the effort put into the animation, and it decided to only stay in theaters for like, three days, and then go through Google Play for its distribution. Avoid this movie, and if you want to watch Asian animation done right, you are better off buying any of the Studio Ghibli or Mamoru Hosoda films or any of the Japanese-animated films from GKIDS. Well, Halloween will be upon us, so let’s check out some Halloween-centric films like Hotel Transylvania 2. Hope you are all ready for some spooks!

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation 58: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV Review

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(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 review!)

In Short, multimedia projects are tricky to pull off. You could do well with the toys, comics, the movie, and TV show the multimedia project is based on, but one bad project could instantly spoil or give a bad first impression of said project. That’s what unfortunately happened to certain multimedia projects like Sonic Boom, which was all pretty solid until the Wii U tie-in game came out and ruined the first impressions of this new iteration of Sonic the Hedgehog. It was broken, not fun to play, not a well-designed game, and it is the worst selling game in the franchise. Luckily, everything else was pretty solid so, it saved itself from being an utter failure.  Well, Square Enix decided that they wanted to do something like Sonic Boom and decided to make an anime miniseries, and it is the topic of today’s review, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. This film that takes place in the upcoming games’ universe was directed by Takeshi Nozue, and has some surprisingly big actors in it, including Aaron Paul, Sean Bean, and Lena Headey. Normally, I wouldn’t review stuff like this, but since it had a limited run in theaters, and is connected to one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time, I definitely had to cover it. So, what do I think of the film? Well, unless you want to see some amazing realistic CGI, then you won’t get much unless you are planning on playing the video game.

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Anyway, this film is a prequel film that takes place before the opening hours of the video game. It follows a group of elite guards known as the Kingsglaive. They help protect the king of Lucis, Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, voiced by Sean Bean. The lead character that the plot revolves around is one of the Kingsglaive named Nyx Ulric, voiced by Aaron Paul. One day after a major battle against the kingdom of Niflheim, Nyx, along with his friends, is hired to help protect a female political figure named Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, voiced by Lena Headey. Of course, things begin to go wrong, and it’s a race to protect the giant crystal guarding Lucis, making sure Lunafreya doesn’t get killed or captured, and of course, set up the events that will lead into the video game.

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So, what’s the best thing about this movie? Well, it’s the animation. While this might be a similar situation to Square Enix’s past CGI films, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, this is probably the best-looking of all the films. Its textures and animation are outstanding. This is easily some of the most realistic-looking character models and animation that I have ever seen done in terms of cgi-animated films. Everything looks amazing, and while it doesn’t fully do the whole “you won’t be able to tell this is cgi” kind of realistic, it’s still incredibly commendable with how good this looks. The fighting is also very flashy and fun to watch. I think it’s because of how agile the characters are, and how they use magic to throw their knives and be able to teleport to the knife. It’s definitely something you will have to see for yourself, or play the game to understand what I mean with the whole “teleporting combat”. The final act where the entire city is just torn apart and the enemies are invading is really intense, and it is a spectacle when you see the giant stone guardians of the city come to life.

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Sadly, that is pretty much it for the compliments, because everything else is pointless. The lead characters are not memorable in the slightest. If you have seen any generic anime or action show with a team of characters including the bland male lead, the heavier-set well-intentioned best friend, the tough chick, and the snarky male. Heck, some of them don’t get to even be characters, like the tough chick gets killed so early in the film that it’s hard to care about her death. Heck, it’s hard to feel invested with a lot of these characters, because only a handful actually matter to the main story that will be in the video game. This means that unless you plan on picking up the game, you probably won’t or already don’t care about what happens to these characters. The only time you get to see the actual leads from the video game is at the very beginning and at the very end. Even if you look past the whole video game tie-in aspect of the film, it’s a painfully generic and boring film with only a few highlights of action and animation. I mean, at least this film is attached to the newest game in the franchise, and isn’t a pointless film like The Spirits Within, which is barely part of the Final Fantasy franchise.

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I also found the film to be difficult to watch at times. It’s too flashy, and sometimes there is too much on screen to make it easy to watch. I think it’s because the film is overly detailed with its world and characters. It’s a beautiful movie that is just sometimes clustered with details and sometimes not-so-subtle product placements.

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Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is an almost pointless film that is part of a multi-media product. Unless you are a gamer and want to check this out, I would avoid it unless you want to see every animated film that was able to be in theaters. It’s a film that is flawed because it’s tied to a video game. If it had more freedom with its setting, and essentially, not being a part of a multi-media project, then it would have been better. As a film, I can think of much worse movies I have seen this year, like next week, we will look at one of the biggest U.S. bombs of 2016 and of all time, The Wild Life. Thanks for reading, I hope you all liked the article, and see you all next time.

Rating: Rent it!

The Other Side of Animation 50: Underdogs Review


(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 review!)

 

Well, we are here yet again with another GOYA Award winner. I never made it my intention of criticizing/talking about this award system from Spain so much, but yet, it gives me a lot to talk about. When we live in a world where the movie-going individual has found admiration, respect, and love for animated films from overseas, it’s amazing how many clunkers there are that try to essentially be a DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar, or any of the riffraff that isn’t those big three. You can definitely find some interesting stories with some of these films, like with today’s target, the Argentina/Spain collaboration, Underdogs. This film, which is also known as The Unbeatables in the UK, and Metegol in Argentina, Underdogs has a very, peculiar history of being brought over to the states. It was fully translated, dubbed by celebrities, and was (and still is) being distributed by The Weinstein Company here in the states. Unfortunately, it kept being pushed back multiple times in 2015, but a week before its actual release, it was pulled from the release schedule and is now on Netflix and is now available on DVD. Boy, doesn’t that sound frightening? It sounded like The Weinstein Company made a very big mistake in investing in this movie, which is why they released it when no one even remembers or cares about it. It kind of screws over the big stars they brought on board for this, like Ariana Grande, Katie Holmes, John Leguizamo, Nicholas Hoult, and Mel Brooks, to name a few. Then again, I haven’t heard one interview where they talked about it. So, did they want to make sure no one saw this for a reason? Is it a huge disaster? Well, let’s see what the damage is.

The story revolves around a young man named Jake, voiced by Matthew Morrison. He lives in a small town where he works at a bar as a busboy. One day he gets into an encounter with the town bully, Ace, voiced by Nicholas Hoult, and challenges him to a foosball game. Jake beats Ace at a game, and humiliates him in front of everyone in the town, and impresses his love interest, Lara, voiced by Ariana Grande. Seven years pass, and Ace returns to the town as one of the biggest soccer players in the world. Ace, being one who doesn’t take losing lightly (even when that loss happened seven years ago!), he decides to buy the town and ruin everyone’s’ lives. Jake falls into despair, and due to the miracle of lazy scriptwriting, a tear falls from his face onto a foosball figure and brings it to life. This horrifying little individual is Captain Skip, voiced by Taran Killam. He decides to help Jake beat Ace at soccer, and save Lara. Can Jake and his team of tiny foosball players (who don’t really do much but provide slapstick comedy and force the humans to do all the work during the actual soccer match) save the day?

To be honest, I can see why this film was, how you say, quietly shown the door. The animation is not very good. Part of that reason is that a lot of the character designs are unappealing and quite frankly ugly-looking. Sometimes, a design doesn’t translate well from paper to CGI. There is a reason why Pixar and Disney have a set style for their characters, because they are appealing to look at. The only times the animation gets decent is during the soccer sequences, and even then, it’s still not impressive in the slightest. It’s like watching an action anime where you know the entire budget went into the action sequences, and what little was left went into making the other elements of the film passable. The resolution of the textures is just painful to look at. The voice acting was also very spotty, where the dub didn’t match the lip movements, and the actors didn’t care that they are getting paid to, you know, act! It’s like they went with a practice take, and didn’t need anything else! It doesn’t help the film either that the plot is not focused. It has boring characters, a romance that isn’t earned, and probably one of the most pathetic villains I have ever seen. Oh yeah, let’s talk about one of the top 5 most pathetic villains in all of cinema. Ace loses a foosball match, leaves for seven years, comes back, and basically ruins the small town because he was humiliated by that one match. How much of a pathetic waste of air do you have to be to have that ruin your entire life? Heck, the logic in this film makes no sense. Why would an entire town be afraid of one punk kid? It’s not like there isn’t a police force there, you see policemen, why didn’t they just billy-club the punk for being a terror of the town, and send him to jail? Why is there a magical tear in this movie? How do the other foosball players come alive when they weren’t hit by a magical plot item? Why was there genetic mutation going on, and yet is never brought up again? This entire film tries to pretzel itself with all these ideas to make sense, but it ends up with a pretzel with too many twist and turns. It’s also overbaked, and sits like a rock inside your belly when you eat it. There is zero satisfaction with watching this film from beginning to end. You just don’t freaking care about anyone, since the film doesn’t take time to develop anyone outside of one-dimensional tropes. It ends with a Rocky-style “the bad guy wins, but everyone loves the underdog!”, but it’s so boring, tired, and again, it doesn’t feel earned, and yes, you don’t even care!

So, was there anything I liked about this movie? Well, I sort of liked the little foosball players. Granted, most of the time, they were annoying, and John Leguizamo, god bless him, was trying, but he came off as grating most of the time. That being said, those little guys were definitely much more interesting than the actual humans. I also liked one joke, but that is not a sign of positivity in a film that isn’t funny or at all watchable.

Funny enough, the biggest piece of praise you can give this film is that it was smart enough to stay straight-to-DVD. They didn’t pull a Norm of the North and shove it into theaters, which I think was the original idea. Luckily for The Weinstein Company, they should know that I knew about the movie, and will make sure they, and everyone else, knows that they released a terrible movie. It’s easily the second worst animated film I have seen in 2016. Again, the only reason it’s not number one with Norm of the North, is because The Weinstein Company knew they would get crucified for releasing this waste of time on the big screens. I don’t get how this became popular, besides it being popular in countries that treat soccer as a religion. This is just pure garbage, and no, this might not have been an American-made film, but saying “I shouldn’t be criticizing this film because it was super popular in other countries” is pure ignorant bullocks. There are so many films from foreign countries that have come out over here, and were and still are amazing. The only reason this film was at all popular was because it is focused around a sport that everyone else treats like it’s the only thing worth living for. Plus, Spain and South America have made amazing animated films, like Boy and the World and Wrinkles, so there is no excuse for “it’s a country not known for animation”, since there have been amazing films that can quite frankly be better than what we make here in the states. Avoid this movie at all cost, and not even for a bad movie night. Just don’t waste your time on this horrendous excuse for animation. You know what? After watching so much schlock, I’m going to do as many positive film reviews as possible, so next time, we look at The Painting. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this review, and I hope you don’t buy this movie. See you all next time

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation 49: Batman: The Killing Joke Review


(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 review!)

PARENTAL WARNING/HEADS UP: This film is not for younger audiences. It has cursing, brutal violence, and scenes of consensual sex, and applied sexual assault. It is not for a young viewing audience, and you should definitely skip out on this if you plan on watching it with your kids. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Enjoy the review!

This is going to be an interesting topic to talk about, due to today’s review. Have you ever watched a movie that you either love, enjoy, or hate, but then find that one scene that everyone talks about or notices about the film at hand, and it hurts the movie on many different levels? For example, the ending to From Up on Poppy Hill bothers me, even though I love the entire movie. The conclusion is so abrupt, and has no real closure for the viewers. They get the answer to their long requested, well, question, and then the credits roll. Heck, a lot of Japanese animated films do these abrupt endings, and it’s incredibly distracting, like in The Secret World of Arrietty, REDLINE, and Whisper of the Heart. The Wings of Honneamise has an incredibly uncomfortable moment that is essentially the male lead almost assaulting the female lead, and then the movie tries to paint it like it’s the female lead’s fault that it happened. Yeah, when you spot these moments, they can lead to a lot of problems in terms of the execution of said scenes, and how they impact the overall film. That’s why I decided to talk about the recently released (digitally at least) Batman: The Killing Joke. Directed by Sam Liu, produced by Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, with a script and story written by Brian Azzarello, The Killing Joke was definitely one of the more infamous events during the San Diego Comic Con of this year, with the controversy of the additional 30 minutes of story added to the original 45 minute run-time. It also got a lot of heat for a specific scene 19 minutes into the movie where Batgirl and Batman have sex. Yeah, we will get to that part in due time and talk about it. The overall reception of its release digitally (physical release in August) has definitely been mixed with much criticism aimed at the additional 30 minutes and the apparent sex scene. Anyway, what do I think of it? Well, let’s find out.

The Killing Joke is based off of the 20 or so paged graphical novel of the same name, revolving around The Joker, voiced by the always amazing Mark Hamill, essentially ruining the life of Batgirl aka Barbara Gordon, voiced by the also always amazing Tara Strong. The Joker essentially shoots Batgirl in the spine, causing her to be paralyzed, and kidnaps her father. It’s up to Batman, voiced by the also excellent Kevin Conroy, to stop The Joker and his schemes. The 30 minutes of additional footage are essentially about Batgirl taking down a sociopathic thug that has become obsessed with her while Batman attempts to teach Batgirl about not taking certain situations too far.

Yeah, let’s get to the biggest problem with this film, the additional 30 minutes. They have no reason to be there since they don’t connect to the main story. The thug Batgirl has to deal with is never brought up, or those incidences are never mentioned again from within the main plot of the film. They essentially said that they wanted to add more to Batgirl’s character so she isn’t just a plot item in the original story. I can respect that, but they don’t find a way to make it interesting enough to make the tragic thing that happens to her mean more. Instead of connecting the new footage and story with the obvious main villain, The Joker, they instead waste our time with what feels like a lost episode to one of the many Batman animated cartoons. They throw in this sociopath thug that has no real weight to the second half of the story. I have talked to a few people, saying that the thug is essentially Batgirl’s version of The Joker, but still. Not to say what happens to Batgirl and this thug wasn’t deep and scary, but if you are going to simply dump him in the second half, then why have him at all? Why not do what Jessica Jones did with Jessica and Purple Man? That could have given the reason for  The Joker to be obsessed with wanting to partly ruin her life in the main story. Have her humiliate The Joker in one of his heists, and then have him escape and cause the deed that made the original story infamous, or have The Joker be humiliated by the Gotham police which triggers him to “do the deed”. I know giving  The Joker logical thinking would be odd, but hearing him talk in this film made him seem like a logical individual (even if he is still a bit nutty). Now then, let’s talk about the notorious scene of Batgirl and Batman having sex on a rooftop. Thankfully, she is of legal age so it doesn’t get too creepy, but I have seen this happen a couple of times in the comics, and once in Batman Beyond, and, well, I don’t think it works. I never thought it worked having Batgirl be romantically tied to Batman. I can see her being sort of fan-girlish around him or like a daughter he never had, but sexually tied? Yeah, no. Also, it’s never mentioned again when the actual plot happens. It’s so infuriating to watch this movie, knowing that the additional footage really doesn’t do anything new with the actual plot, because there is some real good stuff in the later part of the film. They don’t even fix the main problem with The Killing Joke, where the incident of Batgirl getting shot and worse (I won’t say what was suggested happened to her), with how she was more of a plot element than an actual character or have any major reason to be there. They call this “Stuffed into the Fridge”. Essentially, something bad happens to a character just because they wanted it to happen.

By the way, this film got an R rating, and it really didn’t earn it. This is no more edgy than a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or Criminal Minds episode. This has to stop, really. Unless your movie deserves it, don’t think giving it an R rating is going to make it any more desirable. Just because Deadpool and Batman v Superman made it cool, doesn’t mean every movie needs to be doing it. Sometimes, having creative limitations can make you work harder on making a better product within the barrier. And whoever says you should enjoy this as two movies needs to go rework their logic. I don’t agree with that statement that you should enjoy both plots individually. The additional 30 minutes should have been connected to the main story, and it isn’t.

The animation and art is also a mixed bag. The designs of the characters are fine, and the voice work is excellent, but the animation itself is super janky. It feels very cheap. It comes off like the film’s budget went towards the action sequences and the voice actors. It’s definitely very distracting to see clunky animation for such a famous story in comic books. Even with some of the technical problems Justice League vs Teen Titans had, it still looks good in terms of animation.

So, what is good about this movie? Well, when you get to the actual plot, the story is creepy, atmospheric, and dark. Even though we have seen dark Batman and Joker storylines in animated form, like Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, this is probably one of the creepier stories with how far The Joker goes to break Commissioner Gordon. It’s easily one of the darkest moments ever in DC animation. The voice work is also excellent. It shouldn’t be a surprise with Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Tara Strong delivering great performances. The two scens of The Joker talking to Gordon, and the ending conversation between Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy are easily some of the best moments of DC animation.

I was hugely underwhelmed and annoyed by this movie. If the 30 minutes were done better, the Joker had more of a presence in the beginning with Batgirl, take out the pointless sex scene, and they fix the elements of the original story to be better, I think we could have one of the darkest and best written DC animated films around. I don’t agree with what Bruce Timm said in terms of defending what happens in the movie, and I think they should be ashamed they couldn’t find a better way to make the end product fantastic, which is a word I can’t use on any of the DC animated films that came out this year. If you love the original book or want to own every animated film made by DC, then by all means get it, but I can’t see myself buying this movie physically in the future. I have had a hard time thinking about where I would put this in terms of films, from worst to best of this year. I could argue and point out how terrible the first 30 minutes are, but could put it up in the middle ground area because the second half, while still having problems, is pretty fantastic. I guess I would just say to see it for yourself, and you tell me what you think. I might not like this movie, but believe me, I would rather watch Batman: The Killing Joke over and over, instead of what will be the 50th animation review. Thank you for reading, and see you all next time.

Rating: Lackluster

The Other Side of Animation 48: A Wind Named Amnesia Review


(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 review!)

WARNING/PARENTAL HEAD’S UP!!!: I am going to spoil this movie’s plot to get a point across. There is also female nudity seen at some scenes in the movie at the beginning and the end. There is also some light violence. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Hope you enjoy the review!

For such a visual medium that is animation and filmmaking, it’s amazing how talky and dialogue-heavy certain shows and films can be. We have all been there, where a film relies on a huge amount of dialogue that the viewer must digest. In a lot of ways, that can be a good thing. If the writing is good, we get creative or endearing characters. It lets us relax and take in the interactions of the individuals we are following and get to invest into. On the other hand, when it comes off that the writing isn’t that great, or the story and themes aren’t executed well, the film feels bloated and slow, like you can’t fully get into it because you are trying to resist the urge to close your eyes and get some sleep. This wouldn’t be an issue worth talking about, but we have seen films/media where the writing, or lack of writing in some cases, elevates the film. Sadly, when the writing is bad, then that bad writing gets worse when it tries to be deep and life-changing when it doesn’t have the context and substance to do so, and that is a major problem. This sad little problem is what ruins A Wind Named Amnesia. This Japanese-animated film from 1990 is an odd case, not because of the manga the film is based upon, but because of who is attached to it. The director of the adaptation is Kazuo Yamazaki, who has directed films and shows like SuperBook, The Samurai, Maison Ikkoku, Slayers the Motion Picture, Yumetsukai, and Five Star Stories. The writing was in the hands of an individual we will talk about at a later date named Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Any anime fans would know him for his films like Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. It was original distributed by Central Park Media, and was recently rereleased by Discotek Media. For its time, it had a load of positive reviews, but how does it hold up? Well, let’s find out.

The story takes place in 1999 in the United States. Two years before current day, a wind blew over the earth, resulting in everyone losing their memories and all of their intelligence, resulting in everyone regressing back to caveman intellect. The plot revolves around a young male named Wander. He, well, wanders across the US to find out what is going on. After encountering some feral humans and a giant robot, he takes it down the robot with the help of a mysterious woman named Sophia. They decided to travel together across the states seeing what life is now like with feral individuals.

So, let’s get the good out of the way first. I think the animation is pretty solid. It’s not mind-blowing, and sometimes it can be clunky, but it just reminds me of the days when everything was not digitally colored. At least, when the digital colors weren’t making everything look cheap. I also like the human designs. It just sticks out in terms of what you would normally see today in anime. In a world of anime that doesn’t look all that different from one another, unless your style sticks out like Akira Toriyama’s, this film really doesn’t have a lot of anime-style tropes or design choices in it besides the male lead’s look. Even though I’m about to rip this film apart, I will give the film credit for being a bit different than what we were getting at the time. I mean, back then, most anime was full of sex, blood, cursing, and violence, and no real plot or characters. I can totally see where people were coming from when they praised this film. If all I reviewed back then were terrible violent schlock titles, A Wind Named Amnesia would feel unique and awe-inspiring. It’s odd, since if you know anything about Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s work, it’s very different than what his usual work consists of.

Now, with all that praise out of the way, let’s dive into what this film gets horribly wrong. By the way, even though this is based on a manga, I don’t really care if I need to see the manga or not. I’m criticizing this movie as a movie. I am judging and criticizing what I saw through my experience of watching this movie. Let’s get started! This film’s plot is scattershot. It really doesn’t have too much of a focused narrative throughout the entire film, besides these mini-stories that are cobbled together to make a film to run up the 80 minute run-time. Now, in the past, I have praised films that take their time and shoot the breeze, like in The Rabbi’s Cat, but that’s because the characters were worth the brain power to focus on. A Wind Named Amnesia doesn’t really have great characters. Wander is boring, and Sophia is a horrible character, but we will get to that point soon. It’s funny how this film does have a set goal, but then decides to take as many detours as possible to these areas that could have been interesting, but due to the execution of the plot and characters, they come off as pointless, since they are never mentioned again. For example, they run into a tribe of people who are trying to sacrifice this woman to a giant construction vehicle that they see as a literal God. Another encounter has them coming to this huge high-tech city that is run by a computer and only has two other humans living there who can also speak. The overall plot feels like it’s has all these neat ideas, and maybe they are explained or fleshed out better in the manga, but they never feel fully thought out or executed in the most correct way in the film. There is even this stupid robot thing that chases them throughout the film that is way too determined to kill these two people. Overall it seems like a film that could have either used a longer running time, or be turned into a mini-series.

Now then, let’s get to the biggest failing of the film, Sophia. Later on in the film (spoilers), it turns out that Sophia is actually an alien from outer space that has been watching the human race for thousands of years. When they saw that the humans learned space travel, they thought we were going to be a threat and decided to send the wind down onto the planet sending the human race back thousands of years.  Yeah, that’s bad enough that they went with a twitch reaction to us finally learning how to get into space, but Sophia also explains that it was supposedly for our own good. Yeah, deem one race of aliens too dangerous so you wipe them of their intellect and have them mostly start off like cavemen. It’s so messed up and hilariously awful how these advanced alien beings thought we were going to be a threat, when we should be considering the aliens a threat, because they have a weapon that can wipe the minds of any living beings, and have been watching us for over a thousand years. This wouldn’t be so bad if Sophia wasn’t constantly being condescending towards human lives and ideals, and spewing half-baked arguments like, “you shouldn’t force your will on others”, when what she is essentially doing is forcing her will on the male lead by saying he shouldn’t go save a girl or question why this advanced alien race would find humans a threat. The film even tries to make it like what Sophia did was the right thing in the end. Sophia is quite honestly, one of the worst female characters/characters I have ever seen. This whole film then turns into a tripe and sloppily cobbled-together mess of “humans need to learn or else they will kill each other” kind of message, and it’s preachy and indulgent without the proper substance to back up its claims. All because this one incredibly condescending group of aliens thought we were going to be an issue.

I can’t give a bigger “thumbs down” to this film. A Wind Named Amnesia is one of the worst animated films I have ever seen.  It might even be in my top 10 worst, due to a boring story, uninteresting/unlikable characters, and pompous philosophical commentary. Yes, for its time, this film stood out, but now, it doesn’t hold up. Maybe the manga is better and doesn’t give the audience the big “screw you”, but I will never know, since any film should be good whether you have read the source material or not. Well, next time, we will look at the infamous Batman: The Killing Joke, and how to ruin a story by adding 30 additional minutes. Thanks for reading, Hope you enjoyed the article, and see you all next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation 46: Tarzan (2013) Review


(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 review!)

With a new film released about the man among apes, Tarzan, called The Legend of Tarzan, I decided to get on the bandwagon, and review something, well, Tarzan related. Since I review animated films, I tried to find one that wasn’t the classic Disney film. So, what I did find was a CGI animated film from Germany. Yeah, we are heading into some weird and horrible territory. Tarzan was released back in 2013 in Russia (odd, since it’s a German-animated film), but made it stateside, and everywhere else in 2014. The film was directed by Reinhard Klooss, and animated in motion-capture. I remember nothing about this film’s marketing, Not even a trailer or one ad online. All I have read about this film are the reviews, and boy, the reviews were not kind at all. So, do we have one of the worst animated films of all time? Let’s find out.

While the film does follow a bit of the story of Tarzan, with his parents getting killed off, and Tarzan now being raised by gorillas, that’s pretty much any similarities this film has with the original source material. What does the plot follow in this film? Well, during the age of the dinosaurs, a meteor crash-landed into Africa, and holds a limitless and powerful energy inside it. Skip to modern day where Tarzan (this time, he is American and not British, for some reason), played by Kellan Lutz, meets a bumbling scientist and his daughter, Jane, played by Spencer Locke. They team up and have to stop Clayton, played by Trevor St. John, from destroying the environment and obtaining that meteor. Can Tarzan save the day? Can this film waste my time and give me time I will never get back?

Boy, where do I start with this film? I seriously had a hard time writing this because there is way too much wrong with this movie to put into a nicely organized line. I guess I will start out with the animation. This film was advertised that it was made heavily using motion-capture technology. Listen, this kind of technology is still very impressive to me, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal, since this was made a few years after the closure of Image Movers Digitals, the studio behind films like Polar Express and Beowulf. To be frank, this kind of technology doesn’t really make for great animation for films. Sometimes you can work around it, but it always looks clunky, and the character models clash with the more realistic designs and movements because of the motion-capture. The human character models are too cartoony looking, and the proportions never look right. Sometimes the scenery views are pretty to look at, but then you have to go back to 2013 video game CGI models. It’s extremely distracting. I don’t mean to draw parallels to the Disney Tarzan film that came out 17 years ago, but the Disney film used the medium to its advantage. You remember how cool, fluid, and fun it was to watch Tarzan slide, slip, ride, and swing on vines and trees, due to the animators taking the movements from extreme sports athletes, and how they would make Tarzan look like he was surfing/skating on those vines? It was freaking amazing. Unfortunately, due to the limitation of motion-capture or lack of creativity, watching the somewhat ugly character models move is boring and off-putting. The reason why I harp on this film’s character design so much is because they use rather realistic animals, and they don’t mix with the Barbie-dollish look of the characters. It worked in films like The Polar Express and Beowulf, because they had consistency with all the characters.  The character models also don’t have very expressive eyes, and look dead half of the time. Why does it seem so hard to animate eyes?

Another giant problem with the film is the setting. Why modernize the setting with helicopters, automatic rifles, and mp3 players? It was timeless with the original setting. Why did they make Tarzan American? I mean, really? Why was his nationality changed? Why is there a sci-fi and environmental element to the film? It really makes no sense, nor does either element have any reason besides being the McGuffin of the story. Seriously the meteor really has no reason to be there. What was wrong with this story being just about Tarzan growing up among the gorillas? Why is there an evil gorilla at the beginning? What was wrong with the relationship between Tarzan and the father gorilla? Another incredibly amateur-hour story bit they brought in was these guardian monkeys that are in this movie that protect the area around the meteor. Well, technically, that’s wrong. They don’t live in the area where the meteor landed, but in the outskirts of the jungle surrounding the meteorite landing area, and they do nothing throughout the entire movie. They don’t really protect anything, and just sit there. Also, did the creators of this movie ever go to Africa? Because Africa in this film is like the most bipolar country, apparently since it not only has a barren wasteland where the meteor landed, but active volcanos, and large snow-covered mountains. And yes, I did look it up and see that in some parts of Africa, there is snow, but apparently it’s not enough for skiing, which is the complete opposite of this movie. Oh, and apparently, Africa has cassowaries (big, flightless birds) even though they are not native to Africa, and giant monstrous vine creatures, made due to the energy the meteor is giving off.

I don’t usually want to sound harsh, but these actors for this film were terrible. I now swear that Kellan Lutz is box office poison, since none of the films he has been in did particularly well, including Legend of Hercules, Immortals, and Expendables 3. I felt like no one gave a really compelling performance, and that’s either because they have never voice acted before, the director in charge of the actors was asleep, or the actors didn’t really care. They even throw in this really forced and really awkward narrator that also has no purpose, and sounds like he was rushing his lines to get out of that recording booth as quickly as possible. The side characters aren’t really side characters, since they have no dimension or personality to them. They were there just because. It feels like that was the line used when people questioned why this film had so many odd and nonsensical changes to it.

Seriously, that is the one term I would use for this movie, “No one really cared”. There was really no effort into making this a good movie. It almost seemed as if they were forced to work on this film when they had no interest in it. No one put any effort into making this film even remotely close to the source material. Say what you will about Disney’s Tarzan film, but at least they kept it pretty similar in a lot of ways to the original source material. The overall product feels like this cynical Hollywood cash-grab that was made for no other reason than to get made.

So, under this massive waste of time, is there something that can be salvaged that would be considered good? Well, not really, but I did enjoy some of the scenery of the jungle. I also sort of enjoyed the quiet moments that were put in between the rest of the bad story and acting. I wish there were more films that were more about no dialogue, like The Illusionist, since you can watch that movie and get what is going on without one tiny bit of dialogue.

Once again, with no exaggeration for the sake of comedy, the 2013 (2014 for the states) CGI-animated Tarzan is one of my top 10 worst animated films of all time. It might even be in my top five worst animated films of all time. How could the studio and the director do such a half-baked nonsensical adaptation of something that isn’t that hard to adapt into film or into CGI animation? Heck, the overall plot really has nothing to do with the source material, with it taking place in modern times, and this pointless, forced, stupid, brain-dead sci-fi/environmental plot point that has no reason to be there. This is also on top of characters that are boring and or annoying, a narrator that is awkwardly put in, and is also quite purposeless, and animation that isn’t all that great due to being limited by the motion-capture. It’s one of the worst cases of motion-capture as well. There might be a nice environmental shot here or there, but those few second shots don’t save the film by any means. Avoid this movie at all costs, like an angry silverback gorilla coming at you. Do not buy this movie. Don’t even rent it for a bad movie night. If you want to see Tarzan in animated form done right, or at the very least, done in not such an insulting way, watch the great Disney film, or check out Legend of Tarzan. I sure as heck know that it will be more worth your time than this pointless adaptation. Boy, while the next review is of an adaptation, I can at least say it was much more enjoyable than Tarzan. Next time, we look at the animated version of The BFG. Thanks for reading. I hope you liked the article, and see you all next time.

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation 42: Lupin the 3rd Special Part 2: Lupin the 3rd: Green vs. Red Review


(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 review!)

Recently, there have been a slew of films released like Ratchet & Clank, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where a lot of “defenders” or stubborn fans, pick your poison, say that those films were made for “true fans” of the license/property. Well, these comments have led me to ask a question, “How much can fan service save a film?” I mean, we have seen this before where a film will mostly be for fans of the franchise with all the in-jokes and references. However, let’s be real, and not kid ourselves. Fan service can only go so far before you realize the movie is terrible. It’s like, how you can only go so far with a great cast, amazing animation, or near-realistic CGI, if the other elements of the film don’t work, then the movie is bad. I know you can make the argument of what defines “bad”, but seriously, if you are all flash and no substance, you aren’t going to last long. It’s why a lot of these films or projects based on popular properties don’t end up as overall good movies. Studios spend so much time making sure the fans of the source material enjoy it, they forget that you need to be a good movie. This is why I chose the Lupin the 3rd TV special, Green vs Red. This TV film was made to celebrate the franchises’ 40th anniversary. If you are a huge fan of the franchise, you will get all the winks and nods to the legacy of the iconic anime character. Sadly, if you are not a fan of the franchise, and want to see a film that is just as good as Castle of Cagliostro, then you are going to come up short. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The plot is rather complicated, so excuse me if I don’t give a super-proper plot summary. All over the world, a slew of thieves have shown up, all proclaiming to be the infamous Lupin the 3rd. While this is going on, a young man named Yasuo, a pickpocket and chef, one day obtains the iconic green jacket of Lupin the 3rd at a small little dive that he works at. Yasuo then gets wrapped up into another plot about obtaining the notorious Ice Cube, a new contraption made by a company called Night Hawk. Can Yasuo find out what exactly is going on, and why all of these imitators are popping up all over the world?

I don’t really have a lot of nice things to say about this special. First off, and this is pretty much a sin for not just anime, but animation in general, it’s boring. Why is it boring? Well, it tries to focus too much on being fan service for the fandom rather than focusing on a logical story. The whole Ice Cube subplot becomes very third-wheel, since it’s more about Yasuo’s transformation into the new Lupin, than obtaining the Ice Cube. Sure, I like the fan service and references to past Lupin series/movies/whatever, but to be the main focus when you have two other plots that should have been the focus, is a major problem. Is it cool that you see the red, green, and pink jackets? Yes. Is it cool that you get to see a lot of the differently designed Lupins? Yes. Is it great to see some of the winks to The Castle of Cagliostro and how the film loves this specific version of Lupin? Heck yes! But, it can’t be the only thing to carry this movie. The film also wants to have this, quite frankly, self-indulgent theme of how Lupin isn’t a real person, but more of a state of mind, and the representation of freedom and how everyone wants to be like Lupin. Listen, it’s nice that you wanted to be philosophical and all, but that isn’t the reason why you watch Lupin the 3rd. You watch anything from this franchise for the comedy, the interaction between lovable characters, and the fun, if goofy action that is pretty much a light-hearted version of anything spy-related. Like I said, the fan service distracts and takes over the time that could have been used on the characters from the actual franchise. While Jigen, Fugiko, and Detective Zenigata do get screentime, Goemon sadly shows up for a few lines and that’s it. It feels like they were at some kind of crossroads with how to handle this special. They needed to please the fans from young to old, but they needed a plot as well. I guess I wouldn’t have minded if I actually liked the characters they decided to focus on, but they were so boring and forgettable. They could have also not taken the plot through a Pulp Fiction-style execution, since the plot was already hard enough to follow.

I have to be honest; I found the art direction extremely bland. Sure, the main characters look alright, but the fun of the franchise was its art style. It was exaggerated and cartoony. Green vs Red looks like generic anime that tries to have the retro touch that makes Lupin the 3rd so memorable. That’s why the newest series, including the Fujiko Mine prequel series and the Lupin the 3rd: Part 4 series, work because the designs are so diverse than what you normally see in anime.

Okay, I think I have railed on this long enough, what is good about this special? Well, as much as the fan service and references get in the way, I do like seeing all the little things, like all the differently designed Lupins and the nods to Castle of Cagliostro. It makes me smile, even though the overall experience is flawed. While I do not like the self-indulgent philosophical elements, I do respect that they tried to do something deeper than a simple hour-long clip show showing off the franchise. The brief, but final showdown between Lupin and Yasuo is pretty neat, since they actually do a different art style for those brief seconds of action. Too bad more of the film couldn’t be like this or the giant robot scene.

As much of a fan as I am of Lupin the 3rd, I think this was a trainwreck. Not the worst movie I have seen, since that would mean no effort was put into this, but it’s still a mess of fan service being glorified, boring characters, and a sloppily put-together story. How would I have recut the whole film? Easy, keep the focus on the Green vs Red gimmick. Have Lupin encounter someone who looks exactly like him foil his heists, only to find out that someone made a clone of him. Skip the pompous college textbook philosophical elements, and have it be a great fun adventure. Unless you want to own everything Lupin the 3rd, you can pretty much skip this film. However, if you must have it, you can obtain a DVD copy by going to Discotek Media’s website, since they are the ones who are distributing it here in the states. Green vs Red shows what happens when fan service takes over the more important elements of a film. I don’t want to end this three-part special on a negative note, so let’s take a look at the recent spin-off special that was possibly a gateway to the newest TV series with Lupin the 3rd: Jigen’s Gravestone. Thanks for reading, I hope you like it, and see you all next time!

Rating: Lackluster

The Other Side of Animation 40: Norm of the North: THE WORST MOVIE OF 2016


(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 review!)

I had a multitude of ideas on how to open up this review of today’s film. I could have gone on a monologue about how you should never go to theaters in January unless it’s an Oscar-nominated film or a really good indie film, how Hollywood keeps greenlighting animated films that are obviously not up to DreamWorks, Pixar, Disney, Warner Bros, and even Sony Animation standards, because they think the movie-going audience is stupid, how Lionsgate keep shooting themselves in the foot, because they keep distributing badly animated films, how this makes Hollywood look worse, and you get my point. Norm of the North is a prime example of what is wrong with Hollywood. Directed by Trevor Hall as his first time directing a movie (You have my condolences), and created by Assemblage Entertainment, Splash Entertainment, and was distributed by the same studio that put out the Alpha & Omega series, Lionsgate. Do you know what Splash Entertainment has made? They are making more straight-to-video Alpha & Omega sequels.  And you know what Assemblage has made? They made some of the straight-to-dvd Swan Princess films. I know you should always give a movie a chance, but when the writing is on the wall, and the marketers know they have no way to conceal it, then there is no way to argue that this film is in anyway good. I feel badly for the actors involved in this, and even worse for the poor individuals who decided to make sure Norm of the North got its funding budget paid off. I mean, really people? I know sometimes you just need to get out of the house and go see a movie, but why didn’t you just go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens or something better during January until Kung Fu Panda 3 came out? So, if I haven’t made it clear enough, how bad is Norm of the North? Well, let’s find out.

Norm of the North stars a polar bear named Norm, voiced by Rob Schneider. He has the ability to somehow speak to humans. Norm sticks out from everyone, because he doesn’t kill seals, which does bring in the question of how has he survived this long without killing a seal. Anyway, a generic greedy rich individual named Mr. Greene, voiced by Ken Jeong, wants to make the arctic a livable human environment because, yeah, people really want to live in a frozen wasteland that’s incredibly dark at different times of the year, and have polar bears and freezing temperatures at every time of the day. It is up to Norm to get to New York City and try to stop Mr. Greene’s plans!

Oh boy, oh boy, where do I start with this film? First off, it has the quality and animation of a straight-to-bargain-bin DVD film. Heck, it was supposed to be a straight-to-DVD film in the first place, but some person who I hope is fired and ashamed of their decision now, thought they would get the ultimate amount of profit by putting it into theaters. Because, you know, if Lionsgate thought they would make money off this flaming pile of putrid waste, they would have released it during a month that wasn’t January. Heck, if people were patient enough, they could have seen Kung Fu Panda 3. I know it meant waiting another two weeks from Norm’s January 15th release to Kung Fu’s January 29th release, but screw it, it would have made sure that you didn’t waste your money on a film that looks horrible. Seriously, I can’t put it into words at how horrible this film looks. Its textures are low quality, the animation is jerky, the character designs are sloppy, some creatures look horrifying, and it doesn’t look movie theater-quality. Say what you will about some of the mediocre animated films that come out each year, like this year’s Ratchet & Clank, Angry Birds, or any of the bad DreamWorks films, at least they look movie quality. You remember last year’s Hotel Transylvania 2 and Minions? They might not be the best movies, but they look movie theater quality. Heck, Minions had some really good CGI, and that movie was a cynical cash-grab! The human designs in Norm of the North look like they were designed by first month animation students. They look just as good as those horrifying humans you see in The Hero of Color City. And yes, now that I have mentioned that film, I need to now review it. Nothing about Norm of the North is theater quality enough. Even the editing is just painful, with that cheap cross dissolve that ends each scene of the movie. There is no reason this film had to be in theaters. Seriously, Hollywood, if you can’t make a film look as good as something from Illumination or Pixar, then don’t put it in theaters, or else you look like money-grubbing fools.

So, what about the characters and story? Well, the characters are all forgettable and stupid. Like, seriously stupid. One girl just wants to run up and hug a polar bear cub, which would pretty much get her killed in real life, since you know, running up to a bear is a smart thing to do. Heck, the logic of the characters is so questionable, that it constantly punches holes into the story that is already pretty full of holes. For example, why does this obviously bad guy, Mr. Greene want to make condos in the arctic? Has he ever lived there? It’s a frozen wasteland, and making a living there is already brutal! Did he not see 30 Days of Night? It gets pretty dark there for a good chunk of the year. Oh, and it’s also in a place where there are bears! Yeah, because when I wake up with frostbite, the first thing I want to see is a bear outside my door. Also, how does Norm get to speak to humans? What made him want to start having human tendencies? Why does he want to be king of the arctic? Why is there even a plot about being the king of the arctic? Why does he not want to eat a seal, when in reality, he would have starved to death? How does no one even remotely know of a giant polar bear walking around New York? I mean, I know New York is its own zoo, full of large loud individuals, but come on! And did no one see the obviously bad guy moment happen in the 3rd act? Why is there a pointless love interest that gets, like, three lines in the entire movie? Did anyone try with this movie?

And really, that’s the biggest problem with this trainwreck, no one tried. No one put the effort into making a comprehensible story, or to make the characters worth investing into. I mean, there are so many plot points that are thrown in there because other films do them, without knowing how to execute them. I know this stuff gets brought up a lot when a film has similar/familiar elements that we have seen done hundreds of times, but we don’t care if they have been done hundreds of times, because they were executed well. None of the plot elements are done well here, and are just more glaring than ever. They just made this movie because the studios that made it needed a job, and Lionsgate, for one reason or another, wanted more animated films, because, you know, you want to follow up your critically acclaimed, Shaun the Sheep Movie with the worst animated film of 2016. Want to know how aggravating and hard this film was to watch? I paused at most six times to watch other shows and work on other articles. Yeah, watching Norm of the North was painfully tedious work. A movie shouldn’t be tough to sit through.

And before anyone says that I and so many others are being way too hard on this movie, there are stories of kids walking around and bored with the movie inside the movie theater. Yes, when kids for this supposedly ‘made for kids’ film are bored out of their wits, then that is a big problem. Just because a film is made for kids doesn’t mean you can’t hold a standard to it. I am so freaking sick and tired of this excuse, because there are so many great animated films coming out every year that destroy that notion. For example, let’s take a look at the films that came out here in the states that break the notion that kids films can’t have standards. You have Inside Out, When Marnie Was There, Zootopia, Big Hero 6, The Box Trolls, How to Train your Dragon 2, The Wind Rises, Wolf Children, Ernest & Celestine, Song of the Sea, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Prophet, Boy and the World, and April and the Extraordinary World. These all have high standards in terms of stories, animation, characters, and they all make sure not to treat the audience like they’re stupid. You know, like how Norm of the North is. Every film, no matter who it’s made for, needs to be held to a high standard. You can’t just brush it off and be like “oh it’s a kid’s film, it can get a pass”. That’s just lazy and condescending, which results in lethargic animated films that only cater to the lowest common denominator like Norm of the North and The Wild Side.

Now then, with all this vile hatred for this movie, is there really one good element of the film? Well, as odd as it might sound, Rob Schneider and some of the other cast members are not the worst things about the movie. Sure, they aren’t great, but I can at least say they are trying with the mediocre material. Granted, I haven’t seen a film where Schneider was great all around, but still, I respect an actor that can at least try to make it work when the situation doesn’t really give you room to, you know, be good.

This is easily one of the most cynical, disgusting, spiteful, aggravating, and downright worst animated films that I have ever seen. Heck, I’ll one up that, it’s one of the worst animated films of all time, and I don’t say that lightly! You might think I’m saying that for comedic effect, but I’m not. Just come talk to me in real life, and I will show you how much I hate this movie. It might not be the number one worst movie of all time, but it’s easily in my top three. Even Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return and Cool World are not in the top five worst animated films I have ever seen. At least with those two films you can laugh at how horribly put-together, unintentionally creepy, and lazy Legends of Oz is, and how grating, but visually interesting Cool World is. Norm of the North has none of those factors. This is just a pure example, along with many other films, of why the Hollywood system is busted. What’s even sadder is that Lionsgate, the distributor, has not learned their lesson, since they have two more trainwrecks coming out next month and later this year with The Wild Side, and The Adventures of Panda Warrior! I think that whoever made this film get into more theaters than amazing films like April and the Extraordinary World, Boy and the Beast, and The Green Room needs to be fired, and then ridiculed for doing so! Avoid this animated film at all costs. Just don’t even think about purchasing it for a bad movie night. This movie just enrages me so much, that I need to go back to reviewing stuff I love. Here then, Norm of the North is out, and next time Castle of Cagliostro will be in. Thanks for reading. I pray to you that you do not watch this horrible movie, even as a bad movie night film, and see you all next time!

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

The Other Side of Animation 36: Justice League vs Teen Titans Review


(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 review!)

SPOILERS/HEADS UP: I have seen the previous movies and I am going to spoil what happens in this movie. If you have not yet seen this movie, go buy the movie, watch it, and then come back. Plus, this will apparently help make sure we get more Young Justice/Teen Titans-related projects down the pipeline.

If there was one company that is not doing well with their movies and projects based off of their comic book properties, it would have to be DC. Seriously, think about it. Batman Arkham Knight’s PC port was and still is a disaster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is underperforming since Warner Bros. thought it would be a good idea to get Zack Snyder and Davis S. Goyer to be in charge of one of the most hyped superhero movies of all time (it’s not Fantastic 4 from 2015-failing, but it’s not making a profit), and even some of their better avenues with straight-to-DVD films are lacking in consistent quality. And to be honest, it’s a disappointment all around. DC is trying to be dark and gritty in order to try and counteract Marvel, but it is not working all the time. Usually, I think DC’s animated series and straight-to-DVD movies are pretty top-notch, with just one or two exceptions. Sadly, DC and Warner Bros. aren’t flawless with their good stuff either, since they make questionable moves like cancelling Young Justice because the viewership was bigger with female fans than male. Because, you know, apparently shows that cater to either genders or anyone, in fact, can’t be successful. Man, I’m really snarky in this opening bit. Anyway, I decided to check out DC’s newest straight-to-DVD offering with Justice League vs. Teen Titans. This film was released last month in April, 2016, and is in an interesting situation, since if this film does sell well, we could get more Teen Titans, Young Justice, and similar projects including films and TV shows out of this. As you shall soon see, in my personal opinion, I wish this wasn’t the film to be that savior.

The film revolves around Damian Wayne, voiced by Stuart Allan, after the events of Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, and Batman: Bad Blood. After helping out the Justice League take down a group of supervillains, Damian, being the most unlikable human being in that universe (we will get to that), decides to chew out Batman and the Justice League for being not as progressive with their strategies as he is. Essentially, Batman has had enough of Damian’s obnoxious attitude, and with no exaggeration, forces him to join the Teen Titans, a group of teenage superheroes. The Titans include Beast Boy, voiced by Brandon Soo Hoo, Raven, voiced by Taissa Farmiga, Blue Beetle, voiced by Jake T. Austin, and their leader, Starfire, voiced by Kari Wahlgren. While this is all going on, a sinister evil is trying to make his way into the real world, and is known as Trigon, voiced by the Punisher himself, Jon Bernthal. Can the Titans stop the evil from coming to this world?

Let’s get the bad out of the way. Why? Because for the few good things this film does well, it does a lot more wrong than right. Let’s start with the actual title of the film, Justice League vs. Teen Titans. Well, it’s a blatant lie. Sure, the Teen Titans do fight the Justice League, but instead of being a well-executed reason to have such a conflict, in reality, it’s more, “Trigon-possessed Justice League members wiping the floor with the Teen Titans in a very one-sided fight.”  If this was called Teen Titans: Day of Trigon or something that actually had anything remotely close to actually what happens, then it would be fine. It’s just bad marketing. Plus, the fight only lasts about three or four minutes, and that’s it. However, I can forgive the marketing, since it’s not the biggest problem with this movie. No, the biggest problem with this movie is Damian Wayne a.k.a, the newest Robin. He is by far one of the most unlikable, obnoxious, tedious, overpowered male fantasy, cocky, arrogant, and most despicable characters I have ever seen in my time of reviewing. Yeah, you can argue that he is a super-strong character because he is the son of Batman and the grandfather of Ra’s al Ghul, but that doesn’t mean that he’s a good character or that the stories that Damian has been a part of support his horrible traits. He is so incredibly disrespectful towards everyone, and doesn’t really change. I mean, technically he does, but it doesn’t feel rewarding or natural. They don’t do enough story-oriented events to make Damian more humble or have any known character arc. Heck, since he is in the film, he basically takes up 70% of the time that could have been used for the other characters, since they barely get any screen time, and it takes away from the actual lead of the story, Raven. It’s her story, since she is the daughter of Trigon, and yet, she doesn’t get a lot of development because Damian’s story hogs the running time. Over his development of the DC animated films, he has shown to be able to take down villains, and have encounters that overpower groups of heroes. For example, in Son of Batman, he takes down Deathstroke, a.k.a one of the most dangerous assassins in the entire DC universe by himself with no help! He even takes down a bunch of unkillable Trigon demons when the Titans couldn’t take them down by himself. Damian even beats Beast Boy at a DDR-style game that he has never played before on his first try. They show him struggle a little, but in the end, he bests Beast Boy. I just can’t stand this character, and throughout the entire film, I wanted reach through the screen and punch his disrespectful face. He shows no respect towards anyone, and the story keeps supporting his attitude. Even when he gets blasted by Blue Beetle and almost dies, he doesn’t give an apology for how he acted. Nope, he just gives one of those half-baked apologies that you know aren’t really serious. Again, due to how much Damian hogs the movie, in terms of screen time, it leaves everyone else pretty boring and one-dimensional. It’s ironic since the other members of the team are much more likable and interesting than him. Oh, and it’s sad how Starfire is the leader of the team and a pretty likable character in her own way, but is constantly getting the tar kicked out of her. It’s funny that Trigon, the big baddie of the film, played one of the more interesting character actors of recent history, is barely in the movie. When he arrives, it’s basically the last 10 minutes of the film. Really, due to Damian, everything else suffers. And they need to stop trying to push Raven with Damian. He doesn’t deserve her.

The animation is nicely done, and the overall tone of the film is similar to Young Justice, but I think there is a bit too much blur used, and they could have made certain characters not act like punching bags. The voice acting and script are also hindered with a lot of the voices and lines either sounding flat, clunky, forced, or not really interesting. I mean, how do you have all these talented actors and not be able bring out an overall great job? Oh, and check this out, Blue Beetle isn’t even on the cover. Cyborg, who doesn’t have a lot of airtime in the movie, gets a huge slice of the box art. I understand they wanted to bring in the viewers and fans of the original Teen Titans, including the cool Terra Easter egg at the end, but that just seems crummy that you leave out a character on the box.

So, how would I have fixed this movie if I was in charge of it? Easy, make this a stand-alone film, or not part of the current animated DC universe that was started with Justice League War. I would have not added Damian, or at the very least, made a more likable and enjoyable version to watch, give everyone equal time to develop, and probably focus on a different story other than another “rise of Trigon”-style story. I would have also made the film longer than 70 minutes. The biggest problem with this film being connected to the current DC animated universe is that the overall universe has not been that great. It had potential, but due to different story problems and boring characters, it feels like a disappointment in terms of potential.

Okay, so I went on and on about how Damian almost single-handedly takes down this entire film’s story, but what do I like about this movie? Well, even if they don’t get a lot of time to develop, I love the interaction between Beast Boy and Blue Beetle. The two were very interesting, and had decent chemistry. I like this film’s Raven, and even though she could have had more non-forced snark, she was the only character I felt invested in. She was always one of the best characters to get to know in a lot of the projects that have used her. The fight scenes are pretty intense and well animated. And even though Damian almost ruins the story, at least the goals and what happens is clear. You know, unlike Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the logic used in that movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I also found some the lines in the movie pretty well done and funny. Especially the little interaction between Cyborg and Batman, where Batman asks where all the food goes when Cyborg eats.

Overall, I’m very disappointed in this project. This should have been a slam dunk, since most everyone loved Teen Titans and Young Justice, but the direction this film takes is 100% wrong. I mean, I think it’s wrong that we have to buy an underwhelming movie to make sure we get more Teen Titans and Young Justice. I might be in the more critical minority, since I’m sure there are people who love this movie, and that’s fine! I just feel like if they weren’t pinning this down as the sole reason for future projects, I would be happier to support it. While it doesn’t hit it out of the park, and has misleading marketing and Damian, there is still some good elements about the film. I can only recommend purchasing this film either because you are A. a hardcore fan of DC or B. wants more Teen Titans and Young Justice-related products. Well, this was underwhelming, and I might recommend purchasing this film with a begrudging shrug, but let’s look at one of the more odd animated films I have seen with Mind Game. Thanks for reading, I hope you liked the review, and see you next time!

 

Rating: Lackluster!

In Defense Of: Home


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Recently, it’s been really hard to respect and feel good about Dreamworks. Sure, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a huge success, but you then remember how hit-or- miss this studio honestly is. From trying to compete with Disney/other studios, to doing their own thing, you would think DreamWorks would just do what they do best. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, due to their recent financial issues and having to lay off 500 employees because of bad investments and projects that didn’t rake in the cash. It really doesn’t help when they have films like Home. This 2015 film was DreamWorks’ only animated film of the year that just screamed “Dreamworks auto pilot.” It’s not a great movie, and has annoying characters, horrible pacing, some areas of the film feeling manipulative, pointless celebrity casting (there was no reason to hire JLO for the movie), and it feels like a moocher to the popular Despicable Me franchise. Even with the positive elements I am about to find for the film, I still don’t recommend this movie. So, let’s get started!

The animation is not horrible

Even with their worst movies, the animation from DreamWorks is still leagues better than what usually comes out during the year from the really bad third-party films. While it is not as good as DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda or How to Train your Dragon, it’s still solid enough to not be the worst problem about Home.

The ending can be a tad touching

So, basically, the entire plot of Home revolves around aliens known as the Boov, who are taking over Earth to escape from the “bad guy” aliens who are chasing them. One of the Boovs, played by Steve Martin, through a “misunderstanding” took something that was pretty important to the “bad guy” alien race. The twist is that the thing Steve Martin took was actually an egg case filled with the last of the “bad guy” aliens’ next generation. Seeing the interaction between the “evil” alien and Sheldon from Big Bang Theory (I know he has a name, but the actor is basically doing his character from the “hit” TV show) is touching. With a lot of the scenes being undone by the film’s horrible pacing, Home actually has one nice scene.

Rihanna’s character

Let’s face it, the characters in this movie are either annoying or really forgettable. I don’t remember their names or personalities. If they actually made a movie with likable characters instead of trying to be like Minions, then we would have a much better movie. And that’s a bad thing, since this film has Steve Martin in it! How do you mess up a movie with such a funny individual! Still, if there was one character that stood out because it was a solid child character, it would have to be the lead female, voiced by Rihanna. Even though I feel like the design and age of the character doesn’t fit her voice, Rihanna played the most competent and investment-worthy character in the film. She was smart, creative, funny, tough, didn’t hide from the danger, and has some softer moments concerning her being separated from her mother. She was the best thing about this movie and I wish she wasn’t stuck in this bad story.

Interesting color pallet

While this is kind of a backhanded compliment since the film still doesn’t look color-wise in a lot of ways, I do respect DreamWorks for using more pastel hues for the colors of the aliens. Again, while this doesn’t fix or redeem the film, at least they tried something that everyone else wasn’t doing.

With the recent buyout from Comcast, let’s hope they make sure DreamWorks doesn’t try to make another film like this again. Sure, the film has some tender moments and a few jokes that work, but overall, I found this film to be boring unless you have really young kids. While it might not be as super-cynical as Shark Tale, this is easily one of their three worst movies alongside the third Shrek movie. Please, DreamWorks, get back to being consistently good. Enough of the quantity-over-quality and trying to chase trends! If 2013 to now has shown you anything, it is that your current philosophy is not working. Please, just do amazing movies!

The Other Side of Animation: Hell & Back Review


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WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: This film is full of crude adult humor and sexual themes and some nudity. It also has a lot of shock-value jokes that are more offensive than funny. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Do not watch this unless your children are at least 15 or 18. Enjoy the review!

You know what is a really crummy thing about movie trailers these days? No matter what kind of movie it is, the trailer is either way too misleading in terms of what the movie is actually about, shows too much in terms of the best jokes/action sequences, feels cynically produced to think the common moviegoer is stupid, or essentially shows the entire movie. However, sometimes you get a trailer to a movie that had no other choice than to show off what the main product is going to end up as. Today’s movie review had a trailer that was basically, “what you see is what you get. Sorry.” This week, we take a look at the stop-motion film from ShadowMachine films, Hell & Back. This limited release was directed by Tom Gianas and Ross Shuman. It was released back in October 2nd, 2015 to, like I said, a limited release. It had very little marketing, and the critics and individuals who did see it, attacked the movie with mostly negative reviews. Not really that hard to see why this animated film didn’t do much for the movie-going world. Let’s dive in anyway, and see why it might not be worth going to Hell & Back.

The story is about two young guys named Remy, voiced by Nick Swardson, and Augie, voiced by T.J. Miller, as they work at a pretty horrible carnival. One night, with a friend of theirs, Curt Myers, voiced by Rog Riggle, they have Curt sign a blood oath to a satanic book in front of a very specific ride. After breaking said blood oath literally a few seconds after said oath, Curt is sucked into Hell, and it is up to Remy and Augie to go find him before he is sacrificed by the Devil, voiced by Bob Odenkirk. Along the way, the two young dudes meet up with Deema, a half-demon girl, voiced by Mila Kunis, and the legendary Orpheus, voiced by Danny McBride.

Yeah, since this by the same company that used to distribute the hit show, Robot Chicken, you can guess that there will be a lot of raunchy shock humor. While not as shocking as say, South Park or those really bad comedies that go off of shock comedy with no substance (A majority of Comedy Central’s shows), the humor is not really that great. Comedy might be subjective, but good lord, the writers needed to calm the heck down. It felt too busy, and for every joke that had potential, it got run over by five bad jokes. Oh, and this film has a really big fetish with jokes about male molestation, because you know, making jokes about someone getting assaulted/harassed/worse always works! If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic! This is why I really can’t stand shows like Drawn Together or the thankfully cancelled Brickleberry. If you have shock humor just to be offensive with no meaning behind said shocking jokes, then don’t be a comedy writer, since you have no idea what you are doing. I wouldn’t mind the raunchy mean-spirited humor if the characters in this movie were worth investing into, but in reality, they really aren’t that great. They are either incredibly unlikable or flat-out boring. I can tell the actors are trying to make the chemistry work, and from time to time, it does, but you have to get through a lot of the tripe the film throws at you to get to them. I also get the idea of “saving your friend from the devil” and all, and the twist is sort of funny, but we have seen it done before with better writers and shows.

The animation is fine, and it is nice to see stop-motion more than just the films from Laika and Aardman Entertainment, but it’s not up-to-par with those two studios. It’s more in line with a higher budgeted episode of Robot Chicken or those stop-motion TV specials that you see from time to time. The movements are just a bit janky, and are not as smooth as the crisp buttery smoothness you see in Laika-made films. I also found the overall look of Hell to be rather unremarkable. The demons look decent, but the overall design of it all is forgettable at best.

With all of this negativity I have for this film, did I personally find something I liked about the movie? Well, I like the voice cast. Even though the script is pretty lousy with jokes and making actual characters, the actors do a decent job in terms of trying to make it all work. The cast includes Nick Swardson, T.J. Miller, Mina Kunis, Danny Mcbride, Bob Odenkirk, Susan Sarandon, Dana Snyder, H. Jon Benjamin, John P. Farley, Michael Pena, Jennifer Coolidge, and Brian Posehn to name a few. I also find Bob Odenkirk entertaining as the devil. Nothing new or anything, but this is a good actor, and he does what he can to put some likability into the Devil himself.

Still, a solid comedic cast can’t save this movie. Besides a few laughs and some performances, I just couldn’t get into it. I know this style of comedy is probably is not for me, but it seems like I’m not alone in calling the script weak and mediocre. There is a reason why there was barely any advertising for this film. It just came and went like most under-marketed/mediocre films. I guess if you like this style of humor, and any of the terrible schlock that tries to be funny, but is just painful to sit through on Comedy Central, and want a raunchy low-brow stop-motion flick, then you might like it. As for me, I would just skip it and get something like Rex the Runt, or any of the other Aardman and Laika films if you want to watch a stop-motion film. Just comes to show that, sometimes, what the marketing gives you is what you get. Well, we are getting close to the 30th review, so how about we talk about a movie that is an interesting bit of animation? Next time, we take a look at Henry & Me. Thanks for reading this article, I hope you liked it, and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: MD Geist I & II Review


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WARNING: This anime is filled with blood, gore, violence, and nudity. Viewer’s discretion is advised

As someone who grew up when Blockbuster was still a thing, I will always have memories of seeing certain movies or shows on the shelf, and never renting them. I can remember a handful of the titles I never got around to seeing and should have, like the critically acclaimed Fantastic Planet. This was also during a time when I was not really big into violence and gore, and today’s review is about two titles that were stuck in my head that I never saw until recently, MD Geist I and II. If you look at the retro anime scene, a lot of people will point to MD Geist as being one of the worst anime of all time. This notorious schlock title was brought over by the now-defunct Central Park Media, and was directed by Koichi Ohata, the same individual who directed the utterly boring Cybernetics Guardian (which I have reviewed) and the even more notorious Genocyber. With a title that is well known for being the face of awful 90s anime OVAs, this must be pretty horrible. In fact, if you read some articles written up by Justin Sevakis, there is a really interesting history behind it being localized, and how the individuals of Central Park Media felt about the overall project. So, is this as bad as people made it out to be? Well, let’s find out.

The two OVAs are set in this Mad Max/Fist of the North Star/any generic post-apocalyptic world that was destroyed by two different armies. The OVAs star a super-soldier named Geist, a specially-made super-human, one of many that were all apparently wiped out in the past. The plot basically has Geist dealing with gangs, one of the armies, and then in the second OVA, an army of flesh-eating robots and another super-soldier.

Let’s start with the bad. Why? Because there is so much wrong with this set of shorts that makes it so hilarious. Seriously, there is basically no plot, and what plot is makes no sense. What makes the power armor powerful, if all it takes is one strong spear toss to take someone wearing it down? Why did the humans make a last resort plan with flesh-eating robots that will even attack the creators? Why is there another super-soldier when it was said in the first MD Geist that Geist was the last one? Why is there a cyborg? How did a kid near the end of the second OVA get struck by the spear, when he had to have been at least two feet or more off the ground to get struck by it? What does the military gain from double-crossing the second super-soldier when he is trying to get rid of the flesh-eating robots? I could go on and on about more of these plot elements that make no sense, but that would end up taking over the entire review. There are so many story elements that make no sense, that it really does show that the director had no idea what he was doing. He was basically on the level of Hollywood/YouTube not knowing how Fair Use or copyright works on YouTube (remember to fight for fair use and make sure copyright isn’t abused #WTFU), and that isn’t a positive thing at all. It becomes downright hilarious, since you are just waiting to see how bad the plot gets, and it just gets worse and even more hysterical. It helps too that the voice acting is so hammy and horrible, that you can’t help, but listen to how badly the English dub was directed. Some of the action seen throughout the two OVAs is entertaining, but it is also hilarious to watch for all the stilted animations, obvious post-edit changes, and downright sloppy execution of animation as a whole. Heck, the version we got with the “director’s cut” was apparently even better than the original version that had even more mistakes and missing story elements.

As for the infamous ultra-violence seen in this anime, MD Geist is much more violent than Cybernetics Guardian, but I have still seen worse in terms of gory anime, like Genocyber and Violence Jack. Geist’s violence is definitely more graphic than most, but due to the animation, it didn’t make me squirm enough to have an effect. The characters are not memorable at all. They are just archetypes of what was popular during that time in anime. I mean, this was anime during the late 80s and early 90s; you would have to scavenge through the rampant misogyny and violence to find likable and endearing male and female characters. The music is also just cheesy, and so bad that it’s good to listen to.

Out of this entire trainwreck that was apparently the flagship title for Central Park Media, is there something good to be had here? Why, yes. I mean, if I haven’t made it clear, this is a glorious trainwreck to behold, with an even more interesting history behind the production of said series of OVAs. Sure, it can be a tad boring at times, but once those bits of inept insanity come through, it will get a laugh out of you, or your money back. It’s just funny that this came out in a time where Japan was willing to put anything out on a VHS or DVD, not caring if it was well made or not.

MD Geist I & II are easily some of the worst anime you will ever see. Its entire plot makes no sense, the animation is garbage, the characters are stale like moldy bread, and it’s just an insane trainwreck with a director who had no idea what he was doing at that time. Still, it’s a really good choice for a “so bad it’s good” or bad movie night. It has enough crazy to be enjoyable on an ironic/guilty pleasure level. You can find the collector’s edition DVD for about $15, but I wouldn’t pay more than that for it. If you can find it for cheaper, I would recommend picking up this horrific pile of garbage, if you are one of those kinds of individuals. Or, if you want to watch it online to not feel guilty, a site called tubitv.com has both OVAs up. (By the way that wasn’t a paid promo. I would have said it was at the top of this article). While it is a bad anime, I have seen so much worse in terms of both old and new anime. So, how about we look at something crazy, but really good? Yes, next time, we will be taking a look at The Triplets of Belleville. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: Cybernetics Guardian Review


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It seems like the only industry that baffles me with how inept it can be at times, is the entertainment industry. They can take some great ideas, have a great cast of actors, talented individuals, and end up with something that is just a slog to go through, or so incredibly terrible, that you can’t take your eyes off it. I mean, here is an example. I am about to pitch you an old anime short film/OVA that sounds like the most dumb/fun/awesome sounding thing ever. The title of the OVA (Original Video Animation. Basically, another term for straight to DVD/VHS tripe) is Cybernetics Guardian. It was released in 1989, and was directed by Koichi Ohata, the same director of the infamous Genocyber. It’s about a young man who wears psychic-powered armor that is kidnapped by a cult to be possessed by this new heavily armored god of violence. This god has a huge amount of 80s glam rock hair, and can rip anything to tiny shreds. At the end of the OVA, he fights a large multi-limbed machine that the villain of this OVA has fused himself with. How cool does that sound? You then see the cover art for this OVA, and it looks like a lot of dumb 80s violent fun. You watch it, and find out it’s one of the biggest trainwrecks of Japanese animation you have ever seen. This OVA specifically is just atrocious to sit through, and not just because of the bad story, characters, animation, and setting. No, the biggest sin this OVA/short film produces is that it’s an utter bore to watch. Let’s dive in, and see what kind of bad this OVA is.

So, this whole garbage heap takes place in a city known as Cyber-Wood. I am sure many of you have come up with some lewd jokes with the name of the city, so I won’t make them here. We follow the protagonist, John Stalker, as he is in the middle of testing this power suit that feeds off of psychic waves. It’s meant to be used as an alternate means of force so violence doesn’t have to be used. Unfortunately, during the testing process, something happens to John, and he is next seen getting kidnapped by this crazy cult that has had him possessed by the god of violence known as Saldo. Can John break free from this god’s hold, and save the city from the actual villain of this trainwreck?

If I haven’t made it clear, this film is a chore to go through for multiple reasons. First off, the animation. It’s not the worst that I have seen in terms of fluid movement and character design, but nothing besides Saldo stands out about it. Every single character looks to be of something from that period in time. The color pallet is way too dark, and either because of a bad transfer job from VHS to DVD, or the actual footage is this dark, it makes The OVA hard to watch since you want to see what’s going on, but can’t. It’s not like the fight scenes are that great. You can pretty much tell this project had a shoe-string budget, and it seems like the entire budget went towards Saldo’s first transformation sequence. Cybernetics Guardian is rather disappointing in being part of the infamous clique of ultra-violent anime that was released during the 80s-early 90s. It can be violent, sure, but compared to infamous titles like Angel Cop, Genocyber, M.D. Geist, Violence Jack, Mad Bull 34, and Baoh, Cybernetics Guardian is very quaint and tame compared to the anime I listed above. Not to say there weren’t times that could make people squirm a teeny bit, but after hearing how notorious anime was for a time, it makes you feel like you were ripped off, since you were promised Tarantino levels of blood and violence. I mean, you have a giant armored being with 80s rock hair, how is that hard to mess up?! It’s apparently easier than it looks, because it is boring to watch. All the characters in this OVA are boring and forgettable. I think it really has to do with the pacing, because either limited by the time or halfway through development they were only going to get one OVA instead of more, they tried to cram so much into the 45-minute runtime. It’s like when you see an animated film based off a show try to cram in a whole season of said show into one movie. Once again, this idea never works! Heck, the OVA ends on a sour note since they (spoilers by the way) show off that there are two other armored beings that John Stalker would have probably fought next. Thank you, OVA, you wasted my time with boring characters, very few if any mediocre action sequences, and horrible voice acting, and you tease me with only one decent fight scene, and two other armored god-like beings only to never see them ever again!

So, among this entire OVA, is there something positive to say about it? Well, there is, if even then, it’s unintentionally good.  The voice acting is so bad, that it’s entertaining to hear. Also, with how rushed/forced everything feels, it would make for one of those “so bad it’s good” movie night selections. It’s easy to riff on since this was during a time when Japan was willing to put anything on a VHS due to strict censorship laws. This led to so many garbage titles that make for great comedic riffing.

Still, being made of comedic riffing possibilities does not mean it’s a good product. If anything, it makes it worse, and Cybernetics Guardian is everything that was horrible about anime back in the day: uninteresting story, setting, characters, mediocre animation, and an overall waste of your time. It’s easily one of the worst anime I have ever seen, and not because it’s horrible, but because it had so much more to it, and it never used it’s setting for anything more than forgettable schlock. I would say don’t go see this, but it’s up on YouTube, so I can’t stop you from seeing it there. I would give this a “The Worst” rating, but compared to something like Violence Jack, Cybernetics Guardian is easily more watchable. Well, we covered some good Japanese animation, and some bad Japanese animation, let’s talk about some of the best stop-motion animation around with The Boxtrolls! Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation #20: Cool World Review


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WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: There are major adult and sexual themes. Definitely do not watch this with kids that are younger. Viewer’s discretion is advised. It’s also a really boring movie! Enjoy the review!

Oh boy, we are heading into some infamous territory once more today on The Other Side of Animation. For the 20th review, we are going to look at the well-known and hated animated/live action film by Ralph Bakshi, Cool World. Ralph Bakshi was one of the head honchos during the “experimental time” of animation where Disney took a backseat, and animated films with weird and surreal ideas came out. Bakshi’s films stood out with more old-fashioned-looking cartoon designs, but with more adult themes and settings. Unfortunately, his style of animation and film-making, along with many others, ran dry in the late 80s and early 90s, and nowhere is that more clear than Cool World. This film had a notorious history, as in the beginning, it wasn’t meant to be this darker adult version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Originally, this film was supposed to be this weird live-action/animated slasher film where the psycho was this half-human half-cartoon character. Now, tell me, if you know anything about how weird and trippy Bakshi’s films can be, and now hearing about the original concept, how amazing does this sound? Well, apparently someone at Paramount thought this wasn’t a great idea, and basically screwed the entire project over with secret rewrites, celebrities wanting to stick their ignorant hands into the development pool, rating changes, and a lot of Hollywood shenanigans. The final product that we got was Cool World, a film released in 1992. It got panned by everyone, became a notorious flop at the box office with only making apparently less than half its budget, and is probably a film Brad Pitt wishes he could forget about. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame him.

Oh, joyous day, where do I start with this trainwreck of a movie? How about the story? Or, well, what little there is? Brad Pitt plays WWII veteran Frank Harris, returning from war and back to his mother. Brad then attempts to take his mother on a motorcycle ride down the desert roads with an unfortunately out-of-nowhere tragic crash that ends up with his mother dead. If that quick and somewhat forced tragedy wasn’t enough, right as when Brad’s dead mother is being taken away, he is, quite frankly, out of nowhere, pulled into this weird cartoony world known as Cool World by a scientist named Dr. Vincent Whiskers, voiced by Maurice LaMarche. Forty- seven years pass, and Brad Pitt is now a detective in Cool World, a rather hyper-violent cartoony world. During his time in this topsy-turvy world, he has his doodle girlfriend Lonette, voiced by Candi Milo, his spider police partner Nails, voiced by Charlie Adler, another real-life human known as Jack Deebs, played by Gabriel Byrne, and the infamous vixen, Holli Would, voiced by Kim Basinger. Can Brad Pitt keep the order within Cool World? Or will the zany world and Holli’s wild ways cause mass chaos?

So, I am going to be nice to this movie, and talk about its positive elements. It might not be much, but Cool World is a very, well, cool-looking world. I like the grimy aesthetic, the mixture of real-life sets and cartoons, and the cartoon art direction itself. The designs of the characters are very Fleischer Studios, and I really like that. This was during a time where Disney reigned supreme, and every other studio wanted to look like the Disney films. Cool World at least dodges that bullet by looking different. I also liked Nails. He was a good-hearted spider, who was rather wacky.

Now then, that is all the positive vibes this film is getting from me, because this animated/live action film is horrendous! First off, the mixture of both live-action and animation don’t mix! It doesn’t look good at all! This wouldn’t be a thing if Who Framed Roger Rabbit hadn’t come out and do it correctly four years earlier! It’s off-putting and distracting, since you feel like the live-action actors and the animated individuals don’t jive. What also doesn’t mix well is the story. The story is barely there, and it just loves to meander and distract you with little cartoon characters bouncing around and making huge amounts of noise. It also loves to throw in characters who have no character or identity, and love wasting the time of everyone involved in the story. Even the universe that this film sets up makes no sense, nor is it explained well at all. This is especially true when you keep seeing Gabriel Byrne pop in and out of Cool World. How does it work? Why, it’s never explained! They also treat him like he was the god and creator of the place, but we never find out how this world was made. I can’t believe how much this film has going on, but how little it matters to the viewer. In the end, I checked out, and couldn’t care less about what happened, since the film obviously didn’t care.

I feel like the people behind this movie never realized why Who Framed Roger Rabbit was so amazing. It wasn’t just because Jessica Rabbit was sexy, or that it was nonstop nostalgia. It was because there were likable/lovable characters that we wanted to root for and against. The world was more fleshed out in how everything worked, and wasn’t just loud and obnoxious 24-7. The idiots at Rough Draft Studios and Paramount Pictures thought that all you needed were cartoons being loud, annoying, and sexual. Yeah, I bet all that thought-power translated well into only making a little over $14 million of your $30+ million budget. They showed us that they knew what they were doing.

While I can safely say that this isn’t as horrible as The Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Cool World is still a rancid cynical trainwreck to sit through. Unless you want to own this for a bad movie night, just go out and buy Who Framed Roger Rabbit, if you haven’t already. Cool World stands as a prime example of when Hollywood doesn’t care, and wants to leech off of people who put actual effort into making a good movie. I think we need to take a look at something more calming. I want to be invested in an atmospheric experience. This is why next time, we will be taking a look at the short film, The Garden of Words. Thanks you for reading my article, and see you next time!

Rating: The Worst

The Other Side of Animation: Free Birds Review


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When you are an animation studio, and you are putting out your first big animated feature, it’s rather daunting. Reel FX, the Dallas-based studio behind today’s film, Free Birds, has experience with straight-to-DVD stuff or animated shorts, but the rules change when you have to move from one type of animation to another. I will talk more about this in the future with The Book of Life since we are here to talk about their first big CGI animated feature, Free Birds. Directed by Jimmy Hayward, who has worked on multiple Pixar films, and was the unfortunate director of Jonah Hex, Free Birds was released on November 1st of 2013. It was critically panned, but made its money back in spades, which the film should consider itself lucky that it did, due to the fact that it came out a few weeks before the gigantic hit Frozen made its way into theaters. So, do I think Free Birds is bad? Do I think it’s good? Well, I’m going to stop you cold turkey, and tell you in a review what I think of this film. I oh so apologize/not apologize for that pun.

The story revolves around a turkey named Reggie, voiced by Owen Wilson. Reggie is the presidential pardoned turkey, who ends up living with the leader of the world. One night he gets kidnapped by this buff turkey named Jake, voiced by Wood Harrelson. The two of them sneak into a secret base (with some groan-worthy product placements), obtain a time machine named Steve, voiced by George Takei, and go all the way back to the very first Thanksgiving to prevent turkeys from being the main course of feasts in the future. Along the way they meet some wild turkeys, with one female turkey voiced by Amy Poehler. Can they change history, or will they become the next Thanksgiving feast?

Yeah, this movie sounds stupid doesn’t it? In a sense, it is. It sounds more like a plot to a short film or a Looney Toons cartoon than a setting that could hold a two-hour movie. In short, it really doesn’t hold up. The idea sounds creative and might lead to some funny jokes, but the plot is stretched thin with a very generic story where Reggie saves the turkeys from the humans. None of the characters are memorable, with the exception of Jake and Steve. Even Amy Poehler, who I think is very funny, and has done amazingly in films like Inside Out, isn’t given a lot to work with. She is just an uninteresting female character. I think the film could have cut out a lot of the characters, like some of the side character turkeys who have no real reason to be there or have any dimension to them. Owen Wilson as the main character isn’t the worst choice, but just like everyone else, he doesn’t have a lot to work with, and just ends up not making me feel invested with the character. I am never in the camp that hates his acting; I just think his movie choices are always mediocre, unless I find him in a Woody Allen film or Wes Anderson production. Owen Wilson just keeps using that doofy, nice guy character that is almost in every film he is in. Oh, and let’s just mention how stereotypical the Native American turkeys and the Native Americans are portrayed in this film. Not incredibly out-of-control racist, but very children-movie-oriented stereotypical. It’s also kind of awkward when one of them says, “It’s better than my wife’s cooking.” Yeah, I’ll stop right there. Oh, and make sure you find a lot of the blatant product placement. Man, it’s not in your face, but it’s in there enough to be annoying.

 

So, I must really hate this entire movie, huh? Well, within all this spread-thin plot, and stupidity of the setup, I did find myself laughing at a few moments. I think between many of the mediocre story bits were some funny moments. Most of them did come from Woody Harrelson, who is a lot of fun to watch in this movie, and George Takei as the voice for the Time Machine. While George doesn’t have the best material, he is one of those guys that can make the phone book sound interesting. Heck, even having George Takei’s character reading 50 Shades of Grey would have made this movie 100% better. I admire his delivery more than the actual material at hand. I also liked the beginning bit when the President’s daughter is hauling Owen Wilson around. She makes these little comments toward people, like blabbing out that a female secretary on the helicopter loves her dad, who I remind you, is the president, and when they get back, she says that a maid eats her feelings. I can’t really pin down why that little sequence made me laugh, but I guess that my expectations were so low that those jokes caught me off-guard. It’s a shame that not a lot of jokes like that were used throughout the film. Those few jokes were more humorous than the constant and multiple jokes about turkey butt.

I will also mention that the animation is definitely better than something like The Nut Job. It still isn’t up to Dreamworks or Pixar levels of CGI, and having a lesser budget made the comedic animation suffer, since it needed to be a tad faster to capture that fast-paced timing from the Tom and Jerry-era of comedic timing. They could have used a lot more time and money to have more polished animation and character models.

So, what do I think of the film overall? I think it’s too forgettable and predictable to be anything worth mentioning or seeing, but at the same time, I found little elements and bits of the film to be enjoyable and fun. Don’t get me wrong, this is a stupid movie with a stupid concept. It’s a bad movie. It doesn’t hit a lot of the emotional notes that it wants to, a lot of the characters are not that interesting, the humor falls flat, and the stereotypical portrayal of certain individuals can be looked at as questionable.  However, I will say that it is better than something like The Nut Job and a few other films I am going to tackle later on. If I was watching someone’s child, and they wanted to watch this, I could see why, though I will be frank and say that they need better movies. Not the best film I have seen, but then again, it came out in a year where films in general were not that great. Well, now that we got this film out of the way, I think it’s time to bring back another GKIDS film as we take a look at their first ever release, Azur & Asmar: The Prince’s Quest. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: Fritz the Cat: The Movie Review


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WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: There are major adult and sexual themes. Definitely do not watch this with kids that are younger. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Enjoy the review!

Yup, today we are going to dive into the creative, albeit crazy mind of one of the animation industry’s biggest names, Ralph Bakshi, and his first animated film, Fritz the Cat released in 1972. Directed by Ralph Bakshi himself, and based off the comic series by cartoonist Robert Crumb, Fritz the Cat is infamous for being the first animated film aimed directly at adults with the now-defunct X rating. During that period of time, the film was rather controversial with the themes it was covering. It was a financial success with a budget of one million dollars, and raked in a total of $90 million, making it one of the most profitable money-making indie films of all time. So, how does this film from 1972 age? Well, let’s find it out.

Instead of a sweeping three-part story, Fritz the Cat is about, well, Fritz the Cat, voiced by Skip Hinnant of The Electric Company fame. The overall movie is about his adventures with college life, sex, race relation, politics, and other themes that were prominent at that time period.

For the time, I can see why Fritz the Cat got so much acclaim. It was a daring piece of cinema. It’s an adult-only animated film that showed that not all animated films needed to be aimed at just children and families. It was pretty much the correct time to start experimenting with moviegoers since this was the era where Disney was not doing very well, and other animation studios came to fruition and made some memorable films that were both good and bad. The art style was also more adult, with what looks like an adult underground comic version of a Disney film with its talking animals and so on. The themes of the free love movement, race relations, religion, and politics are tackled, and for the time, this was very different since it was an animated film. It wasn’t some live-action low-budget exploitation flick, this was a hand-drawn animated feature with talking animals that represented the humans of said time. The overall cinematic experience paints a rather depressing image of a cynical impressionable time of the characters trying to find oneself and explore the world around them.

The animation is also pretty good for that time period. Don’t get me wrong, it still has its clunky/rough elements, but for a million-dollar budget, it looks solid. I enjoyed how the film didn’t really sound like it had a script. It felt like improvisational cinema. The actors may have had a script, but it all seemed very spontaneous. The way the characters talked, with the exception of Fritz’s rants at the beginning of pretentious college life, made it feel more natural in terms of the performances given.

Unfortunately, at least for me, the film is a major trainwreck when it comes to a flowing narrative and characters. Due to the story not really having a set path, and wanting to be this satirical take on all of these topics, the themes the film touches upon doesn’t have a satisfactory conclusion. As the movie went on, I found myself not caring about Fritz and his exploits. In fact, Fritz is a pretty unlikable character. Sure, I could see what was being brought up during each vignette, but at the same time, due to how the film is paced, I ended up losing interest. Even the ending, when you think Fritz would learn something from everything, he doesn’t. He started out as a hypocritical whiner that complained about how college life sucks, but then ends up acting like the very same people he hates just in order to bed the aloof female students. Speaking of aloof college students, the film does not paint college life in a very positive frame of mind. They make it feel like college kids are ostentatious and not very wise. They latch onto causes that they think is important and try to be philosophical with the cause, but don’t really think before they speak. The only character you follow and try to invest in is Fritz, and he is a pretentious, hypocritical, mean-spirited individual.

I know this film is labeled as a satirical take on events of the time, but Fritz the Cat is a mess. With an incoherent plot, unlikable characters, an unsatisfying ending, it isn’t a fully enjoyable film. Fritz the Cat needed focus and a better script to lead to a substantial end.  I will not discredit its place in history though, since that’s a bit nutty to do so. It would be like me saying that Akira didn’t do anything for Japanese animation or Final Fantasy VII didn’t change the mass appeal of Japanese-style RPGs here in the west. You don’t have to like them, but taking away their legacy is insulting. However, if you really want to see this X-rated film, well, there is nothing that I can do to stop you. It’s an interesting period piece of film making, but it doesn’t really hold up. There is a sequel to this film, but it doesn’t have Bakshi or the cartoon’s creator input at all, and it is one of the worst animated films I have ever seen. See Fritz the Cat as a curiosity, but there is no harm in seeing Bakshi’s other work like Wizards or American Pop. Well, Thanksgiving was upon us, so how about we check out a Thanksgiving-themed movie? I was thinking of maybe…Free Birds! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

In Defense Of: The Black Cauldron


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

Welcome to the first edition of “In Defense Of…” This is where I write an editorial covering a couple of positive elements of Disney, Dreamworks, or Pixar films that were negatively reviewed or downright panned by the critics and audiences.

Pop quiz time! What do you get when you have a big budget, take seven years to make a movie, and then release it in 1985? Well, you get what is widely known to be Disney’s biggest flop in terms of an animated film, The Black Cauldron. Most people these days are more familiar with the huge financial and critical Disney flops like John Carter and The Lone Ranger, two infamously horrible movies that did incredibly poorly at the box office. Not United Passions flop, but it did so badly that it was beaten out by The Care Bears Movie. Think about that for a moment, a film so bad, that another mediocre movie did better. The Black Cauldron put the studio into major jeopardy, which was luckily saved by the likes of The Great Mouse Detectives, Oliver and Company, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and of course, The Little Mermaid, which started the famous Disney Renaissance of the 90s.  So, with all of this failure behind the movie and its development history of last-minute changes, is there anything good/redeemable for this movie? Well, yes. I think there are a couple of good elements, and apparently, I am not the only one who thinks so, since the film is now getting a cult following. Let’s begin! Oh, and spoilers!

 

  • The beautiful animation

During this time at Disney, they were pretty much reusing a lot of their animation from past films like The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Snow White, and so on. It made the films feel cheap, and while I like movies like Disney’s Robin Hood, it felt like they were doing this because the films took a long time to make, and they wanted to save a lot of money. However, from what I have seen, The Black Cauldron is 100% original animation. No rehashes. It also looks good with the smooth movements and, during the death scene of the villain, very detailed. It’s a good-looking movie. It’s just a shame so much money went into the animation, but it had a mediocre story.

 

  • The Villain/Villain Death

While you can argue that there isn’t much to this villain, The Horned King is one of the most intimidating villains in Disney’s cannon. It doesn’t hurt either that he is voiced by famous actor John Hurt. There is something really unsettling about him from his design to the raspy voice. I bet for the kids that saw this movie, The Horned King gave them nightmares. On top of that, his villain death is probably the most graphic out of any Disney film. At the end of the movie he is forcefully pulled in to the titular Black Cauldron. His skin peels and tears away from him, and his bones turn to dust as he is pulled into the cauldron kicking and screaming. It’s gruesome, if you couldn’t tell.

 

  • The Atmosphere

The movie lacks in a lot of elements, but The Black Cauldron has some great atmosphere at some points. The film makes you feel like you are in this grungy fantasy world, where there is no hope among the human and creatures that live there. Sure, the immersion sometimes comes to a halt when you have to deal with some of the pointless side characters, but when the film is quiet, you feel fully inside the film’s world.

Unfortunately, even looking at all of these positives, this is easily one of the weakest Disney films I have ever seen. Its story is thin, the characters are either forgettable or annoying, the ending is underwhelming, and for all the money and time put into the film’s animation and marketing, you would think this would have been great. I guess it also doesn’t help that The Black Cauldron is based off a series of books. I don’t know, I feel like if they made the characters more interesting and not have the many Disney tropes, the film would have at least been solid. They probably should have gone full-on dark fantasy. I’m fine with you if you like it, since as I listed, there are good elements. It’s just not personally my favorite Disney film. Well, I hope you all enjoyed this because we are going to next time do a companion piece to In Defense Of with The Negatives, where we take a look at the negatives of the most popular/widely acclaimed Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks movies. So, since we looked at one of the worst Disney disasters of all time, how about we look at Disney’s recent Golden Goose with Frozen? Thanks for reading!

The Other Side of Animation #10: Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Review


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz for more of my work. If you want to, consider supporting my Patreon on patreon.com/camseyeview. Hope you enjoy the article!)

The absolute worst sin a movie can do is a combination of two things. The first part of the sin is not enveloping you in the film’s world. We watch movies to escape reality and to be enveloped/entertained by the story and the characters in front of us. The second part of this sin is wasting the time of the viewer. No one wants to go into a theater, buy a ticket, obtain some overpriced snacks, sit down for the movie, and walk out thinking “that was a waste of my time and money.”  Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a prime example of said sins. I can’t just sum it up in one review. I mean, I can and will, but let’s start with a little history about the movie. This film was developed by Summertime Entertainment, and an animation studio in India called Prana Studios. Prana is a studio that gets a lot of outsourcing work from Disney to make those straight-to-DVD Tinker Bell films. Legends of Oz supposedly cost $70 million, which was the most expensive film that the outsourcing animated studio had ever worked on. Apparently the entire budget was all from multiple investors that were either from big companies or from fundraising. I read somewhere that over 150K people invested in this film. Legends of Oz was released into theaters in France on February 2013 and in the states May of 2014. Want to know how this film did? Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return has the most eligible title of the biggest box office bomb of 2014. Not only that, but it also has the comfy 9th place spot in worst worldwide openings. It is also known as one of the biggest box office flops for a CGI animated film, only raking in a little over $3 million on opening weekend and an overall total of $18 million, but again, this film had a budget of $70 million. I mean, if you have the title for the one of worst opening weekends for a CGI animated film, you are a very special case of awful. The little cherry on this cake of failure is that some of the investors and producers of the film are being charged with some kind of financial fraud. It’s just a lovely and horrific trainwreck of everyone involved. Even the producer, Greg Centineo, and the many investors think there was a conspiracy to make this film a failure in the box office. Marketing was pulled from everywhere you can think of, and many theaters took it out of their lists of movies being shown. Or, you know, the investors and the producer of the film could have admitted to the making of a horrible movie and scammed the heck out of everyone. This was one of the hardest disasters to sit through that I have ever had to see. Let’s dive in to the 10th review of The Other Side of Animation: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Oh, and possible spoilers for the movie.

The story apparently takes place right after the 1939 live-action classic. Dorothy, voiced by Glee star Lea Michele is helping her family and town repair the buildings after the tornado incident. Then, out of nowhere and I mean that literally, an appraiser, voiced by Martin Short, comes into town claiming that he owns everything in the small town. Apparently everyone in Kansas is fine with this man who comes out of nowhere, has rather questionable credentials, and don’t follow up with any questions about him or where he comes from. Yeah, if I have to start breaking down the logic in the opening of the movie, you have some serious problems. Anyway, back in Oz, where apparently years have passed, everything is watched over by Scarecrow, voiced by Dan Aykroyd, Lion, voiced by Jim Belushi, and Tin Man, voiced by Kelsey Grammer. However, a new villain named The Jester, also voiced by Martin Short, decides to wreck everything and become the ruler of Oz. Before getting caught, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion get in contact with Dorothy, and bring her back to help save the land of Oz. Along her journey, she meets a very fat owl named Wiser, voiced by Oliver Platt, a candy soldier named Marshal Mallow, voiced by Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy, a princess made of China, voiced by Smash’s Megan Hilty, and a large tree voiced by Patrick Stewart. Can they save the land from The Jester? Can they point out how stupid this movie is so I don’t have to?

As of this point in this review, I have nothing positive for the film, which results in me having to talk about the bad things! There is plenty, and I mean plenty of negative things to say about this movie. It’s like going to a buffet. You pay the price and have all you can criticize! Let’s start with the tone of the movie since it’s all over the place, more than a drunk guy attempting to throw darts at a dartboard. First off, this film is supposed to take place during the 30s during the great depression era. Well then, why do the opening credits have toy planes and a skateboard that are obviously not from that period in time? Why do the cars and clothes everyone wears look like something from I Love Lucy? Why does the film have so many unintentionally creepy moments? Why does it sound like the film is trying to ride the wave of Frozen’s popularity, when it has nothing to do with that movie? You see? When you can’t get into a movie, you start picking it apart! You can’t focus or feel invested in the story because the logic, characters, and story are horribly put together. For example, we know The Jester, who currently has the most powerful magic in the Land of Oz, now has immense magical power, and he says that before he got all the delicious magical power, he couldn’t take the curse off himself. Well, once he got the power, why didn’t he take the curse off himself? He has the power to do anything! The Jester has the time to change the signs from “Do Not Eat the Candy” to “Please Eat the Candy”, but not enough time to take the curse off himself?!  Don’t get me started on some of the inconsistencies of the film from the original classic. Like there is this scene later on in the film where they need to build a boat, and Dorothy just rips a limb off a tree. Um, does she not remember the last time she tried to pick something off a tree in Oz? Why would she think it would work the second time around? Did she just forget about it?! The trees even make a reference to this happening in the past.

I can’t move onto the rest of the review without talking about how creepy this film can be at times. The moment when Dorothy gets transported to Oz by a rainbow shaped like a hand is not whimsical, because she is terrified out of her wits to get caught by it. At another point back at the scene where they need to build a tree, they run into Patrick Stewart’s character that I remind you, is a talking tree, who basically tells Dorothy that she can use him for the materials for the boat. That is like an old person coming up to us and being fine with us gutting him, cutting off his limbs, and turning him into a go kart. Another scene that oozes something out of an episode of Criminal Minds or Hannibal is the where the China Princess is broken, and Mallow, the candy knight guy, uses pieces of himself to mend her back together. It’s not really romantic or touching, since that is like me ripping off my own skin to fix another’s arm that got blown off.

The characters are just terrible. Dorothy, going from the innocent wide-eyed bystander of everything, is now a boring plain female hero. Wiser, the overweight owl says he is, well, wise and knows many things like not to eat the candy (since he was arrested a total of 499 times for eating the candy), but then thinks it’s okay, because he doesn’t notice the signs have oddly changed all of a sudden. Wouldn’t he be more curious as to why the signs changed, rather than stuffing his face for the 500th time? Did nothing in that little feathered brain of his notice something off-putting? The other characters are either boring, like Marshal Mallow, or very unlikable, like the Dainty China Princess. The Dainty China Princess is nothing more than an individual who gets off on liking a person for their looks, and has literally done more damage to her people than anything The Jester could ever do. She basically straight-up murders some minor characters. The romance between Mallow and the China Princess has no point. They don’t really talk to one another or bond. They also made the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man have these weird character traits, like the Scarecrow is super smart, the Lion is like a college frat boy, and the Tin Man is overly emotional to the point of being annoying.

The animation quality is your standard straight-to-DVD/TV quality CGI, which makes more sense since the film was apparently supposed to originally have gone straight to DVD. Legend of Oz had no reason to go into theaters when it had to deal with films like Big Hero 6, How to Train your Dragon 2, and The Book of Life in 2014’s high quality animation department. It’s funny to see how many movies think they can match Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks animation, but come out looking like made-for-TV-grade CGI films. The music by Bryan Adams is terrible; some of the worst music I have ever heard. I know he has done some good music, like for that one Dreamworks film, Spirits, but still. This movie had no reason to include music. I know the original classic The Wizard of Oz had music, but it was well written and, you know, good! The voicework is mediocre. No one besides Martin Short puts in a good performance. Even then, I have seen Martin Short do so much better in live-action and animated films.

So, do I like anything about this movie? Well, besides that this is a good movie for a very bad movie night, I guess I like how colorful it is, but I really don’t have anything nice to say about this movie. I will also give Martin Short credit for making the only funny line in the movie, when we actually see him talking to Glenda.

It’s funny how this film fails in about every way possible. It’s even worse when you realize the two directors, Will Finn and Daniel St. Pierre, have worked on films like Disney’s Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Dreamworks’ The Road to El Dorado. Sure, it is mostly animation credits, but after working on films that know how to be good, it seems like you would gain the experience to know what the heck you are doing! You can tell that, of those 150K or so of people that invested in this film, they are not happy since it became well-known that people online were giving this film great reviews and positive word-of-mouth whereas the people that actually saw the movie say otherwise. Essentially, the investors/backers tried to manipulate the user scores to make the film look better. It’s basically what happened with how Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas went down, or how terrible indie developers on Steam get positive reviews from their friends lists for their games, when they really aren’t that good. Until I see otherwise, this is the worst movie I have seen and had to review on The Other Side of the Animation. Sure, it might have more effort in it than something like Food Fight, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. I feel badly for any poor unfortunate soul who went ahead and made their choice to help fund this movie. It deserved to have stayed out of the mass public eye, and you shouldn’t have to waste your time in watching this movie. Avoid this movie at all costs, and go out and get the original The Wizard of Oz or Return to Oz, or heck, buy both! Boy, I don’t think I have gotten so upset about a movie in a while. How about we review our first Japanese-animated film with Memories? Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Rating: The Worst