Saturday, October 14, 2006

Animation review

As a big fan of animated films, I’ve been quite disappointed with the calibre of recent releases. But no more!

This is easily a contender for the best animated movie I’ll see this year. It has a decent script, clever jokes and a multi-dimensional approach to story-telling that was equivalent to the best episodes of Boomtown.

The story is really quite simple. At a woodland crime-scene an amphibian master-sleuth tries to work out what really happened to bring Little Red Riding Hood, her bound-and-gagged Grandma, a suspicious large talking wolf (who while definitely big, may or may not be bad) and a Germanic woodcutter together. It sounds weird, and it is, but it works. Throw in a yodeling goat, a genius spoof of xXx, a megalomaniac-but-cutesy confectioner, and the vocal talents of Patrick Warburton (who shines as the laconic wolf in his best role since Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove), and Hoodwinked hits just about every button.

Jongudmund’s rating: 9/10

Titan A.E.
This was the film that almost sunk Fox Animation Studios until they bought Ice Age to dig the studio out of a financial black hole. Having finally gotten round to seeing it on DVD, I can see why it bombed, but that’s not to say it’s a completely bad movie.

The problem is this could never be a movie to appeal to kids, but because the script has been dumbed down to try and reach the kiddy market, the story has lost the narrative edge it needed. The overall concept – that the evil Drej have destroyed Earth and the last remnants of humanity must find the lost spaceship Titan in order to survive – is too epic for a commercial 2-D cartoon of this nature. But I sense that it could have worked if the film-makers had been left to produce the manga-inspired sci-fi adult ‘toon that they were no doubt aiming for.

Jongudmund’s rating: 4/10

Again, another cartoon I missed on general release. I borrowed the DVD off my bro, who insisted that I’d find it hilarious. And, much of it I did. Sacha Baron Cohen as the King of the Lemurs was hysterical – a combination of good lines and a weird accent – and the penguins were the undoubted stars of the film.

However, I found the main characters were a bit weak and one-dimensional. Melman the giraffe, for example, seemed to be in the film for one joke. He’s hypochondriac. Jada Pinkett-Smith as a hippo is under-used (she seems to have about three lines) and while Chris Rock’s zebra and Ben Stiller’s lion are more-rounded characters, there’s a certain lack of personality to them.

Overall, though, the film is pretty funny, although the theme of out-of-place animals is getting a bit tiresome now. Admittedly Madagascar started the trend, but Over the Hedge is funnier, and The Wild has better voice talent just in the Eddie Izzard-voiced koala.

Jongudmund’s rating: 6.5/10

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