I don't mean to sound crass, but... well, they really do, don't they? And not just in terms of cinematic quality (although that is most certainly true), but the actual animation itself is looking cheap and flat. Perhaps that's because they're all, naturally, being released in 3D and I have been viewing them in 2D? Still, I can't help consider that if they look that bad in traditional 2D then what unholy mess of an eye-stabbing must they look like with the extra dimension attached? Yikes.
I've attended a few public screenings lately due to missing the press ones thanks to my temporary relocation south of the highway in Geelong. Two of the films I've seen - Aussie gems (...) Reverse Runner and Goddess - are rated PG so, of course, kiddie trailers fill the pre-show entertainment, and what a rollicking good time it is. Between the two I have witnessed trailers for Escape from Planet Earth, Despicable Me 2, The Croods, Epic, and Adventures in Zambezia. It's enough to put me off animation altogether right now, although I am sure the second half of the year has something worth getting excited about. Surely. It has to. Even Pixar's annual effort feels hard to find enthusiasm for given their last franchise effort was the appalling Cars 2. This is a year for an indie distributor to market those smaller, most likely foreign titles they have because this year's animated feature Oscar is up for grabs.
Escape from Planet Earth
The first line of the "about" section on this YouTube video reads "At last ! The long-delayed Weinstein Company animated film "Escape From Planet Earth"has its first trailer !" LOL. Well done whoever wrote that. The same cannot be said for whoever wrote this, which looks like dental torture with plush seats. Hey, it's got enough burp jokes for the kids and enough iPhone jokes for the adults, right? The only good thing about Escape from Planet Earth is that at least it looks better than that other Weinstein animation release, Hoodwinked. Remember that? Let's not.
Despicable Me 2
Look, I know a lot of people found these "minions" from the original Despicable Me to be wildly hilarious. I, however, did not. Now they have apparently gone and based an entire sequel around those annoying little nubs. In the absence of jokes, just make weird noises. The kids'll be rolling in the isles (sadly, that's probably true). The use of John Carpenter's Halloween in this trailer only furthers my hatred, plus exemplifying so much of what's wrong with the new wave of animation post 2000. Oh, and look, a joke at a cat's expense. Haven't seen one of those in a Hollywood flick for a while... er, scratch that.
Surprising me greatly, this new film from Blue Sky Animation is the best looking - as we as the best looking - of the five films I have featured here. Surprising because this animation house, home to all seventeen of the Ice Age films, haven't exactly blown me away with their skills. Polished, sure, but their repeated use of boxy character design (replaced here by GIANT noses, apparently) frustrated me so much that I never saw beyond the second. Their latest, Epic, appears to move just like a computer game, which is right in the wheelhouse of modern day animation, but at least there's a somewhat interesting story when you ignore that it's basically just ripping off Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. They get points for having a female lead though.
Coming from Dreamworks I would have thought it would at least look impressive, but this tale of a family discovering a secret world in the time of the dinosaurs (right?) is marred by some horrendous character design (why are their bodies so disproportionate?) and yet more loud, overbearing visuals. It comes from the director of How to Train Your Dragon, which I loved, and Lilo & Stich, which I did not. This appears to be more akin to the latter, but maybe the reviews will prove me wrong. Still, nothing will change my mind on just how bad those character designs are, and with such boring vocal work. That's Emma Stone? And, you know, Nicolas Cage looks bored most of the time these days, but he even comes off as bored behind a microphone, too! And, really? A sassy grandmother and ancient mother-in-law gags? Ugh.
Adventures in Zambezia
I almost feel bad mocking this movie since I only just discovered that it is a South African production. Alas, it looks like a terrible South African production so I go back to not feeling so bad. This is Saturday morning carnoons at best, and even then you can find some amazing animation that's smart and funny on Saturday morning cartoons. Certainly far better than this crap. You guys have to watch this trailer though. It's badness is almost fascinating. Just wait until Samuel J Jackson's bird start clucking "Oh yeah, I'm groovy." It's a travesty beyond words, I swear.
Add those five to Monster's University, Planes, and Frozen - of which we haven't seen anything yet, but a late year slot suggests commercial viability, if not quality - I can't seem to find any more animated titles for 2013 from the big studios. Did these last few years of excessive releases tire them out? This year is looking mighty depressing from the Hollywood side of things and not even this field can seemingly be relied upon anymore. What gives?
|Trust me when I say that I'm confused, too.|