Sunday, January 04, 2015

Animation reviews

I've seen 3 animated films over the last week or two, and here are my thoughts on each:

Big Hero 6:   a very pleasing and exciting mashup of Marvel movie style action (which, to my mind, plays better in animation than with real life actors on obviously CGI filled screens) and revenge themes; Pixar style superb animation; and eye moistening Disney style (when they get it right) emotionalism.   

To elaborate a bit further:  the action sequences reminded me a bit of The Incredibles - it may be completely unrealistic, but with animation, you can avoid worrying about that but just be pleased by the visual excitement.  (Contrast some of the ridiculously big falls that characters are meant to walk or run away from in some big budget live action films these days.) 

The animated world it's set in is delightful and (as I read in someone's review) like an upbeat version of the setting of Blade Runner.  And the emotionalism - I think they get it just right. 

Both my kids said immediately after it finished that they wanted to see it again - not such a common reaction these days - and that speaks for itself.

Penguins of Madagascar:  sure, there are laughs to be had from some of the funniest support characters from the Madagascar movies; but really, with the villain being an evil octopus that manages to pass itself off as human (happens all the time), the movie is too obviously pitched at too young an audience.  

Somewhat disappointing for this reason.  Sure keeps a lot of Indian animators in work, though.

[I see that the less than expected box office has renewed discussion of whether Dreamworks animation is - sorta - in trouble.   They do have a fair bit of trouble with story strength, if you ask me.]

The Wind Rises:   finally caught up with Miyazake's semi-historical film about the famous (in Japan) lead designer of the Zero fighter.

Lavishly animated in the very pleasing Miyazake painterly style, I found it always engaging, and continually raising the question "I wonder how accurate that part of the story is?"

I see from articles like this one that it is more accurate in tone than in many details, and sort of merges two sources (one fictional) together.  I don't think it matters much, as the fairly extensive dream sequences make it clear that the details are often coming from the mind of Miyazake.

I find the narrative in his films often starts petering out in interest in the last third, but this one really was good to the end.   This makes it one of his strongest films, and well worth seeing.

As always, if your DVD or Blu-ray copy has a press conference with Miyazake as a special feature, do try to watch it.  He's again a cranky about certain questions, but it makes him pretty endearing.  (For example, he's really unhappy about being asked persistently about crying when seeing the completed movie.)

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