For me great animation is a marriage of two other big loves of mine—beautiful art and captivating storytelling. You nail those things and it's almost guaranteed that you'll have my eyeballs glued to the screen. I grew up on Disney films like Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast so my tastes tend to unconsciously lean that way, however I love seeing animation that breaks new ground and really shows where the medium can go.
drawing, painting, animation, absorbing pop culture, animation, web design, writing, animation...
Animation that I love:
How to Train Your Dragon, Mary and Max, Tangled, Princess Mononoke, The Incredibles, Nightmare Before Christmas, Rescuers Down Under, ... etc. etc.
But hey... Netflix, a week long cold and sheer morbid curiosity lead to strange results... watching this being one of them.
I was almost comforted by the fact that Twilight Sparkle didn't just pop into the human world with her pals in tow and shout "hey girlfriend!" at her new high school mates. No, the writers made it hard for her as it should have been. Unfortunately they quickly undercut this by dropping in human clones of all her pony friends instead.
I mean, wouldn't it have been a greater demonstration of the whole power of friendship if Twilight Sparkle had to make *new* friends with people who were completely different from the friends she already knew?
Yea I know... way too much work and not enough fan "yipee!" in that scenario.
Once her human-pony-clones come into play though the story goes from mildly predictable to extremely predictable. At that point I almost wish she'd been allowed to drag the rest of her pony pals into the human world because then it would've made these human versions seem like less of a cop out.
Anyways, it's not a terrible movie per say, but I think I shared Twilight Sparkle's overall feeling at the end of... "well, I'm certainly glad that's over with."
For one thing, it's a Steven Spielberg film with a lot of elements that he's extremely well know for. The Indiana Jones movies are some of my all-time favourites in terms of live-action films and Tintin is certainly an Indiana-like character with his daring attitude and thirst for adventure.
And, although this is an animation site and we usually talk about the animation in terms when we're talking about the performance of the characters, there's no denying that it's Andy Serkis performing Captain Haddock. While all the characters in the movie are performance captured by the actors that provided the voices, I feel like only Captain Haddock had a really stand-out performance. If you've read my other reviews on motion-captured or rotoscope animated films, you know I have a pretty big beef with most of them, but I think it's because the source material going into the performance isn't strong enough. Captain Haddock is what you get when it is strong enough.
So why is this a two star film for me? Well, for one thing, I never read the comics so I didn't have that instant connection with Tintin that I think was needed for empathy with this character. Tintin has no flaws and he has no backstory. I learned from the Bluray extras that he had no backstory in the comics either, but that still doesn't help me bond with the character. To me he felt like a paper cutout stand in for a hero and, personally, I need more than that. I felt like the movie didn't really start firing on all cylinders until Captain Haddock showed up. Haddock, in contrast, is a delightfully flawed character between his alcoholism and his bumbling ways.
What really knocked the star-count for me down though was the excessive show-off factor that always, ALWAYS seems to happen when you give directors the ability to do whatever the heck they feel like within the digital world. It's almost ironic that Spielberg, who gave the world Jurassic Park, somehow forgot that movie's key lesson--just because it CAN be done, doesn't mean it SHOULD be done. All these insane camera movies and action sequences that try to somehow straddle live-action realism and cartoony exaggeration, but end up being a jarring mixture of the two. There were a number of occasions in the movie, where it felt like I wasn't watching a story unfold, but instead I was clinging to the front car on a rollercoaster ride. Now, maybe I'm just too old fashioned and maybe this is just how movie-making is meant to be today, but when my brain starts going "huh? now where am I...? and where is...? how did...? what...?" that just pops me so far out of the story that I'm no longer paying attention to whether or not our heroes' lives are in jeopardy.
So Tintin is an enjoyable theme park ride. It will likely please fans of the comics more than the uninitiated and it has enough Spielberg whiz-bang to make for an entertaining evening infront of the TV. It won't blow your mind--as I remember the first Jurassic Park movie doing when I was a teenager--but it's a good family popcorn muncher sort of movie if that's what you're in the mood for.
Side note... I thank whoever made the Bluray extras for once highlighting exactly how much ANIMATION work goes into these performance capture movies. I always feel like grinding my teeth every time I hear a director allude to the notion that it's the actor's performance going untouched to the final film, which is a charming notion but hasn't been the truth yet on any of these mocap/performance capture movies that have been made. Credit where credit is due and the animators deserve their rightful share.
Alas, *makings* would be the operative word here since that good movie never seemed to actually get made. I had the distinct sense watching this film that someone took all the ideas out of a Igor-type movie brainstorming session that had been written on a napkin over coffee, tossed them in the mix and hit frappé.
There are good, interesting ideas there--perhaps a few too many of them even--but it doesn't really hold together. As Inkwolf said, you don't emotionally click in and that's where, unfortunately, this movie falls down.
It has an interesting look and definitely a few funny moments, but I wouldn't put this one very high up my "must watch" list. Such a shame.
Fans who want to preserve their memory of Bugs, Daffy and the gang should probably steer clear. If however you like Michael Jordan and like the idea of seeing the toons playing basketball... meh, it's not all that bad.
You follow all that? I'll admit, I barely did and I enjoy movies like Memento.
Also worth noting is that the opening song. While upbeat and bouncy, it is totally useless in its goal of establishing the movie's overall theme. I mean, compare Tom Jones singing "Perfect World" in the original New Groove with lyrics like 'he was born and raised to rule, no one has ever been this cool'. The song clearly tells you about who Kuzco is--or at least, who he thinks he is. Compare that to poor Kronk's song... I have no idea what that woman is saying! I actually turned on the subtitles at one point just to try and figure it out... okay, I get it, 'true to your groove'. If you're going to have a song that's stating the mission statement of the movie, at the very least make sure I can understand what it's about!
And yes, Kronk, while a loveable sidekick was really stretched here to carry the entire movie on his own. We loved him in the original New Groove because his total innocence was a wonderful counterpoint to Yzma's manical objectives. On his own though, Kronk just doesn't pack the same punch.
The entire 'true to your groove' theme was perfectly addressed in Kronk's portion of the epilogue of the original movie. Unfortunately, Kronk's New Groove takes that small catchy moment, throws in ten times more complexity than is really necessary, to ultimately get us right back where we originally started from. If there was ever a definition of a largely pointless exercise, that would be mine.