Animation that I love:
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It's not an auspicious beginning to this incarnation. Surprisingly this has little to do with Ben Hardaway's voice work - what little there is of it is decent enough - and everything to do with the uninteresting concept and writing. I can only assume Walter was unsure of giving Hardaway too much to do, and therefore resorted to a mainly visual story involving a bullfight.
Problem is, every classic cartoon character seems to end up in a bullfight cartoon at some point in their career. It's an uninteresting concept, and this
particular version does nothing to distinguish itself. It has nothing of the frenetic, if somewhat directionless energy of the first few Woody shorts. Fortunately it was only a hiccup. Woody's next appearance, in his first 'war-time' cartoon 'Ace in the Hole' was pretty much back on the tracks.
The plot is idiotic: dumb, cowardly but 'cute' aliens somehow invade Earth and resettle the entire human population in Australia (in one city, which as far as I can tell when the map zooms in, must be Adelaide. That's the funniest thing in the movie). These aliens are so stupid and inept I can't imagine how they developed interstellar travel in the first place. They also speak English as if they picked it up from a phrase book last week - which is ok,except they talk to each other the same way. One of them, being an enlightened misfit, helps a human girl find her mother.
The pop music is not only godawful but it is deployed for whole scenes in lieu of dialog, which is incredibly irritating. I could go on, but it would just be a catalog of the film's shortcomings, and I don't think I'm failing in my duties if I just summarise by suggesting you don't waste your money/time.
The only thing holding me back from a one star rating is that little kids could watch this without being upset. Probably one for babysitters.
I only caught the odd episode of the two intervening series, and I only started watching Ben 10 again in its most recent incarnation. I immediately noticed several things: the animation actually looked liked 21st century TV, not 1983 something awful, and the writing had improved to the extent that several of the characters sometimes produced witty lines, several of the characters in general were rather funny (especially the intellectual hillbilly guy who just likes blowing things up with his brother, even if it's the entire universe, and metaphysics are involved to put the series back together), and there was a general storyline which I could kind of relate to.
The sidekick plays the straight man 'Spock' character nicely, and whereas I can't pretend to really, thoroughly understand what has transpired between the first series and this one, I found I could at least watch this. I'm giving it an extra half star, which will probably offend both fans and non-fans.
There are some pacing problems toward the end: the non-stop action climax, which did drag on a bit, but to be honest many highly esteemed movies - 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' springs to mind - had a similarly overlong last act, and 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' just got visually exhausting.
When I grew up you were either into Asterix or Tin Tin, and myself and most of my friends were in the former category, so I don't have - can't have any beefs with it from a 'true to the priginal' POV.
I suppose my expectations were rather low, but I found myself pretty quickly settling into the groove and just enjoying a good, refreshing adventure, shelving any ethical considerations about whether or not it qualified as animation. It didn't strain my brain watching it, and I don't really have anything very deep to say about it.
I'm afraid this review will suffer from me working from notes I made a couple of months ago, and trying to fill in the blanks from memory, so apologies for any lack of fine detail. My notes include phrases like 'psychic catsuit', which I must admit I can't really expand on; others like 'Why always poodles?', which I think must have had something to do with poodles apparently being presented as irresistible to male canines in cartoons, and 'teacher like Vincent Price' which is fairly self explanatory, if also not very insightful.
What I think stuck with me most from this film was that it seemed a bit of an excercise of style over everything else. I didn't find myself involved with the characters much (though arguably that wasn't the intention). The idea of a weird and weedy kid, who, like other Burton characters manages to seem nerdy and gothic - I think he watched a lot of 'Addams Family - resurrecting his beloved, and characteristically uncosmetic pooch seems a promising if not breathtaking comic idea. Burton pulls it off with a familiar mix of fun and peculiar pathos. The black and white animation fits with the old horror movie tropes of the subject matter. And yet it fails to rise very much above the ordinary for me. I wish I could be more articulate about why.
There were some things which, if this were a more serious film would have bothered me considerably - like how did the kid become such an expert at reanimation practically overnight - but the whole thing's so silly it seems a bit daft worrying about that. In some cases these quirky omissions seem to work almost in the film's favour - like what in hell is the whole 'Dutch Day' motif about?
There a few other oddities, like why would anyone be upset about Pluto not being a planet anymore in the 1960's, but none of this is addressing the basic fact that, for me, the film just fell short of what it was trying to achieve, unless its aim was to be fairly good - and I'm flailing around a bit to work out why it didn't do more for me. About the only solid objective criticism I can come up with is that Act I seemed predictable. Perhaps when you're dealimg with so many movie cliches, it was supposed to be, but it does seem a failing to me, when you can predict what's coming next too often.
Not the first time I've said something like this about a movie; it's almost a cliche itself, but Burton lovers will like it, while it probably won't bowl anyone else over.