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KF Animation Editor
Location: Tasmania
Birthday: August 27
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Reviews by animation type
TV Series (156)
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Reviews for Part Live-Action

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animated movie Melody Time © Disney
Melody Time
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Oct 17, 2012
I recommend this movie to anyone who believes that Disney, as an animated feature film entity, died with Walt in 1966 and rose from the grave 23 years later with 'The Little Mermaid'.

In fact, watching this 'movie' for the first time in a long Time I was struck by the insight that, with the exception of 1937's 'Snow White' which I've always regarded as more important than great, the Disney edifice before which many of us worship consists of a frenetic blur of activity resulting in the release of 'Pinocchio', 'Fantasia', 'Dumbo' and the ultimate swansong 'Bambi' between 1940 and 1942. The blink of an eye.

Who, watching Bambi - soon after America entered the war, could have guessed that it would be 8 years before Disney released a proper feature length animated feature, and 13 years before perhaps the only other true classic feature to be released in Walt's lifetime ('Lady and the Tramp', 1955)?

And then the war. And then the cobbled together 'feature films'. Films which quickly abandoned the touchstone artistic genius of 'Bambi' or 'Pinocchio' in favour of ad-hoc collections of inferior shorts, shoehorned together, in this case, to make 72 minutes of almost pure pap.

You know you're in trouble seconds into the titles. Before the first of the seven shorts assembled here, you know that trouble is very deep, and within moments of the opening 'Once Upon a Wintertime' you realise the next hour or so is going to be agony, but you have to watch it if want to say something intelligent about it on Keyframe.

'Melody Time' is the fifth and last of the 'compilation' feature films which started with 'Saludos Amigos'. In their defense the war did hit Disney hard in more ways than one, but Good God, look at what Warner were doing around the same time.
This movie is excruciating, often nauseating (I couldn't watch 'Johnny Apleseed' on first viewing) white bread postwar American kitsch. I could imagine white families going from a matinee of this to a KKK meeting. To put it in the same basket as Bambi is a grievous insult to the artistry of the former. Gone are the sumtpous backgrounds, the perfect animation, the almost supernatural welding of music, camera angles, sound effects, character deisgn and profound emotion. In its place are horrible, stylised, minimalist late 50's designs where backgrounds are little more than token washes without kick or any sense of internal realism. Then throw in the cringingly awful narrations and voice acting (Dennis Day's narration as the 'old settler' in 'Johnny Appleseed' is so ludicrously awful it gave me my only laugh of the the movie.)

The rest of the thing is pretty much garbage. I found myself wondering, 'how could people have liked this back in 1948?' Then I read the earliest review on IMDB. It is from a guy who gives this film 10 out of 10, though he admits he hasn't seen it since it was released. I can only say I liked 'The Jungle Book' when I was five.

Let's break it down, though. The terrible thing is that about eight minutes of this film are decent. 'Bumble Boogie' probably holds up better in its entirety than any other segment. The thin drawing style makes some sort of sense alongside the 'boogie' version of 'Flight of the Bumblebee' (even if the protagonist looks like he escaped from a 20's BW short.) Watchable, but no 'Night on Bald Mountain'.

Other than this there are only achingly fleeting moments of artistry: the opening thunderstorm scene from 'The Tree', and the first couple of minutes of 'Pecos Bill' remind one of ye olde sumptuous, lyrical Disney animation, but in both cases they soon dissolve into junk.

Getting back to that idea that Disney only went off the boil in the 60's and recovered in the late 80's, and that everything before was part of a golden age - rubbish. AFAIC Disney's golden age was the early 40's, with an impressive revival for a short time in the mid 50's. After that it was a slow rebuilding, but even maligned films like 'The Aristocats' (70) run rings around this, and 'The Fox and the Hound' (80) totally crushes it.


animated movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action © Warner Bros.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action
Rated it: 1.5
posted: Feb 29, 2012
Why is Roger Corman in this film. Who is Roger Corman, you ask? Well, before I get onto saying something vaguely relevant, let me lay out this suss...

Let's go back to 1978 and the wonderous lyrical masterpiece 'Piranha'. Produced by Corman, and... yes, Corman gets Joe Dante his first gig as director. So, forgodever later, Dante directs a film and smilingly sticks Roger Corman into it (he's the director who yells 'cut' when B.Fraser falls off the roof).

Why does this matter? It doesn't. Nor does this film.


Yes, this is better than 'Space Jam'. So was The Boer War in relation to WW I. Such was 'Police Academy' to 'Police Academy VI'. Such are ants to very small ants.

It seems ghastly to harp on this, but in about 1987 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' revolutionsed animation; made it cool for adults to like cartoons for the first time in 30-odd years.

WFRR was a blockbuster - not just in a financial sense, but in an epochal one. I remember sitting there in the cinema with my jaw hitting the floor, thinking 'How in hell did they DO that?', whilst being transfixed with the magical realism of the thing.

Guess what: with umpteen years of technology between the two films, this one looks pathetic. The director and actor (Hoskins) of WFRR said they'd love to do another film like it, but it was so exhausting they didn't think it was possible. They were right. In WFRR, despite its ancient technology, the characters had mass, weight, velocity: they obeyed the observed laws of physics. They felt like real people who, if they crashed into you, would knock you over. When Jessica plays with Marvin Acme's jowls they flop about. When Daffy gets into the face of WB producers it just looks like a 2D character imposed onto RL film ala 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'.

Technalaties aside, there are some memorable moments. Like the museum scene. And.... well like the museum scene.

Not wretched, but a lazy, stupid mess.

Ok, close to wretched.

animated movie Coonskin © Paramount Pictures
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Aug 11, 2011
"F**k You."

That's the first line from Ralph Bakshi's third feature film. It then goes into the intro song, 'Walk on Nigger, Walk on' - lyrics by Bakshi, performed by Scatman Crothers (same guy who played the black guy in 'The Shining' and Scat Cat in 'The Aristocats', which I'm guessing Bakshi was punning on, as it was from 4 years earlier). Stunning song, both lyrically and vocally. That guy could sing.

Ralph Bakshi's third feature film is both his most controversial, and toughest to rank. Chronoligically it falls smack in the middle of his classic period (73-77). Historically it falls into the same hole as 'Song of the South' - ironically, because both are re-tellings of Uncle Remus, and both versions were banned, for reasons that were ostensibly similar, but realistically opposite.

The film is about... well, ostensibly, two black guys waiting to be busted out of prison. While they're waiting the elder tells the younger a story (Uncle Remus style) which pertains to the other half of the film - the animated Brother Bear, Brother Rabbit and Preacher Fox, who are present day blacks screwed up in organised crime after escaping the deep south. And Brother Rabbit is very Black Pantherish. Is this getting confusing? Well, yeah - so is the film, which is its only big fault.

Forget rotoscope, which is the eternal criticism of early Bakshi: this one combines sequences of pure live action (mostly the first 10 mins) with pure animation, with animation over live backgrounds, with several different animation styles (consciously designed to represent different decades) in the same scene. It is enourmously ambitious, and I can't help but applaud it for that - but, at the same time, I can't help feeling that it gets itself a bit confused and trips over itself. It lacks the narrative cohesion of 'Heavy Traffic' or 'Wizards'. the films either side of it.

This film was withdrawn from release shortly after it opened, because of pressure from left-wing liberal groups and black groups, neither of whom had ever seen it. Since then it has become a favourite with the black groups it was supposed to have been dissing. Heavy irony. Bakshi clearly never meant this to be racist. It was emphatically anti-racist.

They would not listen
They're not listening still
Perhaps they never will.


animated movie Alvin and the Chipmunks © Fox
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Rated it: 2
posted: Aug 31, 2010
upgraded this to two stars.

This is tiresome and precitable. Yes, there are cute, nice bits, and it's kinda cute and bits of it work, but in the first five minutes I figured out the last five minutes. Unless you are under 10 years old or are plain dumb, I'd give it a miss. It's not plain BAD, but it's plain PLAIN.


animated movie Pete's Dragon © Disney
Pete's Dragon
Rated it: 2
posted: Apr 14, 2010
I remember this coming out. I don't know how old I was, but I was very little, and I thought it was rubbish.

But how about this: 'fleeing his abusive adopted family, arrives in a small fishing town in Maine'? Now that's funny!!

Pete's Dragon was a live/animation mix, when this was still a rarity (let's face it: it still is, despite 'Roger Rabbit' and in spite of 'Cool World' and 'Bedknobs').

Not a catstrophe, but a long way from memorable. Came out in the 'clutching at straws' period of feature animation.


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