I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
Cars 2 is a movie that feels like it should be another fun entry from Pixar. And yet it also doesn't. I'm not really picky about my animated movies. I feel like I'm getting slightly pickier about comedy, but even so. . . sometimes I feel when a movie clicks. Cars 2 marks the first time I can recall when a Pixar film is purposefully painful to watch.
I was almost content just to leave it as a rating because I was so exasperated on what to think of the film, but something about that just didn't sit right with me.
Here's the thing. Cars 2 is rather busy film, and that's in the bad way, not in the good way. It never finds its center, but that's not the offending element of the film. Cars worked because it was funny without trying to be funny. Cars 2's funny moments feel shoe-horned in, but that's only because the spy motif doesn't work and it's the comedy that feels like it's trying to save the film. But that's still not the offending element of the film. Here it is:
I don't think parents took their kids to this film expecting to see dumbed down elements of James Bond plots, like the rather gruesome sight of a good guy agent car being compressed into a cube or other cars breaking apart into bits as they hit the ocean or cars blowing up in flames. Well you get the idea. Oh yeah. And a message about alternative fuel being the bad guy and "big oil all the way". Way to go, Disney. You made a political statement. Want a medal for that?
Cars 2 gets better later on as it turns into a chase and escape kind of film, and Mater shows just how knowledgeable he can be, if not quite book smart.
I really should like this film, but. . .
On second thought, thinking about this being a Pixar film is starting to piss me off.
There are notable bright spots of exceptions to the rule. Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Atlantis, to name a few. Brother Bear is not one of them. I thought it was going to be like a "People of the Earth" type of movie like Pocahontas, except taking place during the Ice Age. Alas, it was worse than that. Brother Bear was Tarzan with bears instead of gorillas.
While I was watching Brother Bear, a lot of thoughts ran through my head, none of them particularly pleasant. "More Phil Collins songs?" "Where are the instantly lovable classic songs?" "Or the instantly lovable classic characters for that matter?" "Are those fish computer generated? Have Disney forgotten how to draw?"
Making a generic movie about brotherhood and love is all well and good. Okay, fine. Disney does these types of movies all the time. However the songcraft and attempts at humor only dragged this movie down farther than was even necessary. Truth is there ARE no instantly memorable songs. Just some lazy pop songs. The whole movie has a feeling of being over-processed. I don't go to a Disney movie to hear an out-of-date Tina Tuner. The worst offender, however, is Welcome(or is it Family Time?), the obligatory feel good song.
The best example of humor in this movie is the elderly (jewish?) female bear, who keeps insisting her husband(bears have husbands?) is dead when he really isn't. Beyond that, this movie suffers from overkill. Most Disney movies have two or three sidekicks. Brother Bear has two washed up moose, two washed big horn ram, and a Scrappy in the form of Koda, who is probably now the single most annoying Disney character who is not found in a DTV.
Tarzan theme of not separating animal language away from the human world came back with a vengeance, but it wasn't what aggravated me the most. Just when I thought that the movie was finally going to give me a nugget of real gold in the form of Kenai telling Koda the real story about his mother, it pushes the dialogue into the background and supplants it when yet another tired song. Oh yeah. And the revelation? You can see that coming a mile away. You can do better than this, Disney.
The movie seems to be a lot of filler. Case in point is the travel montage, which probably couldn't be all that much longer than ten minutes but seems to be covering up for a lack of any real substance. Disney also can't decide whether to portray bears realistically and menacing or fully anthro with cute and cuddly features, human eyes, and basically human acting. Actually, I'd rather Disney NOT portray bears as being all lovable. I'm a big fan of the bear attack sequence of The Fox and the Hound, and it's not just because the bear is portrayed realistically in that movie, it's because the animation grooved with a spark of fire, grit and electricity. I got none of that sense watching Brother Bear, even during the sequence where the bear is drawn realistically and presumably attacking ferociously.
Brother Bear is Disney banality at its worst. I can forgive them for hamfisting bits of humor into moments that should be serious. I can forgive them for stupid sidekicks. I can forgive them for derivative story plotting. I can even forgive them for overblown songs. However, there's a line to be drawn where Disney forgets the intelligence of their viewer. Brother Bear crosses that line into the next hillside. The best of Disney and Pixar remember to have universal appeal so that both adults and children can enjoy the movie. Brother Bear doesn't have even one shred of this.
Oy. What on earth was I thinking?
Many people probably know Vampire Hunter D by its more confident step-brother, Bloodlust. That one is better animated too. Quite a few people I know actually prefer Bloodlust to Blood: The Last Vampire, which came out at the same year, due to B:TLV's short length. Bloodlust has the advantage by having a team of vampire hunters ride around in a sort of gothic version of the Batmobile.
Anyway, on with the original. Vampire Hunter D caters to the people looking for all the elements I mentioned above. I guess this what makes anime so popular. However, the original lacks the flash and pizazz of Bloodlust or Blood: The Last Vampire. A lot of Speed Racer-esque recycled animation gets used a lot. I guess the 80s weren't a really good decade for anime? The plot is the most confusing of all. The main bad guy vampire, Count Magnus, puts a bite on the heroine Doris. Then he has Doris kidnapped so he can marry her. Wait, what? Why didn't he just kidnap her in the first place? Meanwhile, he sits in his castle, brooding and waiting for the hero, D, to show up so they can have their showdown.
Oy. I reiterate. What was I thinking?
If you're going to expose yourself to Vampire Hunter D, you may as well scrounge around for Bloodlust, which is a few degrees better.
The trouble with this show starts with its format. Most cartoons from the 80s could be divided by gender. You had your boy cartoons. You had your girl cartoons. And then maybe the odd Euro/Japanese cartoon that seemed to fit the bill for the whole family. Alvin and the Chipmunks doesn't seem to fit any of these molds. It may be called an animated sitcom, but where's the funny stuff? The characters are lifeless and dry. The human characters are drawn with a pseudo-realistic form that seems rather limp when compared with the title characters, or indeed even some of the more fanciful 80s cartoons.
Seeing as how the main characters of the show are a fake music group, music is obviously the most important element in the show. You would think that the music was any good. Sadly, this is not the case. Seems the writers spent most of their energy on the opening title sequence. The 80s weren't really known for their remarkable pop tunes. This trend of blandness carries on in the show. The songs seems to pop up out of nowhere and with no discernible purpose. They seem to stretch out the episodes rather thin, and from I've heard on the DVD, there's really not all that much to them. Just a lot of fuzz and noise and no real personality. I think it's safe to say that you're probably better off picking up a proper Chipmunks album. That's if you like their brand of helium induced singing.