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Inkwolf

KF Animation Editor
Location: Wisconsin
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About me:

Just starting to animate...nLibrary technician in a small town...nFanatical procrastinator...nAnd part-time Imperial Officer.

Interests:

Cartooning, bicycling, camping, fantasy books, etc

Animation that I love:

Fruits Basket, Invader Zim, Excel Saga, Triplets of Bellville, Wallace & Gromit, Nightmre Befre Xmas

Website:

my website

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Latest Animation Reviews

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animated movie The Borrower Arrietty © Studio Ghibli
The Borrower Arrietty
Rated it: 3
posted: Feb 26, 2012
Ghibli films have a lot to live up to. :D Arrietty doesn't QUITE measure up to the greats, but is a worthy addition to the studio's library.

Arrietty is visually spectacular. You want to live in this garden and this house. There are so many scenes of drop-dead beauty that they can't be counted.

The detailed representation of life in miniature is a constant delight and wonder, Did I say detailed? Yes, in a million little touches of the sort Studio Ghibli is well noted for, from a sugar cube half-eaten by ants to a cellophane-wrapped jar.. You can lose yourself completely in this charming world of tinyness.

Where it falls down, though, is plot depth and originality. Even Totoro takes more effort to explain. The story of Arrietty is the same old story they always tell about tiny little people: humans try to catch them, but friendly child helps them escape. The dangers and troubles are all overcome without a whole lot of suspense or drama or uniqueness. The characters are likeable, but most of them are not especially compelling. There are mildly emotional scenes, but nothing that inspired a dramatic emotional response.

More plot, more feeling, and more suspense could have made this movie one of the masterpieces along with Spirited Away, Whisper of the Heart, Nausicaa, Totoro and Princess Mononoke.

I saw it in the theater with the US English dub. I felt the voices were adequate, though Shawn might have been more compelling as a character with a more boyish voice. It did seem odd that the boy eating with chopsticks was renamed 'Shawn' and the aunt renamed 'Jennifer' (or was it Jessica?) but the evil maid still had a Japanese name. Disney has apparently not noticed that people name their kids all sorts of things these days, and modern children are completely capable of dealing with an unfamiliar foreign name. There were a few moments when the dubbing simply did not happen at the same time as the mouth was moving, but you get that in anime, even in the non-dubbed ones.

animated movie Megamind © Dreamworks / Red Hour Films
Megamind
Rated it: 3
posted: Apr 16, 2011
Megamind was a fun movie, full of exciting visual treats, humor, and entertaining sequences. It exceeded my expectations in terms of the depth of the plot. Megamind suffers a little from deja vu, though. Many scenes, events and characters were reminescent of Despicable Me, The Incredibles, and even Shrek. And aren't we all getting just a little tired of every animated movie ending with a big dance party?

Still, it's well worth watching. The characters are likable, and the visuals are fantastic.

animated movie Battle for Terra © Snoot Entertainment / MeniThings LLC / Lionsgate
Battle for Terra
Rated it: 3
posted: Feb 07, 2010
The lovely and beautifully designed planet Terra is filled with happy tree-dwelling, air-swimming, arts-and-crafts-making aliens. Unfortunately for them, the remaining humans of Earth, having exhausted all their planet's resources and now growing desperate aboard a dying spaceship, are about to start terraforming the planet.

Oh noes!

While populated with plastic-doll-like characters, plot cliches and deja-vu elements, Battle for Terra manages to provide enough new and different to be a good movie to watch. Unfortunately, it is much easier to poke fun at the cliches than to define what was good about it. (Invasion of the Left Wing Planet: the basket-weaving, sky-whale-coexisting, nature-loving aliens are threatened, not by humanity in general, but by humanity's general, the militaristic white male villain who throws a coup to take power away from the black and female speaking members of the council, who, of course, would never do anything so drastic as invade someone else's planet. At least, not without a majority vote.)

Okay, let me say some nice things. The world of Terra was beautiful. The decor, machinery and costumes all had a pleasing reality about them, and were temptingly tactile--I wanted to reach out and touch the rusty gears, the carved wooden figurines, and so on. The characters were mostly likable and sympathetic. And the science fiction elements were satisfying. There were enough twists and turns to keep the story interesting, and the level of angst and suspense was really creditable for this kind of film. The obviously inevitable happy compromise isn't reached until after it seems quite likely that the film will take a tragic turn after all. It's a nice change that the male and female protagonists are too busy trying not to kill each other for yet another bad cheesy romance. And the creators put far more effort into keeping up an atmosphere of suspense than in producing cheap laughs and frenetic action.

Beyond the cartoony elements, Battle for Terra reaches hard toward being a serious science fiction movie. And, at least in my opinion, it does so with a good deal of success. Thumbs up for the Liberal Planet of Air Mermaids!

animated movie Delgo © Fathom Studios
Delgo
Rated it: 2.5
posted: Jan 23, 2010
When the Nohrin's land becamse barren, they moved on under the command of the evil Sedessa, murdering innocent Lockni and taking their land. Delgo's parents died in the purge.

Now, many years later, Delgo is a young adult, the Nohrin and Lockni have a fragile and bitter truce, and Sedessa is banished from the Nohrin court to a distant palace, her fairy wings removed.

Then the kind-hearted Nohrin princess saves Delgo's life, and a seemingly random series of misunderstandings erodes at the peace. But there's nothing random about it: Sedessa is plotting her return to power, and the Nohrin general is her ally.

This is a movie trying hard to be epic. There is a lot to like about Delgo--the backgrounds and animals are visually spectacular, as are many of the scenes, and with a little effort, the plot could indeed have been as epic as its themes of love and hate, war and peace.

Where did Delgo fall down? I'm not totally sure, but I believe the biggest flaw was the direction. Scenes that ought to have been powerful and emotional come off as flat, and I can only think it's due to the puppet-show-like animation, with little effort at what could be called cinematography.

Another niggle, for me anyway, was that almost every scene in the movie seemed reminiscent of something I have seen before. From Time Bandits to Prince of Egypt to Lord of the Rings to The Little Mermaid, this movie feels like a big hash of other movies' good ideas.

And though the creatures and world are beautifully created, the character designs are really weak. They do not look like fantasy races. They mostly look like plastic dolls of human beings in fantasy costumes. Star Trek characters. If they had been less human-looking, they may not have seemed so ill-proportioned and awkwardly jointed.

Add to that the most annoying comedy sidekick character I have ever experienced in a cartoon, and that's saying something.

So, my regrets for Delgo, and what it ought to have been, and what it could have been with more effort. A near miss, but a miss all the same.

animated movie Back To Gaya © Ambient Entertainment GMBH
Back To Gaya
Rated it: 3
posted: Jan 17, 2010
Marketed as The Snurks in the US, and as Boo, Zino and the Snurks in the UK, Back To Gaya was an interesting movie with ups and downs. I am inclined to blame what I didn't like about it on the English translation and dub, since it was originally a German movie. (I actually majored in German in college, but I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even think of checking for an original language track on the DVD.)

Back To Gaya's convoluted plot, dark atmosphere, and scenes with mature overtones gave me the impression that the film was intended for older audiences than I would have supposed from the rather dimwitted dialog. Was it edited down for children? I wonder. Humor didn't translate over too well either in my opinion (or maybe that's just the film being German) Animation was rather puppet-ish, and some of the voices seemed completely wrong for their characters, the first of which can possibly be blamed on its being made in 2004, the second, again, on the dub. But the character designs are highly detailed, and so is the world around them. Gaya is beautiful, reality less so. There is a lot of effect lighting, often in garish colors.

Zino is the not-too-bright hero of Gaya, and Boo is his brainy but cowardly friend. They start out by taking part in a cross-country car race, the winner of which has been promised (by the mayor) a kiss from the mayor's unwilling daughter, Alanta (voiced by Emma Watson), who is secretly also taking part in the race, and pondering why she's the only one in all of Gaya with a British accent. (Just kidding about that last part, but I wondered...) As they drive across the country, Zino and Boo must cope with their own clutzy ineptitude and the nasty cheating tactics of the troll-like Snurks.

What none of these people realize is that they are all just characters in a popular children's television show.

But somehow, an evil genius breaches the wall between TV and reality to steal Gaya's source of power. The Snurks are the first in pursuit, hoping to finally find a way to make themselves heroes in their own world. They get sucked into the real world, followed by Zino, Boo and Alanta. After several nasty encounters with reality, the Gayans get together, see a news report about sightings of the missing TV characters, and set out to find the creator of their TV series (Voiced by Patrick Stewart) for an explanation.

It is clear that the creators of this film have read Inkheart. (By Cornelia Funke, also German: the movie sucked, read the book.)

The movie had mostly lost my attention by the time Boo had to fight an oversized robot, but it ended fairly well. Overall, I liked the storyline and the characters and the world of Gaya. I may be giving a half star more than it deserves, but I want to give credit for what I think was a botch job on the dub. Hope the movie deserves it.

 
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