Just starting to animate...nLibrary technician in a small town...nFanatical procrastinator...nAnd part-time Imperial Officer.
Cartooning, bicycling, camping, fantasy books, etc
Animation that I love:
Fruits Basket, Invader Zim, Excel Saga, Triplets of Bellville, Wallace & Gromit, Nightmre Befre Xmas
A space probe has gone through a wormhole and been lost in the other side of the galaxy. The space agency (consisting apparently of three nerdy scientists and overseen by an ambitious senator who looks like a relative of Ratatouille's Anton Ego) is afraid that astronauts' brains will explode when they go through the wormhole. So they decide to send some chimps--from a museum display about the past of space exploration--and see what happens. This isn't exciting enough for the Senator's public relations sense, so the mission is headed by circus performer Ham, grandson of a chimp astronaut hero.
Where the film really falls down is its reliance on stereotypical characters and situations. The chimps include Ham, an egocentric, obnoxious, clownish type, like Rocky from chicken run with twice the ego, Luna, a serious career-minded female with no other personality, like a million forgettable love interest characters, and Titan, a military/jock type reminiscent of Buzz Lightyear. Left behind on Earth are Comet, an eager young space cadet and techie genius, and Homer, Ham's father figure who plays little part in the actual plot.
As soon as Ham shows up, he starts hitting on Luna. What the heck she's the ONLY female, which seems to be his only source of interest in her. In fact, there was so little chemistry between the characters that I thought they were actually going to forgo the typical romantic subplot. Nope, at some point a little tweety-bird-like alien looked at them, sighed, and said, "Earthlings show love in such strange ways" and I knew the plot was on the well-worn track after all. The romance was simply undetectable. Ham did act less obnoxious at a few key plot points, in a complete turnaround of behavior patterns. And, to avoid any subtlety at all, he wanders into The Cloud of Id, "from which nobody returns unchanged," and confesses he clowns because he doesn't think he can live up to his grandfather's reputation. Meanwhile, Luna asks him psychiatric questions ("And how does that make you feel?")and, strangely, leaves the Cloud of Id unchanged because, in the words of Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest, "Oh, yes! It's all about YOU, ISN'T IT?!"
There are several occurrences in the plot that make no sense at all, and apparently just happen so that action scenes can follow. (The scientists put the completely untrained Ham in a rocket pack and call a press conference to watch him fly it. Naturally, he causes havoc. Duh.) And occasionally the film attempts to slip a little adult humor into the script, which simply falls flat and dies where it landed, failing to either be funny or add any edge to the film.
So, what's good? Frankly, I found the whimsicality of the alien civilization amusing. The three nerdy scientists provided the only real smiles--and even a laugh or two--for me. And while it fails as a film for all audiences, I believe it has what it takes to entertain children who are not too jaded or critical.
Can't give it more than two stars, though. They should have kept the apes as a subplot and made a nerd comedy with the geek trio.
First and worst fault: it utterly fails to engage emotionally. Hey, my favorite character dies and her little girl is sobbing by the funeral procession--I should at least feel a little choked up. Was it just me? Was it possibly the fact that all the characters look and move like plastic dolls, with very little facial expression, and some limbs bending in places where no joint should be? If there was a tear-jerker moment in this film, it comes when you realize how bad the animation is, compared to other recent films.
While the message of the movie is a good one, it is slathered on with sticky gobs of preachiness and lip service. Worse yet, they tried to make this one of those airhead chick flicks. You know, where some teen bimbo who is completely absorbed with makeup, clothes and guys loses her boyfriend, starts to have a faint doubt about her lifestyle, then discovers that she can make the world a significantly better place by giving manicures to dogs in shelters, thus making them prettier and more likely to be adopted. Boyfriend comes back like he was on a bungy cord, and bimbo is delighted because circumstance has proven that being a fashion-slave-bimbo-airhead can be a good thing after all, so there's no need to change her lifestyle. Well, let's just say that Bimbo Snow White's first voluntary act of charity involved giving someone a makeover.
The wizard's apprentices from Movie 1 are here again, with no wizard and no real purpose in the film. Sad and pathetic. The Seven Dwarves are back, too, but without the humor.
I've been hard on this film--it did make me crack a smile once or twice. And I've seen much worse. This one, at least, is not painful to sit through. But that's about the best I can say about it.
The Good: The very medieval soundtrack is charming from the start of the film. The voice acting is mostly well done. I quite liked the backgrounds, and the writing, though not innovative or imaginative or humorous, was adequate. It had some unexpected atmospheric effects as well.
The Bad: This was the sort of CGI they make in blinding saturated, glowing colors, with too much light and ambiance, because someone is under the impression that it makes the film look like cell-shaded 2D animation. It doesn't do that, it just makes it look like an incompetently-lit puppet show. In fact, the lack of interesting camera angles and so on, as well as the general design, gave the film the feel of puppet animation. The stodginess of the animation added to this...but I blame that less on the animators' expertise and more on the ridiculous character designs.
The Ugly: It's bad enough that many of the film's characters look like they were put together hastily out of play-dough, leaving lumps and seams and unsightly protuberances. Others look like plastic action figures with few joints. What's worse is that the designs don't lend themselves to animation, and so there are a lot of very stiff characters who seem to have trouble moving at all. Fortunately Robin and Marion were the least bizarre and deformed of the lot, or it would have been a painful film. The character designs which seemed the most attractive and functional were the horses, who seemed to move a lot like marionettes. (But then they had one of those 'what's Goofy' moments when, after most of the film showed the characters riding horses around, we suddenly saw a clothed horse firing a bow....) Frankly, after seeing the models limping stiffly through the movie, I wished they had tried drawing it or had used actual plastic models.
Still, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
All the good old characters are there, and all nicely in character. (Except possibly Mushu.) What's more, I really liked the princesses, and thought their scenes were fun. Great stuff.
The music was unexceptional, but not bad. And the scenery and animation were fine.
Where it really falls down in in the plot, in my opinion.
In the first place, the whole Mushu storyline. It's so...pointless, really. Was anyone ever in real suspense that Mushu would break them up permanetly?
The princesses' storyline is more compelling. They (and their lovers) are forced to choose between their own love and saving their country. Well, this is Disney, so the answer is, of course:DUH! Follow your heart and let the Mongols destroy China. No question.
So, why weren't Mongols overrunning China at the end of the flick? I'm still puzzled by that. Even ignoring the ridiculous notion that Lord Whatsis would have been satisfied with Mulan instead of three Imperial Princesses marrying into his family, all the Good Guys basically show up and insult him by marrying each other in his palace, instead of anyone marrying his sons. Sure, the Golden Dragon of Unity approved the matches, but that still gives Lord Whatsis no reason to honor an alliance when China has completely backed out of their side of the agreement.
In short, this is a very enjoyable film if you can totally disengage your brain. But if one little brain cell keeps piping up with "Why? Why? Why?" then you probably will not enjoy it as much as you could have with better plot-hole filling.
(Oh, and how did they get across the chasm once the bridge was destrpyed? Did I miss that?)