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
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.
Still, it's well worth watching. The characters are likable, and the visuals are fantastic.
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!
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.
Where it fell down, really, was the lack of a satisfying ending. Without giving away spoilers, I just have to say that, in spite of the final success of the protagonists, the victory is rather empty and pointless.
Ok, so they've destroyed the evil machines and freed the parts of the soul it captured. The world is still destroyed. Humanity is dead. A few pieces of the scientist's soul live on in the surviving...umm--dolls? Puppets? Automata?--but even if they reproduce other people-machines like themselves, there will be no new souls. The soullessness of the machine contrasted against the soul puppets was the moral fulcrum of the entire story. So, what was the point? Where is the hope for a future? Or is the future of Earth only that a handful of little possessed dolls can now survive in peace until they rot and crumble?
The lack of any real success, improvement or progress at the movie's ending is really the thing that hurts it the most.