Archive for December, 2009

The Cat Came Back (1983)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , on December 31, 2009 by dpallee

A classic 1983 Canadian animation which is a classic example of exaggeration and anticipation.


Heavy Metal (1981)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , on December 24, 2009 by dpallee

Taarna is wounded, but ready to ride her winged companion from "Heavy Metal" 1981

I could start an entire blog on the history of the American sci-fi/fantasy magazine Heavy Metal, with it’s rich artwork and elaborate stories, which is why I have taken a step back some twenty-eight years to revisit “Heavy Metal; The Movie“. This animation feature length movie was motivated by the outcry of audiences since the mid-seventies who felt the publication should take its work to the big screen. The problem was trying to decide which stories, among myriad choices, to adapt for screen, and how to make it into a plausible tale. Director Gerald Potterton managed to staff a group of writers and assign them to segments that would tie one story to another in noted fashion reminiscent of the publication. Each story is fashioned after the original artists’ works and each story takes on a feeling all its own through visual diversity of style. Fantastic soundtrack support from the likes of Don Felder ( the Eagles), Donald Fagan (Steely Dan), Blue Oyster Cult, Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, and Devo (who actually get a guest animated appearance in the last segment). The cast of voices is just as nostalgic with SCTV members John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy and Harold Ramis.

The story revolves around an evil green orb which is brought back to Earth where it begins to wreak havoc through time and space on different places and characters. The stories blend together when they need to and then after a while, the importance of story tie-in is not as important to the viewer as you get sucked into the artwork and separate plots, just as if you were reading the magazine. Those unfamiliar with the magazine may not appreciate this movie as much as the true maven of Heavy Metal, but one thing I can say with certainty-do NOT waste time on the 2000 sequel.

Wizards (1977)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , , , on December 15, 2009 by dpallee

( l to r ) Necron 99, Avatar, Weehawk and Elinor from Ralph Bakshi's 1997 "Wizards"

I consider Wizards to be one of the great creations that was written, produced and directed by Ralph Bakshi. The balance of rotoscopic backgrounds and traditional animation makes this fantasy tale a fun to watch film that I can see again and again. The story takes place in a post apocalyptic world (as so many stories do) where after thousands of years pass, our world begins to repopulate itself with elves, wee folk and a whole host of mutated beings. Two brothers, Avatar and Blackwolf, are powerful wizards; Avatar follows the ways of good while Blackwolf follows the dark side of magic. The evil wizard uses technology to battle his brother, an avid follower of all things of nature. I consider this film a good breakaway for Bakshi from the adult-themed genre of films like Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic. The background loops noticed in the fight sequences aren’t as flat as those one might witness in a Scooby Doo cartoon-I actually applaud his usage of old film footage drawn over with mutant characteristics as a unique approach to save time on this production. Vibrant colors on matte backgrounds are very reminiscent of something one might notice in a Richard Corben comic. I would suggest this one over any of his other accomplishments, although American Pop would have to play a close second.

Rock and Rule

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , on December 11, 2009 by dpallee

(l to r) Omar, Dizzy and Stretch from "Rock and Rule" 1983

The 1983 American released version of the Canadian film “Rock and Rule” fairs as a nice example of 80’s era old school approach to animation. The result of their rotoscopic movement mixed with early developed computer graphics as special effects makes it nostalgic to watch. 80’s era rock mixed in a predictable storyline. The basic storyline follows mouse-like bipeds Omar (Paul Le Mat, singing voice Robin Zander), Angel (Susan Roman), Dizzy (Dan Hennessey) and Stretch (Greg Duffell)who play in a rock band in Ohmtown. An aging rockstar named Mok (voice of Don Francks, singing voice by Lou Reed) still reigns as top rocker but needs a new voice to bring forth a demon from another dimension. He hears Angel’s voice and begins to seduce her with grand illusions of advancing her career. The slow fluid movement of Mok’s hair and zany non-looping animation sequences kept it entertaining. The masked in backgrounds remind one of Ralph Bakshi’s approach to backgrounds in films like Wizards or American Pop. By today’s standards the laser show effects seem comical, but remember, for that era, computer backgrounds were still just being toyed with. A great tribute to some rock legends by bringing together the voices of Deborah Harry, Lou Reed, Robin Zander and Iggy Pop.

Superflat First Love

Posted in animation reviews with tags , on December 2, 2009 by dpallee

I have to thank Jeff Trexler for exposing me to this one. Fantastic animation from Takashi Murakami, Japanese artist who created this short film to celebrate the 6 year collaboration between Murakami and Vuitton. Very colorful, explosive animation that reminds me of Paprika. Great work.

Krabat – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1977)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , on December 1, 2009 by dpallee

the evil one-eyed sorcerer from "Krabat"

You need to be a real animation enthusiast to watch this Chzech masterpiece, or speak the language to thoroughly enjoy it, but I have to applaud this 1977 film by Karel Zemen which is one of the best examples of cutout animation around. The character movements are graceful and the color usage is so fitting to this tale of a beggar in 18th century Lustatia who is lured to become an apprentice for an evil one-eyed sorcerer. The characters are quite expressive-loved the black crows that confront Krabat in the stable. The best place to catch this one is on YouTube where if you don’t have the devotion to sit through the entire movie, you can at least see a portion of it.