Archive for February, 2010

Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by dpallee

Martian Manhunter (left), the Flash (center) and Wonder Woman (right) from "Justice League: The New Frontier"

Warner Home Video has begun to come out with some remarkably entertaining films starring the Justice League of America. My curiosity was peaked into viewing Justice League: the New Frontier after being somewhat surprised and entertained by two recent DC comic animated movies, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight. What I admired about the Wonder Woman and Green Lantern movies was the story itself. So ofetn an animated film can feature spectacular artwork but the plot makes it hard to hold your interest. These movies watch like a good graphic novel reads. The same can be said for Justice League: the New Frontier.

Based from the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, the story is based around the origin of the super heroes who join forces to battle an evil entity bent on the destruction of mankind. The artwork itself is pretty good and I really appreciated the attention to the historical timeline throughout the movie, all the way down to having costumes for Batman and Superman reflect the earlier versions of their comic adventures. Being a child of the comic book era, I appreciated the basic story of heroes versus villains, showcasing one another’s super strengths against one another. I feel they captured the true essence of the stories with The New Frontier. An added attraction to listen for is the voice support of such notables as Neil Patrick Harris (the Flash), Kyle Maclachan (Superman), Lucy Lawless (Wonder Woman), Jeremy Sisto (Batman) and Miguel Ferrer (Manhunter). Watch this and if you find it to your taste, I sugest you go ahead and watch the next great Justice League movie, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

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Cats Don’t Dance (1991)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , on February 13, 2010 by dpallee

Darla Dimple (left) and Max (right) from "Cats Don't Dance"

If you are a fan of the old Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoons from the 60’s I believe you will thoroughly enjoy the 1991 production “Cat’s Don’t Dance”. This musical produced by Turner Entertainment and distributed by Warner Brothers Family Entertainment mixes music and mild slapstick humor to give a wonderful performance and unforgettable characters. The story is about a cat named Danny (voice of Scott Bakula) from Kokomo, Indiana, who makes his way to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune as a dancing movie star. While trying to make it big he runs into a cast of animals who are being used as background support for the star of the Mammoth Studios, Darla Dimple. The character of Darla Dimple (voice of Guiding Light child star Ashley Peldon) reminds one of Shirley Temple with a nefarious twist to her personality. Her assistant/henchman, Max is the larger than life thug  based off the character Max Von Mayerling from Sunset Boulevard. The animation is superb with plenty of quick move and freeze moments, hilarious expressions and comical buildups mixed in with a great arrangement of songs written by Randy Newman and choreography influenced by Gene Kelly. This lighthearted movie is a good view for the entire family.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , on February 9, 2010 by dpallee

Satsuki (left) waits at the bus stop with a Totoro in the 1988 movie "My Neighbor Totoro"

For those of you who feel a slight twinge when you hear someone mention the word ‘anime’ because it brings up images of fighting creatures interstellar robot wars, I invite you to take a step away from the more violent genre of Japanese animation and watch the award winning 1988 Studio Ghibli production “My Neighbor Totoro“. This classic movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki is what I consider the leader and best example of work produced by a now fully world renowned studio. The highest quality of backgrounds, rich with color and emotion blended with a great story and wonderful characters. The story is based around the Kusakabe family (a professor and his two young daughters, Satsuki and Mei) who move into a new house while the girl’s mother is recovering from an illness. The youngest girl, Mei, discovers small spirits that live in the new house which leads to the discovery of a larger wood spirit, or ‘Totoro’ living close by. What makes this story so special is the innocent flow of a story that leaves the viewer with a good feeling about the everyday problems this family faces and the magical discoveries that follow them.

The English dubbed version includes the voices of Dakota and Elle Fanning as the two young daughters and Pat Carroll as the voice of a neighbor’s Grandmother. One of the more imaginative creatures in the film is a large cat that is a bus, complete with headlight eyes, who rides along at the speed of wind. If you have never seen this film I suggest you put aside any thoughts you might have about anime and watch this superb film.

Dante’s Inferno (2010)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , on February 2, 2010 by dpallee

Images from the game "Dante's Inferno" (top) and the 2010 animated film, "Dante's Inferno" (bottom)

After being fortunate enough to view this movie before its February 9th reported release, I felt it my duty to quickly write a review on this so as to warn others before they let their curiosity get the best of them. My advise is to wait and buy the game Dante’s Inferno by EA Games and skip the 2010 animated movie. The movie is based off the new game coming out Feb. 9, 2010 and follows the lead character, Dante, as he travels through the nine circles of Hell to rescue his lover, Beatrice. Part of my disappointment came when I discovered that the film would not be based off the infamous poem by Dante Alighieri. I wanted to give the film a chance though and left myself open to interpretation, as so many films a of late have taken to straying away from an original story concept. The beginning animation was a bit overdone with the halo glowing effect around the characters which, in my eyes, took away from a rich, detailed possibility. Then when Dante finally makes his way into Hell, the colors become much more rich and alive and is very similar to what you might see in Dead Space. Since the film is so new I find it hard to offer too much information about the purported five animation companies that were involved with this production. The final disappointment, to me, was that the story flowed exactly like a video game. At least with video games we are provided with some interaction to keep our interest but here, it was like watching your buddy play God of War. The animation itself was heavily influenced by a dozen different anime techniques, which are enjoyable to watch, however, I feel you could et the same visual satisfaction with a real story by watching something else. This seemed to be a blantant example of marketing fodder for the upcoming video game craze, just in time to catch the Super Bowl crowd.

See it if you must, but remember, I warned you.

Felidae (1994)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , on February 1, 2010 by dpallee

Francis (left) and Bluebeard (right) from "Felidae"

Not as well known to American filmgoers, the 1994 release of Felidae is what i would sum up as Disney’s Aristocats meet Micky Spillane.  The story was adapted from the first novel in the Felidae novel series by author Akif Pirinçci. The initial reviews I read on this film warned of graphic images and ‘not for the weak of heart’. Being as that I have long been a connesuir of bloody movies I felt I was safe by watching this one. Adult language (these cats cuss like sailors) and various graphic scenes (at one point a secondary feline character is shown with her head chopped off staring at the audience) and even a quick sex sequence with cats did not leave me feeling that it was thrown in there for the sake of showing it, but rather helped paint the mood for how an animal might perceive our world and the situations a tom cat like the main character Francis (voice of German actor Ulrich Tuker) finds himself in. This was an entertaining crime drama that start when Francis moves into a new neighborhood with his owner, only to discover that a series of brutal cat slayings have taken place. He makes his way around the neighborhood to find out as much information on this subject with the help of some new founded feline friends. The staging of the scenes and flow of animation in this film is superb, excellent flow of storyline-which helps give some credence to the amount of money spent by Trickompany animation studio…an estimated 10 million marks.

Finding copies of this excellent 1994 German release may be difficult to find and even more difficult for the English dubbed version, but for those dedicated to hunt out this film as I did, it’s well worth the search.