84 posts categorized "Animation"

April 10, 2018


SpotsSince peaking with the infectiously goofy “Fantastic Mr. Fox” back in 2009, Wes Anderson has worn out his welcome to all but those in tune with his repetitive and redundant stylistic method of reducing drama to a steady faucet leak of warm but strange-tasting liquid.

Gone is the polish of Anderson’s dry but doting wit that gave “Fantastic Mr. Fox” its juice. I suppose "Moonrise Kingdom" is equal to "Mr. Fox" but "The Grand Budapest Hotel" borders on the unwatchable.   

The Isle of Dogs animators on the intensity of working with Wes Anderson |  Dazed

For “Isle of Dogs,” Anderson adopts a Japanese style and setting that gives his post-apocalyptic story, about an island of abandoned (virus riddled) canines, its transposed (read obfuscated) political and ideological agenda. “Isle of Dogs” is no “Team America when it comes to targeting its satire. For a movie with so many dogs, this movie has no discernible teeth. Everything feels sterile, especially the human aspect of the story.  


Atari Kobayashi (voiced by Koyu Rankin) is the 12-year-old orphaned ward to Kobayashi, Megasaki City’s corrupt mayor. A viral dog flu causes Kobayashi to banish all dogs to Trash Island, and that plan includes Atari’s own dog “Spots” (voiced by Live Schreiber). Naturally, Atari is a skilled pilot able to crash-land on the squalid isle to track down and rescue his beloved dog.  

Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig), an American foreign exchange student (read radical leftist) activist, investigates a cure for the rampant dog flu epidemic. Some audiences have accused Anderson of taking low-hanging-fruit by reusing the old “white savior” trope, but the bigger issue is the film’s lack of cinematic zing and emotional connection with its audience. “Isle of Dogs” is a cinematic amuse bouche that is not all that amusing. Dog lovers might go for it, but I liked Anderson’s foxes a whole lot better.

Rated PG-13 101 mins. 

2 Stars


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August 17, 2016


Sausage_partyEven without the hullabaloo of discontent expressed by an army of animators (who worked for this film’s Vancouver-based Nitrogen Studios), “Sausage Party” is a comedy whose ribald humor can’t mask its weaknesses. As is a common corporate model in the 21st century, animators were made to work overtime without being compensated. There is, after all, no union for such artists in Canada.

Animators described the workplace as hostile. If these skilled artists refused to comply with working the required unpaid overtime conditions, they were threatened with being blacklisted in the industry. If they left the production rather than be a party to their own exploitation, they were not given a credit on the picture. If “Sausage Party” lacks visual variety, then these untenable working conditions may have something to do with it.

Such background knowledge should be enough of a motivator to prevent concerned audiences from rushing out to see this disposable movie. As a critic, I’m sufficiently soured on the film by these revelations to advise viewers to boycott “Sausage Party” out of hand. Apart from a goofy food orgy (yes, that kind of orgy), the movie is lightweight to a fault. You might get a few chuckles out of watching “Sausage Party,” but at what cost to professionals who deserve to be treated with respect and to be paid an industry standard of financial reward for their work? 


Rated R. 89 mins. (C-) (Two Stars — out of five / no halves)

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June 28, 2016


CANNES, FRANCE —Steven Spielberg’s fudged adaptation of Roald Dahl’s problematic children’s tale of giant (human-eating) cannibals is a drab affair. From its creepy style of animation to its dragging tempo, “The BFG” never engages the audience. It’s not fun. Even those looking to savor a few morsels of gallows humor are denied satisfaction. The film played to packed crowds at Cannes, but few walked out with a good impression of what they saw.

BfgThe story opens in the bad old 19th century London of Charles Dickens. Little orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) gets snatched from an orphanage by a friendly giant (Mark Rylance) who takes his new little human pet to Giant Country. Strains of John Fowles’s “The Collector” come through. There’s also a little “Alice in Wonderland” at play here.

The giant effectively kidnaps 10-year-old Sophie because she has seen him, and will certainly report his existence to others. Nevermind that once ensconced inside the giant’s cavernous dwelling, Sophie can never leave its front door, lest she be eaten by much larger giants with names like Fleshlumpeater or Meatdripper. Oh yes kiddies, it’s “eat or be eaten,” except that Sophie is far too small to ever pose a threat.


It’s convenient that the only non-cannibal in the country happens to be a runt who is about five-times smaller than his brethren. The best thing you can say about the friendship that develops between Sophie and the mini-giant is that it’s a perfect marriage of dim wits.

Mr. "Friendly Giant" speaks in “squiggly” gobblefunk language that bastardizes words. Fart, for example, becomes “whizzpoppers.” When the movie sinks to a farting sequence involving the Queen of England, you know you have been brought low. Very low indeed.


Someone could write a Freudian thesis about how, by diminishing a female child character even further than her undeveloped stature, in “The BFG” feeds into the imperialist patriarchy that the story ultimately hands itself over to.

I hated every second of this movie; I couldn’t wait for it to be over. As for Roald Dahl’s easily mocked title (“The BFG”), the author did at least have the decency to let his audience what to expect little from this SPOS.

Rated PG. 117 mins. (D) (One star — out of five / no halves)

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