Friday, December 02, 2005

Animation Abomination

The Hollywood Reporter had one of its special issues a few weeks back focused on this year's contenders for the Best Animated Film Oscar. Of course, that means it's time for all the studios with an animated film to buy their "For Your Consideration" ads whether they deserve consideration (Wallace and Gromit) or not (Chicken Little).

So The Weinstein Company went and bought themselves a little ad for Hoodwinked. Aww, how cute. There must be some rule where not buying an ad is just not an option. Because seriously, Hoodwinked? Not gonna happen.

I saw a trailer for Hoodwinked in theaters when I saw Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The voice work is decent--that's Patrick "Puddy" Warburton as the Wolf--and the jokes range from passable to actually funny. The premise actually sounds somewhat clever. But have you ever seen an animated film this irredeemably ugly?

Take everything that fuels Zack's hate of computer animation and multiply it by a hundred and you have Hoodwinked. It's a low-budget, independent computer animated feature, and it's a good argument that low-budget, independent companies maybe shouldn't do theatrical animated features. Transformers: Beast Wars looks better than this garbage. Jimmy Neutron is Shrek compared to this. The character designs are dreadful enough, but then look at them move and just try not to throw up.

No matter how good the writing and acting are, this movie is already a failure. It is that aesthetically displeasing. Film, especially animated film, is a visual medium. Therefore, the quality of the visuals is not a superficial consideration--it is integral to the quality level of the film itself, every bit as important as the story.

How you could put an animated film that looks like this in theaters and still live with yourself is beyond me. At least have the decency to take it direct-to-video and sell it at Rite-Aid next to the $1.99 public domain Christmas specials where it belongs.


Steve said...

Those are some of the least expressive faces I've ever seen.

I suspect this movie will do about as well as Polar Express.

Kenny said...

Dude, Polar Express did surprisingly well, especially in 3-D showings.

Zack said...

I don't hate computer animation. I actually thought Appleseed was an excellent action flick. Looked gorgeous. And the CG giant in The Iron Giant was beautiful. And, for as awkward as the rest of the movie looked, the titular spirits in the ill-fated Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within were breathtaking.

I do dislike the Pixar style. It's like watching rubber Legos run around a playset. I feel like the 3D models tie them down too much. The approach is based, indirectly, on (virtual) physical objects, instead of appearance to the eye, which traditional animation (and CG, if it really tried) addresses directly. In animation, objects can have solid black outline sbecause that makes them easier to see. In animation, the nose as drawn head on and the nose as drawn in side view do not have to be the same virtual object from different angles. Think of Calvin & Hobbes' Calvin and his ridiculous head. That would be an impossible 3D object, but the human brain has no problem making sense of it.

Or think of Garfield. We know how dumb that looked.

But Appleseed is evidence that it can be done well. I'm sure there will be brave, exciting American CG films someday. Before I die, even.