Sunday, February 5, 2012

Top and Bottom of 2011 - #10

Disney Live-Action Movies
I was brought up on the live action Disney films of the 70s and 80s, and have seen most of them. But there were still a few glaring holes in my Disney watching history. That, coupled with an anemic Netflix queue, led me to start filling those holes. This journey through the Disney vault reminded me of why I liked the live-action Disney movies so much as a kid. They are pleasant and almost always leave you with a smile on your face, even when the humor falls flat. They are trying to be fun entertainment that the whole family can enjoy without talking down to younger audience members or boring the older crowd. When I thought about these movies, the word that kept coming to mind was charming. The particular stand-outs of the crop that I watched last year are The Cat from Outer Space (1978), Toby Tyler (1960), and Freaky Friday (1976), though any and all of the ones I watched this year are worth a look. Even the not-so-good ones.

Wizards (1977)
I consider the animated movie of The Lord of the Rings to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen, but I was willing to give director Ralph Bakshi another chance. This time around he was telling his own story and didn't have to adapt something as massive as Tolkien's masterpiece into a reasonable running time. Unfortunately, free range Ralph Bakshi isn't much better. The fantasy world he creates makes little sense as most of the rules seem made up on the fly. The animation is cheap, often relying heavily on rotoscoping and stills. (Not-so-small side note: I categorically dislike rotoscoping in animated movies. It's as if the director can't decide whether to make an animated movie or a live action one so says, "Let's do both!" But instead of getting the best that each medium has to offer, what we are left with is the worst of both worlds. Rotoscoped images almost always look woefully out of place once they are placed into an animated world. And one of the main reasons for doing an animated movie as opposed to a live action one is the freedom animation affords filmmakers. Rotoscoping throws that freedom right out the window and deprives animators of the chance to fully ply their craft. Rotoscoping can occasionally be used for interesting stylish effect, most notably in Waking Life, but 99% of the time it is just garish.) Characters flip-flop their allegiances on a whim, powerful magical people don't even know how to use their own magic, the bad guy motivates his army using the power of Hitler, and the fairy princess spends the whole movie dressed in extremely revealing lingerie. It claims to be a kids' movie, but I don't find it suitable for people of any age.

Coming up next: Two single-word titles with sprawling stories.

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