The Other Side of Animation 271: Lost Ollie Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

As you can tell with The Other Side of Animation, we don’t really talk about live-action films that cross over into the world of animation. The closest we have talked about it is with Cool World, and the only other contender to talk about in this category is Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We don’t get many of these projects because making them work is a challenge and a half. Not only do you need to worry about how the animation looks, but you have to make it match up and feel composited on the live-action footage. That takes way too much time and money that you know studios will want to not invest into that much time and effort unless it’s a well-known director. Not that it never happens anymore, but it’s very rare. When it does happen, it’s worth checking out, and when they are able to deliver on both the impressive technology with a good story, then you know you are in for something truly special. This is where this new limited series by Shannon Tindle comes into play with Lost Ollie on Netflix. 

Created by Shannon Tindle and each of the four episodes directed by the incredible Peter Ramsey, this is based on the book called Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce. We follow a small stitched-together bunny doll named Ollie, voiced by Johnathon Groff. He was the toy that belonged to a small boy named Billy, played by Kesler Talbot. He winds up inside a small vintage antique store. He is curious as to why he is no longer with his kid, and plans to escape. While there, he meets an old clown toy named Zozo, voiced by Tim Blake Nelson. The two of them decide to leave the store together and also meet up with a teddy bear that knows Zozo named Rosy, voiced by Mary J Blige. Along the journey they will discover more about what has happened with Ollie and his past with his human owner, and discover what exactly happened with the humans that Ollie knew. 

So, what kind of level of interaction are we looking at here between the toys and the live-action humans? Shockingly, both humans and toys are kept separate for the majority of the time. You see some interactions with Ollie and Billy’s family, but most of the time it’s either the toys on their adventure to find Billy, or dealing with what the humans are going through. There are a few times where it focuses on Billy, his family, and Ollie, but outside of a few areas where the three toys are with humans, like at the hospital, it’s two parallel stories. The human side is more about a very terrible thing Billy and his parents are dealing with, while Ollie is doing his best to remember the locations on the map he stitched together from memories with Billy and his family. It’s a very interesting approach because it lets the toys be their own living characters, while also slowly weaving the story’s emotional beats into the narrative as they intertwine with one another. At the end of the day, the story tackles themes of family, dealing with loss, and how grief can affect you. The story does a fairly solid job showing how people deal with loss, and how it can shape people for better and for worse. The limited series tend to weave in small details on where you can pick up on the intentions and mindset of the characters as you traverse your way through the four episodes. Things take a real sudden shift in tone by the end of the second episode, but by that point, the third episode explains the dynamic between certain characters and what drives them. It can get dark, but if you have seen films like A Monster Calls, then you will feel right at home with how the story unfolds. There is a real humanity to everything, and it makes for a somber, but powerful experience as we follow the journey of both the toys and the humans. 

Now, animation-wise, the toys look great. They follow the rules of their own design of how they maneuver around the world. Sometimes studios aren’t allowed the time or the talent to take the extra step to make the characters all move distinct and different from one another, and it results in everyone feeling the same. Ollie feels different from Zozo, and Zozo feels different from Rosy. Not once was it ever distracting or I felt pulled out of their world or watching their story unfold from their perspective. There is a great sequence on a train that really brings the best out of the voice actors and the animation. It doesn’t hurt that the actors attached to the toys are also great. Tim Blake Nelson is fantastic as Zozo, Jonathan Groff brings a southern innocence to Ollie, and Mary J Blige has this stoic but vulnerable side to Rosy. The humans are also strong with Kesler Talbot being a good child actor and able to bring the somber and anger to certain points. Gina Rodriguez and Jake Johnson are great as the parents to Billy. Now, the southern accent can almost teeter on being a touch much, but it never got to the point where it sounded like a parody of a joke of what a southern accent sounds like. The other actors are fine, and the only real individual I was distracted by was the bully who is just a bit too cartoonishly mean. I wish there was some kind of hint of why he was like that to Billy, but sometimes, we don’t get those answers and some people just have a heart full of hate. 

While it maybe could have used one more episode to help pace out the story a bit and expand a little more on the characters, and how sometimes the southern accent could almost veer into being a little corny sounding, Lost Ollie is a powerhouse journey of the themes of love, grief, dealing with loss, and how you use said emotional baggage to shape your own person. Some may say this limited series is corny, but there is a lot of passion and love put into the character beats, and if you all love stuff like A Monster Calls, then this is an ideal limited series to check out. I can’t wait to see what Shannon Tindle, Peter Ramsey, and this talented crew of writers do next, and you should absolutely check this show out. Hopefully, they can also put this on a nice Blu-ray with some behind-the-scenes features of how they made the animation work as well as it does. Now then, we must journey to Japan for this next review, but you will see what the review is next time!




Rating: Go see it!

The Other Side of Animation 270: Dragon Ball Super – Super Hero Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

It’s finally time to do a review on a Dragon Ball film. It’s shocking that I have yet to talk about one of the biggest franchises in the anime industry, one of the most important shonen action shows for Japan, the US, and well, the entire world. Even if you aren’t into anime, you have at least heard of Dragon Ball or one of the individual series that is connected to the franchise. It was hard to escape during the mid-late 90s and the early-mid 2000s. It’s only recently that we have been getting a resurgence of the franchise with two films Battle of the Gods and Ressurection F, alongside Dragon Ball Super, Dragon Ball Super: Broly…happened, and now we have what is right now, as of this writing, the biggest film in the US right now. Let’s just dive right into the biggest movie in the franchise, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

The film is directed by Tetsuro Kodama, written by Akira Toriyama, and produced by Toei Animation. Instead of following Goku and Vegeta, we instead follow Piccolo, dubbed by Christopher Sabat. He’s training Gohan’s daughter Pan, dubbed by Jeannie Tirado. As the time passes, Piccolo has an issue with feeling like he is being the actual father figure to Pan than her actual dad Gohan, dubbed by Kyle Hebert. While this is going on, the iconic villain organization the Red Ribbon Army, now being led under the radar by Magenta, dubbed by Charles Martinet, obtains a young super scientist named Dr. Hedo, dubbed by Zach Aguilar. They make a deal that Hedo will help Magenta with taking over the world if they can make super androids that are superheroes. That’s how we end up with Piccolo and the Z fighters having to deal with Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, dubbed by Aleks Li and Zeno Robinson. Since they can’t get the help of Goku and Vegeta, can the rest of the gang save the day and stop the Red Ribbon Army from coming back from the pits of the earth to rule the world? 

Let’s talk about the animation. Outside of the goofy title of the film, the big uproar about this film was that it was in CGI. It has some 2D moments and bits, but it was for the first time, all CGI. To be honest, this is basically how Studio Orange, the famed studio behind Beastars, would probably make the film. It might use slower frame rates, and sure, sometimes the backgrounds look like typical CGI anime quality backgrounds or very low poly, but unless you are paying attention to that, you really won’t notice. They also had a ton of nice little animation details from how Piccolo holds his phone or flies a plane to how the doctor Hedo and Magenta eat the Oreos when they have a discussion at the beginning of the film. Some of the vast background shoots look a touch clunky, and you can tell when some buildings look too CGI against the much better-looking humans, but the CGI animation is handled well and you never feel like the action is never hampered by the CGI. The designs look on point, and while they do have some moments where they use 2D animation that are noticeable, we have seen what bad CGI looks like from the anime industry, and this ain’t it. 

The script itself is very self-aware and comedically driven, which isn’t all that shocking to many people that are aware of Toriyama’s style of writing. It’s filled with dialogue gags, puns, goofy gimmick names, a few raunchy jokes here and there, and as many lines as possible to avoid getting dragged through the ground by smarmy internet personalities that make their living off of pointing out “plot holes”. It can be a bit on the nose with how they try to cover up as many loose ends as possible, but at the end of the day, it works because the story isn’t about Goku and Vegeta taking center stage to defeat the new Red Ribbon Army androids. Yes, they may be overexplained, but with how bad media literacy is these days, overexplaining is better than ignoring the fact there will be knuckleheads on the net that will look for anything to complain about for views. 

The overarching story is pretty much focused on Gohan and Piccolo’s relationship and characters as of this point in the franchise’s history. Everyone in the Dragon Ball fandom tends to agree that after the Cell and Buu Saga, Gohan and Piccolo tended to get shafted in terms of how they were represented. Once more powerful and imposing characters were introduced, they got shoved to the sideline. Poor Gohan got turned into a neglectful dad by accident, due to having his dad’s hyper fixation that wrecks everything. It’s to reevaluate the multi-decade-long bond and dynamic that Gohan and Piccolo had, since one of the most memorable story arcs was when Piccolo trained Gohan before the Saiyans arrived in the original show. It’s mostly a reboot/restart to make Piccolo and Gohan bigger players for the next film or TV series, which is nice, since how many times can you stagnate the story by having Goku and Vegeta solve the problem? It’s also a story about how some extremely evil people will take advantage of the ignorance of others, and stoke their anger and rage with misinformation that can lead you down the wrong path to deal with a situation. It’s a very topical story due to what we have been dealing with for the past couple of years. It’s very simple, but the execution of it all works well enough for the story of a Dragon Ball film. You aren’t here to see some big cinematic methodical think-piece film. You aren’t here to see a Makoto Shinkai or a Mamoru Oshii film. You are here to see a strong enough script for a franchise mostly known for action. Luckily, the story is good enough to carry you through the different action set pieces, and the action itself is bombastic, thrilling, and grand in scale. They have definitely learned to move away from how the TV show set up fights, to realizing “hey, we are a movie and can do so much more”! The camera does a good job following along or being right beside the characters so you can feel the most intense impacts of every punch, kick, beat down, and energy blast. The voice cast is also on par with the absurdity, the goofiness, and the serious moments. When you have a stacked cast with talent including Kyle Hebert, Christopher Sabat, Sean Schemmel, Jeannie Tirado, Aleks Le, Zeno Robinson, Zach Aguilar, Charles Martinet, Justin Cook, Jason Marnocha, the always amazing Monica Rial, Sonny Strait, Johnny Yong Bosch is perfect as Broly, Eric Vale, Robert McCollum, Meredith McCoy, Jason Douglas, Ian Sinclair, Erica Lindbeck, Kara Edwards, and Bruce Carney. Naoki Sato is the composer behind the film’s score, and it’s rambunctious, imposing, and thrilling to sit through, and matches the tone of the franchise. 

The criticisms of this film are minor and don’t truly hinder the film’s experience. While the film does enough to catch you up on everything going on, it may be more approachable to fans of the long-running franchise, due to the main focus being on the long-running dynamic between Piccolo and Gohan. Sure, you probably won’t see this film unless you are a fan, but you will get more out of it if you know about the connection our two leads have with one another, and how Piccolo was a surrogate father to Gohan early on in Dragon Ball Z. Some other minor critiques include the humor being hit-and-miss, and how some villains’ characters were fairly weak compared to the great android duo of Gamma 1 and 2. 

Even with those minor complaints, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is, well, for a lack of a better word, super! It’s another action-packed heroic explosion of thrills and laughs that make for a very satisfying theatrical experience, and yet another fantastic film based on a TV show in 2022. If you can go see this film, even if you already have seen it, you should go see it again. When you see that a Japanese-animated film is playing in theaters, you should absolutely go watch it, because we need to make sure more of these films hit theaters. Now then, next time, we take a look at a limited series for Netflix called Lost Ollie

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 268: Super Giant Robot Brothers Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Animation is an ever-evolving medium that we will see growing and changing with how we see artists and tech individuals crafting more experiences. We have definitely seen where some roads to the evolution of animation have taken us from CGI art directions now more able to match the stylish concept art, to that upcoming Fox animated comedy Krapolis for some reason wanting to implement blockchain and NFT nonsense. We have seen animated films use motion capture technology, lower framerates, more stylish visuals, and a mix of both CGI and 2D in varying ways. It’s very cool to be in such a world right now, where we can try something out and see how it works. Maybe it results in something that’s admirable but messy, or something that may have a few clunky aspects but is overall executed well. Who knows, we are seeing anime these days use CGI and motion capture to wonderful success with Beastars, so maybe we can see something like that used for American animation. Oh wait, we have! This is where we are with today’s review, Super Giant Robot Brothers. 




Created by Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres, the series is directed by Mark Andrews and is produced by Reel FX Animation. The story revolves around two giant robots named Shiny, voiced by Eric Lopez, and Thunder, voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos, who are made to protect the day from evil kaiju invasions from an unknown alien force that wants to destroy the world. Can our two giant robot brothers be super, and protect the day along with the help of the child science prodigy Alex Rose, voiced by Marisa Davila? What are the origins of these aliens? What do the aliens want? What about the time travel one of the robots went through at the beginning of the show? 




So, what makes this show’s animation style distinct? Essentially, they used motion-capture, but instead of doing the motion-capture data stuff first, and then crafting the models for the motion-capture data, they made assets and models that will be used in the motion-capture process, and they made a production pipeline where the animation is happening in real-time. It’s a little complicated, but luckily, if you go to the Unreal Engine YouTube page, they have a video talking about the process of making Super Giant Robot Brothers. It’s very impressive how they were able to make this work. Of course, they have animators go through the data and give it all of those fancy and polished touches that you expect, since, well, we really don’t need another Ex-Arm situation with motion-capture and animation. Luckily, with what we do have, you can describe the animation as a mix or in the same vein of stuff like City of Ghosts, The Willoughbys, and that upcoming DC-animated DTV film that uses a more stylized CGI look. Despite a few moments where you can tell the motion-capture is there, the show does a great job hiding that aspect. The characters are extremely expressive and their posing gives off so much personality. You got the more child-like movements and expressions, from Shiny to Thunder’s more stoic, robotic, and calculated serious-faced mannerisms. The action also doesn’t get kneecapped by the motion-capture process. It’s still big, explosive, fast-paced, and a thrill to watch. The posing and lower framerate give the character’s movements and motions more of a punch, and you can tell exactly what kind of characters they are by said poses and movements.  Overall, it’s very impressive that this was done on Unreal Engine and a show that is able to use a video game engine. In addition, it doesn’t look like a weird clunky oversea’s animated film or those Unreal Engine demos, where they take a cartoony world and place it in the hyper-realism of Unreal Engine. 



So, is this show all just fancy and impressive motion-capture and action-packed CGI visuals? Of course not! It would be boring if this show was just flashy visuals. There is a story about how our round robot Shiny is teleported into the future and encounters his brother Thunder. The two of them bonding and working with one another is one of the emotional cores of the show, alongside Alex Rose’s journey of finding out what exactly happened to her parents that went through the same portal that Shiny went through. It’s a show that’s mostly about family, bonding, and trust with one another. It’s a show that is basically aimed at a pseudo-young audience, but the writing has enough snap to its dialogue between Shiny and Thunder that older audience members in the teen and adult area will have fun with the action and dialogue. It does balance out its comedy and drama fairly well, as the villains are straightforward, but fun to hear their banter. The voice cast is also solid with the already mentioned Eric Lopez, Chris Diamantopolous, and Marisa Davila, but we also have Delbert Hunt, Ren Hanami, Tiana Camacho, and Tommy Bello Rivas. The opening theme song is great, and it’s a shame they cut it short after the first episode. Theme songs seem to be disappearing all of the time with modern TV, and it would be a real shame for that to be a thing that keeps happening. You need theme songs to hype people up for your show, especially action shows. 

While it’s straightforward and aimed at a pseudo-younger audience, when has that ever actually stopped a show or a film from being good? Some of the most fun things are happening within the animation scene, and despite so much that is going on with Netflix and their situation with the animation industry, the people working in those industries are still going to put out some great stuff. This year alone has given us some really fun series and films, and Super Giant Robot Brothers is one of those. You will definitely feel the power of the Super Giant Robot Brothers, and if you love giant robot stuff whether they be video games, shows, and films, then you should give this show a watch. It’s a fun action-packed comedic romp that is a delight to sit through. Now then, how about we talk about that film that is simply put, one of the best films of 2022? You will have to wait and see what that is! 

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 267: Luck Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Apple. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you, Apple for this opportunity.

Well, before we can get to one of the best-animated films of 2022, we have to go through another animated film that has some unfortunate bad luck and baggage that comes with it. Yes, just like Paws of Fury, there is a development history attached to what is Skydance Animation’s first attempt at giving Apple some theatrical quality feature films for their streaming service. It’s just too bad that the main studio behind the film decided to start off on the exact wrong foot by hiring a known sex pest, terrible boss, and ex-founder of Pixar, John Lasseter. It doesn’t help either that when he was brought on board, the original director and one of the actors involved with the film walked out, alongside many other ex-employees who couldn’t believe the head of the company decided to hire a guy who was a known sex pest. It’s never not jaw-dropping how many of the monsters that plague the industry still get work and aren’t permanently blacklisted. Still, you feel badly for the animators and people who worked on this new film by Skydance Animation, because all of that baggage is going to be hanging over the release of their first CGI animated feature, Luck

Directed by Peggy Holmes, written by Kiel Murray, Jonathan Aibel, and Glenn Berger, and produced by Skydance Animation Madrid (which used to be Illion Studios, the same studio that made 2019’s Wonder Park and 2009’s Planet 51. It stars a teenager named Sam Greenfield, voiced by Eva Noblezada, who is leaving the orphanage system to try to live a fulfilling life. Unfortunately for her, she is also the unluckiest person in the world. Everything she tries to do and be normal at, ends with comedic results with how bad her luck is. One day, she encounters a black cat that drops a lucky penny. Sam uses the penny to get a positive restart in her life, but shortly after she uses it, she loses it. She encounters the black cat again, and finds out that he’s a talking cat named Bob, voiced by Simon Pegg. Sam tries to capture Bob and ends up back in the World of Luck, where all of the world’s good luck and bad luck is made. Can she find a way to get a lucky penny back? What kind of mysteries will be uncovered in the world of good luck and bad luck? 

So, you get that the mindset with Skydance Animation is that when they hired the man who directed Toy Story, was a co-founder of one of the world’s most famous animation studios means your films will be hits right? Well, let’s just remember the other side of Lasseter that was an intensely terrible boss that also made some bad decisions like greenlighting their first big failure with Cars 2, and strong-arming many projects. Well, that’s what feels like happened when watching this film. The overall theme of the film is one that everyone has seen before, where they want a life that’s all easy street with good luck, and that bad luck is objectively terrible. It takes the perspective of how bad luck can be a good thing, depending on how you look at it and how it can help pivot your life. It’s a philosophy of needing a balance between good and bad luck. The film sort of tackles this from time to time, but its main use of this theme is near the end, and getting to that solid moral is not the best journey. For a film that wants to feel grand in scope and has this majestic whimsical music by John Debney, the film is very small in scale. Maybe it’s because the director has mostly worked on DTV films, or they wanted it to take place in one location, or maybe they had some production troubles with having the major location have a copy-and-paste look for the area of bad luck. Whatever the reason was, it just feels small, and the story wants to be more than it is. It doesn’t help either that you are taken through a lot of the World of Luck and how everything works, and that’s cool, but it feels like a rollercoaster ride at points. Not that it’s ever a bad thing, but the world itself feels like it doesn’t have much going for it. It has some fantastical modes of transportation, but that’s about it. 

Maybe it’s also the fact that the designs aren’t all that impressive. For a film that may or may not have had a reported budget of $140 mil, the designs look very simple. Simplistic designs aren’t deal breakers to most people, but there is very little whimsy with many of the designs of the characters you encounter in the film. The dragon design is fun and that’s about it. Something about this studio has yet to impress on a technical scale, and it shows that the rest of the world still has a ways to go with crafting animation in CGI on the scale of more US-based studios. This is why many of them try more abstract and cartoony designs to help cope with the fact most studios aren’t working with a $200 mil budget like a normal Disney and Pixar film. The size of the budget can matter, but it’s also how you use it, and it doesn’t feel like it’s been used well here. The overall animation quality is fine, the characters move well, and the designs are appealing enough, but there isn’t a real wow factor to the overall look of the film. Some texture work looks great, but other times the film looks a touch too polished or there was something with the lighting and shading. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the issue is unless you watch it in motion and compare it to other films that cost about as much or around that much. 

Character-wise, Sam is a decent enough protagonist, but her big angle of how much bad luck she has is inconsistent. With the way the antics are framed at points, you are amazed that she has been able to make it to the age of 18 with how her luck plays out. There also seems to be a plot purpose button to how bad luck is implemented, because it is never consistent with how bad her bad luck is in the human world or the World of Luck. Sometimes she causes old-school cinema levels of comedic antics, which to be fair, can be funny, but other times, she can walk around and function without the bad luck ever being an issue. The other characters aren’t all that memorable either with the only two characters that do leave an impression being Flula Borg’s Jeff, a unicorn, and Jane Fonda’s Babe the Dragon, because they have a history together, but outside of those two and a few quips from Simon Pegg, no one leaves an impression. The cast is full of talented people like Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda, Flula Borg, Lil Reil Howery, Eva Nobelzada, and Whoopi Goldberg, but again, they could have easily been replaced by voice actors who could have offered something more distinct. It’s a film that needed another jab at how to make the story feel more impactful or flow better, because it feels like a first draft at points or there was lost potential within the film’s world and story to be more gripping. Some stakes are set, but then quickly solved. It feels very Illumination Entertainment in that regard, where their films also have the issue of having problems setting up proper satisfying stakes and conclusions. Luck also has an obvious couple of spots where they are plugging in a pop song that they want to sell the movie on, but the song itself is very forgettable. It’s frustrating sitting here and looking at the potential the story could have had if they were able to focus on other aspects more than focusing on the lore of the World of Luck. There is something there with how Sam feels like she was given a consistently bad hand in life after her parents abandoned her at an orphanage and then thrust into life when she didn’t find a family, but it’s told in such a straightforward fashion that it feels like an afterthought. There are some potentially interesting twists that happen, but are then never touched upon again or are solved right then and there. They could have added a few fun animation details to characters and either they didn’t think that through or there wasn’t enough time. There were a few moments where they do add in a fun little background gag, but it’s rare, and you will miss them if you aren’t paying attention. 


With this being the first major CGI animated feature for Apple+ and Skydance Animation, it’s a decent start, but one that will be left forgotten by the time that award season begins. It might have a known creative individual producing the film, but it’s also got a known sex pest who may be doing more damage to the films he’s assigned to help craft may be in trouble. Maybe it’s time to realize that maybe Lasseter peaked by the time Toy Story 2 came out, and everything else was mostly on the shoulders of the other talented individuals in the company. He might actually be doing more damage than good for the company. However, with all that said,  Luck isn’t the worst film of the year or anything like that. We have seen films like Marmaduke this year, and the most offensive thing about this film is how it’s just okay. It’s at best, a middle-of-the-road experience of how everyone needs to take the good with the bad. At worst, it’s a film that maybe could have been better if they let the original director finish up the project. Who knows what exactly happened behind the scenes, and maybe their next film Spellbound will be better. That’s all we can hope for, because they will definitely need to start competing with other services and theatrical animated features that are coming out. Hoping for the best for the teams of animators working on the future films for Skydance, and here’s hoping Lasseter is not up to his old tricks for long. For now, let’s move on to something fun and different with the Netflix series Super Giant Robot Brothers

Rating: Rent it

The Other Side of Animation 266: Paws of Fury – The Legend of Hank Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Productions in animation and in most films and shows are never as fluid and hopeful as you would like them to be. Most of the time, things will happen in the production that you will have to account for, but for films like today’s review, well, an animated film shouldn’t take a decade to get made, unless it was some kind of intensely personal passion project. It was originally announced back in 2014 and was going to be made by Arc Productions, but then that studio closed in 2016 and the film was stuck in limbo until it was revived back in 2020 by an entirely different set of producers, studios, and directors. So, with all this wait and production trouble, what’s the final result for Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank? Was the wait and troubled production worth it? 

It was directed by Rob Minkoff, Chris Bailey, and Mark Koetsier, written by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper, and produced by Cinesite, Aniventures, Flying Tiger Entertainment, Align, HB Wink Animation, Brooksfilms, and GFM Animation. The story revolves around a beagle named Hank, voiced by Michael Cera. He is a dog that has been arrested for crossing the border to have a better life and to become a noble samurai. Instead of getting executed, he is sent to a small town by the warmonger Ika Chu, voiced by Ricky Gervais. When Hank arrives in the village, he finds that being a samurai isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and struggles to get the people’s trust. To help him on his way, he encounters an ex-samurai or in this case, a ronin by the name of Jimbo, voiced by Samuel Jackson. Can Hank learn the ways of the samurai via Jimbo so he can prevent Ika Chu’s evil plans from coming to realization? 

So, no matter how the end product was going to be by the time it finally came out, making a family-friendly Blazing Saddles was going to be a bad idea, because it’s just not remaking or adapting a comedy, it’s adapting and loosely making a comedy based around a film that had extremely specific goals. The origins of the 70s comedy classic were all about demystifying the western that was made through the lens of Hollywood media, and constantly poking fun at how absurd and awful racists are. Translating that for a modern-day family audience was no easy task, and unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work. What you get with this film is a compromised vision of it being more of a loose adaptation of the original film, but instead of humans, they use cats and dogs for the allegory. It’s a touch head-tilting when they try to translate actual jokes from the film, especially really risky ones, and when they shape it around this world of cats and dogs, the results don’t work. Now, that isn’t to say that the entire batch of jokes whether they be reinterpretations of gags from the original or made exclusive for this film don’t work. You can tell at very different points in the film, they worked extremely hard to make this comedy fly like an eagle. They go out of their way to make a ton of visual gags, dialogue gags, and physical comedy bits, and sometimes, they have one that works super well. Shockingly enough, a film that took almost over a decade or so to finally get made, doesn’t feel so pieced and patched together. It was impressive to see how creative they got at points to try and make this world work, but sadly, it is inconsistent as a result. 

Not to say there wasn’t anything to like about the story, since the comedy edge gives it a fun angle to be amusing and silly, but where other films that had goofy premises like Seal Team went all of the way with their stories and settings and made them intensely entertaining experiences, this one did not. What we have here is a film that knows it’s super silly, but also has moments where it wants to have an emotional weight to its story, and the emotional weight turns into boilerplate by-the-numbers underdog hero story beats. There are some decent morals to be had with Hank’s journey, but when you try to compromise to fit a family film angle to an iconic R-rated comedy, then you can see where the pieces don’t quite fit into each place like it should. We end up with fairly one-dimensional characters that are all voiced by talented individuals who are given a script that’s as uneven as their characters’ purposes in the film. Like, look at this cast. Michael Cera, Samuel Jackson, George Takei, Mel Brooks, Michelle Yeoh, Djimon Hounsou, Gabriel Iglesias, and Aasif Mandvi to name a few. This sounds like it could be a real fun cinematic journey, but due to how little screen time half of these characters get, you wonder why they spent the money on getting big names. Yes, you need the celebrity names for the people who pay for the tickets and not the kids who are actually there to see the movie, but at the end of the day, you are having to make a film that everyone can enjoy. Even without the questionable point of casting big names for roles that lack meatier impressions, even the bigger names seem to be sleepwalking through it, and that’s no more clear than Ricky Gervais as the villain. First off, the villain isn’t all that well written and comes off as a ‘what if the lead from The Emperor’s New Groove was more bloodthirsty and was a middling actor?’.  Gervais also just can’t act to save his life. He brings a boring performance that is stilted and has no life to it. You needed someone else with more energy and wit to make the villain more entertaining. 

Animation-wise, it’s fine-looking. For a film that cost $45 mil and was being handled by what felt like 100 different animation studios, it looks like it cost that much. It’s a shame they didn’t fully commit to the more stylized comic book segments, because going the generic CGI route leaves the film looking middling. When they were able to use the 2D animation or the comic book filter on the designs, the film looked its best. Otherwise, it looks like every other CGI film out there, which is a shame. You could work with this kind of premise if you are able to do so from the very beginning. The music is fine. Bear McCreary is super talented and the opening theme that plays at the beginning of the film is great, but everything else was mostly forgettable. It’s the typical samurai and 70s-style tones that you could hear everywhere else. It’s a shame, because the film’s opening song is still named after the film’s original title of Blazing Samurai. 

Overall, while this will be the target of many a roasting and hyperbolic rage baiting reviews as the worst thing of 2022 or to ever happen to humankind, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is more harmless and forgettable than downright offensive. It’s hard to be mad at it when they actually put in the effort to make the comedy funny and not just be another boilerplate experience that somehow got into theaters. With that said, there is a reason why this film is tanking in theaters and why it will probably be on Paramount+ soon. Honestly, it probably would have been a better deal for it to be on the streaming service than the theaters where it’s dying against competition from the big studios and indie releases that people should check out. If you must check it out, wait for it to show up on Paramount+. It’s a shame this project took so long to get made, went through a terrible production cycle, and then gets released to mostly meh reviews and middling box office returns, but at least it has some memorable aspects and wasn’t leaving me with thoughts of feeling like I wasted my time. Now then, next time, we will be talking about a film I have been wanting to talk about forever, but for now, I can’t say what it is. 

Rating: Rent it!

The Other Side of Animation 264: The Sea Beast Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

With the recent chaos going on at Netflix, it does seem like it’s the very end of an era. You would walk in, and they said you could make something that a normal studio wouldn’t bother making, due to how most studios function. While there is still going to be some creative animated fare in production that will get finished and made, that means we have to, as lovers of animation, support these projects when they come out. Being a fan and supporter of the hard-working teams that make these projects means you have to actually watch them on the service they are put on or when they are in a theater in your area that’s playing it. Be loud, be supportive, and make sure word gets around when these films or shows come out. Sadly, due to the fact most streaming services, especially Netflix won’t put the money down for a marketing team, they are solely relying on word of mouth, and that’s not always a winning solution. It usually results in amazing shows and films getting thrown under the bus. For example, if you have yet to add the amazing The Sea Beast to your watch list, then you need to this instant.

This film is directed by Chris Williams, written by Chris Williams and Nell Benjamin, with animation being produced by Sony Pictures Imageworks. We follow a sea-faring monster hunter named Jacob Holland, voiced by Karl Urban. He is a crew member among a ship run by Captain Crow, voiced by Jared Harris. They go on adventures looking for a specific beast to strike down. All of this is happening while the royalty of this world is trying to outdo the small monster hunter ships with big bombastic navy ships. One day though, after taking down another monster, Jacob goes into town and encounters a young girl named Maisie Brumble, voiced by Zaris-Angel Harter. She tries to convince Jacob to let her on the ship and he tries to be a reasonable individual declining her offer to join the crew. Now, granted that should stop the story right then and there, but Maisie ends up sneaking onto the ship and joins the crew anyway. After another attempted takedown of a known beast, Jacob and Maisie get separated and presumed dead by Captain Crow, when in reality, Jacob and Maisie end up washed upon a shore of an island where the famed beast is located. Can Jacob team up with Maisie and get back to land? What will happen with their relationship with the beasts, and what mysteries and secrets will they unravel as they trek their way across the sea? 


First off, it’s really cool that we are getting this action adventure film in a time where there are more action-oriented animated films coming out. Theatrical animated films tend to fall under the comedy genre because they have wider audiences, but with there being a recent push for more variety is refreshing. Not that we haven’t had any straight-up action adventure films of recent years, but they still tended to lean into the comedy aspects. With this film, it gives you the tone right off the bat with this world being framed as imposing, threatening, and dangerous while traversing the high seas. The way this film shows off the scale of the monsters as they attack the ships, and how truly small the humans are makes you feel like you are living in a world filled with giants. The entire film does a great job balancing out the action and the story, so it doesn’t feel like one of those action-adventure films where the action was given priority and the story suffered, or vice versa. It’s always a tricky balance. There were plenty of big action set pieces between the ships, the monsters, and because it is a film about giant monsters, there is a sequence where two giant beasts combat one another. It’s all set up to be intensely thrilling and satisfying to watch. Animation is such an amazing medium for storytelling, and the way they execute these battle scenes is like a work of wonder with how fun they are. 




Like I said though, this is a film that found the perfect balance between action and story, and that means the story itself is just as good as the action beats. What feels so refreshing about this film’s plot is how, while it does revolve around two polar-opposite individuals with Jacob being in the anti-sea monster side of the equation and Maisie the more pro-monster, they give enough time for the typical story beats you see with these stories. They are given the time they need, and the execution feels precise and effective. You end up having some of the most complex characters of any animated feature from 2022. You understand why Jacob would be against the sea beasts due to his past, and how Maisie’s more optimistic and hopeful outlook on life and the sea beasts would shine a different perspective on the situation, with the dynamic between the beasts and the humans. It’s also a film that is absolutely willing to go to more mature spaces. Yes, the monsters have more cartoony looks to them compared to the humans, but don’t expect the story to stay simple. It’s a film that tackles themes of fear-mongering, it’s anti-war, extremely critical of the royalty that runs this world’s political system, and illustrates how history can be told and structured to fit a certain narrative. It’s surprising, but also refreshing how animated films are willing to talk about issues that are more than what most people assume every single animated film is about. It’s all in the execution, and the fact this film is taking itself as seriously as it needs to be is refreshing, especially when some entertainment experiences that are absolutely silly are taken seriously and conversely, experiences that are dark are trying to play as silly. While there are moments of humor, and much of the time the monsters have squishy-looking designs, it never feels out of place when the film has to move back to the the more serious moments. For a film that has all of this going on, it never felt like there were parts where someone put in a note to be more modern or try to appeal to younger kids. Like, you already have pirates, ships, and giant monsters, what else do you need?! Giving something the audience wants means playing your premise straight with no attempts to try and modernize or cater to more modern kids. It’s a fantastical setting. We aren’t at a time where we need to try and be like the next hot animated fare. It’s also nice to see an animated film that actually is two hours long. Most animated films these days are only at 100 or so minutes and there has been this eerie sense of “either this needed to be paced better or they needed more time to expand upon the story, the world, or the characters”. Thankfully, while the runtime is long for an animated film, it’s paced to where it doesn’t quite feel like it, and even when you do get a sense of the film’s length, it’s nice to see the film breathe so it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to get to each set piece as quickly as possible. 




Animation-wise, this is an incredible looking film. The humans have distinct visual designs that aren’t trying to ape off of a similar style or go the more safe typical CGI route with humans that look like Pixar or Disney CGI characters, but look a touch off from those. The humans in this film are stylized, and while having some exaggerated design choices, they mesh well with the cartoonier monster designs. Even though this is Sony Pictures Imageworks, it plays against the usual type of animated films that are under their umbrella. They have a similar design direction that you would see in old pirate or sailing stories. Yes, it is thrilling to get more animated films that take inspiration from Spider-Verse, but The Sea Beast handles its visuals well, and we need animated films to tell compelling stories while having incredible details in their animation. The camera swings and moves around the beasts to really emphasize their size and they have a “pseudo How to Train Your Dragon” feel to their movements and mannerisms. Their bright colors contrasting with the humans and world’s more realistic and drab colors is eye-catching. One of the best details from the art direction is how the main town and kingdom that the film’s entire world is built around looks like the compass on an old map. You can see the design when you watch the trailers or when the ship arrives in port. Voicecast-wise, there is a fantastic lineup of actors who bring some delightful performances to the journey throughout the seven seas. Even though most know Karl Urban for his current role in Amazon’s The Boys, he brings a charming seriousness to Jacob, and Zaris Angel-Hator delivers a performance making Maisie one of the best child protagonists of the year. Jared Harris is great as Captain Crow. Some of the other big names include Marianne Jean-Baptise, Dan Stevens, Helen Sandler, Xana Tang, and Kathy Burke. The music by Mark Mancina reunites Chris and Mark from their time working on Moana. It’s epic, adventurous in tone, and of course, being sailors in this sea-faring flick, there is a sea shanty that you can bet a gold doubloon on that the fandoms revolving around sea shanties will be all over the one in this film. 




The fact of the matter is that The Sea Beast is an incredible adventure. A rip-roaring sea-faring adventure filled with the heart as big as the film’s titular beasts for everyone big and small. It’s hands down, one of the best films of the year and one of the best films to premiere on the streaming service. There is a real shame that this didn’t get a wide theatrical release because this film was made for an Imax screen. This is the power of how services like Netflix worked for letting creators make the films they want, but then just greenlight these projects for the sake of content and give them no real support. Everyone should give this film a watch when it hits the streamer. Hopefully, Chris Williams is able to make more compelling flicks like this, because if he does, I will be there on day one no matter where he ends up making a film. Now then, next time, we will be talking about a new Japanese feature hitting English shores with The Deer King!




Rating: Essential

The Other Side of Animation 261: The Bad Guys Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Subjectively speaking, 2021 was not the best year for DreamWorks. Neither films from the major studio weren’t as critically acclaimed or as well-liked as their previous efforts in 2019 and 2020. Spirit Untamed was a harmless, but boring affair that had a very limited audience appeal, and The Boss Baby: Family Business had the franchise’s slick cartoony animation, but it fell flat in the story department. DreamWorks has the obvious talent and power to craft great or entertaining stories, but it all depends on exactly what they are releasing in that year. What got a lot of people excited was their 2022 output of The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. They looked to be offering something different than their usual films, and that’s always cool to see studios go off the beaten path to try something different, whether it be in the story department or the art direction and animation. Relying on franchise films will lead to burnout, and when filmgoers want to see something new that they haven’t seen before or something familiar with a new twist, and that’s where The Bad Guys comes into play. 

It was directed by Pierre Perifel, who was one of the three directors behind the DreamWorks short Bilby. The story follows a group of thieves known as the titular Bad Guys. These include Mr. Wolf, voiced by Sam Rockwell, Mr. Snake, voiced by Marc Marron, Ms. Tarantula, voiced by Awkwafina, Mr. Shark voiced by Craig Robinson, and Mr. Piranha, voiced by Anthony Ramos. While they get the slickest moves, the best car chases, and are constantly avoiding the obsessed hands of the police chief Misty Luggins, voiced by Alex Borstein, they run into a different problem after their most recent heist. You see, the newly elected governor Diane Foxington, voiced by Zazie Beets, calls them out for being on the way out, in terms of their skills and talents. They decide to prove her wrong by attempting to steal a trophy at a charity gala meant for a philanthropist named Professor Rupert Marmalade IV, voiced by Richard Ayoade. The heist goes belly-up, and they get caught by the police. That is, until Marmalade offers our thieves an opportunity to go good, and the crew decides to make another heist to pretend to go good in order to get back at Marmalade and Diane Foxington. However, after Mr. Wolf gets the magic touch of how it feels to be considered a good guy, can he keep his promise to his friends? Will the Bad Guys go good? What other schemes may come bubbling to the top? 

So, for those that may or may not have seen the film yet, this is more of an action heist comedy. Apparently, there were some people comparing it to  2016’s Zootopia, due to how the leads are discriminated against and how there are underlying themes of some situations forcing certain individuals down that route due to how society treats them. Y’all gotta know right here and now that this is mostly a fun ride, first and foremost. Not to say there aren’t any takeaways to how you can interpret the themes of this film, but don’t come in thinking this is going to try and be a film with a goal to be this complex methodical thinkpiece. It’s a film that’s here to tell a rock-solid story with some great action, thrilling heists, and knee-slapping comedy. While I have yet to read any of the acclaimed graphic novels upon which this film is based, a lot of the vibes and animation details that are shown throughout the film give off vibes and homages to the acclaimed franchise, Lupin III. The way Mr. Wolf runs, the shoes that he wears, and how determined Luggins is to capture our anti-heroes give off very similar feels to Detective Zenigata, and that’s helped with a rather eccentric script and character dynamics. When we get these heist films or shows, some characters tend to be left in the dust or feel undercooked, but the dynamic between our five leads brings a refreshing zest to the overarching story, as you feel connected and invested with redemption arcs. While Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake do take up a lot of the more emotional story beats of the film, their friendship feels like there is a ton of history between the two. They carry the movie’s story, but luckily, everyone else is just as fun to watch on screen as Wolf and Snake. Diane is an extremely endearing and charming individual who is not played as some damsel in distress or buzzkill to the “boys club” vibe of the gang. She ends up being on the same level as the crew, consistently lively, and a blast to watch as her story unfolds as the film goes on. It might not have the most mind-blowing plot twists, and you could probably tell where some of the story beats are going, but this would be a great film to introduce the action heist genre to budding film fans.

Animation-wise, this was the first thing people reacted to when they saw the trailer back in December 2021. We were given another animated film with a stylish and fresh approach to CGI that gave everything a more painted cartoonish look. Hearing how the director said this is where most animation should be heading is a good sign, due to how some projects and people think having super hyper-realistic CGI is the pinnacle, but we aren’t even done with experimenting with CGI animation and animation in general. The fact this film has such expressive CGI with 2D details and vfx composited onto the CGI makes for one of the more visually stunning films of 2022. It might not have the same visual style as the graphic novels, but the fact we are living in a world right now where studios are now shifting towards doing stylized CGI with 2D flourishes is a trend everyone’s rooting for. It gives the film a much more distinct personality. It wears its anime influences on its sleeves, and that’s all fine with me. The more we can mix and match references and inspirations of different forms of animation, the more animation will keep evolving. Also, for a heist action film, the action is flashy, energized, and crisp. It’s readily readable and satisfying to watch. That first car chase, while mentioned in the film itself as the best part, is one of the best parts of the movie. The voice cast is also great, and that helps when you choose actors who can do more than just be themselves. Sam Rockwell is perfect to play a guy with both smarm and charm. Marc Maron is great as Snake who may seem grumpy, but secretly has a heart of gold. Richard Ayoade might not reinvent the wheel with his character professor Marmalade, but he sure is having fun with the role as well. Awkwafina might be the most like her normal self as Ms Tarantula, but she still is fun as the character. Craig Robinson is adorable and hilarious as Mr Shark. Anthony Raimos was a scene stealer and he has some of the best expressive animation out of many of the characters, and that’s saying something because everyone fits their role, and the animation is strong across the board. 

The thing is, there might not be too many unique or intensely distinct moments that make it super original, but as we have said before, sometimes being well-executed is more important than trying to push to be 100% original. FIrst off, nothing is original anymore, and there seems to be this trend of people who so want nothing but original content that they are ignorantly and willing to overlook stuff that’s just well made. The world of film will always be full of creative new takes on familiar ideas and stunningly distinct original ideas. One or the other isn’t going anywhere, and for people to say that Hollywood is dead are way too lost in their own pretension to give a film like The Bad Guys a shot. Yes, you can tell where the story is going, yes, they don’t explain why there are so few characters in the world that are humanoid animals, but honestly? Who cares? We live in a world where people want every little thing explained to them and don’t think about just getting engrossed in the film that they are seeing, instead of what the individual viewers wanted to see. You need to sit back, relax, and enjoy an experience that’s offered to you and not what you wanted it to be. 

If you can pull your head out of pretentious snob territory, The Bad Guys is a wild ride of thrills, chills, and delights. It’s easily the most fun film DreamWorks has made. It might not have the emotional complexity and or depth that you would see in a film from overseas, but not every film needs to be a Pixar or a Children of the Sea. It’s doing well in theaters right now, and if you feel safe going to theaters, definitely go watch this film. You absolutely do not need to go see something like Fantastic Beasts 3. Here’s hoping that DreamWorks keeps going this route of stylized animation and have a blast writing their stories. We need more studios like Sony Pictures Animation and DreamWorks to show that we don’t need to make CGI fare the same way anymore. We have hit the ceiling for hyper-realistic CGI. We need to go down the road of stylized CGI. Now then, next time, we will be talking about Pompo the Cinephile

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 251: Belle Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

It’s interesting to observe the steady rise in popularity of certain animation directors from Japan. For a good long while, it used to be just Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata taking up all of the attention from overseas audiences. It wasn’t until 2016 that Your Name by Makoto Shinkai received the same attention. It wasn’t until 2017 for Masaaki Yuasa with his combo of Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. The hope for the future is that with the acclaim of A Silent Voice, Liz and The Blue Bird, and The Heike Story, Naoko Yamada will be next alongside Mari Okada with her film Maquia: When the Promised Flowers Bloom and her work on O Maidens In Your Savage Season. For now, it’s finally Mamoru Hosoda’s time in the spotlight. Sure, he has had it before with his acclaim for films like Summer Wars and Wolf Children, but mainstream audiences are mostly going to know him as the director of the Oscar-nominated Mirai. Even now though, how can you trust more casual movie audiences to actually go out and see a foreign animated feature when there are barely any theaters playing them? Luckily, GKIDS and Hosoda have gone all-in with his newest film, Belle. 

Written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda himself, the story follows Suzu, voiced by Kaho Nakamura and dubbed by Kylie McNeill. She’s a distant individual who feels alone in the world due to the depression that surrounds her after the death of her mother at a young age. She currently lives with her dad, but is pretty reclusive to anyone who isn’t her friend Hiroka. She even grew displaced with her hobby of singing and music due to how it was her mother who was supportive of it. One day, she decides to join the massive social media world known as U, an online space that scans a photo of you and turns you into who the “real” you really is. She goes by the name of Belle and ends up picking back up her singing under her new online persona becoming a massive hit. Unintentionally, with all that comes with fame and popularity online, her path is crossed by an entity known as Dragon, voiced by Takeru Satoh and dubbed by Paul Castro Jr. Who is this mysterious individual and what will Belle/Suzu’s fate unfold into if she decides to find out who this Dragon really is? 

It’s been said on record that Hosoda was inspired by Disney’s 1991 Oscar-nominated Beauty and The Beast, and the film uses a lot of the themes and elements of the original story. Though honestly?  I wouldn’t truly call it a Beauty and the Beast story in the more traditional sense. There are themes about love and family, which is what a lot of Hosoda’s films are based around, but this time, he sort of goes off the beaten path with how much this film is tackling. It deals with themes of loss, love, connection, coming of age, becoming stronger in a metaphorical sense, abuse, identity, and especially social media with how it warps and changes individuals. It might have some similar elements to Summer Wars, but people expecting Summer Wars 2 should really not go in expecting that. 

The only thing similar is how the film takes place in a social media world, but it doesn’t feel rehashed or recycled. People forget how long ago Summer Wars was and how social media has absolutely changed from 2009 to 2021. It’s more of a story of Suzu’s growth as an individual, and you can see how that progresses from the start to the finish of the film. Belle is full of small character beats of set-up and pay-off that are frankly, so well executed. Some reviews say there was too much going on, but the story never felt like it had too much on its plate. As previously mentioned, there are small little visual story beats that set up the overall story that you can miss if you aren’t paying attention. The overall story is extremely touching and shows how human connection and love can help each other get through life and grow stronger as individuals. 

Animation-wise, Hosoda made sure it was clear that there would be a lot more CGI used alongside his studio’s incredible 2D animation. There seems to be this weird technophobic reaction to anytime someone uses CGI, and that’s a shame, because the CGI here is used well. It might not match what Disney or what US studios are doing, but it has a distinct look that has the same level of high quality CGI used by studios like Studio Orange. It helps that a majority of the CGI is used while in the virtual social media world, and it’s all incredibly stylized. The characters are expressive and the movements never feel awkward or clunky. It also helps that Jim Kim, who designed multiple characters for Disney hits like Frozen and Encanto, designed the look of Belle herself. Even Cartoon Saloon helped out with the backgrounds in U, and it leads to a mixture of some of the best visuals of the 2020s so far. That doesn’t mean everything amazing was pushed into the CGI,  because the 2D is also great as usual, with some fantastic designs, expressions, and when the film wants to be funny, comedic animation. 



It’s Studio Chizu, so of course, it was going to look great, but the acting is also so good. The original language version and the English dub are quite possibly some of the best in recent memory. You can tell the actors on both versions worked hard to hit the big emotional scenes and are compelling outside of those scenes. Both the Japanese and English actors for Belle had their breakout roles in this film. The rest of the cast includes some really big names on both sides like Takeru Satoh, Jessica DiCicco, Hunter Schafer, Wendee Lee, Barbra Goodson, Ben Leply, Shota Sometani, Paul Castro Jr, Kylie McNeill, Chase Crawford, Manny Jacinto, David Chen, Lilas Ikutah, Ryo Narita, Brandan Engman, Tina Tamishiro, Andrew Kishino, Kenjiro Tsuda, and you get the idea. What’s fun about the English dub is that while there are some recognizable names, they aren’t the biggest celebrities around like some of GKIDS previous endeavors with casting celebrities for their films. It’s a dub filled to the brim with character actors and voice actors, which is the best. However, one thing that could have crippled the film is the quality of the songs that were performed by Kylie and Kaho respectively. Well, they are bangers! There might not be many songs for the lead to perform, but what they lack in quantity of songs, they definitely make up for in the quality of songs. The songs play an important role for each part of the story in which they are introduced, and they will stay with you for the rest of time once you leave the theater. The music is, like the visuals, a collaborative effort by Miho Sakai, Yuta Bandoh, Ludvig Forssell, and Taisei Iwasaki. It offers a vibrant offering of tunes that are just as fun to listen to alongside the musical moments. 

Belle is simply put, a powerful experience, with its outstanding visuals, engaging story, and musical moments all wrapped up in one of the best animated films of 2021. It truly deserved its 14-minute standing ovation at Cannes as well as the multiple award nominations and wins under its belt. It’s this reviewer’s personal favorite film of 2021 alongside The Mitchells vs. The Machines. It’s now time for Mamoru Hosoda to have the same level of acclaim and attention that Hayao Miyazaki has enjoyed over the years. If you can watch this film safely, please do check it out. It’s an experience unlike any other in animation. Next time, we will look at the Funimation co-produced and distributed Sing a Bit of Harmony

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essentials 

The Other Side of Animation 245: Back to the Outback Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Heads up: I was able to watch this series before its recent release via a screener sent to me by Netflix. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you, Netflix.

Netflix has been making a name for themselves with the teams and talented individuals they hire to craft their animated work. Streaming has opened up a much wider field for there to be differences within the animated medium. We have gotten shows and films that would not fly within the big studio scene, and it leads to a much healthier artistic freedom. Not to say there aren’t huge improvements to be made behind the scenes, because there absolutely are with how animators, writers, and entire teams are paid and treated, but you can still appreciate the work that they have made. Hopefully, things become better behind the scenes, because the products these talented individuals are making have been really fascinating. For example, this new animated film called Back to The Outback. 

Directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, our story revolves around a group of “dangerous” animals at a zoo in Australia, because if you are going to have a film about dangerous animals, you might as well go the route and place it in a country with some of the deadliest animals around. Moving on, we are following the story of a Taipan snake named Maddie, voiced by Isla Fisher. She lives in a glass cage in the area of the zoo that has “dangerous” animals. These animals include a funnel-web spider named Frank, voiced by Guy Pearce, a thorny devil named Zoe, voiced by Miranda Tapsell, and a scorpion named Nigel, voiced by Angus Imrie. They are treated as the worst things ever, compared to their zoo counterpart, a koala named Tom/Pretty Boy, voiced by Tim Minchin. Pretty Boy is the star of the Zoo while everyone else is treated like garbage. After a crocodile is taken away after scaring a kid, Maddie and her friends decide to escape the zoo to head back to the outback! Unfortunately for them, they have to take Pretty Boy with them and are now on the run! They are being hunted down by a handler at the zoo named Chaz, voiced by Eric Bana, and his son named Ben, voiced by Diesel La Torraca. Can our gang of animals outmaneuver the humans and make it back to the wild?



Listen, this film is getting stuck between so many big releases and releases that aim for a more adult audience. It’s a real shame, because while it is a smaller story, the film itself is still creative with how it handles its themes. There is a lot of subtextual commentary with how the “dangerous” animals are portrayed, and how the zoo handlers get them ready for the show. There are so many little moments and details that you can pick up from the film’s animation beats, that the cutesy designs are almost there to really catch you off-guard with the subtext underneath the cuteness of the visual style. Even the villain, while nothing super memorable, follows through the themes of the film. There is nothing better than watching a film taking full advantage of the themes it lays out on the table for everyone to see. Throughout the entire film, the story itself has all of these little creative jokes and moments that play up the themes of the film in clever ways. Sure, on the surface this looks like a lot of smaller-scale animated films, but when you look past its cute designs and past the somewhat familiar trappings of most family-focused animated features, there is a lot to find admirable about how it talks about the subject matters. Even the comedy has a lot of wit via its dialogue and visual gags. If you are at all familiar with the history of animals in Australia, then some of these gags are going to be a laugh riot. 

Animation-wise, it gets the job done. The designs of the animals and humans are good. The animals themselves are expressive and they mesh well with the human characters. The voice cast is delightful, and they are all going at it like how most actors should be doing voice work. You know, like actual acting gigs. They all capture their characters perfectly. The cast is stacked with plenty of big names that include Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Guy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Angus Imrie, Eric Bana, Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Jacki Weaver, Aislinn Derbez, and Diesel La Torraca. The soundtrack has the proper Australian vibe composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams, and there are a few songs that are sung by the characters in the film. It will definitely remind you that Keith Urban has a great singing voice. 

While the film suffers from some familiar story beats that we have all seen in road trip films, some characters are better fleshed out than others, and not all of the jokes hit, Back to the Outback is a wild romp that sets out to be a fun little animated adventure, and at the same time, deals with themes of discrimination. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse to miss out on it. Plus, Netflix, despite their many faults, was willing to let these directors and their talented team of writers and animators make a movie that was a surprise. Rarely do many films result in a positively surprising reaction. Now then, it’s time to dive into some screeners with My Sunny Maad. 


Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 244: Encanto Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Only counting their canon-animated films, from the beginning to now, The Walt Disney Company has made 60 animated films. That’s incredible, and the fact so many of them are influential classics, award-winning staples, and pop culture fixtures is impressive. Not all of them are great, and some are really bad, but considering the context of the time period they were released, you can understand what was going on behind the scenes with them.  Still, to have a pretty good overall batting average is what a lot of animation studios hope to have. While the number of amazing films doesn’t wash away a lot of the problematic and troubling elements the company has, I’m glad to have been able to see the different generations of Disney films be released and see how things have changed for the studio for better or for worse. How about we see how well their 60th animated feature turns out? Let’s dive into the world of Encanto


Co-directed by Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush, and Byron Howard, and co-written by Charise Castro Smith, and Jared Bush, the story stars Mirabel Madrigal, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz. She is one of the many children of the Madrigal family in Colombia, a family who has been blessed with many of the members having their own “miracles” that make them special. One sibling can shapeshift, another is super-strong, or can hear from miles away, and you get the idea. Mirabel, on the other hand, has no powers and feels like a disappointment among the family members. One night, after the celebration of a new sibling getting the power to talk to animals, Mirabel gets visions of the house falling apart and the magic leaving the family. What is going on exactly? Why does no one talk about Bruno? What is going on with the house and the magic? 



The first thing to really notice about the overall story is how smaller-scale and personal it is. There’s no “this will be the end of the world as we know it.” plotline or something that could change the face of the earth as we know it. A mass majority of the film takes place either within the magical house or adjacent to it. It doesn’t turn into a globe-trotting adventure, and instead becomes a more intimate story about family and legacy alongside the stress and pressure brought upon by the previous generations. The “miracles” you see within the film are not just a creative quirk given to a majority of the family members. Instead, the powers represent the different struggles of certain members of the family. For example, Luisa is super-strong, but her gift is also causing immense stress of having to carry the weight and legacy of the family on her shoulders. Pepa and her ability to control the weather via her emotions create so much pressure to always be sunshine and peachy and never sad. Isabela has to be constantly perfect, and while she looks like she does it effortlessly, there is some real turmoil under her facade. Camilo can shapeshift, but you can look at it as a perspective on both finding out who he is and having to have a certain look to help with the image of the family. The execution here reminds me of something you would see in something via Pixar or in something akin to a film from overseas. While they could have spent a little more time expanding or exploring some of these ideas, I love that they went in this direction with the powers and the main conflict being the bond between the family members. 

It’s also, simply put, nice to see the team make a film that’s entirely focused on a family. It’s not Mamoru Hosoda’s level of focus, but the fact that they keep the family as the main focal point and don’t really leave some of the members out as secondary characters is great. They have done this before, where they introduce a whole family, but most of them get sent to the background. Here, while some family members get more focus than others, the overall family still plays an important part to the story. The igniting point still might be Mirabel and her relationship with her grandmother, but how many animated films have you seen that keep the family as the focus? Even Pixar has been hit-and-miss with the family dynamic in their films. 

Animation-wise, Disney is always going to be showing off how much they spent on their animated films. The time and care that goes into their animated films show why they are at the top of their game. The gorgeous color palette makes this one of the most visually stunning animated features of the year. The designs are also improving from the usual Disney look, and while some of the typical Disney designs are there with the eyes, the fact the main cast has so many different body types is impressive. The voice cast is also great. You have a film full of Latinx and Colombian representation, and for the heck of it, one cameo from Alan Tudyk. Still, outside of that, we have an incredible cast that includes Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Wilmer Valderrama, Angie Cepeda, Jessica Darrow, Diane Guerrero, Maria Cecilia Botero, Rhenzy Feliz, Carolina Gaitan, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Ravi-Cabot Conyers, and Maluma. Of course, this is a musical, with a score by Germaine Franco, and songs by Lin Manuel Miranda. Out of his two animated offerings this year, Encanto has the better song list than Vivo, and I enjoyed Vivo a lot for its music. 

Now, there are a few nit-picks that build up over time. Personally, the film should have been longer. Disney is gonna Disney, and for some reason, most of their animated fare is always 100 minutes. Not to say there needs to be a regular runtime for certain animated films, but they could have easily expanded upon the story and themes a little more to really dive into the story. It would have also helped pace out the songs due to how many there are and how close they can be to one another. It might be the fact that Disney, even though they are pushing themselves a little further now than in previous films, is still feeling like they are held back by their own identity as a brand. It’s going to start hurting them once other studios start going outside of their own boundaries as Sony has. There is much more competition these days, and Disney needs to remember that they can be beaten at the award game if they are not careful. Hopefully, they can, but this is just the animation critic side of me coming out. 

Even with the small complaints, Encanto is quite possibly the best Disney animated feature in ages. It, at the very least, might be my favorite animated film from Disney in a good long time. It doesn’t quite beat a few other animated films of the year, but it’s going to be in the top five. That is, unless some other films come through my animation-loving targeting. Now then, next time, we will be covering  Back to the Outback, the final Netflix animated feature that they are willing to tell you about. I mean, there is also Green Snake and the other animated films they are bringing over, but unless you hear it from them, you won’t know. Either way, we have some animated films to talk about this month! 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Essential.