Hit or Miss Trailer Predictions: Capture the Flag

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Welcome back to Hit or Miss Trailer Predictions. This is a series of first impression articles covering the newest trailers on animated films, and breaking down the good or bad that the trailer offers.

When you watch a trailer for a movie, you want to make sure what you see is easily translatable to the normal moviegoer. You want them to know the set-up, the characters, and maybe throw in a few jokes/action sequences to fill up the trailer. Basically, you don’t want to confuse the moviegoer with what kind of story your movie is telling. Apparently, no one told that to the individual who edited the English trailer for Capture the Flag, a Spanish-animated film being directed by Enruique Gato, who you might know as the director of Tad the Lost Explorer. Definitely off to a good start, aren’t we? (Once again, notice my sarcasm). Let’s get to it. Here is a trailer for the film, and you can make your own conclusions.

 

The Animation

Honestly, the animation doesn’t look terrible. This film seems to have a bigger budget for the animation department than many other foreign CGI animated films, and it doesn’t look as clunky as say, Tad the Lost Explorer or The Snow Queen. It still doesn’t look as good as anything Disney or Pixar releases, but you can tell they put a little more effort into the overall presentation.

 

The Story

Unfortunately, this is where I have the biggest problem with the trailer; the story looks to be all over the place. Capture the Flag seems to have four different movies in one. You have a surfing movie, a ‘kid trying to bring his family back together’ movie, a space flight movie, and then a family-oriented sci-fi movie at the end. It should never be this complicated. For example, you watch the trailer for Ernest & Celestine, one of my all-time favorite films, and the trailer shows off an offbeat/quirky friendship that the two characters make, and one that their respective societies don’t think should happen. It’s easy to get into, and you aren’t confused by the end of it. Capture the Flag just looks confused in what it wants to be.

 

Art Direction

I honestly don’t have much to say about this part of the film. It has a generic Pixar-style look. It at least looks better than Snow Queens or Legend of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.

 

Humor

This is sadly another part about which I don’t have a lot to say. The humor sounds generic, and I’m not saying this film needs to be laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it would help if the writing was better, and I couldn’t see the jokes coming a mile away. Or, just make the writing more charming.

 

Any last minute good/bad comments?

Capture the Flag sounds like it’s trying to be hip and ‘with it’. With all the surfing and terms like “dude” being used, this would have been more fitting, even if still dated, if it relwased in the 90s. It reminds me again why films like How to Train your Dragon, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, and Song of the Sea work. Just be your own thing, and not stress out about being modern with the young kids. Remember, the kids who are seeing this are probably being taken by their parents. Entertain both!

 

Prediction: Critical Miss Maybe?

I feel like this film will probably be a critical bomb on release here in the states, but who knows. It could be like Dreamwork’s Sinbad film where it tries too hard to be for the younger crowd, but still has all of those elements that make any Sinbad film fun to watch. I’m glad to see the animation is better than most, but if they would just dial back on the pandering, take out a few of the plot elements, and be a more relatable or stable film, it would be much better. I don’t think Paramount, Capture The Flag’s distributor, has a huge hit on their hands, but we will have to see.

The Other Side of Animation: Tad the Lost Explorer Review

 

While doing research for a film I want to review, Nocturna by Adrià Garcìa and Victor Maldonado, I came across Spain’s film award system known as Goya. It’s basically Spain’s answer to the Oscars. I bring this up because Nocturna was a film that won the Goya award for best animated feature back in 2007. I decided to do some digging to see what other films won, and you won’t believe how many other animated films that I want to cover, ended up winning this award. Chico & Rita, Nocturna, and Wrinkles, are obviously going to appear later on down the review line. For now, I just want to say that the standard of entry for a Goya must be rather low. I have seen a lot of these movies that won a Goya award, and they are usually those movies that are brought over and slapped onto the early morning run of Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon when no one is watching the channel. For example, today’s review will cover one of the winners of the Goya award for animation. Directed by Enrique Gato, Tad the Lost Explorer was released in 2012 to a positive reception in its home country of Spain, but to a more lukewarm reception everywhere else.  It’s essentially baby’s first Indiana Jones. It’s harmless and entertaining to an extent, but it’s also not as good as the really good Indiana Jones movies. It’s at least better than Temple of Doom, though.

The story revolves around Tad, voiced by Kerry Shale, who you might know better as Rufus from the popular Deponia adventure games. He is an aspiring archeologist who wants to hit it big and find treasure from all over the world. Unfortunately, his aspiring goals seem to get him in a lot of trouble at his construction job. After bringing a bottle that was buried underground to a professor at a museum, Tad ends up taking the professor’s place on a plane to Peru to solve some long lost puzzle that could lead the archeologist group to a mysterious city and the power of immortality. Along the way, Tad meets up with a female archeologist voiced by Ariel Winter of Modern Family fame, a “quirky” con man voiced by Cheech Marin, and a voiceless parrot, as they try to stop an evil group of modern day pirates from reaching the lost city first.

So, with all the Indiana Jones name dropping, it should be a fun action movie for kids. Well, if you really wanted something like Indiana Jones, but for a younger audience, you are better off finding a copy of the Ducktales movie, since the characters in Tad the Lost Explorer are very boilerplate for this kind of movie. Tad is your eccentric hopeful, the main female, Sara is your plain Jane character, and Cheech Marin’s character is your con artist with a heart of gold. Even the villains, who are usually the most interesting and entertaining characters of an animated film, are as stale as a loaf of ciabatta that has been outside in the sun for four days. I mean, how many times must I say how boring the characters in a film like this are? Let’s see if I can come up with something new to say about the boring characters. Well, I did find some uncomfortably offensive moments with Cheech Marin’s character, Freddy. There is never a time where Freddy isn’t either trying to sell you something, running away like a coward, only doing something for money, or attempting to be the comic relief of the film. It doesn’t really help that in a film that takes place in Peru, Freddy doesn’t really portray a likable character. It’s like saying “hey, all of my people are cowardly con artists!” Not that he is trying to be a positive role model, but still.  It doesn’t help either that a running gag at the beginning of the film is where Freddy tries to convince people he has a family to feed, and each time he says this, he pulls out a photo of him taped onto another picture with a random family. The first picture that shows up is this family from Africa. Yeah, let’s just say that apparently, Spain does not share the same ideals of racial sensibility that Americans do. It feels like a cheap laugh. The picture at hand might appear for a few seconds, but it’s enough to be noticeable. Since we are talking about jokes, the jokes never made me laugh. I didn’t get one single chuckle. I think the blame can be sourced at how this film is aimed at kids. The best part about any movie is that it hits both kids and adults at the same time. It’s why I love films distributed by GKIDS, and even though I have my issues with them, Disney, Dreamworks, and especially Pixar. These companies hit it out of the park by making films that anyone, young or old, can enjoy. There always seems to be this thing where the rule of thumb is that if the film is aimed at kids, there doesn’t need a whole lot of effort put into it. Well, sorry to those lazy executives who think that, but it’s not true. We will keep rewatching films like Inside Out, Ernest & Celestine, Spirited Away, and How to Train your Dragon because while they might have a goofy kid moment here and there, the message, the characters, the story, and the breath-taking moments pulled us into the film’s world. We were right there with each of the characters. When you limit your audience, you don’t give them the respect they deserve, and the effort put into the movie will most likely not be there. You end up with a movie that seems slow and drawn out for a 92 minute-long movie.

The animation is your cookie cutter Pixar rip-off art style that so many films try to pull off, but don’t. The animation itself is clunky, and is about as good as any CGI you see in any modern children cartoons that are done in CGI. I don’t know what fetish Europe has with making clunky looking CGI films, but they need to start upping the budget or technology so they can to make better animated films using CGI.

With all this said, did I find something about the movie that I actually liked or at least tolerated? Well, I think if a kid has not seen Indiana Jones, though I don’t know who hasn’t seen it, I could see them thinking this film is exciting. It tries to capture that timeless feel of adventure/action in some ways, like the moment they find the city and where it is located. If you lower your expectations, you can find some slightly above average entertaining sequences for what is the diet version of Indiana Jones. I also like the passion that Tad and Sara have for their jobs. I like how Sara, even though she falls into so many tropes of women in animated films like being the love interest and being a tad sexualized, does actually have a profession, and she does something instead of being a damsel in distress 99% of the time in the movie. I also enjoy the sad irony of the fate of the villain in this movie. While the villain is boring as tar, and predictable, the end result of finding immortality, while seen before, is rather scary in a sense. Like I said, the outcome isn’t mind-blowing, but at least it’s something different.

As I sat here and typed the review, I found myself curious as to how to label this film. Was it terrible? Yeah, it was, but was it as bad as something like The Snow Queen or Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return? No. I think it’s just middle of the road bad. Nothing outstandingly horrible besides one offensive joke, but nothing that amazing either. It’s on the American Netflix, if you are curious, but there are so much better movies to watch and check out like A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, and The Rabbi’s Cat. Well, now that we got this film out of the way, how about we shift our focus back onto a French animated film that tries to be too much all at once? Next time, we shall be looking at A Monster in Paris. Thanks for reading and see you all next time!

Rating: Lackluster!