The Other Side of Animation 36: Justice League vs Teen Titans 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. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

SPOILERS/HEADS UP: I have seen the previous movies and I am going to spoil what happens in this movie. If you have not yet seen this movie, go buy the movie, watch it, and then come back. Plus, this will apparently help make sure we get more Young Justice/Teen Titans-related projects down the pipeline.

If there was one company that is not doing well with their movies and projects based off of their comic book properties, it would have to be DC. Seriously, think about it. Batman Arkham Knight’s PC port was and still is a disaster, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is underperforming since Warner Bros. thought it would be a good idea to get Zack Snyder and Davis S. Goyer to be in charge of one of the most hyped superhero movies of all time (it’s not Fantastic 4 from 2015-failing, but it’s not making a profit), and even some of their better avenues with straight-to-DVD films are lacking in consistent quality. And to be honest, it’s a disappointment all around. DC is trying to be dark and gritty in order to try and counteract Marvel, but it is not working all the time. Usually, I think DC’s animated series and straight-to-DVD movies are pretty top-notch, with just one or two exceptions. Sadly, DC and Warner Bros. aren’t flawless with their good stuff either, since they make questionable moves like cancelling Young Justice because the viewership was bigger with female fans than male. Because, you know, apparently shows that cater to either genders or anyone, in fact, can’t be successful. Man, I’m really snarky in this opening bit. Anyway, I decided to check out DC’s newest straight-to-DVD offering with Justice League vs. Teen Titans. This film was released last month in April, 2016, and is in an interesting situation, since if this film does sell well, we could get more Teen Titans, Young Justice, and similar projects including films and TV shows out of this. As you shall soon see, in my personal opinion, I wish this wasn’t the film to be that savior.

The film revolves around Damian Wayne, voiced by Stuart Allan, after the events of Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, and Batman: Bad Blood. After helping out the Justice League take down a group of supervillains, Damian, being the most unlikable human being in that universe (we will get to that), decides to chew out Batman and the Justice League for being not as progressive with their strategies as he is. Essentially, Batman has had enough of Damian’s obnoxious attitude, and with no exaggeration, forces him to join the Teen Titans, a group of teenage superheroes. The Titans include Beast Boy, voiced by Brandon Soo Hoo, Raven, voiced by Taissa Farmiga, Blue Beetle, voiced by Jake T. Austin, and their leader, Starfire, voiced by Kari Wahlgren. While this is all going on, a sinister evil is trying to make his way into the real world, and is known as Trigon, voiced by the Punisher himself, Jon Bernthal. Can the Titans stop the evil from coming to this world?

Let’s get the bad out of the way. Why? Because for the few good things this film does well, it does a lot more wrong than right. Let’s start with the actual title of the film, Justice League vs. Teen Titans. Well, it’s a blatant lie. Sure, the Teen Titans do fight the Justice League, but instead of being a well-executed reason to have such a conflict, in reality, it’s more, “Trigon-possessed Justice League members wiping the floor with the Teen Titans in a very one-sided fight.”  If this was called Teen Titans: Day of Trigon or something that actually had anything remotely close to actually what happens, then it would be fine. It’s just bad marketing. Plus, the fight only lasts about three or four minutes, and that’s it. However, I can forgive the marketing, since it’s not the biggest problem with this movie. No, the biggest problem with this movie is Damian Wayne a.k.a, the newest Robin. He is by far one of the most unlikable, obnoxious, tedious, overpowered male fantasy, cocky, arrogant, and most despicable characters I have ever seen in my time of reviewing. Yeah, you can argue that he is a super-strong character because he is the son of Batman and the grandfather of Ra’s al Ghul, but that doesn’t mean that he’s a good character or that the stories that Damian has been a part of support his horrible traits. He is so incredibly disrespectful towards everyone, and doesn’t really change. I mean, technically he does, but it doesn’t feel rewarding or natural. They don’t do enough story-oriented events to make Damian more humble or have any known character arc. Heck, since he is in the film, he basically takes up 70% of the time that could have been used for the other characters, since they barely get any screen time, and it takes away from the actual lead of the story, Raven. It’s her story, since she is the daughter of Trigon, and yet, she doesn’t get a lot of development because Damian’s story hogs the running time. Over his development of the DC animated films, he has shown to be able to take down villains, and have encounters that overpower groups of heroes. For example, in Son of Batman, he takes down Deathstroke, a.k.a one of the most dangerous assassins in the entire DC universe by himself with no help! He even takes down a bunch of unkillable Trigon demons when the Titans couldn’t take them down by himself. Damian even beats Beast Boy at a DDR-style game that he has never played before on his first try. They show him struggle a little, but in the end, he bests Beast Boy. I just can’t stand this character, and throughout the entire film, I wanted reach through the screen and punch his disrespectful face. He shows no respect towards anyone, and the story keeps supporting his attitude. Even when he gets blasted by Blue Beetle and almost dies, he doesn’t give an apology for how he acted. Nope, he just gives one of those half-baked apologies that you know aren’t really serious. Again, due to how much Damian hogs the movie, in terms of screen time, it leaves everyone else pretty boring and one-dimensional. It’s ironic since the other members of the team are much more likable and interesting than him. Oh, and it’s sad how Starfire is the leader of the team and a pretty likable character in her own way, but is constantly getting the tar kicked out of her. It’s funny that Trigon, the big baddie of the film, played one of the more interesting character actors of recent history, is barely in the movie. When he arrives, it’s basically the last 10 minutes of the film. Really, due to Damian, everything else suffers. And they need to stop trying to push Raven with Damian. He doesn’t deserve her.

The animation is nicely done, and the overall tone of the film is similar to Young Justice, but I think there is a bit too much blur used, and they could have made certain characters not act like punching bags. The voice acting and script are also hindered with a lot of the voices and lines either sounding flat, clunky, forced, or not really interesting. I mean, how do you have all these talented actors and not be able bring out an overall great job? Oh, and check this out, Blue Beetle isn’t even on the cover. Cyborg, who doesn’t have a lot of airtime in the movie, gets a huge slice of the box art. I understand they wanted to bring in the viewers and fans of the original Teen Titans, including the cool Terra Easter egg at the end, but that just seems crummy that you leave out a character on the box.

So, how would I have fixed this movie if I was in charge of it? Easy, make this a stand-alone film, or not part of the current animated DC universe that was started with Justice League War. I would have not added Damian, or at the very least, made a more likable and enjoyable version to watch, give everyone equal time to develop, and probably focus on a different story other than another “rise of Trigon”-style story. I would have also made the film longer than 70 minutes. The biggest problem with this film being connected to the current DC animated universe is that the overall universe has not been that great. It had potential, but due to different story problems and boring characters, it feels like a disappointment in terms of potential.

Okay, so I went on and on about how Damian almost single-handedly takes down this entire film’s story, but what do I like about this movie? Well, even if they don’t get a lot of time to develop, I love the interaction between Beast Boy and Blue Beetle. The two were very interesting, and had decent chemistry. I like this film’s Raven, and even though she could have had more non-forced snark, she was the only character I felt invested in. She was always one of the best characters to get to know in a lot of the projects that have used her. The fight scenes are pretty intense and well animated. And even though Damian almost ruins the story, at least the goals and what happens is clear. You know, unlike Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the logic used in that movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I also found some the lines in the movie pretty well done and funny. Especially the little interaction between Cyborg and Batman, where Batman asks where all the food goes when Cyborg eats.

Overall, I’m very disappointed in this project. This should have been a slam dunk, since most everyone loved Teen Titans and Young Justice, but the direction this film takes is 100% wrong. I mean, I think it’s wrong that we have to buy an underwhelming movie to make sure we get more Teen Titans and Young Justice. I might be in the more critical minority, since I’m sure there are people who love this movie, and that’s fine! I just feel like if they weren’t pinning this down as the sole reason for future projects, I would be happier to support it. While it doesn’t hit it out of the park, and has misleading marketing and Damian, there is still some good elements about the film. I can only recommend purchasing this film either because you are A. a hardcore fan of DC or B. wants more Teen Titans and Young Justice-related products. Well, this was underwhelming, and I might recommend purchasing this film with a begrudging shrug, but let’s look at one of the more odd animated films I have seen with Mind Game. Thanks for reading, I hope you liked the review, and see you next time!

 

Rating: Lackluster!

In Defense Of: Home

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Recently, it’s been really hard to respect and feel good about Dreamworks. Sure, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a huge success, but you then remember how hit-or- miss this studio honestly is. From trying to compete with Disney/other studios, to doing their own thing, you would think DreamWorks would just do what they do best. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, due to their recent financial issues and having to lay off 500 employees because of bad investments and projects that didn’t rake in the cash. It really doesn’t help when they have films like Home. This 2015 film was DreamWorks’ only animated film of the year that just screamed “Dreamworks auto pilot.” It’s not a great movie, and has annoying characters, horrible pacing, some areas of the film feeling manipulative, pointless celebrity casting (there was no reason to hire JLO for the movie), and it feels like a moocher to the popular Despicable Me franchise. Even with the positive elements I am about to find for the film, I still don’t recommend this movie. So, let’s get started!

The animation is not horrible

Even with their worst movies, the animation from DreamWorks is still leagues better than what usually comes out during the year from the really bad third-party films. While it is not as good as DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda or How to Train your Dragon, it’s still solid enough to not be the worst problem about Home.

The ending can be a tad touching

So, basically, the entire plot of Home revolves around aliens known as the Boov, who are taking over Earth to escape from the “bad guy” aliens who are chasing them. One of the Boovs, played by Steve Martin, through a “misunderstanding” took something that was pretty important to the “bad guy” alien race. The twist is that the thing Steve Martin took was actually an egg case filled with the last of the “bad guy” aliens’ next generation. Seeing the interaction between the “evil” alien and Sheldon from Big Bang Theory (I know he has a name, but the actor is basically doing his character from the “hit” TV show) is touching. With a lot of the scenes being undone by the film’s horrible pacing, Home actually has one nice scene.

Rihanna’s character

Let’s face it, the characters in this movie are either annoying or really forgettable. I don’t remember their names or personalities. If they actually made a movie with likable characters instead of trying to be like Minions, then we would have a much better movie. And that’s a bad thing, since this film has Steve Martin in it! How do you mess up a movie with such a funny individual! Still, if there was one character that stood out because it was a solid child character, it would have to be the lead female, voiced by Rihanna. Even though I feel like the design and age of the character doesn’t fit her voice, Rihanna played the most competent and investment-worthy character in the film. She was smart, creative, funny, tough, didn’t hide from the danger, and has some softer moments concerning her being separated from her mother. She was the best thing about this movie and I wish she wasn’t stuck in this bad story.

Interesting color pallet

While this is kind of a backhanded compliment since the film still doesn’t look color-wise in a lot of ways, I do respect DreamWorks for using more pastel hues for the colors of the aliens. Again, while this doesn’t fix or redeem the film, at least they tried something that everyone else wasn’t doing.

With the recent buyout from Comcast, let’s hope they make sure DreamWorks doesn’t try to make another film like this again. Sure, the film has some tender moments and a few jokes that work, but overall, I found this film to be boring unless you have really young kids. While it might not be as super-cynical as Shark Tale, this is easily one of their three worst movies alongside the third Shrek movie. Please, DreamWorks, get back to being consistently good. Enough of the quantity-over-quality and trying to chase trends! If 2013 to now has shown you anything, it is that your current philosophy is not working. Please, just do amazing movies!

The Other Side of Animation: Hell & Back Review

(If you like what you see, you can go camseyeview.biz to see the rest of my work, where I review video games, write editorials, lists, talk about video game Kickstarters, interview developers, and review animated films. If you want to, you can contribute to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help make running the site easier. Thank you so much for checking out my work, and I hope you like it!)

WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: This film is full of crude adult humor and sexual themes and some nudity. It also has a lot of shock-value jokes that are more offensive than funny. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Do not watch this unless your children are at least 15 or 18. Enjoy the review!

You know what is a really crummy thing about movie trailers these days? No matter what kind of movie it is, the trailer is either way too misleading in terms of what the movie is actually about, shows too much in terms of the best jokes/action sequences, feels cynically produced to think the common moviegoer is stupid, or essentially shows the entire movie. However, sometimes you get a trailer to a movie that had no other choice than to show off what the main product is going to end up as. Today’s movie review had a trailer that was basically, “what you see is what you get. Sorry.” This week, we take a look at the stop-motion film from ShadowMachine films, Hell & Back. This limited release was directed by Tom Gianas and Ross Shuman. It was released back in October 2nd, 2015 to, like I said, a limited release. It had very little marketing, and the critics and individuals who did see it, attacked the movie with mostly negative reviews. Not really that hard to see why this animated film didn’t do much for the movie-going world. Let’s dive in anyway, and see why it might not be worth going to Hell & Back.

The story is about two young guys named Remy, voiced by Nick Swardson, and Augie, voiced by T.J. Miller, as they work at a pretty horrible carnival. One night, with a friend of theirs, Curt Myers, voiced by Rog Riggle, they have Curt sign a blood oath to a satanic book in front of a very specific ride. After breaking said blood oath literally a few seconds after said oath, Curt is sucked into Hell, and it is up to Remy and Augie to go find him before he is sacrificed by the Devil, voiced by Bob Odenkirk. Along the way, the two young dudes meet up with Deema, a half-demon girl, voiced by Mila Kunis, and the legendary Orpheus, voiced by Danny McBride.

Yeah, since this by the same company that used to distribute the hit show, Robot Chicken, you can guess that there will be a lot of raunchy shock humor. While not as shocking as say, South Park or those really bad comedies that go off of shock comedy with no substance (A majority of Comedy Central’s shows), the humor is not really that great. Comedy might be subjective, but good lord, the writers needed to calm the heck down. It felt too busy, and for every joke that had potential, it got run over by five bad jokes. Oh, and this film has a really big fetish with jokes about male molestation, because you know, making jokes about someone getting assaulted/harassed/worse always works! If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic! This is why I really can’t stand shows like Drawn Together or the thankfully cancelled Brickleberry. If you have shock humor just to be offensive with no meaning behind said shocking jokes, then don’t be a comedy writer, since you have no idea what you are doing. I wouldn’t mind the raunchy mean-spirited humor if the characters in this movie were worth investing into, but in reality, they really aren’t that great. They are either incredibly unlikable or flat-out boring. I can tell the actors are trying to make the chemistry work, and from time to time, it does, but you have to get through a lot of the tripe the film throws at you to get to them. I also get the idea of “saving your friend from the devil” and all, and the twist is sort of funny, but we have seen it done before with better writers and shows.

The animation is fine, and it is nice to see stop-motion more than just the films from Laika and Aardman Entertainment, but it’s not up-to-par with those two studios. It’s more in line with a higher budgeted episode of Robot Chicken or those stop-motion TV specials that you see from time to time. The movements are just a bit janky, and are not as smooth as the crisp buttery smoothness you see in Laika-made films. I also found the overall look of Hell to be rather unremarkable. The demons look decent, but the overall design of it all is forgettable at best.

With all of this negativity I have for this film, did I personally find something I liked about the movie? Well, I like the voice cast. Even though the script is pretty lousy with jokes and making actual characters, the actors do a decent job in terms of trying to make it all work. The cast includes Nick Swardson, T.J. Miller, Mina Kunis, Danny Mcbride, Bob Odenkirk, Susan Sarandon, Dana Snyder, H. Jon Benjamin, John P. Farley, Michael Pena, Jennifer Coolidge, and Brian Posehn to name a few. I also find Bob Odenkirk entertaining as the devil. Nothing new or anything, but this is a good actor, and he does what he can to put some likability into the Devil himself.

Still, a solid comedic cast can’t save this movie. Besides a few laughs and some performances, I just couldn’t get into it. I know this style of comedy is probably is not for me, but it seems like I’m not alone in calling the script weak and mediocre. There is a reason why there was barely any advertising for this film. It just came and went like most under-marketed/mediocre films. I guess if you like this style of humor, and any of the terrible schlock that tries to be funny, but is just painful to sit through on Comedy Central, and want a raunchy low-brow stop-motion flick, then you might like it. As for me, I would just skip it and get something like Rex the Runt, or any of the other Aardman and Laika films if you want to watch a stop-motion film. Just comes to show that, sometimes, what the marketing gives you is what you get. Well, we are getting close to the 30th review, so how about we talk about a movie that is an interesting bit of animation? Next time, we take a look at Henry & Me. Thanks for reading this article, I hope you liked it, and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: MD Geist I & II Review

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WARNING: This anime is filled with blood, gore, violence, and nudity. Viewer’s discretion is advised

As someone who grew up when Blockbuster was still a thing, I will always have memories of seeing certain movies or shows on the shelf, and never renting them. I can remember a handful of the titles I never got around to seeing and should have, like the critically acclaimed Fantastic Planet. This was also during a time when I was not really big into violence and gore, and today’s review is about two titles that were stuck in my head that I never saw until recently, MD Geist I and II. If you look at the retro anime scene, a lot of people will point to MD Geist as being one of the worst anime of all time. This notorious schlock title was brought over by the now-defunct Central Park Media, and was directed by Koichi Ohata, the same individual who directed the utterly boring Cybernetics Guardian (which I have reviewed) and the even more notorious Genocyber. With a title that is well known for being the face of awful 90s anime OVAs, this must be pretty horrible. In fact, if you read some articles written up by Justin Sevakis, there is a really interesting history behind it being localized, and how the individuals of Central Park Media felt about the overall project. So, is this as bad as people made it out to be? Well, let’s find out.

The two OVAs are set in this Mad Max/Fist of the North Star/any generic post-apocalyptic world that was destroyed by two different armies. The OVAs star a super-soldier named Geist, a specially-made super-human, one of many that were all apparently wiped out in the past. The plot basically has Geist dealing with gangs, one of the armies, and then in the second OVA, an army of flesh-eating robots and another super-soldier.

Let’s start with the bad. Why? Because there is so much wrong with this set of shorts that makes it so hilarious. Seriously, there is basically no plot, and what plot is makes no sense. What makes the power armor powerful, if all it takes is one strong spear toss to take someone wearing it down? Why did the humans make a last resort plan with flesh-eating robots that will even attack the creators? Why is there another super-soldier when it was said in the first MD Geist that Geist was the last one? Why is there a cyborg? How did a kid near the end of the second OVA get struck by the spear, when he had to have been at least two feet or more off the ground to get struck by it? What does the military gain from double-crossing the second super-soldier when he is trying to get rid of the flesh-eating robots? I could go on and on about more of these plot elements that make no sense, but that would end up taking over the entire review. There are so many story elements that make no sense, that it really does show that the director had no idea what he was doing. He was basically on the level of Hollywood/YouTube not knowing how Fair Use or copyright works on YouTube (remember to fight for fair use and make sure copyright isn’t abused #WTFU), and that isn’t a positive thing at all. It becomes downright hilarious, since you are just waiting to see how bad the plot gets, and it just gets worse and even more hysterical. It helps too that the voice acting is so hammy and horrible, that you can’t help, but listen to how badly the English dub was directed. Some of the action seen throughout the two OVAs is entertaining, but it is also hilarious to watch for all the stilted animations, obvious post-edit changes, and downright sloppy execution of animation as a whole. Heck, the version we got with the “director’s cut” was apparently even better than the original version that had even more mistakes and missing story elements.

As for the infamous ultra-violence seen in this anime, MD Geist is much more violent than Cybernetics Guardian, but I have still seen worse in terms of gory anime, like Genocyber and Violence Jack. Geist’s violence is definitely more graphic than most, but due to the animation, it didn’t make me squirm enough to have an effect. The characters are not memorable at all. They are just archetypes of what was popular during that time in anime. I mean, this was anime during the late 80s and early 90s; you would have to scavenge through the rampant misogyny and violence to find likable and endearing male and female characters. The music is also just cheesy, and so bad that it’s good to listen to.

Out of this entire trainwreck that was apparently the flagship title for Central Park Media, is there something good to be had here? Why, yes. I mean, if I haven’t made it clear, this is a glorious trainwreck to behold, with an even more interesting history behind the production of said series of OVAs. Sure, it can be a tad boring at times, but once those bits of inept insanity come through, it will get a laugh out of you, or your money back. It’s just funny that this came out in a time where Japan was willing to put anything out on a VHS or DVD, not caring if it was well made or not.

MD Geist I & II are easily some of the worst anime you will ever see. Its entire plot makes no sense, the animation is garbage, the characters are stale like moldy bread, and it’s just an insane trainwreck with a director who had no idea what he was doing at that time. Still, it’s a really good choice for a “so bad it’s good” or bad movie night. It has enough crazy to be enjoyable on an ironic/guilty pleasure level. You can find the collector’s edition DVD for about $15, but I wouldn’t pay more than that for it. If you can find it for cheaper, I would recommend picking up this horrific pile of garbage, if you are one of those kinds of individuals. Or, if you want to watch it online to not feel guilty, a site called tubitv.com has both OVAs up. (By the way that wasn’t a paid promo. I would have said it was at the top of this article). While it is a bad anime, I have seen so much worse in terms of both old and new anime. So, how about we look at something crazy, but really good? Yes, next time, we will be taking a look at The Triplets of Belleville. Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: Cybernetics Guardian Review

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It seems like the only industry that baffles me with how inept it can be at times, is the entertainment industry. They can take some great ideas, have a great cast of actors, talented individuals, and end up with something that is just a slog to go through, or so incredibly terrible, that you can’t take your eyes off it. I mean, here is an example. I am about to pitch you an old anime short film/OVA that sounds like the most dumb/fun/awesome sounding thing ever. The title of the OVA (Original Video Animation. Basically, another term for straight to DVD/VHS tripe) is Cybernetics Guardian. It was released in 1989, and was directed by Koichi Ohata, the same director of the infamous Genocyber. It’s about a young man who wears psychic-powered armor that is kidnapped by a cult to be possessed by this new heavily armored god of violence. This god has a huge amount of 80s glam rock hair, and can rip anything to tiny shreds. At the end of the OVA, he fights a large multi-limbed machine that the villain of this OVA has fused himself with. How cool does that sound? You then see the cover art for this OVA, and it looks like a lot of dumb 80s violent fun. You watch it, and find out it’s one of the biggest trainwrecks of Japanese animation you have ever seen. This OVA specifically is just atrocious to sit through, and not just because of the bad story, characters, animation, and setting. No, the biggest sin this OVA/short film produces is that it’s an utter bore to watch. Let’s dive in, and see what kind of bad this OVA is.

So, this whole garbage heap takes place in a city known as Cyber-Wood. I am sure many of you have come up with some lewd jokes with the name of the city, so I won’t make them here. We follow the protagonist, John Stalker, as he is in the middle of testing this power suit that feeds off of psychic waves. It’s meant to be used as an alternate means of force so violence doesn’t have to be used. Unfortunately, during the testing process, something happens to John, and he is next seen getting kidnapped by this crazy cult that has had him possessed by the god of violence known as Saldo. Can John break free from this god’s hold, and save the city from the actual villain of this trainwreck?

If I haven’t made it clear, this film is a chore to go through for multiple reasons. First off, the animation. It’s not the worst that I have seen in terms of fluid movement and character design, but nothing besides Saldo stands out about it. Every single character looks to be of something from that period in time. The color pallet is way too dark, and either because of a bad transfer job from VHS to DVD, or the actual footage is this dark, it makes The OVA hard to watch since you want to see what’s going on, but can’t. It’s not like the fight scenes are that great. You can pretty much tell this project had a shoe-string budget, and it seems like the entire budget went towards Saldo’s first transformation sequence. Cybernetics Guardian is rather disappointing in being part of the infamous clique of ultra-violent anime that was released during the 80s-early 90s. It can be violent, sure, but compared to infamous titles like Angel Cop, Genocyber, M.D. Geist, Violence Jack, Mad Bull 34, and Baoh, Cybernetics Guardian is very quaint and tame compared to the anime I listed above. Not to say there weren’t times that could make people squirm a teeny bit, but after hearing how notorious anime was for a time, it makes you feel like you were ripped off, since you were promised Tarantino levels of blood and violence. I mean, you have a giant armored being with 80s rock hair, how is that hard to mess up?! It’s apparently easier than it looks, because it is boring to watch. All the characters in this OVA are boring and forgettable. I think it really has to do with the pacing, because either limited by the time or halfway through development they were only going to get one OVA instead of more, they tried to cram so much into the 45-minute runtime. It’s like when you see an animated film based off a show try to cram in a whole season of said show into one movie. Once again, this idea never works! Heck, the OVA ends on a sour note since they (spoilers by the way) show off that there are two other armored beings that John Stalker would have probably fought next. Thank you, OVA, you wasted my time with boring characters, very few if any mediocre action sequences, and horrible voice acting, and you tease me with only one decent fight scene, and two other armored god-like beings only to never see them ever again!

So, among this entire OVA, is there something positive to say about it? Well, there is, if even then, it’s unintentionally good.  The voice acting is so bad, that it’s entertaining to hear. Also, with how rushed/forced everything feels, it would make for one of those “so bad it’s good” movie night selections. It’s easy to riff on since this was during a time when Japan was willing to put anything on a VHS due to strict censorship laws. This led to so many garbage titles that make for great comedic riffing.

Still, being made of comedic riffing possibilities does not mean it’s a good product. If anything, it makes it worse, and Cybernetics Guardian is everything that was horrible about anime back in the day: uninteresting story, setting, characters, mediocre animation, and an overall waste of your time. It’s easily one of the worst anime I have ever seen, and not because it’s horrible, but because it had so much more to it, and it never used it’s setting for anything more than forgettable schlock. I would say don’t go see this, but it’s up on YouTube, so I can’t stop you from seeing it there. I would give this a “The Worst” rating, but compared to something like Violence Jack, Cybernetics Guardian is easily more watchable. Well, we covered some good Japanese animation, and some bad Japanese animation, let’s talk about some of the best stop-motion animation around with The Boxtrolls! Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation #20: Cool World Review

(If you like what you see, go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work. If you want to, consider contributing to my Patreon at Patreon.com/camseyeview. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the review!)

WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: There are major adult and sexual themes. Definitely do not watch this with kids that are younger. Viewer’s discretion is advised. It’s also a really boring movie! Enjoy the review!

Oh boy, we are heading into some infamous territory once more today on The Other Side of Animation. For the 20th review, we are going to look at the well-known and hated animated/live action film by Ralph Bakshi, Cool World. Ralph Bakshi was one of the head honchos during the “experimental time” of animation where Disney took a backseat, and animated films with weird and surreal ideas came out. Bakshi’s films stood out with more old-fashioned-looking cartoon designs, but with more adult themes and settings. Unfortunately, his style of animation and film-making, along with many others, ran dry in the late 80s and early 90s, and nowhere is that more clear than Cool World. This film had a notorious history, as in the beginning, it wasn’t meant to be this darker adult version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Originally, this film was supposed to be this weird live-action/animated slasher film where the psycho was this half-human half-cartoon character. Now, tell me, if you know anything about how weird and trippy Bakshi’s films can be, and now hearing about the original concept, how amazing does this sound? Well, apparently someone at Paramount thought this wasn’t a great idea, and basically screwed the entire project over with secret rewrites, celebrities wanting to stick their ignorant hands into the development pool, rating changes, and a lot of Hollywood shenanigans. The final product that we got was Cool World, a film released in 1992. It got panned by everyone, became a notorious flop at the box office with only making apparently less than half its budget, and is probably a film Brad Pitt wishes he could forget about. Honestly, I wouldn’t blame him.

Oh, joyous day, where do I start with this trainwreck of a movie? How about the story? Or, well, what little there is? Brad Pitt plays WWII veteran Frank Harris, returning from war and back to his mother. Brad then attempts to take his mother on a motorcycle ride down the desert roads with an unfortunately out-of-nowhere tragic crash that ends up with his mother dead. If that quick and somewhat forced tragedy wasn’t enough, right as when Brad’s dead mother is being taken away, he is, quite frankly, out of nowhere, pulled into this weird cartoony world known as Cool World by a scientist named Dr. Vincent Whiskers, voiced by Maurice LaMarche. Forty- seven years pass, and Brad Pitt is now a detective in Cool World, a rather hyper-violent cartoony world. During his time in this topsy-turvy world, he has his doodle girlfriend Lonette, voiced by Candi Milo, his spider police partner Nails, voiced by Charlie Adler, another real-life human known as Jack Deebs, played by Gabriel Byrne, and the infamous vixen, Holli Would, voiced by Kim Basinger. Can Brad Pitt keep the order within Cool World? Or will the zany world and Holli’s wild ways cause mass chaos?

So, I am going to be nice to this movie, and talk about its positive elements. It might not be much, but Cool World is a very, well, cool-looking world. I like the grimy aesthetic, the mixture of real-life sets and cartoons, and the cartoon art direction itself. The designs of the characters are very Fleischer Studios, and I really like that. This was during a time where Disney reigned supreme, and every other studio wanted to look like the Disney films. Cool World at least dodges that bullet by looking different. I also liked Nails. He was a good-hearted spider, who was rather wacky.

Now then, that is all the positive vibes this film is getting from me, because this animated/live action film is horrendous! First off, the mixture of both live-action and animation don’t mix! It doesn’t look good at all! This wouldn’t be a thing if Who Framed Roger Rabbit hadn’t come out and do it correctly four years earlier! It’s off-putting and distracting, since you feel like the live-action actors and the animated individuals don’t jive. What also doesn’t mix well is the story. The story is barely there, and it just loves to meander and distract you with little cartoon characters bouncing around and making huge amounts of noise. It also loves to throw in characters who have no character or identity, and love wasting the time of everyone involved in the story. Even the universe that this film sets up makes no sense, nor is it explained well at all. This is especially true when you keep seeing Gabriel Byrne pop in and out of Cool World. How does it work? Why, it’s never explained! They also treat him like he was the god and creator of the place, but we never find out how this world was made. I can’t believe how much this film has going on, but how little it matters to the viewer. In the end, I checked out, and couldn’t care less about what happened, since the film obviously didn’t care.

I feel like the people behind this movie never realized why Who Framed Roger Rabbit was so amazing. It wasn’t just because Jessica Rabbit was sexy, or that it was nonstop nostalgia. It was because there were likable/lovable characters that we wanted to root for and against. The world was more fleshed out in how everything worked, and wasn’t just loud and obnoxious 24-7. The idiots at Rough Draft Studios and Paramount Pictures thought that all you needed were cartoons being loud, annoying, and sexual. Yeah, I bet all that thought-power translated well into only making a little over $14 million of your $30+ million budget. They showed us that they knew what they were doing.

While I can safely say that this isn’t as horrible as The Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, Cool World is still a rancid cynical trainwreck to sit through. Unless you want to own this for a bad movie night, just go out and buy Who Framed Roger Rabbit, if you haven’t already. Cool World stands as a prime example of when Hollywood doesn’t care, and wants to leech off of people who put actual effort into making a good movie. I think we need to take a look at something more calming. I want to be invested in an atmospheric experience. This is why next time, we will be taking a look at the short film, The Garden of Words. Thanks you for reading my article, and see you next time!

Rating: The Worst

The Other Side of Animation: Free Birds Review

(If you like what you see, go to camseyeview.biz to see the rest of my work. If you want to, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the review!)

When you are an animation studio, and you are putting out your first big animated feature, it’s rather daunting. Reel FX, the Dallas-based studio behind today’s film, Free Birds, has experience with straight-to-DVD stuff or animated shorts, but the rules change when you have to move from one type of animation to another. I will talk more about this in the future with The Book of Life since we are here to talk about their first big CGI animated feature, Free Birds. Directed by Jimmy Hayward, who has worked on multiple Pixar films, and was the unfortunate director of Jonah Hex, Free Birds was released on November 1st of 2013. It was critically panned, but made its money back in spades, which the film should consider itself lucky that it did, due to the fact that it came out a few weeks before the gigantic hit Frozen made its way into theaters. So, do I think Free Birds is bad? Do I think it’s good? Well, I’m going to stop you cold turkey, and tell you in a review what I think of this film. I oh so apologize/not apologize for that pun.

The story revolves around a turkey named Reggie, voiced by Owen Wilson. Reggie is the presidential pardoned turkey, who ends up living with the leader of the world. One night he gets kidnapped by this buff turkey named Jake, voiced by Wood Harrelson. The two of them sneak into a secret base (with some groan-worthy product placements), obtain a time machine named Steve, voiced by George Takei, and go all the way back to the very first Thanksgiving to prevent turkeys from being the main course of feasts in the future. Along the way they meet some wild turkeys, with one female turkey voiced by Amy Poehler. Can they change history, or will they become the next Thanksgiving feast?

Yeah, this movie sounds stupid doesn’t it? In a sense, it is. It sounds more like a plot to a short film or a Looney Toons cartoon than a setting that could hold a two-hour movie. In short, it really doesn’t hold up. The idea sounds creative and might lead to some funny jokes, but the plot is stretched thin with a very generic story where Reggie saves the turkeys from the humans. None of the characters are memorable, with the exception of Jake and Steve. Even Amy Poehler, who I think is very funny, and has done amazingly in films like Inside Out, isn’t given a lot to work with. She is just an uninteresting female character. I think the film could have cut out a lot of the characters, like some of the side character turkeys who have no real reason to be there or have any dimension to them. Owen Wilson as the main character isn’t the worst choice, but just like everyone else, he doesn’t have a lot to work with, and just ends up not making me feel invested with the character. I am never in the camp that hates his acting; I just think his movie choices are always mediocre, unless I find him in a Woody Allen film or Wes Anderson production. Owen Wilson just keeps using that doofy, nice guy character that is almost in every film he is in. Oh, and let’s just mention how stereotypical the Native American turkeys and the Native Americans are portrayed in this film. Not incredibly out-of-control racist, but very children-movie-oriented stereotypical. It’s also kind of awkward when one of them says, “It’s better than my wife’s cooking.” Yeah, I’ll stop right there. Oh, and make sure you find a lot of the blatant product placement. Man, it’s not in your face, but it’s in there enough to be annoying.

 

So, I must really hate this entire movie, huh? Well, within all this spread-thin plot, and stupidity of the setup, I did find myself laughing at a few moments. I think between many of the mediocre story bits were some funny moments. Most of them did come from Woody Harrelson, who is a lot of fun to watch in this movie, and George Takei as the voice for the Time Machine. While George doesn’t have the best material, he is one of those guys that can make the phone book sound interesting. Heck, even having George Takei’s character reading 50 Shades of Grey would have made this movie 100% better. I admire his delivery more than the actual material at hand. I also liked the beginning bit when the President’s daughter is hauling Owen Wilson around. She makes these little comments toward people, like blabbing out that a female secretary on the helicopter loves her dad, who I remind you, is the president, and when they get back, she says that a maid eats her feelings. I can’t really pin down why that little sequence made me laugh, but I guess that my expectations were so low that those jokes caught me off-guard. It’s a shame that not a lot of jokes like that were used throughout the film. Those few jokes were more humorous than the constant and multiple jokes about turkey butt.

I will also mention that the animation is definitely better than something like The Nut Job. It still isn’t up to Dreamworks or Pixar levels of CGI, and having a lesser budget made the comedic animation suffer, since it needed to be a tad faster to capture that fast-paced timing from the Tom and Jerry-era of comedic timing. They could have used a lot more time and money to have more polished animation and character models.

So, what do I think of the film overall? I think it’s too forgettable and predictable to be anything worth mentioning or seeing, but at the same time, I found little elements and bits of the film to be enjoyable and fun. Don’t get me wrong, this is a stupid movie with a stupid concept. It’s a bad movie. It doesn’t hit a lot of the emotional notes that it wants to, a lot of the characters are not that interesting, the humor falls flat, and the stereotypical portrayal of certain individuals can be looked at as questionable.  However, I will say that it is better than something like The Nut Job and a few other films I am going to tackle later on. If I was watching someone’s child, and they wanted to watch this, I could see why, though I will be frank and say that they need better movies. Not the best film I have seen, but then again, it came out in a year where films in general were not that great. Well, now that we got this film out of the way, I think it’s time to bring back another GKIDS film as we take a look at their first ever release, Azur & Asmar: The Prince’s Quest. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

The Other Side of Animation: Fritz the Cat: The Movie Review

(If you like what you see, go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work. If you want to, consider supporting my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. Enjoy the review!)

WARNING/PARENTAL HEADS UP!: There are major adult and sexual themes. Definitely do not watch this with kids that are younger. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Enjoy the review!

Yup, today we are going to dive into the creative, albeit crazy mind of one of the animation industry’s biggest names, Ralph Bakshi, and his first animated film, Fritz the Cat released in 1972. Directed by Ralph Bakshi himself, and based off the comic series by cartoonist Robert Crumb, Fritz the Cat is infamous for being the first animated film aimed directly at adults with the now-defunct X rating. During that period of time, the film was rather controversial with the themes it was covering. It was a financial success with a budget of one million dollars, and raked in a total of $90 million, making it one of the most profitable money-making indie films of all time. So, how does this film from 1972 age? Well, let’s find it out.

Instead of a sweeping three-part story, Fritz the Cat is about, well, Fritz the Cat, voiced by Skip Hinnant of The Electric Company fame. The overall movie is about his adventures with college life, sex, race relation, politics, and other themes that were prominent at that time period.

For the time, I can see why Fritz the Cat got so much acclaim. It was a daring piece of cinema. It’s an adult-only animated film that showed that not all animated films needed to be aimed at just children and families. It was pretty much the correct time to start experimenting with moviegoers since this was the era where Disney was not doing very well, and other animation studios came to fruition and made some memorable films that were both good and bad. The art style was also more adult, with what looks like an adult underground comic version of a Disney film with its talking animals and so on. The themes of the free love movement, race relations, religion, and politics are tackled, and for the time, this was very different since it was an animated film. It wasn’t some live-action low-budget exploitation flick, this was a hand-drawn animated feature with talking animals that represented the humans of said time. The overall cinematic experience paints a rather depressing image of a cynical impressionable time of the characters trying to find oneself and explore the world around them.

The animation is also pretty good for that time period. Don’t get me wrong, it still has its clunky/rough elements, but for a million-dollar budget, it looks solid. I enjoyed how the film didn’t really sound like it had a script. It felt like improvisational cinema. The actors may have had a script, but it all seemed very spontaneous. The way the characters talked, with the exception of Fritz’s rants at the beginning of pretentious college life, made it feel more natural in terms of the performances given.

Unfortunately, at least for me, the film is a major trainwreck when it comes to a flowing narrative and characters. Due to the story not really having a set path, and wanting to be this satirical take on all of these topics, the themes the film touches upon doesn’t have a satisfactory conclusion. As the movie went on, I found myself not caring about Fritz and his exploits. In fact, Fritz is a pretty unlikable character. Sure, I could see what was being brought up during each vignette, but at the same time, due to how the film is paced, I ended up losing interest. Even the ending, when you think Fritz would learn something from everything, he doesn’t. He started out as a hypocritical whiner that complained about how college life sucks, but then ends up acting like the very same people he hates just in order to bed the aloof female students. Speaking of aloof college students, the film does not paint college life in a very positive frame of mind. They make it feel like college kids are ostentatious and not very wise. They latch onto causes that they think is important and try to be philosophical with the cause, but don’t really think before they speak. The only character you follow and try to invest in is Fritz, and he is a pretentious, hypocritical, mean-spirited individual.

I know this film is labeled as a satirical take on events of the time, but Fritz the Cat is a mess. With an incoherent plot, unlikable characters, an unsatisfying ending, it isn’t a fully enjoyable film. Fritz the Cat needed focus and a better script to lead to a substantial end.  I will not discredit its place in history though, since that’s a bit nutty to do so. It would be like me saying that Akira didn’t do anything for Japanese animation or Final Fantasy VII didn’t change the mass appeal of Japanese-style RPGs here in the west. You don’t have to like them, but taking away their legacy is insulting. However, if you really want to see this X-rated film, well, there is nothing that I can do to stop you. It’s an interesting period piece of film making, but it doesn’t really hold up. There is a sequel to this film, but it doesn’t have Bakshi or the cartoon’s creator input at all, and it is one of the worst animated films I have ever seen. See Fritz the Cat as a curiosity, but there is no harm in seeing Bakshi’s other work like Wizards or American Pop. Well, Thanksgiving was upon us, so how about we check out a Thanksgiving-themed movie? I was thinking of maybe…Free Birds! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Lackluster!

In Defense Of: The Black Cauldron

(If you like what you see, go to camseyeview.biz for more of my work. If you want to, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the article!)

Welcome to the first edition of “In Defense Of…” This is where I write an editorial covering a couple of positive elements of Disney, Dreamworks, or Pixar films that were negatively reviewed or downright panned by the critics and audiences.

Pop quiz time! What do you get when you have a big budget, take seven years to make a movie, and then release it in 1985? Well, you get what is widely known to be Disney’s biggest flop in terms of an animated film, The Black Cauldron. Most people these days are more familiar with the huge financial and critical Disney flops like John Carter and The Lone Ranger, two infamously horrible movies that did incredibly poorly at the box office. Not United Passions flop, but it did so badly that it was beaten out by The Care Bears Movie. Think about that for a moment, a film so bad, that another mediocre movie did better. The Black Cauldron put the studio into major jeopardy, which was luckily saved by the likes of The Great Mouse Detectives, Oliver and Company, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and of course, The Little Mermaid, which started the famous Disney Renaissance of the 90s.  So, with all of this failure behind the movie and its development history of last-minute changes, is there anything good/redeemable for this movie? Well, yes. I think there are a couple of good elements, and apparently, I am not the only one who thinks so, since the film is now getting a cult following. Let’s begin! Oh, and spoilers!

 

  • The beautiful animation

During this time at Disney, they were pretty much reusing a lot of their animation from past films like The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Snow White, and so on. It made the films feel cheap, and while I like movies like Disney’s Robin Hood, it felt like they were doing this because the films took a long time to make, and they wanted to save a lot of money. However, from what I have seen, The Black Cauldron is 100% original animation. No rehashes. It also looks good with the smooth movements and, during the death scene of the villain, very detailed. It’s a good-looking movie. It’s just a shame so much money went into the animation, but it had a mediocre story.

 

  • The Villain/Villain Death

While you can argue that there isn’t much to this villain, The Horned King is one of the most intimidating villains in Disney’s cannon. It doesn’t hurt either that he is voiced by famous actor John Hurt. There is something really unsettling about him from his design to the raspy voice. I bet for the kids that saw this movie, The Horned King gave them nightmares. On top of that, his villain death is probably the most graphic out of any Disney film. At the end of the movie he is forcefully pulled in to the titular Black Cauldron. His skin peels and tears away from him, and his bones turn to dust as he is pulled into the cauldron kicking and screaming. It’s gruesome, if you couldn’t tell.

 

  • The Atmosphere

The movie lacks in a lot of elements, but The Black Cauldron has some great atmosphere at some points. The film makes you feel like you are in this grungy fantasy world, where there is no hope among the human and creatures that live there. Sure, the immersion sometimes comes to a halt when you have to deal with some of the pointless side characters, but when the film is quiet, you feel fully inside the film’s world.

Unfortunately, even looking at all of these positives, this is easily one of the weakest Disney films I have ever seen. Its story is thin, the characters are either forgettable or annoying, the ending is underwhelming, and for all the money and time put into the film’s animation and marketing, you would think this would have been great. I guess it also doesn’t help that The Black Cauldron is based off a series of books. I don’t know, I feel like if they made the characters more interesting and not have the many Disney tropes, the film would have at least been solid. They probably should have gone full-on dark fantasy. I’m fine with you if you like it, since as I listed, there are good elements. It’s just not personally my favorite Disney film. Well, I hope you all enjoyed this because we are going to next time do a companion piece to In Defense Of with The Negatives, where we take a look at the negatives of the most popular/widely acclaimed Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks movies. So, since we looked at one of the worst Disney disasters of all time, how about we look at Disney’s recent Golden Goose with Frozen? Thanks for reading!

The Other Side of Animation #10: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz for more of my work. If you want to, consider supporting my Patreon on patreon.com/camseyeview. Hope you enjoy the article!)

The absolute worst sin a movie can do is a combination of two things. The first part of the sin is not enveloping you in the film’s world. We watch movies to escape reality and to be enveloped/entertained by the story and the characters in front of us. The second part of this sin is wasting the time of the viewer. No one wants to go into a theater, buy a ticket, obtain some overpriced snacks, sit down for the movie, and walk out thinking “that was a waste of my time and money.”  Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return is a prime example of said sins. I can’t just sum it up in one review. I mean, I can and will, but let’s start with a little history about the movie. This film was developed by Summertime Entertainment, and an animation studio in India called Prana Studios. Prana is a studio that gets a lot of outsourcing work from Disney to make those straight-to-DVD Tinker Bell films. Legends of Oz supposedly cost $70 million, which was the most expensive film that the outsourcing animated studio had ever worked on. Apparently the entire budget was all from multiple investors that were either from big companies or from fundraising. I read somewhere that over 150K people invested in this film. Legends of Oz was released into theaters in France on February 2013 and in the states May of 2014. Want to know how this film did? Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return has the most eligible title of the biggest box office bomb of 2014. Not only that, but it also has the comfy 9th place spot in worst worldwide openings. It is also known as one of the biggest box office flops for a CGI animated film, only raking in a little over $3 million on opening weekend and an overall total of $18 million, but again, this film had a budget of $70 million. I mean, if you have the title for the one of worst opening weekends for a CGI animated film, you are a very special case of awful. The little cherry on this cake of failure is that some of the investors and producers of the film are being charged with some kind of financial fraud. It’s just a lovely and horrific trainwreck of everyone involved. Even the producer, Greg Centineo, and the many investors think there was a conspiracy to make this film a failure in the box office. Marketing was pulled from everywhere you can think of, and many theaters took it out of their lists of movies being shown. Or, you know, the investors and the producer of the film could have admitted to the making of a horrible movie and scammed the heck out of everyone. This was one of the hardest disasters to sit through that I have ever had to see. Let’s dive in to the 10th review of The Other Side of Animation: Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Oh, and possible spoilers for the movie.

The story apparently takes place right after the 1939 live-action classic. Dorothy, voiced by Glee star Lea Michele is helping her family and town repair the buildings after the tornado incident. Then, out of nowhere and I mean that literally, an appraiser, voiced by Martin Short, comes into town claiming that he owns everything in the small town. Apparently everyone in Kansas is fine with this man who comes out of nowhere, has rather questionable credentials, and don’t follow up with any questions about him or where he comes from. Yeah, if I have to start breaking down the logic in the opening of the movie, you have some serious problems. Anyway, back in Oz, where apparently years have passed, everything is watched over by Scarecrow, voiced by Dan Aykroyd, Lion, voiced by Jim Belushi, and Tin Man, voiced by Kelsey Grammer. However, a new villain named The Jester, also voiced by Martin Short, decides to wreck everything and become the ruler of Oz. Before getting caught, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion get in contact with Dorothy, and bring her back to help save the land of Oz. Along her journey, she meets a very fat owl named Wiser, voiced by Oliver Platt, a candy soldier named Marshal Mallow, voiced by Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy, a princess made of China, voiced by Smash’s Megan Hilty, and a large tree voiced by Patrick Stewart. Can they save the land from The Jester? Can they point out how stupid this movie is so I don’t have to?

As of this point in this review, I have nothing positive for the film, which results in me having to talk about the bad things! There is plenty, and I mean plenty of negative things to say about this movie. It’s like going to a buffet. You pay the price and have all you can criticize! Let’s start with the tone of the movie since it’s all over the place, more than a drunk guy attempting to throw darts at a dartboard. First off, this film is supposed to take place during the 30s during the great depression era. Well then, why do the opening credits have toy planes and a skateboard that are obviously not from that period in time? Why do the cars and clothes everyone wears look like something from I Love Lucy? Why does the film have so many unintentionally creepy moments? Why does it sound like the film is trying to ride the wave of Frozen’s popularity, when it has nothing to do with that movie? You see? When you can’t get into a movie, you start picking it apart! You can’t focus or feel invested in the story because the logic, characters, and story are horribly put together. For example, we know The Jester, who currently has the most powerful magic in the Land of Oz, now has immense magical power, and he says that before he got all the delicious magical power, he couldn’t take the curse off himself. Well, once he got the power, why didn’t he take the curse off himself? He has the power to do anything! The Jester has the time to change the signs from “Do Not Eat the Candy” to “Please Eat the Candy”, but not enough time to take the curse off himself?!  Don’t get me started on some of the inconsistencies of the film from the original classic. Like there is this scene later on in the film where they need to build a boat, and Dorothy just rips a limb off a tree. Um, does she not remember the last time she tried to pick something off a tree in Oz? Why would she think it would work the second time around? Did she just forget about it?! The trees even make a reference to this happening in the past.

I can’t move onto the rest of the review without talking about how creepy this film can be at times. The moment when Dorothy gets transported to Oz by a rainbow shaped like a hand is not whimsical, because she is terrified out of her wits to get caught by it. At another point back at the scene where they need to build a tree, they run into Patrick Stewart’s character that I remind you, is a talking tree, who basically tells Dorothy that she can use him for the materials for the boat. That is like an old person coming up to us and being fine with us gutting him, cutting off his limbs, and turning him into a go kart. Another scene that oozes something out of an episode of Criminal Minds or Hannibal is the where the China Princess is broken, and Mallow, the candy knight guy, uses pieces of himself to mend her back together. It’s not really romantic or touching, since that is like me ripping off my own skin to fix another’s arm that got blown off.

The characters are just terrible. Dorothy, going from the innocent wide-eyed bystander of everything, is now a boring plain female hero. Wiser, the overweight owl says he is, well, wise and knows many things like not to eat the candy (since he was arrested a total of 499 times for eating the candy), but then thinks it’s okay, because he doesn’t notice the signs have oddly changed all of a sudden. Wouldn’t he be more curious as to why the signs changed, rather than stuffing his face for the 500th time? Did nothing in that little feathered brain of his notice something off-putting? The other characters are either boring, like Marshal Mallow, or very unlikable, like the Dainty China Princess. The Dainty China Princess is nothing more than an individual who gets off on liking a person for their looks, and has literally done more damage to her people than anything The Jester could ever do. She basically straight-up murders some minor characters. The romance between Mallow and the China Princess has no point. They don’t really talk to one another or bond. They also made the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man have these weird character traits, like the Scarecrow is super smart, the Lion is like a college frat boy, and the Tin Man is overly emotional to the point of being annoying.

The animation quality is your standard straight-to-DVD/TV quality CGI, which makes more sense since the film was apparently supposed to originally have gone straight to DVD. Legend of Oz had no reason to go into theaters when it had to deal with films like Big Hero 6, How to Train your Dragon 2, and The Book of Life in 2014’s high quality animation department. It’s funny to see how many movies think they can match Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks animation, but come out looking like made-for-TV-grade CGI films. The music by Bryan Adams is terrible; some of the worst music I have ever heard. I know he has done some good music, like for that one Dreamworks film, Spirits, but still. This movie had no reason to include music. I know the original classic The Wizard of Oz had music, but it was well written and, you know, good! The voicework is mediocre. No one besides Martin Short puts in a good performance. Even then, I have seen Martin Short do so much better in live-action and animated films.

So, do I like anything about this movie? Well, besides that this is a good movie for a very bad movie night, I guess I like how colorful it is, but I really don’t have anything nice to say about this movie. I will also give Martin Short credit for making the only funny line in the movie, when we actually see him talking to Glenda.

It’s funny how this film fails in about every way possible. It’s even worse when you realize the two directors, Will Finn and Daniel St. Pierre, have worked on films like Disney’s Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Dreamworks’ The Road to El Dorado. Sure, it is mostly animation credits, but after working on films that know how to be good, it seems like you would gain the experience to know what the heck you are doing! You can tell that, of those 150K or so of people that invested in this film, they are not happy since it became well-known that people online were giving this film great reviews and positive word-of-mouth whereas the people that actually saw the movie say otherwise. Essentially, the investors/backers tried to manipulate the user scores to make the film look better. It’s basically what happened with how Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas went down, or how terrible indie developers on Steam get positive reviews from their friends lists for their games, when they really aren’t that good. Until I see otherwise, this is the worst movie I have seen and had to review on The Other Side of the Animation. Sure, it might have more effort in it than something like Food Fight, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. I feel badly for any poor unfortunate soul who went ahead and made their choice to help fund this movie. It deserved to have stayed out of the mass public eye, and you shouldn’t have to waste your time in watching this movie. Avoid this movie at all costs, and go out and get the original The Wizard of Oz or Return to Oz, or heck, buy both! Boy, I don’t think I have gotten so upset about a movie in a while. How about we review our first Japanese-animated film with Memories? Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Rating: The Worst