The Other Side of Animation 258 – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood 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.



Childlike memories are unreliable, fuzzy, and nostalgic in a lot of ways. I’m sure most people tend to look back on their childhood from time to time. Maybe to remember their time as a child with their families, maybe to look back at what that time period was like in terms of politics, social climate, and you get the idea. Sometimes, we look back in the past to see where we were back then, or maybe we see where we are now compared to back then. Living through historic events and trends can really shape what you do and how you see the world around you. It’s very difficult to capture that feeling of nostalgia and fondly look back at memories of your childhood on film, because you either look navel-gazing, pretentious, or like an old man yelling at clouds. You have to bring earnest energy into the story or the overall experience, and some directors are able to make that work to their advantage, like Cameron Crowe before his career ended and today’s director, Richard Linklater with his new film, Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood


Directed and written by Richard Linklater, we follow the childhood of Stanley, voiced/played by Milo Coy. The narrator of Stanley’s story is, of course, an adult Stanley, who we never see, but is voiced by Jack Black. The story revolves around adult Stanley recalling his childhood during the big space race/ space-age craze time period of the 1960s when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The one twist is that adult Stanley adds a twist to the story of kid Stanley getting chosen by two NASA Officials played/voiced by Glen Powell and Zachary Levi to help NASA with going to the moon. 

So, if you are curious about what kind of story is being told here, it’s less a major three-act story where there is a story about NASA hiring a kid to go into space. It’s more about the narrator remembering the time period and his childhood. It’s a more grounded story, but has that small bit of whimsy of Stanley training to go into space. The overall story covers multiple aspects of the time period, including politics, war, a small splash of the racial inequality of the time, pop culture, what the film industry was like, how families around NASA worked, food, and you get the idea. It’s all about capturing that time period through a nostalgic lens. As mentioned above, you have to be so careful, because it can come off either sappy or extremely cynical in an entirely different way. No one wants to see a film about an old man saying “life was good in my day”. The film even points out elements like how kids were punished back then, as more of a low point than anything else. It was able to capture the childlike viewpoint and mindset, and how everything going on was fed through the lens of a kid going through the times. I’m sure most viewers will be able to spot themselves or their families or the parents of your family knowing what it was like back then. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood overall has a charm that you can’t find in many films with this type of story set-up. It makes you remember when the big new things in pop culture were the colored TV, Baskin Robbins having 31 flavors, syndicated television, and you get the idea. It has its adult moments, but it has one graphic moment and very little swearing. It has adult themes and elements, but it doesn’t indulge in what most people think of when the term “adult animation” pops up. 

Linklater has, for the third time, returned to rotoscope animation, and it’s definitely his most polished take on the animation art form. It’s not rough like Waking Life or as surreal and unusual as A Scanner Darkly. They said the inspiration for the art style is similar to what animated shows were like back when Saturday morning cartoons were like that, and while it’s more similar to the color palette of that time period, the animation does look great. The fact we are getting more films like this, including 2017’s Loving Vincent, is nice to see. Animation is such a vibrant medium, that you must be a real uneducated tool to think animation is just for kids. It has its moments of clunkiness, but rotoscope animation is going to feel like that, but that’s why you have animators and hardworking VFX people to make it look as good as possible. The voice cast or in this case, traced-over actors are fantastic with Glen Powell and Zachary Levi as the two NASA agents, Jack Black bringing a loving warmth to the narration of the entire film, and the other cast including Milo Coy, Bill Wise, Lee Eddy, Josh Wiggins, Natalie L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman, and Danielle Guilbot all doing a great job to make you feel like a part of this time period. Normally, there is a sentence or two here talking about the composer, but the composer is really the soundtrack that looms over this film’s entire runtime that is full of a lot of great old tunes and rock-and-roll that perfectly fit the time period.  

The only real criticism this critic could find is that there could have been a bit more time put into the kid’s fantasy of getting hired by Nasa. It’s the opening scene and the instigator of what can be charitably called the third act. Again, it’s more of a time “capsule retelling” of the period, and that stuff is great, but when the film’s trailer paints it more about the space mission, it’s mismarketed, and your tolerance for nostalgic look-back at time period films will depend on how you, the viewer, will tolerate how much of the first and second act is all about it. 

This film is quite the nostalgic experience. It’s less, ‘Nasa sends a boy to space’, and more about being a kid during the big space race and space-age boom in Houston. It’s a fantastic film, but I can understand that some viewers may see the marketing of Nasa sending a literal kid to space instead of the more metaphorical and symbolic angle it goes for. It’s on Netflix, and if you love yourself some Richard Linklater charm and some distinct and unique animated offerings that show animation is more than “just for kids”, then definitely give this film a watch. Next time, we will be talking about Netflix’s other big April tentpole animated offering. 

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 255: Human Resources 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.

Out of all of the shows that get people hot and bothered on Netflix, Big Mouth gets people the most bothered. The iconic adult comedy that revolves around the life of a bunch of kids going through the disastrous and horrifying time of puberty with the help of monsters and creatures representing different sides of the human condition has split viewers down the middle. Some love this raunchy comedy for what it’s tackling with puberty, sex, gender identity, and relationships. On the other hand, many do not care for it due to how it’s yet another crass raunchy animated comedy that supposedly skates by with an artificial approach to said topics mentioned in the previous sentence. It doesn’t help that other shows got canceled while Big Mouth was able to fester. Luckily, shows like Tuca and Bertie were able to find new life on other services, but you get the idea. People who hate adult animation and comedies tend to point to this one being the worst of them all as it lingers grossly on the service. And now Nick Kroll and his creative team have a spin-off show that focuses on the monsters at hand. Now then, let’s make a trip to the third floor to Human Resources

This new show was created by  Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Kelly Galuska, Mark Levin, and Jennifer Flackett. This takes place in the world of the creatures that inhabited Big Mouth. We follow a group of different creatures including love bugs, anxiety mosquitos, logic rocks, hormone monsters, depression kitties, addiction angels, and you get the idea. We follow them through their daily lives as they help deal with the problems, minute and personal. 

So, with this being a spin-off to Big Mouth, expect a lot of the same elements that defined the iconic yet polarizing series. Comedy-wise, expect this to be fairly raunchy with so many sex jokes, swearing, and essentially, a small army worth of innuendos and visual gags. There will be nudity and some fairly graphical moments with violence and sex, but at this point with adult animated comedies on the streaming service, you should expect there to be no real limitations. As we have seen with shows like The Prince or HOOPS, being crass, shocking, offensive, and or in bad taste is not enough to make shows good, due to how you need something else to balance out the crass, cynical, and or mean-spirited nature of the art you are offering to viewers. Like how Big Mouth has a flawed if not admirable path of talking about the ugly side of puberty and coming of age with its kid characters becoming teens, Human Resources focuses more on the adult side of the lifespan. Granted, that sounds weird since this show is reliant on you loving the monsters and creatures that helped out the humans in the original show. 

Luckily, there is substance to this show. We see themes and storylines dealing with friendships, workplace situations, trust, dealing with loss and grief, toxic traits, the unpredictable reasons behind being in love, the battle between love and logical thinking, self-love, complicated relationships, sex, and you get the idea. The show does give a lot of characters time to bounce off of one another, and while your tolerance for these characters will make this series enjoyable, there are a few likable characters including Randall Park as Peter the logic rock. Everyone does a good job working off of one another, and while the crass humor is, say it with this critic now, the ride-or-die element of your tolerance for the story and how it all unfolds, there are a few really solid jokes and gags. 

Animation-wise, this show has the common adult-animated comedy visual look caused by problems that originate with bad production cycles made by giant studios and companies not giving the teams making these shows the time they need. As usual, people in the animation industry need new deals, so make sure you show support with stuff like #NewDeal4Animation, #StoryCraftUnite, and #EqualPay4EqualPaint. While it may not have the most appealing designs, there are a few designs that are fun to look at. I love the logic rocks and the need demons the most. It also seems like some moments in the show were able to breathe a little more and have a more fluid feel.  The voice cast is also pretty good with a great cast of comedic and character actors. You have Aidy Bryant, Nick Kroll, Maya Rudolph, David Thewlis, Keke Palmer, Pamela Adlon, Randall Park, Ali Wong, Thandie Newton, Bobby Cannavale, Jemaine Clement, Maria Bamford, Rosie Perez, Henry Winkler, and even guest appearances from Hugh Jackman, Helen Mirin, Lupita Nyong’o, and Janelle Monae to name a majority of a really stacked cast. 

Now, in terms of criticisms, with most comedies, the humor is hit-and-miss, and, well, that’s no different here. A lot of the humor can be a touch much. It has musical moments, but sometimes it can feel too chaotic onscreen all at once.  Some of the comedy even goes down to just yelling, and it’s not fun to watch when everything is going bananas on screen. It also has issues from time to time of balancing out the crass comedy and its more sincere moments. Sometimes the morals hit, and sometimes the comedic punchline or gross-out joke tends to take away the emotional punch. Yes, these characters can be deplorable and gross, but shows like this need to be careful with wanting to have their cake and eat it too. 

While your mileage will very much vary with this spin-off, Human Resources offers a more human experience to the adult animation landscape. If you like Big Mouth, but more for the times it hits more human themes and the creatures involved, then you will probably enjoy this show. If not, well, you can go watch something like Undone on Amazon Prime or Primal on HBO Max for your adult animated needs. Now then, next time, we will be taking a good look at Pixar’s Turning Red

Rating: Go See It! 

The Other Side of Animation 254: Child of Kamiari Month

(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!)

With the Oscars once again dismissing and ignoring the Japanese animation side of things, stagnating as usual with what they actually nominate over what they should be nominating for awards, let’s keep reminding ourselves that not getting nominated doesn’t mean the film in question isn’t good. Who’s favorite film is actually ever in the Best Picture category? Anyway, just because the award shows announce their nominees, doesn’t mean films stop getting made. More movies are going to come out and they will continue to be interesting, good, bad or everything in-between, no matter the awards they are or aren’t given. So, let’s get down to it with one of the first animated films of the year with Child of Kamiari Month

This film was directed by Takana Shirai, written by Ryuta Miyake, Tetsuro Takita, Toshinari Shinoe, and was produced by Liden Films. The story revolves around a tongue girl named Kanna Hayama, dubbed by Mia Sinclair Jenness. Her life has been upended due to the death of her mother and she has lost her passion for running. That’s a touch unfortunate because she is also participating in her school’s marathon with her supportive dad being there. Sadly, due to the emotional baggage that she has been carrying, she doesn’t quite do well at the marathon, and runs away before her father can help comfort her. She runs to a shrine that she walked past with her friend the other day, and while there, her mother’s keepsake starts to activate. Time slows down around her and she realizes that something is up. Kanna can see the spirits that inhabit the shrines now! She encounters a talking bunny spirit named Shiro, dubbed by Luci Christian, who comes just in time to help her with an encounter with an oni boy named Yasha, dubbed by Mark Allen Jr. After the encounter, Shiro tells Kanna that she must go on this journey across Japan and gather the offerings from different spirits for Kamiari Month, a mystical holiday that is a celebration of the gods and spirits. Reluctantly, Kanna accepts the quest to traverse all over Japan to get all of the different gifts and complete the run. 

So, a recurring theme seen in so many foreign animated films that have been covered in multiple reviews and brought over to the states has been the main character going through some kind of coming-of-age story of getting over their grief or dealing with the loss of a loved one. It’s not an original concept, but they execute it well, with a much smaller-scale story about Kanna dealing with the loss of her mom and the growing depression and bitterness that has been caged up inside of her since that incident. The other side character that starts out as a rival to Kanna, the oni boy Yasha, has his own arc and reasons for wanting to do the run for Kamiari Month to regain the honor of his family that was dragged through the mud and banished from the heavens above. It’s a quieter experience as a couple of the montage sequences are just visuals set to music. The overall story might have some wonky and familiar elements, but it’s a good reminder, as usual, that not every film needs to be a groundbreaking mind-blowing experience. Sometimes, you just need to dial back your expectations 

The animation is pretty solid. It’s not super-flashy, and personally, when you are coming out after Belle, Josee The Tiger and The Fish, and Words that Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, it doesn’t quite compare to those, and not every film needs to, but don’t expect this to be on the same level as those films or upcoming films like Bubble and Drift Away. It does have some nice flourishes like when they encounter a giant dragon god, and when the film wants to have some distinct visual moments, it does deliver on those aspects with some waterloo flourishes that have elements of those Japanese ink paintings. The voice cast is also pretty rock solid with Mia Sinclair Jenness, Mark Allen Jr., Luci Christian, Kirk Thorton, Keith Silverstein, and Michael Sorich all bringing their usual top-level talent. 

In terms of criticisms, the film takes a lot of time to talk and explain everything about Kamiari Month. It’s not well-paced, because instead of spreading out everything throughout the runtime, they upload a ton of exposition about the lore and how everything works, and it becomes a bit much. Once you get past the film’s first 15 or so minutes, it ends up flowing much better, but you have to be careful about doing that story build-up upfront. It’s because most will be ready to switch to watching something else if the story is not paced well. It would be better if they were able to spread everything else around the run across Japan as they were doing it instead of wasting so much time in one spot to save money and time on new environments. 

While not perfect, and Netflix once again not promoting this film that they spent money on outside of a single trailer, Child of Kamiari Month is a solid spiritual experience of getting over loss and becoming spiritually stronger. Personally, Sing a Bit of Harmony is the better of the two Japanese animated films released this year so far. Luckily, it was able to get some attention on Netflix and on the web before it got buried or overlooked by Studio Wit’s upcoming animated feature Bubble that’s coming out on Netflix in April. If you need something to watch and to get your anime fill that’s not a weekly TV series, then definitely give this show a watch. Next time, we will be talking about a new spin-off series based on one of Netflix’s most controversial and popular series.

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 253: The Cuphead Show 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 film via a screener sent to me from Netflix. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you Netflix for this opportunity.

Despite the loaded and complicated history of the rubber hose animation aesthetic, the visual look has always been a favorite among fans of art and animation. When animation visual styles go through trends, there is always this yearning for an older visual look, and while I think some of the yearnings for more nostalgic-fueled visuals can sometimes lean into some very toxic attitudes, you can see, on a visual level, why people would want to see creators and studios bring back a classic look to new shows. Of course, when you tackle something with rubber hose animation, it’s the art style you have to be the most careful with, due to how some of the design decisions made during the early days of animation have some racist undertones. Luckily, with Studio MDHR and their hit game Cuphead, they were able to translate the iconic visual style into one of the most graphically impressive experiences of the previous console generation. Of course, when a game like this gets as big as it does, then you know a show is not too far behind. Well, let’s get started then! 

Animated by Lighthouse Studios, executive produced by Chad and Jared Moldenhauer (the two who created the game), and it’s developed by Dave Wasson for Netflix. The two different directors involved for this first batch of episodes are Adam Paloian and Clay Morrow. The story follows the wacky and shenanigan-filled adventures of Cuphead and Mugman, voiced by Tru Valentino and Frank Todaro. They go all around the Inkwell Isle encountering the individuals that live there and of course avoiding the evil grasp of The Devil, voiced by Luke Millington-Drake. Along the way, they interact with their elderly caretaker Elder Kettle,  voiced by Joe Hanna, the lovely Miss Chalice, voiced by Grey Griffin, and you get the idea. 

So, while there was a “plot” in the original game, it was very straightforward. The world was vast and full of a lot of interesting-looking characters. The one thing the game was not, was story-focused. Since that is the case, how on earth do you turn this show into a TV series?  With how there wasn’t too much lore and world-building put into the main game, it wouldn’t make sense to make it more story-driven, so instead of going the route of some story-driven shows, they went the route of the more recent Animaniacs and Looney Tunes direction, making more episodic shenanigan-filled adventures. Some episodes have some pseudo-ongoing story beats, but they are usually wrapped up within the second part, and the first batch of episodes ends with a cliffhanger, so it will be interesting to see where they take the rest of the episodes. The main focus for the episodes is putting Cuphead and Mugman in a situation and the hijinks ensue. They feel very old school with how they set up stories and jokes, but they bring a more modern-day sentimentality to the overall vibe and humor, so it never feels dated or going fully against the time period the show’s animation style is from. A lot of the jokes and set-ups are delightfully charming, and that’s because they were able to give the characters more concrete personalities for our heroes to work off of. Not that the characters didn’t already have them in the game, but they were mostly told through one line of dialogue or through their animation via their movements. Some of the stories have the typical “oh, this was a big misunderstanding” plot set-up or “I’m brave because I got this special item that’s not actually special, but it makes me feel brave”, but the dialogue and the lines they offer are what help elevate it to be more than just shorts going through the motions. With all that said, the character they do give these individuals is delightful, and The Devil might be my favorite character alongside his grunt and King Dice. 

Now then, with the animation, there has been a controversy about how the animation itself is not purely or strickly like the video game. Listen, you can dislike how polished the linework is for the show’s visuals, but the fact of the matter is that doing super old-school 2D animation is costly and time-consuming, and knowing the current landscape of animation production, they were never going to be able to do pure 2D visuals like the old-school days. Heck, the developers of the game revealed they had to remortgage their home to make the game, due to how costly it was to make said game with super slick 2D animation. With what the studio had with whatever production schedule they were given, The Cuphead Show looks really good. It might use a mix of 2D and maybe some animation rigging, but the fact that the visuals look as good as they do and how they were pretty much able to copy and keep the game’s visuals the same is impressive. They even use some filter or graphical techniques to give off the impression of the multi-layer camera effects the older Disney films had. It’s a visually impressive show that stands out from other animated offerings on Netflix. The voice cast is also pretty great, with the already mentioned names above with Tru Valentino, Frank Todaro, Joe Hanna, Luke Millington-Drake, Grey Griffin, Wayne Brady, and the rest of the cast is spot-on with the characters they portray. They even have a few musical moments and they are real bangers that bring back the musical styles of the old Betty Boop cartoons. 

Overall, The Cuphead Show succeeds with its adaptation from video game to animated series, and we already know there are going to be 48 episodes, so we are getting more. Now, Netflix, I’m happy this show is a success, but you better pay the teams that made this show the money they are owed, because with the current landscape of the animation industry revealing how much worse people who work in animation are paid compared to live-action is disheartening and maddening. It would be a shame to find out if you all didn’t give this team their due. Anyway, you can enjoy the first “season” on Netflix on the 18th, and if you like old-school cartoony-style shows, then you will love this show. Now then, let’s tackle a film that Netflix barely covered and advertised with Child of Kamiari 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: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 250: The House 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 2022, and we are still in January, which is a noted dump month for a bunch of films that eitherHollywood doesn’t mind losing money on, or are hoping that they can offer something to moviegoers who aren’t interested in the award season fodder that gets released. Thankfully, with the advent of streaming and streaming services that are more willing to be experimental and offer distinct experiences, January is no longer the worst month of the year. Granted, bad movies are still going to get dumped into January, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Luckily, we have something like the incredible anthology film that they originally marketed as a limited series with Netflix’s The House

The three shorts are directed by three sets of directors. The first short, And heard within, a lie is spun, is directed by  Marc James Roels & Emma De Swaef. It’s about a family who lives in a small humble home where the dad is tired of being judged for being poor. One dark night, he meets a client who is willing to offer him and his family a nice fancy house with no real hang-ups. Well, at first. The second short, Then lost is truth that can’t be won, which is directed by Niki Lindroth Von Bahr, it’s about a mouse that is trying to sell a house that he is refurbishing. Nothing is looking great until he catches the attention of a fairly odd couple. The final short, Listen again and seek the sun, is directed by Paloma Baeza, and is about a cat who owns the titular house in a world that has been flooded and is trying to refurbish it while the water is rising and to soon engulf the house. On top of tenants that don’t properly pay, a new arrival to the house sets things up for something life-changing. 

One of the fun aspects of seeing this anthology film is how distinct it is from other horror films. We have seen anthology films in horror and live-action, but when do we ever get horror animated features that aren’t Halloween specials made for families? It’s one of the few examples of animation that is aimed at adults that isn’t hyper-violent. Now, before walking into this film that was for some reason marketed as a limited series, there is something you should know. This is not a traditional horror film with jumpscares or hyper-violence. Some have said that this would be a stop-motion horror film by the ways of what A24 likes to distribute, and, well, that’s not wrong. The horror here does have some genuine scares, but consider this the category of scares that get under your skin and are more metaphorical. The stories deal with obsession, depression, abandonment, gentrification, and other themes that are woven throughout the three stories, and each one is consistently unnerving to sit through. It gets you in the same way the paranoia in John Carpenter’s The Thing or Ari Aster’s Midsommar hits you when you realize something is extremely off about the situations in each of the stories. Why did this family get such a nice house? Who is the odd couple interested in buying the house? What is really going on with the landlord of the house? What mysteries are there in this setting? If that’s the type of horror for you, then this film will absolutely click with you. It can even be somewhat funny and extremely heartwarming at times. It depends on the story you are watching, of course. 

Animation-wise, it’s stop motion! It’s extremely fun and impressive to see studios and teams still making films with an art style that is costly and time-consuming, which is what most studios are allergic to. The first short uses the duo director’s iconic use of felt-like humans with very round heads and tiny faces. Even with such distinct designs, the horror and atmosphere doesn’t feel distracting. The other two use fur and designs that will be familiar to viewers who have seen the stop-motion short The Burden, or if you have seen any Wes Anderson stop-motion films. The voice cast is also rather good with a few big names, but it was never a huge marketing point. You do have Helena  Bonham Carter, Mathew Goode, Paul Kaye, Claudie Blakley, Mia Goth, Mark Heap, Miranda Richardson, Josh McGuire, Stephanie Cole, Jarvis Cocker, Dizzee Rascal, Yvonne Lombard, Sven Wollter, Tommy Hibbits, Ayesha Antoine, Susie Wokoma, and Will Sharpe. The music by Gustavo Santaolalla is delightfully creepy, unsetting, but also ethereal and emotional. He also helped compose the music for The Book of Life, Narcos: Mexico, The Last of Us Part 1 and Part 2, Finch, and Maya and The Three

Despite being a sort of “you have to be in this mood” horror film, and the confusion as to why they marketed this as a limited series rather than a film has never been fully explained, The House is 2022’s first big animated hit. It’s an incredible experience that if you are a fan of animation, you should absolutely check out this film! Granted, this is absolutely not for kids. Not to say they probably couldn’t handle it, but they will either be terrified or really bored. If you like horror films that are more akin to the A24-distributed types, then you will love this film. If you are more akin to the Blumhouse or more mainstream crowd-pleasing horror, then you will also probably like it! There is room for both hyper-violent and jump-scare-driven horror and more methodical horror. At the end of the day, it all comes down with how you execute it. Now then, next time, we will be looking at the best animated film of 2021 with Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle




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!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Finale

(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 editorial!)

Good gravy, let’s finally get this one out of the way! Here were my top 10 favorite animated films from 2020! If you haven’t seen part 1, part 2, or part 3, I will make sure to hyperlink them. I apologize that life got in the way of making this one happen so late. 



10. The Wonderland 

While Keiichi Hara’s follow-up to one of my favorite films of 2016 Miss Hokusai doesn’t quite reach that level of quality, his new film, The Wonderland is still a whimsical adventure via a coming-of-age tale. It has some truly beautiful landscapes and a creative fantastical world that may be Hara’s own take on Alice in Wonderland. The villain isn’t the most interesting, and there are some jokes and moments that irked me, but I was so happy to catch this film before everything came crashing down with the pandemic. 

9. The Willoughbys 

This dark family comedy may suffer from a majority of the children in this family being underdeveloped in favor of the oldest son getting the majority of the development, but considering how little came out during the pandemic, I’ll take an overall vibrant and funny experience. What it may lack in some story strength makes up for some of 2020’s most vibrant CGI stop-motion-style animation, some very clever jokes, a fantastic cast, and it was just another step in showing what kind of experiences Netflix, flaws and all, are going to be offering in the feature animation scene. 

8. The Croods: A New Age

While I wouldn’t call 2020 or 2021’s DreamWorks’ best year for animation, out of their four recent films that they have released, The Croods: A New Age is their best one since 2019’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Who would have thought that a sequel that was in start/stop production hell would actually result in one of the better DreamWorks sequels? They expand on the world, the new characters are likable and bring in some substance to the overall story, the jokes are more creative, and the sequel leaning into the more absurd world that the story takes place in leads to a better overall product. I don’t know what they could do with a follow-up film, but if it’s as much fun to watch as this one, I wouldn’t mind seeing a third film. 

7. On Gaku: Our Sound 

While Lupin III: The First and Wolfwalkers were going to always be the more approachable GKIDS-distributed films of 2020, I still wish On Gaku: Our Sound had received more love. It’s a truly, by the definition, indie animated feature among the bountiful animation scene in Japan. Its offbeat atmosphere, quirky humor, and laid-back approachable story stick out from the flashier big-budget fare. That many of the people working on this were first-time animators is an impressive feat and while the use of rotoscope is obvious, the fact there is no other film quite like it out in 2020 is impressive and rather fun. It’s a film that introduces a real deal shot in the arm that the animation scene always needs. 

6. Lupin III: The First 

I remember how worried I was to see the franchise’s first step into CGI, and boy howdy, they didn’t miss a beat. Not only is it a fantastic foray into CGI animation, but it’s also a Lupin story that’s actually compelling and entertaining! For those that are fans of the franchise, getting both good animation and a good story isn’t always a given or is balanced with each film and special. With the return of the iconic dub cast, thrilling action, stellar writing, and some of the best CGI from Japan, Lupin III: The First shows a promising future for the franchise and the future of theatrical CGI animation from Japan. 

5. Onward

Remember when everyone was dunking on this film, and then everyone ended up liking it? I sure do. While it might not be one of the higher-end Pixar films, this touching story about two brothers and their journey to strengthen their bond and to try to get some closure with their dead father does elevate it as one of the more intimate and personal Pixar stories. The fantasy element even has a fun way of approaching the metaphorical and literal theme of losing and finding magic in life. It’s a film that has gotten better on rewatch, and I feel badly that it became one of the first victims of the pandemic. 

4. Over the Moon 

Netflix had a tough challenge of following up their acclaimed year of animation from 2019 where they had both I Lost My Body and Klaus, so Over the Moon was such a surprise with how much I fell in love with it. It is a touching story about grief, personal change, and dealing with loss, with some fantastic music, vibrant animation, and a fantastic lead. It was directed by Glen Keane, and this was his first time directing a feature film! Over the Moon also has a very witty script from Keane and the late great Audrey Wells. It also gets bonus points for having moments of gorgeous 2D animation. With Pearl Studios now on their own, making films with a promising lineup of future projects in the works, Over the Moon was an out-of-this-world first impression of what they could do after their relationship with DreamWorks ended. 

3. Ride Your Wave 

Masaaki Yuasa is a master director. I mean, I could leave it at that, but that wouldn’t be super satisfying as this is, until we finally see Inu-Oh this year, his best and most approachable movie. It’s a romance that of course has its own Yuasa twist that makes it his take on the “Shape of Water” romance perspective about a college girl finding her way in life. It even has the tamest visuals of Yuasa and Science Saru’s work. You can tell they toned it down from the immense visual overload that was 2004’s Mindgame and his more recent work with Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. Whether you like his more out-there premises or his more grounded ones, Ride Your Wave should be in your animation collection. 

2. Soul 

Even with a year like 2020, having a Cartoon Saloon, a Peter Doctor/Kemp Powers Pixar film, and a Yuasa film in the top three spots should be a sign of how good the good stuff was. There are definitely some understandable arguments about some of this film’s execution of plot points, and I understand where they are coming from with some of them, and maybe it’s because 2020 was just an entire mood year, Soul hit many people in a way that most animated films, Pixar or otherwise, do. Until Disney and Pixar can break the chains and do more adult-tinted animated features, this is the most adult film Pixar has ever put out, with an extremely philosophical story about life and what drives a person. With earworm tunes, an incredible performance from Jamie Foxx, and a rather ethereal tone, Soul ranks up as one of Pixar’s best. 

1. Wolfwalkers 

I mean, was there any shock here that it would be number 1? While it is technically tied with Soul, there is just something extremely special anytime we get a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some of the studio’s best animation yet, with its mix of gorgeous 2D visuals and rough pencil style reminiscent of the 70s and 80s Disney/Don Bluth that looks like it was filmed on wood grain. It is a touching story about two young girls, the themes of discrimination, anti-colonialism, sexism, freedom, family, and environmentalism, Wolfwalkers stands out from the pack in a year that had very little competition for the major titles everyone was looking forward to. Now, I do wish they would simply sell Wolfwalkers as an individual release instead of holding it hostage with Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells, though seriously, pay for an AppleTV+ subscription and watch this incredible flick.

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 240: Dogs in Space 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.

The super talented teams who are making cartoons from 2010 to now are truly bringing in a new generation of stories and experiences. It doesn’t matter if they show up on Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Nickelodeon, Hulu, Netflix, and what have you, we are in a much better state of storytelling and what kind of stories we can tell now more than ever. Sure, we still get spin-offs, reboots, sequel series, and such, but that’s going to happen with every decade of TV animation. What’s so fun about the 2010s-to-now set of series coming out is that they are more committed to telling stories with themes that would have been shrugged off from the 70s, 80s, and even in the 90s. There were shows before then that dealt with heavy topics, but they were rare and definitely were not the norm. Now we have shows that deal with much more story-driven experiences and it helps make more substantial characters and experiences. Even shows aimed at little kids are becoming better, and one example we can look at for that is the new series from Jeremiah Cortez’s Dogs in Space. 

Created by Jeremiah Cortez and soon to be streaming on Netflix, the story follows a group of scientifically enhanced dogs that are set into an ‘out of this world’ adventure to find a new home for the humans. These dogs include our corgi leader Garbage, voiced by Haley Joel Osment, a shetland sheepdog warrior named Stella, voiced by Sarah Chalke, Nomi, a brash excitable pilot shih tzu voiced by Kimiko Glenn, Ed, a thieving Jack Russel Terrier voiced by Chris Parnell,and Chonies, a scientific chihuahua voiced by David Lopez. We also have our scared surveillance officer Loaf, voiced by William Jackson Harper. Can they find a planet good enough for the human race? What other dogs will our crack team of dogs encounter? What aliens will come into contact with them? 

This series is the 2021 version of 2020’s The Fungies, as in it’s a series with charm, some very sharp humor, and a lot of heart. It’s essentially Star Trek, but combined with animation, and no I don’t mean like Star Trek Lower Decks or that new Star Trek Prodigy series, but more with cute dogs and a “golden age” Simpsons era wit and humor attached to it. It might be a show aimed at younger kids, but there’s a bit of a peppery kick to the dialogue and character dynamics that make this show stand out from the rest. The show is definitely more about the adventure and comedy aspect, and while there is action, it’s not the overall focus. It might even be its weakest part, but we will get there when we get there. Most of the episodes are Garbage and his crew exploring the galaxy and encountering the dangers that come with every planet and for this first season, the planet hunting is only half of the plot as our fluffy heroes deal with the inner politics of how the colony deals with spats and rebellious dogs being bad boys instead of sweet little good boys. The different personalities of the teammates from Garbage’s doofy arrogant confidence, to Stella’s stalwart bravery, Kimo’s bombastic nature, the opportunistic kleptomaniac Ed, the calm and collected Chovies, and the hyper paranoid Loaf all work well to bring in some truly great and charming laughs. It even has a few dark jokes and many dog puns for those that like that kind of humor. Luckily, the personality is spread across the many side characters from the council on the ship, to random aliens and side characters seen throughout the show’s first 10 episodes. It makes for a lived-in world as we see what kind of ship the dogs run. 

What always amazes me about modern cartoons is how, while goofy at points, a majority of more story-driven shows introduce a more serious tone or theme to the overarching story. This show’s major theme is not only about trust and that typical friendship conquers all, but the running theme of Dogs in Space is our characters dealing with distrust and abandonment. It makes sense due to how dogs in real life become attached to the hip of good owners and when the owners have to leave or something happens to them, they get worried, scared, or maybe angry for feeling abandoned. It’s the main driving emotion for one of the characters in the show, and Garbage always worries that his messages aren’t getting to his owner who’s back on earth. It makes for a very endearing and heartfelt story, as you see these otherwise adorable poof balls fight space aliens and travel across the stars. 

Art direction-wise, it’s an adorable-looking show. The designs are simplistic, but in a good way, the characters are expressive, especially Loaf, and the team making this show was able to make characters with small eyes feel very expressive. Now, is it well animated? Why, yes! It might use a simpler design style, but if you have seen shows like Atomic Betty or Star vs. The Forces of Evil, then you know what kind of animation style they are using. It definitely feels similar to how they move in both shows. While the action is not the flashiest, it gets the job done, and due to how likable the characters are, you want them to do well and make the fights satisfying to watch. The voice cast is also stellar. It’s the most stand-out part of this overall show. As mentioned previously, you have Haley Joel Osmont, Kimiko Glenn, Chris Parnell, Sarah Chalke, David Lopez, William Jackson Harper, but due to this being fairly Star Trek-inspired, we also have Will Wheaton and Michael Dorn. Other incredible voice actors include Debra Wilson, JP Karliak, John DiMaggio, Rena Strober, Bobby Moynihan, and Dee Dee Magno Hall. 

Dogs in Space is a cute, charming, and ‘out of this world’ animated series. It sets out to be an amusing sci-fi space adventure, and that is what you will be getting. If you like dogs, which you had better, and adorable sci-fi adventures for all ages, then you will probably enjoy this series. Animation is in a healthier place than ever, and while there are plenty of improvements that need to be done within the animation industry, if we can get more shows like Centuarworld, Maya and The Three, Kid Cosmic, City of Ghosts, and Dogs in Space, then I’m all for seeing what the animation future has in store for us. Next up, we take a trip to both the US and China with this new US/China collaboration effort, Extinction

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 237: Maya and The Three

(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!)

Jorge Gutierrez is one of the most visually distinct artists in the animation scene. His distinct Hispanic/Lantinx inspiration has made him a fan-favorite artist for his work on El Tigre and 2014’s The Book of Life, to name a few of his incredible works. When we talk about artists with visually distinct styles, he is one to be on the lookout for. There is something so incredibly charming and appealing about his work, and hearing that he was one of the original artists picked up to make something original for Netflix was thrilling to hear. Luckily, his newest project, Maya and The Three, a nine-part limited event series, is quite possibly his best work and one of the best new shows/event series of 2021. 

The story revolves around a young lass named Maya, voiced by Zoe Saldaña. She lives with her family who are mighty warriors that include her father King and queen Teca, voiced by real-life couple and creators of the show Jorge R. Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua. On her 15th birthday, the underworld gods tell her that she must come with them to pay for her sins and past actions made by her family. To try and prevent her fate, Maya goes on an adventure to try and uphold the prophecy that her parents told her, about how a mighty eagle warrior and her allies will take down the God of War and save their people. 

The best part about this limited series is how well it fleshes out its characters. The creators tend to take an admirable amount of time to set everything up, and it never feels awkward or unnatural for the plot to snap back from giving each of the backstories of our characters to going back to the main plot of the episode. It’s a straightforward story as Maya encounters her three allies while taking on Gods of all shapes and sizes. It makes for a fun watch that never skips on what needs to be told and the stellar action sequences. While there are goofy and silly elements to the overarching story, it’s one that can get dark, and there will be character deaths. It’s a tale that has themes of death, dealing with loss, family, discrimination, and dealing with legacy. You may assume this is for kids only, but be ready to turn into an emotional messy blob with how difficult the story beats will impact you in the feels. If you have loved the stories from films like Kubo and the Two Strings, then you will feel right at home with this show’s tone. There are some that may say it would have been cool to see as a movie, but the nine-episode runtime gives everything enough room to develop. Sure, there could be some downtime for the characters to breathe, but it’s a show that knows where it wants to go with its story. 

One of the goals for this show from Jorge and Sandra was to make Maya a series with a theatrical look and budget, and boy howdy, they got it down. This is one of the best-looking tv/event series you could find on the streaming service. The CGI is top quality from the animation studio Tangent Animation, Mexopolis, Maya Entertainment, and Netflix Animation. The designs carry Jorge and Sandra’s iconic visual flair with the designs with Jorge translating extremely well into CGI. Characters have a ton of detail to them, but it never feels too busy. You can tell what kind of character each individual is by the look of their designs. They even throw in some 2D sequences to add a little flair to the overall polished package. The world they craft is so creative. Rooster-shaped magic schools, lunar moon islands, mist-covered temples, colossal golems, neon speed lines, upside-down pyramids, gods that can cause tornadoes, gator-headed gods, and you get the idea. They went all out to make a fantastic world in which everyone thrives. 

The voice cast is fantastic, with a Hispanic/Latinx cast that has a ton of amazing actors and some of them get to play against type, which is really refreshing to see when you sometimes only see these actors play one type of character. You, of course, have the incredible  Zoe Saldaña who is fantastic as our lead heroine. You also have Diego Luna, Stephanie Beatriz, Gabriel Iglesias, Alfred Molina, Gael Garcia Bernal, Danny Trejo, Allen Maldonado, Cheech Marin, Rosie Perez, Wyclef Jean, Queen Latifah, Carlos Alazraqui, Eric Bauza, Joaquin Cosio, Isabela Merced, Rita Moreno, and other incredible voices. They put out some of their best work as these characters, and the voice acting is matched by an incredible score composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed the music for The Last of Us series, Brokeback Mountain, The Book of Life, and Narcos: Mexico. Tim Davies, who also helped with music for Darksiders, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, Batman: Arkham City, The Simpsons Movie, Ant-Man, Crimson Peak, Frozen II, and many other shows, films, and games also composed the show’s score.

The fact of the matter is, Maya and the Three is incredible. This is one of those event series that you get hyped for, and the hype is 100% worth it. It’s incredible to see a creator like Jorge and his amazing team put together something truly inspiring, grand, and beautiful. You have one of the best stories told in animation this year, and if you are in the mood for something truly distinct, then you will need to watch this epic series. Now then, I’m going to keep what’s coming next under wraps. You will just have to check in next time to see the next review. 

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

The Other Side of Animation 235: Firedrake the Silver Dragon 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!)

Listen, it is pretty much impossible to have every studio make films on the level of the top-tier giants like Chizu, Science Saru, Disney, Pixar, and you get the idea. Not every studio all around the world is going to throw down the money for the tools, the talent needed, or will have the smoothest production cycle to make films on par with what’s coming out these days. That’s okay for the most part. Not everything needs to look like the most polished animated film from the bigger studios. With that said, with so many smaller studios making animated features, you have to do something that stands out. If your film makes viewers remind them of much better films, then you are in trouble as a studio. It’s always going to be disappointing when you see a small film from a studio that wants to make an impression, and then come off as something that was made because someone wanted to make an animated film due to how profitable they can be. This is where most people will fall with Dragon Rider aka Firedrake the Silver Dragon


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Directed by Tomer Eshed, the director behind the incredible CGI short Our Incredible Nature: The Common Chameleon, Firedrake was written by Cornelia Funke, John R. Smith, and was just released on Netflix. The story follows a silver dragon named Firedrake. He can’t breathe fire, the other dragons treat him like some odd individual, and his only friend is a creature called a Brownie. He talks to the elder dragon of his kind to learn about the Rim of the World, a location where dragons live freely and away from humans. One day, they find out that the humans are creeping ever so close to where the dragons live. It’s up to Silverdrake and his friend to find the famed dragon rider to help find this location and avoid the evil grasp of Nettlebrand, a mechanical dragon that wants to eat the dragons of the world. 



It’s very difficult to come up with a compelling story that feels refreshing and constantly keeps your attention. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t do a stellar job at keeping the audience’s attention. If you have seen any kind of fantasy film with dragons as the focus, then you will have seen this film. It has a few good lines and morals, but when you are struggling to remember the characters that said it, or when they said it, that’s a problem! The fantastical elements mixed with modern-day human civilization feel undercooked. The humans don’t seem to care that giants, sea serpents, and other mystical beings exist in this world, when the opening of the film explains that humans and dragons used to live together. Okay, well, why should I care? Viewers will find it hard to feel engrossed in this bog-standard world with a mediocre story attached. There are themes of moving on past a tragic event in your life, and how everyone is flawed, but can do good things. To give the film credit, those are decent points. 



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Getting to those points is what makes the film such a struggle to watch. It feels too childish for adults, and not engaging enough for kids. It makes references to much better films you would rather be watching, and those references can come off as both cute and very desperate. The two references by the way are for Ice Age and the obvious comparison point for this film, How to Train Your Dragon. To be fair, the film is based on a book,and could have been simply a bad adaptation of the story. To be even fairer, most viewers won’t care if it’s based on something, because the film needs to be good on its own, and no one wants to see fantastical creatures reference stuff like the internet, Skype, and you get the idea. It feels insulting that this film thought it needed to take place in the modern-day when if you change the time period, it wouldn’t matter. Sure, you would have to change a few scene executions around, but you wouldn’t have to change the overarching story. 




The characters fall flat. Firedrake is your typical dorky outcast who wants to be a powerful dragon but doesn’t know how. Sorrel is the snarky one who doesn’t trust humans. Ben had the potential to be an interesting human character, but viewers will have seen much better orphaned characters with shows like Kid Cosmic that came out this year. The villains and side characters that help flesh out the world don’t offer too much, which is shocking since you would think a giant mechanical dragon voiced by Patrick Stewart would be more entertaining than it actually is. The film’s story is a real crushing case of going in one ear and out the other. 




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The animation for Firedrake and the Silver Dragon looks like those videos you see on YouTube, where they take a game that has colorful cartoony graphics and run it through the hyper-realistic textures and graphics of the Unreal Engine, but then don’t translate the cartoonish character designs. The animation looks clunky and stiff. They also do a lot of repeated character models and looping animations. The overall vibe that I personally took away from this film is an animation school graduate project. Patrick Stewart’s character Nettlebrand has the best character animation on him, but it makes you wonder whether making him metal had a reason for it. A different team would focus more on his robotic elements than it looking like an alternate costume/skin from a video game. The human designs are unappealing to look at, and another sign of either the talent not being there or the talent not having time to go over a few sequences to make them look less horrifying at points. The film also feels like the CGI characters are at times flying against a flat background.


Since it wants to be like How to Train Your Dragon, it does have a few moments of action and flying, but they feel unimaginative. How to Train Your Dragon felt like you were there while the flying was happening. The overall film lacks that cinematic edge, and whether it was due to time or resources not being handled well, the action and flying sequences don’t have that spark and magic to them. Yes, for the most part, you can judge this film on its own merits without having to compare it to films that were obviously made by large teams of talented animators and directors. With that said, when a film like this is making references and wants to be like that more popular film, well, it’s open season on the comparisons.

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The voice cast does have a few big names including Thomas Brodie Sangster, Felicity Jones, Patrick Stewart, Freddie Highmore, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhasker, Nonso Anozie, Alex Norton, and Jimmy Hibbert to name a few. The performances range from annoying to some of them trying their hardest to work with the mediocre material, and some of them are completely forgettable. Patrick Stewart seems to be putting in most of the legwork to leave an impression, and even the weakest Patrick Stewart performance is better than most actors in this film. 






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Netflix is an odd beast when it comes to animation. They have all of this money and they have put out a lot of incredible work, but then you see them buy films from overseas that would look at home on the film rack in a grocery store next to direct-to-video animated fare. If I wanted to see a company bring over direct-to-video films, I would have gone to Lionsgate. Firedrake the Silver Dragon is not the worst of the year, but it’s definitely a bottom-tier animated film for 2021. Maybe if this film came out in a weaker year I would have liked it more, but since the films are so strong this year, it’s going to end up near the bottom. There are so many better animated films with dragons in them right now that you would have to use a map to find a reason to watch this one. If you do want to watch it, then go ahead. Watch the film at your own leisure and see how you come out of the experience. Well, next time, we will be looking at yet another CGI animated film coming to Netflix, but you will have to wait and see what it is.

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: Lackluster!