The Other Side of Animation 267: Luck Review

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: Rent it

The Other Side of Animation 225: America The Motion Picture Review

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(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!)

We seem to live in a world where many people seem to think film criticism is black and white. A film is either good or bad, and, well, that’s limiting to the world of art and film. Criticism should be more of a gradient. No one is ever like “yeah, I like and hate everything”. You all have films you love, like, think are good, okay, mediocre, bad, the worst, and you get the idea. Sometimes ya love a film because it’s uneven or maybe you hate it for the same reason. This is how I feel about Netflix’s newest adult animated film with Matt Thompson’s America: The Motion Picture. 


Written by Dave Callaham, directed by Matt Thompson, produced by Channing Tatum, Adam Reed, Matt Thompson, Will Allegra, Peter Kiernan, Reid Carolin, Eric Sims, and Christopher Miller, and Phil Lord, this 2D animated feature was produced by Floyd County Productions, Free Association, and Netflix Animation. This is their newest attempt to reign over the animation scene with a film that you wouldn’t see in the theaters or on TV. Well, what do I think of this absurd take on American history that sounds like it was a film made by Jake Peralta from Brooklyn 99 for a history report? 

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Our story revolves around George Washington, voiced by Channing Tatum. He lives in an alternate history where he was alive at the same time as Abe Lincoln and many other important and pseudo-important historical icons. As he is enjoying a show with his best pal Abe, it is interrupted by Benedict Arnold, voiced by Andy Samberg. Arnold pulls a, well, Benedict Arnold and has not only interrupted the signing of the Declaration of Independence but also killed Abe Lincoln in his plan to take over the United States for King James, voiced by Simon Pegg. George decides to rise against the evil tyrants and finds a team of individuals to take down the British. These include Sam Adams, voiced by Jason Mantzoukas, Thomas Edison, voiced by Olivia Munn, Paul Revere, voiced by Bobby Moynihan, Geronimo, voiced by Raoul Trujillo, and Blacksmith, voiced by Killer Mike. Can our rebellious group of rabble-rousers save the soon-to-be-titled United States of America? 

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Listen, when the trailer for this film came out, it’s understandable that the reception to it and its wildly free take on American history would be polarizing. When you make commentary about politics, you have to, well, take small careful steps. However, after finally watching this film, it’s not meant to be taken seriously as a political comedy. Don’t come into this thinking you are going to get a Death of Stalin. Like I said above, I joked, but this does come off like a history report made by Jake Peralta, which is fitting since Andy Samberg is in this film. It has some commentary and I’ll have some thoughts about that, but it’s meant to be this cracked-out take on history that reads more like a pulp action story. It’s a fast-paced action comedy that takes full advantage of its nonsensical period of history, as it keeps you moving to each quirky setup, punchline, and action beat. It has some themes about working together to take down hate and to support stuff like science, but you will be here to enjoy the high-octane action and absurd characterizations of historical figures. The action is creative, violent, and has some of the better laughs in the overall film. It also helps that the cast is delightful and how they all bounce off of one another. It’s not perfect character dynamics, but some of the angles they take with the leads are delightful. 

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Animation-wise, it’s a bigger budgeted production of Archer, I think it looks better than Archer due to how much more movement and polish the character models are given. It helps that the film has a more comic book cartoony look that makes it stand out from Archer. They move fluidly, and they do have dynamic movements and much more expressive facial animation than the studio’s usual work. Hopefully, the studio that animated this film Floyd County Productions unionizes because animators should have better working conditions, but the team that worked on the film’s visual look did a fantastic job. I also enjoyed the voice cast. Channing Tatum, Will Forte, Jason Mantouzkas, Olivia Munn, Bobby Moynihan, Judy Greer, Raoul Trujillo, Killer Mike, Simon Pegg, and Andy Samberg put in some fantastic performances. It comes off like everyone had a ton of fun acting in this film since it’s not a traditional project for these individuals. The music by Mark Mothersbaugh is fun, but I wouldn’t call it his best work. It helps fit the tone and the mood, but outside of the mix of rock and hip hop thrown into the story, I don’t remember much. 

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I wish the music was the only thing I had criticism about this film. Like most comedies, I found some of the jokes to be hit and miss. It’s more of a dumb popcorn flick than a groundbreaking political comedy. The political jokes that are there are familiar and nothing you haven’t heard before. It’s like this movie wanted to be a pulpy schlocky action flick, but then also had to deal with the question of people overthinking this film with how it was going to handle its political themes. To me, it’s very basic in its views. It’s pro-science, anti-racism, and the ending is fairly funny and cynical in a realistic way of how America turned out in the end. To be clear, it doesn’t love or support the far right. Even the POC characters are constantly calling out George or Sam Adams on their shenanigans and insults. However, I don’t think it balances out its cynical political comedy and the violent pulp action elements very well. I wouldn’t call it the sharpest comedy or action film that Lord and Miller have helped produce. A good handful of the main characters are also not that interesting. Some of them are more fleshed out than others. It’s also a bummer that Blacksmith sits out for a major chunk of the second act alongside Geronimo, but I am happy that the two have some of the best lines and the best moments in the final battle. America: The Motion Picture is also very macho-driven. Outside of Olivia Munn’s Edison, the female characters do not get as much support and love as the male characters. 





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While it is extremely uneven in its execution, I enjoyed it. I can also understand if other critics and animation/film fans do not tolerate this one. It’s, at the very least, an interesting film to come out and doesn’t feel as boring and boilerplate as Spirit Untamed. If you are in the mood for something a bit different than the usual family-focused animated films out right now, then give it a watch. I’m glad something like this exists even if it’s not perfect, because more distinct animated films deserve to be made and either succeed or fail. If you want more diversity in what stories are told, then you need to support the ones trying to stand out. For now, though, let’s travel to Germany as the next film I will be reviewing is Snotty Boy.

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 70: The Ice Age Series Review

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(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!)

It’s funny, when I promised to do a notoriously terrible animated film for every 10 reviews, I always wanted to talk about easily one of the worst animated films of all time, Delgo, due to how long it took to make, and how little money it made back. However, it seems like notoriously bad movies like popping up and pushing back that review. For example, since it’s the holidays, I wanted to talk about a series that has become infamous for overstaying its welcome and becoming worse after every sequel, The Ice Age movies. The flagship franchise of Blue Sky Studios started out with a competently made movie back in the early 2000s, but then as time went on and there were more sequels to the series, it was becoming apparent that they were getting worse in terms of overall quality. I also wanted to talk about them on a base-by-base situation, but after watching them all, I decided to talk about them in one massive review for the holidays. Now then, let’s dive into this over decade-long franchise.

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I think I’ll give a small synopsis for each of the films. The first film is about a group of odd fellows with a mammoth named Manny, voiced by Ray Romano, a sloth named Sid, voiced by John Leguizamo, and a saber-tooth tiger named Diego, voiced by Denis Leary. The three end up having to take care of a human baby, and set out to bring it back to the tribe while avoiding a cult of dodo birds, and Diego’s gang of other prehistoric cats.

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The second movie, Ice Age: The Meltdown, has the gang trying to escape a massive flood while also coming across another mammoth named Ellie, voiced by Queen Latifah, who at first thinks she is an opossum along with her two brothers, Crash and Eddie, voiced by Seann William Scott and Josh Peck, who are actually opossum. All the while, they are stalked by large prehistoric sea monsters that were unfrozen in the ice.

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The third film, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, came out in 2009, and has Manny and Ellie dealing with the upcoming birth of their first child. Sid, on the other hand, accidentally finds some eggs that happen to have T-Rex babies in them. The mother T-rex, who somehow survived the Ice Age and the extinction, finds the newly hatched kids and takes them and Sid back to an apparent underground world where dinosaurs have somehow survived for years after the extinction. As they journey into this new world, they run into this nutty survivalist weasel named Buck, voiced by Simon Pegg, who decides to help them while avoiding a giant dinosaur that is stalking them.

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The fourth film was Ice Age: Continental Drift which came out in 2012. This story has Manny having to deal with his daughter, Peaches, voiced by Keke Palmer being a rebellious teenager, and Manny being an over-protective father. This is when the continents are separating, thanks to the actions of the iconic character Scrat, voiced by Chris Ledge. As a result, Manny, Sid, and Diego get separated from the rest of their friends and family. Oh, and they now also have to deal with Sid’s grandma, voiced by Wanda Sykes. As the crew gets separated out in the ocean, they run into a group of pirates run by an ape named Captain Gutt, voiced by Peter Dinklage. Can Manny and his buddies get back to their loved ones before Gutt causes trouble? Oh, and Diego encounters a female sabre-tooth tiger named Shira, voiced by Jennifer Lopez, who is part of Gutt’s crew.

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The most recent film, Ice Age: Collision Course came out July 22, 2016. The plot for this film has to deal with Manny trying to get over the fact that his daughter Peaches is getting married to this quirky male mammoth named Julian, voiced by Adam DeVine. On top of this, Manny also has to deal with his and Ellie’s anniversary, when all the while a giant meteorite is heading down to earth that can possibly destroy it. If there wasn’t enough going on, Collision Course brings back fan favorite character Buck, who actually helps the gang with their trouble, avoiding a group of flying dinosaurs named Gavin, Gertie, and Roger, voiced by Nick Offerman, Stephanie Beatriz, and Max Greenfield.

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Okay then, now that we’ve got the plots out of the way, let’s talk about some of the few positive elements on which to commend this franchise. While the first film might not age well in animation, and you can really see how some of the later films biggest annoyances would be birthed from this one movie, it still holds up as a decent animated film. It had atmosphere, characters with actual personality, depth, and was able to be quiet for more than a split second. There is a great scene in the later part of the film where you get a bit of why Manny is so defensive around other animals and getting close to anyone. It might not be unique, due to what we have gotten in future films, but it’s an impressive scene that is way too good to be in such a franchise. While the quality did start to go downhill as the movies went on, I did enjoy a few characters. Simon Pegg’s character Buck is easily the highlight of the third and fifth film. All of his lines might not be gut-busting funny, but he brings an energy to the role that makes it work. You can also tell in the newest movie, Collision Course, that his scenes got much more effort put into them. I liked Peter Dinklage’s character, Captain Gutt. He was pretty much the only character who was consistently entertaining throughout the entire running time of Continental Drift. I also found Wanda Syke’s character funny. Like everyone else, her humor might not hit all the time, but her delivery and how she executes the lines is humorous and entertaining. Heck, a couple of the actors throughout this entire series make bad jokes work. I will also give respect to the animation getting better and better as the films went on, specifically the most recent one.

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Now then, I was nice to this franchise for the first part of this review, but it’s time to talk about why the franchise is one of the worst in the big budget animated film scene. Ice Age really only had one or two movies in it, since there was no real reason to continue on after that. Yes DreamWorks and Pixar may have made sequels to some of their main hits, but what happened for the most part was that the stories continued, the characters developed more, and they were good. Yes, the Shrek franchise went on too long, and I’m not fully on board with a reboot to said franchise, but I can tell you much more effort was put into them than the later Ice Age sequels. The third Ice Age film was so boring to sit through, and while Simon Pegg’s Buck was amusing, it was nowhere near a saving grace to the overall experience. The third film is also the jumping off point to some of the biggest problems the franchise has going against it.

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Where do I even start? I could list them off, since this review is already going on long enough, but I think I will start with one of the biggest issues I have with this series of films, the continuity. It’s blatantly obvious when you jump into the third film that there are going to be some things that don’t make sense. One, how did the dinosaurs survive underground? When the gang sees the T-Rex mother above ground, how does Elli know what a dinosaur is? Where was this dinosaurland this entire time? How was it not affected in some way or another when the ice was melting in the second movie? Due to how far underground they are, why are they not at the very least baking to death? It gets worse when in the fourth film, the continents get split apart, so that leads to questions like how the dinosaurland was still there in the fifth movie, unchanged from the events of the fourth movie. Like, did nothing at all happen to them? That’s just one major example of the continuity issues. The continuity also leads into a lot of little problems that I don’t think the filmmakers thought through, because they will introduce new characters and villains that are new species, but will never show up again. What happens to Captain Gutt’s ape species? It’s never seen again. What about Josh Gad’s hedgehog/mole character from the fourth movie? He is never seen again. What about those teenage mammoths played pointlessly by Drake and Nicki Minaj that added nothing to the characters? They vanished, and are never seen again. Why introduce these characters when they aren’t going to be important or add anything to the overall world? Just to get big names out there? I’m sorry, but that’s painfully distracting and cynical of Blue Sky Studios.

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It becomes very apparent that the story writers had no idea what they were doing, and had no talent behind them. As you watch the films, you will see that character subplots either result in them being predictable, boring, annoying, or don’t really go anywhere. It leaves us with main characters that have no real personality, or any personality and character arcs they did have were spent by movie two. They don’t take risks, and or challenge the viewer, and yes, I know not everything has to be Pixar good, but I don’t like going in with a film not treating me like I have a couple of brain cells. It results in there being more focus to the annoying side characters, potty humor, and the little squirrel character taking up most of the time and focus. I don’t feel like I’m watching a movie in this series, I feel like I’m watching Blue Sky Studios tell me how good their animation is getting, like a kid showing a picture they drew to their parents. It’s nice that you all upgraded your tech and have beautiful animation, but it’s not enough. Heck, that squirrel character, Scrat, has become a very distracting element of the films. Due to how little or any plot each film has, more sequences with Scrat become fillers. The people making the film know they don’t have much, and only have enough substance to make the Scrat sequences entertaining, but time-consuming due to how boring everyone else is.

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I know some people will say that Blue Sky Studios get to make these movies so that they can work on other projects, but I’m sorry, that’s not a good excuse for having lackluster film after lackluster film in a series that probably only had two movies in it. Say what you will about Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train your Dragon, but their sequels actually got better and better. Ice Age got worse after the first movie. The original movie was unique for its time, due to how low-risk the competition was in terms of CGI animation, but due to how much competition there is in animation now, you have to step up and improve your game. Whether you want to be fun and entertaining or mature and complex, you can’t just be pretty visuals, while being lackluster everywhere else. People are going to catch on, and it surely did with Ice Age: Collision Course underperforming and bombing in the states. If I had a recommendation for any of the films in the series, it would definitely be the first one, but even then, there are so many amazing animated films I could recommend over the original Ice Age. I really hope they don’t make any more of these films because if they do, people will not be forgiving to them. If I see that a new one is being made, I am going to be much tougher on it. Well, we got this massive review out of the way, how about we end on a high note with GKids Phantom Boy. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this rather long article, and I will see you all next time

Rating for the first film: Rent it. Rating for the second film: Rent it! Rating for the rest of the series: The Worst/Blacklist