The Other Side of Animation 59: The Wild Life 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!)

Hey everyone, Lionsgate a.k.a #AntiGKids is back again with another nauseating and, to no surprise, horrible movie! Yeah, I know this might be picking on the studio, but they tried to con people out of money for Norm of the North and this movie, The Wild Life. The Wild Life is a French/Belgium collaboration that was originally called Robinson Crusoe. Ironically, this film has very little to do with the actual character, and focuses on the animals instead. It’s directed by Vincent Kesteloot and Ben Stassen, which explains a lot if you know about Ben Stassen’s filmography. It was produced by Illuminata Pictures, nWave Pictures, and UFilm. The only film that I can think of that is remotely well known in terms of what these companies and directors worked on was the incredibly mediocre Fly Me To The Moon 3D. Even though it’s not a huge bomb of a film from the other side of the world, it’s one of the biggest flops in terms of first weekend CGI film releases in the states. So, is it as bad as I, and many others, have made it out to be? Well, we shall see.

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The story revolves around this Parrot named Mak/Tuesday, voiced by David Howard Thornton. He tells the story about life on an island with his friends that include a tapir, a goat, a chameleon, a pangolin, an echidna, and what I think is a kingfisher. Believe me when I say that the types of animals are much more interesting than their actual names. One day, they see that a human named Robinson Crusoe, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, has been stranded on the island. Now the animals have to find out if this human is trustworthy, while avoiding the evil cats that sadly came along on the ship Crusoe was aboard.

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Man, this movie is horrible, but why? It looks just as cynical as most mediocre animated films, and it doesn’t look as bad as Norm of the North. So, what’s the problem? Well, I can describe this movie with one word, boring. This film is a chore to sit through, and that’s because of the characters. They are a bore. Each character has one trait, and they milk that more than NBC Universal milks that Illumination advertising budget. The goat is old, and that’s it. The tapir is fat, and that’s it. The pangolin and echidna are pointless characters, and you guessed it, that’s it. No one is worth remembering in this film. Oh, and they are all rather stupid. Like, Norm of the North levels of stupid. Listen, people, stupid characters don’t make a good movie. You can have one well written stupid character, but the entire cast can’t be as dumb as the person who thought Nine Lives was a good idea. In the end, I did not care what happened to anyone, and I was just ready to get off my seat and curse the people who brought this into theaters. It doesn’t help either that the film essentially had about three climaxes, overstayed its welcome, and characters acting inconsistently. Seriously, the kingfisher character wants the human off the island, but then in one scene of the movie, she attempts to ruin Crusoe’s S.O.S signal to keep him on the island. Like, do you want him gone or not?!

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The biggest sin this film has going against it is that it is completely pointless. There was no reason for this film to exist. It’s not smart, clever, funny, interesting, and it is soulless. Heck, it doesn’t even really focus on Crusoe, and granted, some things from the original book they probably couldn’t do, but it’s also another film that had no freaking reason to be in theaters. I seriously question moviegoers, when the great Kubo and the Two Strings has to continually suffer in the box office. I saw no advertising for The Wild Life besides a poster for it a few months back. That’s it. Why does Lionsgate keep thinking that they can bring over any animated film, and people will love it? You know what? We don’t!

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The animation definitely looks better than Norm of the North, but only in terms of textures. It had more money and talented people working on this film than Norm of the North, but the animation is still very robotic. No one moves naturally. Well, maybe the chameleon moves the most naturally due to them already moving like robots, but I digress. The voicework is also annoying. On one hand, they got mostly voice talent for this film. It really doesn’t have big names to back it up (which makes it a mystery why it got to be in theaters in the first place, but still). It’s somewhat nice to see a film not rely on big names to sell its movie. On the other hand, the actors aren’t that great, and you can tell the English dub team wanted bigger names than what they could afford.

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So, out of this incredibly boring and annoying trainwreck, what does this film do well? Well, it only does one thing really well. What is it? It only has one or two really bad stereotypical kids film jokes. Yeah, the rest of the humor is horrible, not funny, and the two butt jokes are lousy excuses for humor, but to their credit, I do have to say that this film stays far away from the modern children animated film joke tropes. I was shocked by this because this was distributed by Lionsgate, which as you all know, released Norm of the North, which they should still be ashamed for making.  Anyway, The Wild Life has bland and boring humor, but it’s not super-condescending and cynical like Norm of the North or Bling. I was actually surprised, since it’s so easy for studios to get the note from higher-ups to put in these “wastes of space” jokes that make kids who have no sense of humor laugh, and adults who were unfortunate enough to take them to see it roll their eyes. I will also give credit that the animation looks decent. It’s still bad, but it’s not immensely mediocre. More Ratchet & Clank, than Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.

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Man, I really hated this film. I don’t hate it as much as Norm of the North and Underdogs, but it’s a vapid pointless film that had no reason to be in theaters. The film will be out in a physical format in November, but don’t pick it up. Instead of getting the dvd for this film on November 22nd, go purchase Kubo and the Two Strings on the same day. You will thank me. Now then, this is my 4th worst movie of the year. What is my 3rd worst animated film? Well, stay tuned.

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist

Is Lionsgate the Worst Animation Distributor?

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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 editorial!)

Back in August 2015, Lionsgate, the distributors of the popular Hunger Games films and the production company behind Orange is the New Black on Netflix, released an animated film called Shawn the Sheep Movie. This was a stop-motion animated film by Aardman, the masters behind stop-motion animation. The film was a critical success, with anyone who saw the movie loving it from head to toe. Unfortunately, it didn’t do financially well, which is a huge shame since it’s a freaking good movie and deserves the pleasure of watching it. So, you would think the next step for Lionsgate would be to look for some of the best animated films to help get them into theaters. What were their next products, in terms of animation? They put out Norm of the North, the worst movie/animated movie of 2016, pushed out The adventures of Panda Warrior, a horrifyingly-terrible-looking CGI animated film from China that is a rip-off film of Kung Fu Panda, and released into theaters The Wild Life, yet another mediocre-looking CGI animated film that may look better than Norm of the North, but will be just as bad. They are also going to distribute a couple of more Alpha and Omega films straight to the DVD bargain bin pit of fire where they belong. Did I miss something here? Why is Lionsgate pushing out these, quite frankly, horrible wastes of money? Say what you want about the quality of the animated films from Sony Pictures Animation, at least they aren’t the worst things of all time. You don’t even need a focus group to know that these projects are dead-on-arrival. It’s gotten so bad that I decided to label them the Anti-GKIDS. Why? Let’s find out.

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So, let’s start with the good company, GKIDS. This New York-based film distribution company has been getting their name out there for distributing the highest quality foreign-animated films that have all gotten Oscar nominations like The Secret of Kells, Ernest & Celestine, When Marnie Was There, Song of the Sea, A Cat in Paris, Chico and Rita, Boy & The World, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. What do all of these films have in common? Well, GKIDS makes sure to pick out the best of the best, and won’t just choose to bring something over just because they can. They have a reputation to uphold, and they will only pick films that will reach their high quality standards. Sure, we still get some great films not from GKIDS, like the upcoming Long Way North from Shout! Factory, and The Boy and the Beast from Funimation, but my point is that GKIDS and some other companies do try to keep a level of quality in what they bring over.

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Lionsgate, on the other hand, is one of the many problems as to why animation in film form is not taken seriously. Who in their right mind thought Norm of the North was a film that people wanted to see in theaters? Who at Lionsgate thought it would match up to the films by other studios? It’s a straight-to-DVD schlock title that somehow got to be in more theaters and got more attention than some of the best films of this year. Heck, Sausage Party had a smaller budget than Norm of the North, and was a solid movie. Lionsgate even thought this film would be popular enough to spawn two more 45-minute long sequels. Like, really? A film where no effort was put into making it coherent and good-looking to be popular enough to be a franchise? Yeah, people complain about the Ice Age movies coming out still, and while I will get to those around Christmas time, they at least have great animation and a few decent characters worth investing into. Lionsgate has this mindset that just because it’s animation, people will like it, without thinking why we loved these animated films in the first place. Did we love Zootopia because it was a bunch of animated animals in clothes? No! People fell in love with it because of its witty writing, engaging story, and likable characters. We didn’t fall in love with Kubo and the Two Strings because it was stop-motion. We fell head over heels for it because it was an animated film that treated the audience like they had brain cells, with an engaging story, incredibly entertaining characters, a mature tone, and very impressive stop-motion action sequences. No one fell in love with Norm of the North, because it was a condescending, horribly animated, cynical, ugly, insulting, pompous pile of garbage that was made by people who had no freaking idea what they were doing. It doesn’t help that a few months later, Lionsgate announced that they were releasing a straight-to-DVD film called Adventures of Panda Warrior, with Rob Schneider also attached as the lead character.  Boy, if they released this in theaters, they would have been torched alive, and anyone attached to it would have been blacklisted for bringing this film over in the first place. Why would they think we would want to see a Kung Fu Panda rip-off that has the graphics of an original PlayStation game, and acting that had no effort put into it? I mean, by sweet pink lemonade, Adventures of Panda Warrior looks like an unfinished college project that somehow got into stores. Just because the public sometimes makes questionable choices in what films to support, doesn’t mean that they are incredibly stupid, Lionsgate! People are smarter than what your focus groups make them out to be.

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Sure, their newest animated film that they are distributing with Summit Entertainment, The Wild Life, doesn’t look as terrible, but it still looks horrid compared to Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, and Illumination, and its dialogue and characters look and sound grating. You can even look up the voice cast, and it’s mostly voice actors, which is nice since it’s a film not relying on huge stars, but it doesn’t look good for them either to be attached to this trainwreck. As much as I know that it’s not going to be good, and early reviews are not kind to it, I’ll give it a fair shake (review coming soon).

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So, what should Lionsgate do to improve upon their incredibly horrible animation track record? Well, they can actually put quality into what films they greenlight or bring over. Be like GKIDS or Shout! Factory where they pick and choose what they bring over. Do not greenlight focus-grouped or higher-up requested films, because I assure you that they will not be good and you will look like soulless blithering wastes of air. They can also cancel all Alpha & Omega straight-to-bargain bin sequels, because no one likes them, and while you can like them, you can’t tell me or anyone that they are good movies. I dare you to tell me how they are good movies.

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As far as I know, Lionsgate is indeed the worst animation distributor in Hollywood. No effort, no quality control, they think the movie-going audience is stupid, and they keep making or distributing films, with the rare exception, that no one asked for. Blue Sky might be too scared to tell Fox that they don’t and shouldn’t make another Ice Age sequel, but at least they have made some interesting movies, and a truly good movie with The Peanuts Movie. Sony Pictures Animation might be shooting itself in the foot constantly, but at least there is a certain charm and creativity to the films they make and release.  I will be sure to say that Lionsgate did a good job if they do distribute something as good as the Shaun the Sheep Movie, but that will be quite the wait. Maybe they will learn their lesson, but I highly doubt it at the rate they are going.