Is The Weinstein Company 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!)

Last year, I wrote an editorial calling out Lionsgate as the worst animation distributors in Hollywood. I still stand by that opinion that they are one of, if not the worst distributors of the animated film scene. Lionsgate is to animation distribution as Central Park Media was to anime distribution, where they chose quantity over quality, and forever stained their reputation. Sure, both companies might have a bright spot here and there, but 99.9% of the time, there was just pure garbage in their library. However, I have come to realize that there are plenty of bad animation distributors that are terrible in many different ways. Like I said above, Lionsgate is bad because they choose to bring over whatever, without thinking that it might look questionable that they bring over low-budget title after low-budget title without thinking if it’s of any high quality. Today though, we are looking at The Weinstein Company.

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While they may have plenty of high quality live-action films under their belt like Lionsgate does, their presence in the animation scene can be seen as just as bad as Lionsgate, or by some people worse. And to be honest, I agree. Let’s talk about what makes them one of the worst distributors of animated films.

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Since I can’t just retread comparing them to GKids once again, let’s take a look at their history of distributing animated films. Luckily, they have a much smaller library of films than Lionsgate, since they didn’t go for the “let’s buy any cheap animated film we can and shove a bunch of YouTube stars and C list celebrities into them” strategy. Unfortunately, what they have chosen for their small lineup of animated features doesn’t at all scream of quality. Instead of going the route of GKids or Shout! Factory by choosing pristine titles that deserve it, The Weinstein Company does hand-pick their titles, but I wouldn’t call them classics. Their lineup of titles include The Magical Roundabout, or as it’s also known as Doogal, Underdogs, the upcoming Leap!, Arthur and the Land of the Invisibles, Hoodwinked, Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil, TMNT, and Escape from Planet Earth. Yeah, that’s not a stellar lineup. Sure, you could argue films like Hoodwinked, at the very least, had a style and personality to it, and Azur & Asmar: The Prince’s Quest is visually beautiful, but that doesn’t really help or save their lineup.

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So, like a lot of companies, they distributed some terrible movies, but what makes them exactly the worst? I’m sure you guys are wondering that, since I haven’t really brought that up. Well, if you look at the reviews for Underdogs, Escape from Planet Earth, Doogal, and Arthur, you see that they are some of the worst reviewed films, in terms of animation. What exactly happened? The Weinsteins have a very notorious reputation of editing, cutting out, and recasting the films they bring over. You know all of those obnoxious pop culture references, pointless celebrities, and bad jokes in Doogal? Yeah, the original didn’t have a lot of them. Does Arthur and the Land of the Invisibles seem very choppy and annoying? The original wasn’t like that. Why does Leap! have recasted actors for minor or lead roles? Are you catching what I’m throwing right now? Instead of spending money and marketing on the film itself, they tend to hire a bunch of celebrities to redub lines, voice characters who didn’t talk in the original, and taking out any of the charm the original films may have had. It’s like they really didn’t care what they were doing, spent money for changes that didn’t need to be made, and then realized that they invested a bunch of cash into these films, knowing they will not make it back.

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That’s probably the worst part. I always think that they realize that they have yet another project that will not be reviewed well, won’t make them money, and secretly toss it into release date limbo, and then quietly release it onto Netflix without anyone knowing. Luckily, I am one of those people that find out about films like the ones they release, and make sure to remind people that they chose to distribute these films. Why would they go through the trouble of getting the rights, spending money on unnecessary changes, and then pull out and quietly take the loss?

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What would I change about their tactics? I would change everything. If you are going to bring over animated films, bring over ones people actually want to watch. If the film already has an English dub, then don’t recast and waste more money on new actors. If you think about cutting and editing a film for some unknown reason, then take Hayao Miyazaki’s advice when you thought about cutting and editing Princess Mononoke, and don’t. If you honestly don’t want to put it in theaters because it will make you look bad and it won’t perform well, then put it straight to DVD, and people will instantly forget about it. That way, you don’t set off a bunch of red flags and alarm sounds, when you keep moving release dates for the movie. Also, if they aren’t so committed to helping get animation from overseas here in the states, then why bother? Why not just focus on the films you obviously put more effort put into them? It’s obvious that they have never made money on their animated films.

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So, is The Weinstein Company the worst animation distributor? Well, they are really bad, but for entirely different reasons than Lionsgate or Open Road Films. While Lionsgate is bad because they will literally bring over or pick up anything, The Weinstein Company is bad because they will pick up a film, do an insane amount of editing, recasting, redubbing, and so forth to films that end up as worse for wear. Instead of picking the right projects like Sony Pictures Classics and GKids, they pick up films that are already middle-of-the-road or bottom-of-the-barrel, and make them worse. I think the only film I can suggest seeing from their library of animation is Azur & Asmar, but be prepared to watch it in French, and look at some stiff animation. Even then, GKids helped with that film, so I wouldn’t really call it a Weinstein Company film. Who knows how they will handle Leap!, but I am sure if you don’t see it get even a limited release, then they don’t care, and are, once again, ashamed that they put money into such a terrible movie.

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Worst to Best Animated Films of 2016 Part 1

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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!)

Welcome, one and all, to my worst to best animated films of 2016! As a whole, 2016 was fantastic, and if it wasn’t for the theatrical release of a couple of films, it would have been a perfect year. The ground rules are the same as last time. They had to have been released in the states in 2016. This means any foreign films that are released in 2016, but not in the states, do not count. I will also be very strict with straight-to-DVD releases, since the only way they are going to show up on this list is if they had a lot of hype or praise put behind them. If I tackled every straight-to-DVD release, it would be one gigantic pile of schlock and garbage that would be wasting not only your time, but mine, as well. The films also need to have had theatrical releases or digital distribution releases, so that means films like Belladonna of Sadness and The Little Prince make the list. It’s once again, my opinion and my opinion only, because I’m the only one making the list! If you disagree or agree, that’s perfectly fine. I just request you don’t be a jerk about it. Let’s get started with the worst shall we?

37. Norm of the North

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If there was one movie this year that would make me want to curse loudly into the heavens, and want Hollywood to be shut down, revamped, and run by more competent people, it would be Norm of the North. This has everything that is horrible, not only about the animation industry, but the film industry overall. It doesn’t have a story, no likable characters, horrible animation, and is the most offensive, cynical, creatively bankrupt, and condescending film I have seen in a long time. It’s Jem and the Holograms 2015 levels of insulting. The only reason it’s not the worst film I have ever seen is because to me, Delgo and Violence Jack are worse, but this is still the third worst animated film of all time, and easily, the worst animated film of 2016. Anyone who worked on this should be ashamed that it got released in theaters, when it had no right to be.

36. Underdogs

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The smartest thing this film ever did was stay straight-to-DVD, because this movie is just as bad as Norm of the North. However, it ruins that notion with one smart move of being put directly on Netflix. It might have slightly better animation, but it’s still not cinema-worthy, which makes me think that the Weinsteins knew what they had. The animation is clunky, the designs are ugly, the voice acting is nonexistent, since none of the actors are putting in the effort, it all sounds like it was done in a day, the plot is terrible, there are story bits that are never brought up again, the villain is stupid, the film tries to end on a Rocky-like ending when it doesn’t deserve it, and you can really see why The Weinstein Company tried to cover this film up. Hope they don’t pull this kind of garbage with Leap!

35. Bling

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It’s a film that is surprisingly forgettable, but is just as aggravating to think about, when I do remember this cheap Korean knock-off. Yes, I did say that the fights can be decent, and James Woods is the only enjoyable thing about this film. However, Tom Green sounds like he got hit by a tranquilizer, there are way too many fart jokes, too many side characters, bad humor, a horrible moral that pushes materialism over actual love/being in a loving relationship, and no one does a believable performance. Then again, if I was told I was going to be voicing a character in a movie that had the writer behind the first Alpha & Omega in it, I would also not give a rat’s behind in giving a good performance.

 34. The Wild Life

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It’s quite shocking that Lionsgate had the utter gall in 2016 to release two obviously straight-to-DVD-made animated films into theaters. While The Wild Life does have better textures, better designs and animation than the previous films on this list, it’s still pretty robotic, and you can just feel the film try to be more animated than it can be. The story is stupid, the characters are one-note to a huge fault, it’s not really funny, the villains are even more pathetic than the one in Underdogs, and, well, really, Lionsgate? Was this film worth bringing to the theaters, when you are pretty much fine with wasting money on buying straight-to-DVD garbagefests? I respect the film stayed away from a lot of the tropes that make bad animated films, and at the very least, it was trying to be as good as it could be. But just because I say that doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. Just ignore this film.

33. Ice Age: Collision Course

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Finally! We get to talk about a film that rightfully deserved to be in theaters. Sadly, it’s Ice Age: Collision Course. I don’t get why these are made, and Fox shouldn’t have greenlit this one. Hopefully, with the film underperforming, it means they can put a stop to the franchise, because if the next film is anything like Collision Course, then so help me, I’d rather eat the script to the director’s cut of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, than sit through another Ice Age film. The main characters are pointless, Nick Offerman as the main villain is wasted potential, the film relies way too much on butt and poop jokes, they make modern day references when there are no reasons to, everyone is annoying, and all the actors in this film are wasted on such a stupid, heartless script. Simon Pegg was great, but even then, his material couldn’t save the film. Avoid this one at all cost, and I feel badly for any parent who bought this movie and has to watch it with their kids.

32. Ratchet & Clank

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The good news is that they got the look of the game down perfectly. The bad news is that this is a horrible movie. Sure, it’s not Norm of the North terrible, and it is at the very least, watchable, but that’s no excuse. It’s probably the biggest flop in terms of animated films from 2016, when it had the easiest job in terms of being a video game movie. It looks like the game, but the animation and texture quality is still not up-to-par, the lead duos don’t get a lot of screen time, the other characters can be annoying, the jokes are more miss than hit, and I feel like fans of the games are defending this film for no reason. It’s a bad movie, no matter how you look at it.

31. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

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This is probably the prettiest film on this entire list. It also has the most realistic-looking humans that you will see. Sadly, in terms of the context of the main Final Fantasy XV experience, it’s all seems very pointless. You see characters die who had no real development to them, the big celebrity voices they hired had no purpose other than name recognition, and due to this being a prequel, you are just stuck wondering if you should be invested with anything or not. The fight scenes can be decent, but let’s just say when I do start to play Final Fantasy XV, I will have fonder memories in that game than Kingsglaive.

30. Batman: The Killing Joke.

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If there was one animated film in 2016, that could be considered the most disappointing, it would probably be Batman: The Killing Joke. All this hype for a film adaptation of one of comic history’s most infamous stories, the original 90s Batman animated series’ actors like Tara Strong, Kevin Conroy, and Mark Hamill were reprising their roles, and it was getting an edgy R rating. Too bad it became one of 2016 and DC’s biggest laughing stocks. The additional 30 minutes added to the story was pointless, the infamous sex scene was creepy and terrible, the actual Killing Joke part got hampered by the additional story, the animation was terrible, and the whole film felt like it rode on the hype without being worth it. Oh, and this film had no right in being rated R. It was nowhere close to that level of shocking or mature. I get some people are trying to defend Batman and Batgirl’s notorious sex scene, but come on. There is no reason to defend this film. If you like it, more power to you, but for me, I don’t think I could ever muster up enough effort to watch Batman: The Killing Joke ever again.

29. Snowtime!

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A film that could have been a harmless bit of fluff, ends up being just that, but with an unneeded tragic third act. I don’t think I have ever seen such a horrible change of tone in any film from 2016. It also doesn’t help that the film has boring characters, and any potential in being more than fluff is wasted. It’s not a great film, but considering that it’s higher up on the list, you can tell I have seen worse.


28. Batman: Bad Blood

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This just felt like a Marvel filler movie. And I mean, in a way that this felt like this story was told just to make way for a better future story. Then again, this was right after Batman vs. Robin, which is a great watch. I just got bored watching the movie, and while it does do some firsts, like introduce Batwoman in the new DC animated film universe, but it’s not enough. Don’t get me wrong, Bad Blood still has good voice work and some fun action scenes. I just don’t see myself watching Bad Blood in the near future.

Thanks for checking out Part One! Stay tuned for Part Two in the future!

The Other Side of Animation 50: Underdogs Review

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

 

Well, we are here yet again with another GOYA Award winner. I never made it my intention of criticizing/talking about this award system from Spain so much, but yet, it gives me a lot to talk about. When we live in a world where the movie-going individual has found admiration, respect, and love for animated films from overseas, it’s amazing how many clunkers there are that try to essentially be a DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar, or any of the riffraff that isn’t those big three. You can definitely find some interesting stories with some of these films, like with today’s target, the Argentina/Spain collaboration, Underdogs. This film, which is also known as The Unbeatables in the UK, and Metegol in Argentina, Underdogs has a very, peculiar history of being brought over to the states. It was fully translated, dubbed by celebrities, and was (and still is) being distributed by The Weinstein Company here in the states. Unfortunately, it kept being pushed back multiple times in 2015, but a week before its actual release, it was pulled from the release schedule and is now on Netflix and is now available on DVD. Boy, doesn’t that sound frightening? It sounded like The Weinstein Company made a very big mistake in investing in this movie, which is why they released it when no one even remembers or cares about it. It kind of screws over the big stars they brought on board for this, like Ariana Grande, Katie Holmes, John Leguizamo, Nicholas Hoult, and Mel Brooks, to name a few. Then again, I haven’t heard one interview where they talked about it. So, did they want to make sure no one saw this for a reason? Is it a huge disaster? Well, let’s see what the damage is.

The story revolves around a young man named Jake, voiced by Matthew Morrison. He lives in a small town where he works at a bar as a busboy. One day he gets into an encounter with the town bully, Ace, voiced by Nicholas Hoult, and challenges him to a foosball game. Jake beats Ace at a game, and humiliates him in front of everyone in the town, and impresses his love interest, Lara, voiced by Ariana Grande. Seven years pass, and Ace returns to the town as one of the biggest soccer players in the world. Ace, being one who doesn’t take losing lightly (even when that loss happened seven years ago!), he decides to buy the town and ruin everyone’s’ lives. Jake falls into despair, and due to the miracle of lazy scriptwriting, a tear falls from his face onto a foosball figure and brings it to life. This horrifying little individual is Captain Skip, voiced by Taran Killam. He decides to help Jake beat Ace at soccer, and save Lara. Can Jake and his team of tiny foosball players (who don’t really do much but provide slapstick comedy and force the humans to do all the work during the actual soccer match) save the day?

To be honest, I can see why this film was, how you say, quietly shown the door. The animation is not very good. Part of that reason is that a lot of the character designs are unappealing and quite frankly ugly-looking. Sometimes, a design doesn’t translate well from paper to CGI. There is a reason why Pixar and Disney have a set style for their characters, because they are appealing to look at. The only times the animation gets decent is during the soccer sequences, and even then, it’s still not impressive in the slightest. It’s like watching an action anime where you know the entire budget went into the action sequences, and what little was left went into making the other elements of the film passable. The resolution of the textures is just painful to look at. The voice acting was also very spotty, where the dub didn’t match the lip movements, and the actors didn’t care that they are getting paid to, you know, act! It’s like they went with a practice take, and didn’t need anything else! It doesn’t help the film either that the plot is not focused. It has boring characters, a romance that isn’t earned, and probably one of the most pathetic villains I have ever seen. Oh yeah, let’s talk about one of the top 5 most pathetic villains in all of cinema. Ace loses a foosball match, leaves for seven years, comes back, and basically ruins the small town because he was humiliated by that one match. How much of a pathetic waste of air do you have to be to have that ruin your entire life? Heck, the logic in this film makes no sense. Why would an entire town be afraid of one punk kid? It’s not like there isn’t a police force there, you see policemen, why didn’t they just billy-club the punk for being a terror of the town, and send him to jail? Why is there a magical tear in this movie? How do the other foosball players come alive when they weren’t hit by a magical plot item? Why was there genetic mutation going on, and yet is never brought up again? This entire film tries to pretzel itself with all these ideas to make sense, but it ends up with a pretzel with too many twist and turns. It’s also overbaked, and sits like a rock inside your belly when you eat it. There is zero satisfaction with watching this film from beginning to end. You just don’t freaking care about anyone, since the film doesn’t take time to develop anyone outside of one-dimensional tropes. It ends with a Rocky-style “the bad guy wins, but everyone loves the underdog!”, but it’s so boring, tired, and again, it doesn’t feel earned, and yes, you don’t even care!

So, was there anything I liked about this movie? Well, I sort of liked the little foosball players. Granted, most of the time, they were annoying, and John Leguizamo, god bless him, was trying, but he came off as grating most of the time. That being said, those little guys were definitely much more interesting than the actual humans. I also liked one joke, but that is not a sign of positivity in a film that isn’t funny or at all watchable.

Funny enough, the biggest piece of praise you can give this film is that it was smart enough to stay straight-to-DVD. They didn’t pull a Norm of the North and shove it into theaters, which I think was the original idea. Luckily for The Weinstein Company, they should know that I knew about the movie, and will make sure they, and everyone else, knows that they released a terrible movie. It’s easily the second worst animated film I have seen in 2016. Again, the only reason it’s not number one with Norm of the North, is because The Weinstein Company knew they would get crucified for releasing this waste of time on the big screens. I don’t get how this became popular, besides it being popular in countries that treat soccer as a religion. This is just pure garbage, and no, this might not have been an American-made film, but saying “I shouldn’t be criticizing this film because it was super popular in other countries” is pure ignorant bullocks. There are so many films from foreign countries that have come out over here, and were and still are amazing. The only reason this film was at all popular was because it is focused around a sport that everyone else treats like it’s the only thing worth living for. Plus, Spain and South America have made amazing animated films, like Boy and the World and Wrinkles, so there is no excuse for “it’s a country not known for animation”, since there have been amazing films that can quite frankly be better than what we make here in the states. Avoid this movie at all cost, and not even for a bad movie night. Just don’t waste your time on this horrendous excuse for animation. You know what? After watching so much schlock, I’m going to do as many positive film reviews as possible, so next time, we look at The Painting. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this review, and I hope you don’t buy this movie. See you all next time

Rating: The Worst/Blacklist