“Batman the Animated Series” was a huge hit, and is sometimes called the greatest TV show ever. It was known for its atmospheric stories and literally dark art. They only used black paper to draw it. The executives told the creators, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett to make a futuristic child Batman with a younger brother and a team pet. This was supposed to make it more kid friendly, and instead it became more adult than The Animated Series. The child Batman, Terry McGinnis was a high school teenager who used to be in JV who is a brooder most of the time with a murdered father. The younger brother was a very minor character more in common with Flash Thompson than anything Warner Bros had in mind, and the pet was a rottweiler/German shepherd hybrid who hated Terry. Old Bruce Wayne was increasingly alone and miserable compared to his younger self, and the new high school always was dealing with some sort of realistic danger like drugs, murderous personal feuds, and gangs. This resulted in a mix of Spider-Man and Batman, and the creators masterfully combined them. This resulted in a big hit and a film was ordered during the second season. The creators realized they needed a big gimmick for the movie to stick out and not sound like it was just a long episode.
They did this by breaking one of their rules for the show, villains. Their rule was they would not rely on the old Batman villains and instead make new ones like “Shriek,” their best one. They occasionally brought old ones back like Mr. Freeze and Talia Al Ghul but only when they had an amazing story for them. By using them rarely (once a season) they stuck out as special. To help the movie seem special they brought back the biggest Batman villain…
… The Joker.
The opening is an action scene with the jokerz. for those unfamiliar with the show they are a group of high schoolers who worship the joker as a symbol of rebelling against authority and are petty thieves. Their line up changes each time, and this is the first time these clowns show up. I saw the movie before the show and could figure out the basics about them. What I could not figure out was why one, Woof, was a hyena/man hybrid. In the future “splicing” was made to give people animal parts (officially as a fashion statement). It also made them go insane and most were criminals or spliced supremacists. The Jokerz are stealing technology and Batman shows up to stop them. This fight is artistically good, but I do not think it works as an opening. The tone is too light, instead of setting up what the movie will be about thematically, adaptability
Bruce and Terry realize the Jokerz were stealing some powerful technology that street gangs never rob, and they assume they are doing some corporate espionage for an employer. This red herring is reinforced when the news reveals Bruce is trying to regain control of Wayne Tech and Jordan Price (voiced by Mark Hamill) is in his way. One major difference from the early episodes is you really see how much Bruce cares for Terry. Early on it was subtle, but now he makes no secret to Terry.
Then comes one of the scariest parts of the movie. the Jokerz send the motherboard they stole to The Joker who squashes it as worthless. Hamill is now voicing him with a much more restrained and menacing voice (the commentary said he hated that), and it is really chilling to go with his more muscled look and red eyes. One of the henchmen, Bonk, accuses him of being a fraud and wants out.
“If you insist,” says Joker while pointing a gun at him. the others look terrified like they have seen this before.
“Take it easy I was just kidding.” A flag saying “bang” comes out of gun harmlessly. The others look relieved until the flag then fires and impales Bonk in the heart killing him.
“So was I,” calmly says The Joker. He then sends the terrified Ghoul, Woof, Chucko, Dee, and Dee to attack Bruce Wayne. This is a great villain scene. No sense of care for his underlings, yet incredibly resourceful and sick sense of humor. It also shows that Joker is now a bigger physcial threat than he used to be.
They attack Bruce’s speech after a Joker laugh plays on the speakers. The Dee Dee twins attack Bruce, and the way they describe him makes it seem like they know who he is. (most Gothamites think the new Batman is really the old who found something to keep himself young). Then a figure comes up from a trapdoor and smiles at Bruce. “…joker’s back in town.”
I know the audience does not know at the time that Joker knows Bruce Wayne is Batman, but these scenes are much better knowing it. Terry shows up and Joker acts like he is at a high school reunion. They proceed to escape after Woof beats up Terry.
Then we get to the movie’s worst scene. To protect Terry Bruce aggravates him until he quits being Batman. How is getting the entire city destroyed due to their no longer being an active Batman going to keep him alive? We then get an introductory scene to Terry’s family for the new audience members and Terry goes to party with his dull and universally hated girlfriend. Terry is happy for the freetime, as his busy life sucks. Some fans think Terry is a wish fulfillment, but he is not. His father was murdered by a billionaire, his Batman duties make him fail school, make his seem very irresponsible due to him constantly running of to put on the suit, and nobody but Bruce trusts him. He hurt many people in the past making him have atonement issues. He is happy to find time to repair relationships, but the film abandons this idea quickly.
The Jokerz attack Terry at a party, which is an intense fight, but previously done better. In the meantime while Bruce is making a joker anti-toxin he is attacked in the bat cave by Joker and physically completely outmatched.
When Bruce does not answer the phone Terry realizes something is wrong and rushes over in the film’s scariest scene. The music gets dark and slow, as it matches the slow and ominous new pacing. Terry finds Ace (Bruce’s dog) nearly unconscious and the entrance to the bat cave destroyed. He rushes down and finds Ha-Ha graffiti and Bruce Wayne finally laughing at the Joker from laughing gas. He is able to point to the anti-toxin, but Bruce is now reduced to bed resting.
One of the really notable parts is the graffiti. It is a callback to the first episode, as Terry came home to his father’s murder and found graffiti like this (but green and purple, not blood red) everywhere. This is bringing back memories of his father’s death as he sees the potential death of his second father. As Ace watches Looney Tunes Terry goes to Barbara to get answers leading to the film’s most iconic scene.
In the flashback Joker and Harley Quinn kidnap Jason Todd (I know it is not his real film name), as Barbara and Batman try to find him for weeks until they are sent an invitation to Arkham. They follow Quinn’s singing. They find some jokes and Joker and Quinn say they decided to start a family by adopting. To adopt they borrowed one of Batman’s “spare kids” to get Joker Jr. (JJ).
Holy Surgery! This soon results in a bloody and angry fight where Quinn falls to her death, while Batman chases Joker. Joker leads Batman to a video of him brainwashing Jason. He then reveals he knows everything, and Batman’s secret is disappointing. Batman is just a crying kid calling to mommy. “Would be funy if it weren’t so paphetic… I’ll laugh anyway.” Joker then decisively defeats Batman and decides the best way to finish him is to have his own sidekick shoot him. Jason has just enough in him to instead shoot Joker (same gun used to kill the henchman earlier). After this Batman never had a partner until Terry.
What makes this scene so good? Part of it is the villains’ demeanor. They are sitting in a place designed to look like a home, they are acting more lovey dovey with each other, and Joker’s kiss the cook apron during the surgery. They are such a perversion of the family making this really feel wrong like they think this is what parents do. The real beauty is this scene makes every part of the movie before it so much better with all the rewatch bonuses.
Terry thinks Jason might be involved and goes to his job (communications expert). He eventually moved on and is clearly relating to Terry for working for Bruce like this. Terry then goes to check on Jordan Price. The Jokerz are there to kill him for being a lose end, as he helped them attack Bruce’s speech. Terry saves him, and he sees that a satellite has fired a huge laser at the yacht.
Now I was really interested in how Joker pulled this off. Bruce shows back up to the bat cave, and they try to figure out what is going on. Terry notices only Jason’s Robin costume was destroyed and Jason hates the suit more than anyone. They check on what everything Joker stole can do with the technical knowledge of Jason, and it is a laser fired from space. After discovering Jason is working for Joker the huge laser chases down the Bat plane and wrecks most of the city’s streets. He is saved by Joker oddly becoming exhausted.
Terry then defeats the Jokerz and finds Jason who fakes weakness only to then immobilize Terry (“batfake” as he calls him) and then transforms into Joker. Previously Joker installed a chip of his consciousness (that should have been discovered) that allowed him to slowly take over Jason’s body briefly, and he stays in control longer each time. He is on the verge of doing it permanently and he got all of Jason’s techno skills and fighting skills. Joker debates about making ground zero something personal to Terry (make personal tragedy for the hero) or destroying Wayne manor.
Terry breaks free and hits the controls sending the laser straight to them. Then Joker and Terry battle with Joker having the upper hand due to knowing all of Batman’s moves in his prime. Bruce tells Terry to tone it out, but Terry realizes he needs to win his way, which is the Joker’s game. He switches to fighting dirty and then he mocks Joker by using his speech to Bruce in the flashback. Joker is just a guy who fell into chemicals and felt he then had to be a super villain instead of a rodeo clown. He spent years trying to get a guy with no sense of humor to laugh and failed every time. His only ability to get a laugh is in how pathetic he is. Joker completely collapses mentally until he finally catches Batman
Batman then pulls out Joker’s own joy buzzer and uses it to destroy the chip turning him back into Jason. This all makes me realize now Joker is the physical threat with Batman relying on misdirection and hiding to beat him, the opposite from The Animated Series.
The falling action is almost nothing as Terry just flies into the sunset. Thankfully it is also revealed that Quin survived and the Dee Dee twins are her granddaughters for some needed comic relief.
It took me some time, but I think I found the theme, success requires adaptability to changing forces. In the series, Bruce adapted by realizing he now needs to be the mentor instead of the hero. In the movie he instead refuses to accept this and is beaten in his own bat cave. Joker adapted by using Jason’s skills to beat up enemies and create weapons. Terry adapted by using his skills, not Bruce’s skills, to psychoanalyze Joker and beat him at his own game.
The weakness is Terry. In the show he has plenty of personality, but here is different. Besides the climax he is mostly a blank slate personality wise who just reacts to every disaster.
The strength is Joker. Every scene with him is great. The dark sense of humor always feels evil, yet it can bring in laughs too.
The movie has flaws for sure, but it is defiantly memorable and entertaining. I recommend it to all Batman fans, and I plan on re-watching it within a year.
Animation is a medium for making movies that are either hard for live action or best told as many drawings. Its success is a pendulum that swings back and forth. Its history is full of trends and movies that successfully or unsuccessfully breaks them.
First is the silent age of animation. It has some shows like “Felix the Cat,” but most of the works here are lost. Most people (even huge animation fans) have not seen the movies from this era. The most popular movie from it is The Adventures of Prince Achmed. It is the oldest surviving animated feature (11 years before Snow White) and the third animated feature ever made. It is a German film that is easy to find on the internet. It used silhouettes of puppets to make animation, and it was fully animated by one woman. There are nine features from this era and only four survived. Achmed is the only one I have seen. It has a simple story, but beautiful animation, a woman saving the men in distress, surprisingly great action, and plenty of suspense. Most movies were made at this time by very few people and were seen by small audiences who watched them for the art. Everything changed when one became the highest grossing film of all time.
The golden age began for movies in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is the first American animated feature. It is not the first in sound or color) but it was the first successful one, and it is the most successful animated film ever.
Some divide the golden age into two parts, “The Golden Age” (Snow White-1942) and “The Silver Age” (1950-1959/ 1950-1967 for Disney). I agree with this distinction since the tones are so different. The golden age had Disney make Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. These films were known for their darkness and depressing scenes. They are often slow paced (except Pinocchio), but they are very atmospheric, and I love these. In the meantime the Fleischer Bros made two movies, Gulliver’s Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town. These are also great and pioneered male humans in animation. They are also slow paced but atmospheric and dark. Compared to Disney they put more focus on the main characters and side characters and less on villains. Unfortunately world War II was a disaster for the industry. The European Market was gone, animators were drafted, and people are not so interested in movies during deadly wars. All films listed above bombed at the box office except Snow White, Gulliver, and Dumbo. Fleischer Bros stopped making movies and Disney was reduced to making segment films and war propaganda to survive.
The real big winners were theatrical shorts such as Disney’s Silly Symphonies, Warner Bros’s Looney Tunes, MGM’s Tom and Jerry, and many more. These are violent, simple stories, and based on selling music. They are also glorious. Besides Snow White these are the biggest successes of the period.
My pick for best movie this period: Pinocchio
Around 1950 the large European market was ready for animated films again making way for the silver age. The Soviets got in on the game with a few movies with limited success. The Germans and French also made more movies. The best known of the European films made in the silver age is also the first British animated feature (another work claims the title, an instructional video), Animal Farm. It feels like a work from the 1940s with its very dark atmosphere, cute character designs, and and adult centered moral. It does not have a slow plot either. In America non-Disney animated films were dead except for 1959’s 1001 Arabian Knights and The Snow Queen. Disney then had great financial success with five films in the 1950s. Cinderella saved them from bankruptcy, and it was an enormous hit not seen since Snow White. Alice in Wonderland lost some money. Peter Pan made it back, and Lady and the Tramp made good money. Sleeping Beauty was released four years later and lost tons of money. Its failure nearly ended Disney animation and scared the other creators away from expensive animation making it responsible for the upcoming dark age. No animated fairy tale movies were made for thirty years. Disney animation was saved by 101 Dalmatians, which found cheaper ways to make movies, and it outgrossed Snow White. It remains the second highest grosing animated film adjusted for inflation. Three years later The Sword in the Stone was released which is more of a dark age film and then The Jungle Book 3 years later was a huge hit.
The Disney films here are way different. As adaptations they are notably terrible (except for Dalmatians), and they are considerably lighter in tone. A major change is many are not focused on the actual main character. Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty all have supporting protagonists, as the side characters and villains get way more screen time in comparison. Many modern viewers consider this to be Disney’s peak and others find them forgettable. I am not a fan of the Silver Age Disney. I find they are too slow and dull in tone. They have many lackluster protagonists and morals. Shortly after Walt Disney died and the studio was reduced to trying putting him o a pedestal and trying to copy his ideas.
My pick for best movie this period: Animal Farm
Afterwards came the dark age of animation. This lasted until 1986 making it the longest period. I will divide it as pre and post 1977. The first part was marked by tight budgets, scratchy animation, and few films being made.
The biggest winners this period were not Disney but works that were never made for theaters. Hanna-Barbera, the creators of “Tom and Jerry” made the first TV cartoons which were huge hits. Rankin-Bass made their own success with made for TV holiday specials. Hanna-Barbera made Hey there its yogi Bear and A Man Called Flintstone. Their biggest success came in 1969 with “Scooby-Doo.” Like the movies the shows were clearly on a tight budget, yet they were huge successes showing how big animation could be even without much money involved. The 1960s are best remembered for their animated shows, not movies.
Early on Disney did fine, but little money was actually earned. In this period they made The Aristocats, Robin Hood, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The Sword in the Stone fits this era perfectly despite being made earlier. It kept taking three or even four years to make a movie and all their films from Sleeping Beauty to The Rescuers were directed by Wolfgang Reitherman. These normally have very simple stories and are very episodic. The animation is way more crude and the new focus audience was no longer everyone (with a focus on adults) but young children. None have much of an overarching plot until The Rescuers in 1977. The Rescuers was praised by critics being called the best Disney film since Mary Poppins and hope for animated films. It was also the highest grossing animated film for nine years despite coming out the same year as Star Wars and having to compete with it. Notable parts of Rescuers include that the characters do not sing musical numbers, a dark tone created by the art, and focusing on the heroes acting to save the day instead of reacting to the villain. Much of the success was given to Don Bluth, the man in charge of the art. Unfortunately for Disney Pete’s Dragon made him angry at the company due to the lack of respect given to the animators. He and eighteen others left Disney to form their own company.
In the 1970s the creators again tried films, and 1977 again was when it was proven their was money to be made. Anime films became way more common, as Japan became a major source of animation. MGM’s The Phantom Tolbooth bombed and they left the industry. TV specials of Dr. Seuss’s works became popular and Rankin-Bass had more success with holiday specials, but something different emerged. Ralph Bakshi made Fritz the Cat, the first animated feature purely made for adults, and it was rated X. It was a huge success mostly due to how odd it was. In the meantime “Peanuts” lost steam, while Hanna- Barbera got into animated features not based on their TV shows. For theaters they made Charlotte’s Web which is very disneyfied. Still it had a much more coherent story structure than their films did at the time. It went on without much ambition until Rankin-Bass made a traditionally animated film with big ambition, The Hobbit. It was a huge hit with viewers.
My pick for best movie this period: “Scooby-Doo” is best work, while The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is the best film.
After 1977 with Star Wars making bigger films the profitable ones the push was one to make animated features the same way. Disney’s next film is The Fox and the Hound. It initially made over three times its budget despite being the most expensive animated film ever at the time (12 million). Its real problems were the inconsistent tone. I do not mean like the forties I mean how it has two differing stories. The Disneyfied version of the original novel and the novel’s bleakness and realism. It then took four years to make what was supposed to be the new Snow White, The Black Cauldron. Instead The Black Cauldron cost over 40 million dollars and made half of it back. It nearly killed Disney animation, and it lost to The Care Bears Movie.Cauldron has two conflicting tones, one wanting to be child friendly, and the other one wanting to prove animation can be inappropriate for children. Thankfully Disney made an animated film just next year in 1986 with was a modest hit (The Great Mouse Detective with less than one third the budget of Cauldron). The animation department was still on the verge of death.
The other companies made their own attempts to end the dark age. Ralph Bakshi and the Hobbit teamed up in 1978 (too short of a production time) to make The Lord of the Rings; the first in a two part series. It only cost four million, due to its huge use of rotoscoping to allow large animated battles. In other words they filmed a cheap live-action movie and then used photrealism to make it animated. It is the only completely rotoscoped movie. The production is fascinating with executive meddling great decisions by Bakshi and bad decisions by Bakshi. It is a fascinating movie that alternates like crazy on being legitimately good and hilariously bad. I recommend to all readers who have not seen it to watch it for the crazy spectacle. It made hordes of money, yet the sequel was never made. It received mixed reviews (partly due to the obvious issues of being rushed). It was too faithful for only having 133 minutes to adapt around 700 pages. It did not restore faith in animation despite the money. Anime dominated the next few years along with Hanna-Barbera shows and more Direct to TV fantasy adaptations by holiday special directors like Chronicles of Narnia and Rankin-Bass’s The Return of the King (little style wise with Bakshi’s film). A few darker films then emerged that resembled the 1940s style only darker. Watership Down was released in 1978, and was known for terrifying adults. Just four years later this got far more extreme. The Plague Dogs came from the same creators. This film depressed and made cry even the hardest hearted of viewers. It showed real power in animation, and the famed The Secret of NIMH came out the same year. Don Bluth directed his first film. It was dark and mysterious, and many animation buffs call it the greatest animated film ever. Unlike Plague Dogs with its fast pace this film had a slower pace that gave plenty of time to establish an atmosphere, and it had a happy ending. These three films were not the huge successes of past films, but they showed animation as a medium for adults as well as children. Unfortunately NIMH was the biggest hit by merely doubling its budget. 1985 was different.
In the 1980s many animated TV shows emerged competing with Hanna- Barbera and many were big enough to get movie versions. In 1985 Here Come the Littles made good money. A He-Man film made over triple its budget but one film made seventeen times its budget and crushed The Black Cauldron. This was The Care Bears Movie. Now animation found footing as lighthearted films were making good money and killing Disney. It looked like something like it would end the dark age until something else happened.
In 1986 the TV show movies collapsed. The Adventures of the American Rabbit was a huge failure and calls came for the governor to declare theaters playing it disaster areas. A movie based on “Robotech” quickly failed, Tranformers the Movie failed and alienated its audience for being dark for the sake of selling different toys. Care Bears Movie II was a mild disappointment. Part of this was Disney would re-release its old features when it worried about competition to harm their momentum. Then Bluth and Steven Spielberg happened. They collaborated to bring the audiences An American Tail. At the cost of only nine million it made over eighty-four million dollars in its initial release. This huge success lead to the Renaissance age of animation.
My pick for best movie this period: (this counts An American Tail as Renaissance). Best is The Plague Dogs.
How did this film by a new studio crush the records being the highest grossing animated film? The plot has plenty of dark moments for adults, a focus on family for family audiences, plenty of great songs about the plights of the characters. The songs are different, as it has a crowd song, a hope song, a sad award wining song, and a friendship up-beat song. The pacing is dramatic, and the animation is adorable in spite of how dark this film gets. This become the gold standard of the upcoming Renaissance age of animation.
After the success of An American Tail came bigger and even more successful films in 1988 like Spielberg and Bluth’s The Land Before Time, Disney’s Oliver and Company, and Spielberg and Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. All three were huge hits. In Japan Akira was made to huge financial success. This made for a great year despite some failures like Felix the Cat. Even better was the diversity. Oliver and Company was a big Broadway style musical, Framed was a murder-mystery, and Time was a survival film. 1989 has less success with Bluth’s new film away from Spielberg (they parted ways) only being a mild success, but Disney’s The Little Mermaid was a huge hit. This set up Disney to dominate all animated movies for years.
As anyone reading this almost certainly knows Disney had hit after hit. TheRescuers Down Under bombed, but then Beauty and the Beast made over 100 million domestically. The next year Aladdin got over 200 million. The next release, The Lion King cost a whopping forty-five million, but it got over 300 million. Even better Disney’s non-canon film, The Nightmare Before Christmas won 1993’s box office. Disney was on a roll and their budgets almost always became over 100 million, but then everything greatly slowed down for them. Their successful Renaissance films had many similarities. They were big Broadway style musicals with many crowd songs, inept fathers (except Mufassa), evil villains for the sake of being evil, characters made purely to sell toys, and a focus on a love story. Part of Lion King’s success was it avoided some of these for a more unique feeling. Pocahontas did these, and in was supposed to win the award for best picture. Instead in greatly under performed and greatly harmed the Disney brand. The same year Toy Story came out making CGI the new big thing over traditional animation. Pixar had Disney distribute all their films, and they often beat the Disney films. Together they still dominated despite coming nowhere near the success of their films from 1989-1994 until around 2000 where Disney studios had their own dark age. Viewers got tired of the formula and finally the other studios found their footing in the next age.
The early Renaissance was disastrous for most non-Disney canon films. Disney’s smaller budgets like the Ducktales movie were also typically disappointments.
Don Bluth created the film that started the Renaissance. After two huge hits All Dogs go to Heaven seemed like a disappointment, but it did better than many non-Disney films at the time. With MGM he went on to have four big bombs in a row killing his studio. Without a good producer he suffered from executive meddling, and his films could not stick out with all the creators copying the success of An American Tail. He then moved to 20th Century Fox. Without him MGM made a box office bomb in All Dogs go to Heaven 2.
Fox had a mild success with Ferngully but then some failures. They brought in Bluth who made a hit in Anastasia at the end of the Renaissance. It copied the Disney style in many areas, yet it also has many of Bluth’s signature story elements and characterization methods. It made less than Disney’s Hercules but on a much smaller budget they looked to be a competitor. Then three years later that style was out and their studio collapsed in the next age.
Without Bluth Spielberg’s Amblination was reduced to trying to find a style. Their new director was Simon Wells. They first made An American Tail II. It was a small success. Despite a bigger budget it only made less than half of the original both domestically and internationally. It opened the same day as Beauty and the Beast and got dominated. After this We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story failed as a crowd pleaser and financially. Their last film was Balto. It failed at the box office, but it has a large following today and it made plenty of money on home media. Besides Balto their films were very light hearted and made for young audiences. They were full of crowd songs and resembled the Disney films at the time. Balto was different. It was not a musical and it was danger filled and driven by one main character who is mostly battling society and nature instead of a villain. After only three films they shut down and their remnants helped make Dreamworks.
Dreamworks was founded by Spielberg and Former Disney executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg. He was very important from around 1984-1994. In this era they made two films, Antz and The Prince of Egypt. Both were successes. Prince of Egypt is often mistaken for a Disney film, and that is understandable.
Ted Turner, the founder of Cartoon Network made his own studio. All three of his films flopped. They were Tom and Jerry the Movie (very Disney like), The Pagemaster (more like Don Bluth meets “Reading Rainbow), and Cats Don’t Dance. There are very few similarities between them other than being musicals. Pagemaster is as educational movie. Cats don’t Dance actually took the Disney style and made it far more extreme. This made a glorious parody of Disney, allegory of racial tension, and lighthearted fun story all in one. They merged with Warner Bros later.
Warner Bros mostly focused on animated shows during this time. Their few ventures into it included Quest for Camelot. The film bombed with critics and at the box office. It was supposed to be an R rated film, but it was turned into a Disney knock off.
A major part of the era was the introduction of direct-to-video films. the home media exploded in popularity and this is how most studios made money (if any). In 1994 Disney and Universal got into the game. Warner Bros was going to a year earlier with Batman Mask of the Phantasm but that hit theaters and they got into it in 1998. They eventually got a negative reputation in spite of the good ones, but they made important money for the studios.
The age is known for being a golden age however, it was only for the rich. The top movies made terrific money, and most everything else bombed. Home media, not theatrical runs kept the others alive. Repetition was a problem as the previous age had much more variety. Still hordes of films were made and many with huge budgets result in this being a fan favorite period. Most viewers will say their favorite (animated) film is from this period and call it the best period of animation, but I prefer the second part of The Dark Age.
In 1999 the Renaissance was over and replaced with a new era. CGI was dominating and the focus was on parodying the animated Disney films from a decade ago. Traditional animation was struggling to find new ways to get audiences back, and it was a losing battle.
My pick for best movie this period: The Land Before Time. It has more in common with an early 1980s film.
I think the Renaissance era ends with Tarzan in June of 1999. Then begins the Pixar era. The kings of it are of course Pixar. Everyone knew the best animated film would come from them. Pixar found a new format. They would use two protagonists who were birth family or friends (never romantic). The plot would put big emphasis on the emotional and internal conflicts they had with each other. They made big critical and financial success over and over again. Few animation fans will say they are not the best animation creators ever. Their first five films were the highest grossing of the year. The era showed the failure of traditional animation and its replacement by CGI, the death of G rated films, and constant adult humor forced in. The last two came in spite of Pixar, as everyone else was trying to stick out in other areas knowing they could not beat Pixar by with Pixar like movies.
Disney Animation studios entered their dark age this period. They were trying new ideas and hoping to find something that worked after their last several films made way less money. To make matters worse CGI was all the rage and traditional animation was frowned upon by audiences. Fantasia 2000 lost money, and I never hear anyone mention it. Dinosaur was a success but criticized for its story (like ripping of The Land Before Time). The Kingdom Under the Sun was supposed to be another Renaissance film from the director of The Lion King. Instead test audiences hated it and it got scrapped, and turned into The Emperor’s New Groove. It was actually an amazing comedy showing Disney had some variety. Then Atlantis was a minor bomb trying to be an adventure film. Lilo and Stitch was a hit as a sci-fi and family film. But afterwards came pirate themed bomb, Treasure Planet. It cost almost twice as much as Lilo and Stitch and made less than half. It was a huge bomb. It has plenty of fans today, but Disney needed money, not a cult following. Then came very low budget Brother Bear. It made good money for its tiny budget, but it was heavily disliked. Disney made the decision then to switch to CGI. They failed with Chicken Little and bought Pixar realizing they were desperate for them. Disney during this period was trying everything to see what stuck. They had bad marketing for their movies, and discovered the upcoming death of traditional animation in theatrical films.
Bluth and 20th Century Fox blew their momentum with Titan A.E. I really enjoyed it and it has a big cult flowing like Treasure Planet. Unfortunately, like Treasure Planet it lost a fortune. Bluth never directed another film.
Warner Bros made another animated bomb in The Iron Giant. However this film was adored by all who saw it an became a huge TV hit. Titan and Giant are both not musicals, focus on a small group of characters, and have apocalypse themes (likely due to the milenium bug fears). Giant’s director, Brad Bird, later went to Pixar for The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Unfortunately the same year Warner Bros released The King and I. It failed commercially, critically, and with audiences. It killed Rankin-Bass productions. Their next film Osmosis Jones also bombed, and it was a case of forcing in adult humor and fart jokes into a movie with no clear tone. They got into CGI in 2006 with the successful Happy Feet. Warner Bros became more interested in live-action franchises, as new and successful studios emerged to use CG.
Dreamworks emerged as the main competitor of Pixar. They started with traditional animation but the bombing of Sinibad, The Road to El Dorado, and possibly Spirit, ended that. Then Shrek was an enormous hit. Shrek started a huge trend of parodying Disney and focusing on comedy. Instead of forcing jabs at Disney and potty humor into a story they made a story around it. The villain was based off the Disney CEO, and the protagonist is an ogre batling evil version’s of past Disney heroes from the Renaissance. It was a huge hit and later Shrek 2 was even bigger hit and beat Pixar’s The Incredibles. Dreamworks made hit after hit with a focus on gaining franchises and regularly making jabs at Disney. Unfortunately for them Shrek the Third happened. It opened terrifically and made good money, but it was hated and greatly harmed their brand. For the rest of the decade their numbers went way own except for a few sequels and kung Fu Panda. Their focus switched to imitating Panda‘s success as a character based story focusing on development and family issues.
Blue Sky emerged as a major studio almost single handedly thanks to Ice Age. Worldwide all three Ice Age movies before 2010 were the highest grossing animated film of the year. In this era they had no flops with all five films at least tripling their budget. They were never too popular in North America, but their international grosses are consistently huge. They are also franchise based, an they mostly focus on entertaining young boys. They are a big case of unpopular, yet successful. Their success and Oscar winning Ice Age made it clear that CG was incredibly dominant over traditional animation.
This period is hated by fans of the Renaissance, but it had diversity and showed animation did not have to mean musical. Pixar made plenty of great films, Ice Age and other serious films were made and prospered with audiences, and many great comedies were made. In my opinion the best movies of the Renaissance are better than the best movies this period, but the average movie is much better this period.
My pick for best movie this period: Ratatouille, a perfect example of Pixar’s strengths.
Sometime around 2010 begins the modern era of animation. It has no clear name, but this is another golden age. Unlike the Renaissance this period sees huge success by many animation studios. Sony Pictures Animation, Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky, Warner Animation Group, and the new Illumination all are doing very well this era. Most successful films started using pieces of Pixar’s format like two protagonists conflicting with each other.
The huge risers of the era are Illumination. Since 2010 (their first film, Despicable Me) they have released nine films and an average of one per year. All nine have been successful. They almost always make at least five times the budget and sometimes way more. Their budgets are cheap, yet they regularly compete for highest animated film of the year both worldwide and domestically. Their films focus on humor, yet they are normally down to Earth in their settings. Their signatures are a direct yet minor villain, as internal conflict dominates and of course comic relief with a weird dialect.
The Minions and Despicable Me are their signature and all four films were incredibly big hits. Minions is the third highest grossing animated film (as of early 2019), Despicable Me 3 is five and Despicable Me 2 is eight. They are also huge, mammoth, and colossal with merchandise. All were in the top four at their peak. Many critics and viewers hate their films, yet all elementary aged children I know adore theme, and parents happily use them as babysitters.
The financial issues of Dreamworks is a huge problem here. They made Rise of the Guardians, which most people who saw it loved. It had a great hero, villain, and world building. Unfortunately few people saw it, and it lost around 80 million forcing Dreamworks to lay off 350 people. They then had a small hit with The Croods, but they again lost money with Turbo. It made less than Guardians and really hurt Dreamworks’s reputation. The characters were terrible and this was a blatant attempt to get a piece of the pie from Pixar’s Cars. Mr. Peabody and Sherman lost even more money. How to train your Dragon 2 made money, but way less than expected. It barely made more than 600 million worldwide, while many thought it would pass one billion. Penguins of Madagascar then unexpectedly bombed. These failures contributed to them being bought by Universal. What made these films fail? I think most of it was Illumination taking over as the must see animation that is not Disney. These films no longer had the edginess Dreamworks was known for, and they got lost in the storm. Their budgets were also too high, and they then focused on budget control as Home came out. Many professionals started writing obituaries for Dreamworks before the guaranteed flop came out, but they were wrong.
Critics hated Home, but it made a small profit of around 30 million needed dollars. The commercials pleased the audiences and they went to see it mostly for Jim Parsons. Like Pixar films it used two protagonists who conflict with each other heavily. Since Penguins no Dreamworks film has been a failure.
Disney left their dark age and became a huge source of money again. Starting with Meet the Robinsons Disney starting using parts of the Pixar format. Their films now had dual protagonists with a heavy focus on their conflict with each other. Unlike Pixar they sometimes used romance. Sure Robinsons bombed and Bolt barely broke even, but this did show their new style and mastering CG animation. Bolt was loved by critics and audiences helping to restore Disney’s reputation. John Lassetter, the head of Pixar, was now in charge and became the modern day Walt Disney. His contributions were huge. New directors also emerged for Disney such as Chris Williams, Byron Howard, Jennifer Lee, and Richard Moore. Disney then got back into traditional animation, but it was not the expected success. The Princes and the Frog was a call back to the nineties. It was loved at first but it is now mostly ignored. It was successful at the box office, but not by much. Ice Age 3 made more than three times it the same year. Later Winnie the Pooh was adored by critics, but it bombed hard killing Disney’s traditional animation especially with Tangled. Tangled is the most expensive animated film ever at 260 million, but it made over 200 million domestically and was the third highest animated film of the year worldwide. The good will from it resulted in a string of hits like Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6 and Moana. The real huge hits were Zootopia and Frozen. Both cost 150 million, yet made over one billion dollars worldwide. All of the CG films had dual protagonists in a Pixar like relationship. Bolt and Mittens, Flynn and Rapunzel (the most different as it was romantic), Ralph and Vanellope, Hiro and Baymax, Judy and Nick, Elsa and Anna, and Moana and Maui.
Pixar has had their weakest period simply by being less than perfect. After Toy Story 3 became the highest grossing animated film of all time (now third) Pixar had eleven films. All but Cars had at least 92% on Rotten Tomatoes (it still had a 74). Al were huge hits and loved by audiences. Cars 2 was then made which only got 38%. It was the second highest grossing animated film of the year, but audiences everywhere hated it. Brave and Monsters University then got 79% and 80% respectively. Terrible for Pixar, yet great for everyone else, especially as University made over 700 milion making it the third highest grossing Pixar film at the time. The problem was Despicable Me 2 came out shortly later and made over 970 million. Since there is nothing wrong with these movies it is hard to find what harmed them with critics. Inside Out ended Pixar’s brief issues, as it got 98% huge love from audiences, and made hordes of money. The problem was the same year The Good Dinosaur bombed and got a 76%. This was overshadowed by Inside Out doubling its budget domestically alone. After this Finding Dory and Coco were bigger hits and Coco was loved for its very dark story, yet happy and uplifting tone. It even got released in China despite breaking their film rules and was a huge hit there. Afterwards Cars 3 bombed and Incredibles 2 was their new biggest hit in animation history, yet it polarized fans. It and Finding Dory are domestically the highest grossing animated films at the time.
In spite of this success Pixar has lost many of its creators. Lasseter, Lee Unkrick, and Darla Anderson have all left. In spite of their recent success Pixar has reason to worry about the future. They are also making many sequels, which many fans find inferior to their original films. Many audience members think Pixar is no longer invincible, and part of this is they no longer stick out. So many studios are copying their methods, and their own films can get lost in the storm.
Warner Bros made their own small studio with Warner Animation Group. Their first film was a huge hit in The Lego Movie despite being a toy commercial. It was universally loved for its pop culture references, lovable characters, twists, complex plot, and nostalgia rush. It was the biggest animated film domestically that year. None of their other films have done much in terms of money, but they are getting great reviews. Their typical film has plenty of humor from pop culture references, yet they remind me of Don Bluth’s stories. They focus on one character dominantly, make sure plenty of bad things happen making them earn their happy ending, they are brought to a very low point before the ending, and then it ends happily for them bringing the audience a roller coaster of emotions. Their problem is they normally only do well in America. To survive they need a better international audience.
Paramount Animation currently only has four films and is on life support. First they had The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water. It got 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and made more than four times its budget. Their remaining films all got around 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. Monster Trucks was a huge bomb and lost over 120 million. Sherlock Gnomes seems to have broken even and Wonder Park has lost money.
Blue Sky is starting to collapse. Rio made good money, but then came Ice Age 4. It made more than any animated film of the year, which made animation buffs mad. It did great overseas, but I never heard anyone say they liked it. The Ice Age series was out of ideas, and many Blue Sky workers said they were forced to keep making them by Fox. They made Epic, which was supposed to show they can make serious movies. The problem was they already made a serious movie. The first Ice Age was very serious and somber with good comic relief, while they then became more and more comedic making viewers think they were always comedies. Epic‘s problem is bland heroes, and the saving grace is the villain. This made a big problem, as I rooted for the villain the whole time. Rio 2 made great international numbers (not Ice Age level though) and poor domestic numbers. Critics were fine but general audiences hated it. Again the villain (minor ones with no connections to the plot) were the saving graces, while audiences hated everything else especially the side characters. Blu Sky’s box office numbers then went way down. The Peanuts Movie is almost always called their best, but it just broke even at the box office. Ice Age 5 bombed in America and made no where near the grosses of the other sequels worldwide. Their latest film, Ferdinand is liked by general audiences but nothing special. With Disney buying their parent company their future is on life support.
Sony Pictures animation is the most hated of all studios right now. The descriptions I hear of them are they are just long TV show episodes, not funny, too much focus on comedy, revolting, unimaginative, and they need to go out of business. However they have eighteen movies out with many more coming indicating they actually have a good business model. From what I have seen their films are mostly about parenthood and humor. They typically use low fantasy to put attempts at realistic people in with fantasies. Like Dreamworks they heavily believe in franchises and most of their successes are sequels or get sequels. Their films typically have low budgets, and their executives are masters at keeping budgets under control and the budget numbers fluctuate wildly. The Smurfs is their biggest success, but at only around 565 million worldwide. It is also infamous now. Their biggest shame is The Emoji Movie. It was panned by critics (7% on rotten tomatoes) and audiences hated it more, but it over quadrupled its budget. The big hope is their last film, Spider-Man into the Spiderverse. It is generally called the best film of 2018, and I have never heard anything bad about it. Maybe audiences will come to love them, if it is an indication of better execution in their stories.
My pick for best movie this period: Wreck-It-Ralph. There are many I have not seen, and maybe something will change my mind in the future.
It is hard to judge the current era, as it is not finished or replaced yet, but the films have some similarities. Most of them are either comedies or using the Pixar format. Despite some flops many companies are doing well right now, and as a result more animated movies are being made than ever, and this is another golden age of animation, and it is probably bigger than ever right now.
This is the second TV/film adaptation of Narnia and oddly the older they are the more obscure they are.
The first one was ten episodes in 1967. Only two (episodes 1 and 8) are not lost. I found them on youtube, and they are low quality, bad music, and mostly this guy pictured above narrating. Obviously it is… According to IMDB it is the best of all the adaptations? Guess I should check it out at some point.
3rd is what I call the best one (unless 1967 comes through) made by BBC, and the last one is where I was introduced to the series, the Walden film. I never liked it, as it takes itself far too seriously. Our subject is the second adaptation, an animated film from 1979. It came out two years after The Hobbit. Since they both are fantasies from 20th British authors with directors best known for holiday shorts I presume this was made to cash in on the Hobbit. Just liek the Walden film was made to cash in on Jackson’s Middle Earth adaptations. Of note, it is an American film, but for British audiences they made another one with British accents. Normally I would review the original, but the British version is all I could find. From the few scenes I could find with the original cast they are notably better than their British counterparts.
The opening credits are bland, but based on the parentheses I think they planned on sequels. The only god thing about the prequels is this is directed by Peanuts specials director, Bill Melendez. He is great at children’s entertainment and Christian work. That does not mean he is good at adaptations. Surely his simplistic style will go well with the tiht budget of made for TV movies.
The story starts in media res where Lucy tells everyone about the wardrobe and is not believed. The animation is not appealing (and Susan gets way taller later), but at least everyone is easy to tell apart. Unless I say otherwise always assume the animation is really bad. It is not hideous, but it is not fun to look and no one moves very well either. Lucy then has a flashback on her bed about being in Narnia, and I think the story is easy to follow. Sure new viewers will not know why they are in a strange house, but I think most children could guess a few reasons. Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus and gets plenty of rather easy to follow exposition at the beginning of the film instead of the middle of the first act. The problem is Tumnus’s design.
None of the designs are very good, but this is the worst. Wait, in the book he actually described very similar to this, except for the green hair. Like the Walden film the problem is Mr. Tumnus’s scene just drags on and on. The drill from the original book is kept. He was supposed to kidnap her and instead warns her about the white witch (I do not think she was called Jadis yet in the book, and I take this as foreshadowing a film of The Magician’s Nephew which was never made), and he escorts her back to the human world. Edmund always has an angry look on him, and he refuses to believe her. He later catches her going into the wardrobe, and he follows her to prove there is no magical land in the wardrobe. Instead he finds snow and The White Witch.
The biggest weakness in this children’s film is the villain. I never liked the Walden film, but she was done very well there. In there and in BBC she also shows the power of evil as a tempting force that we may think is good until we are in trouble. Here she shouts everything and is super obviously evil. She keeps threatening to harm Edmund instead of make him think she is good. In this scene she hardly mentions making Edmund a king and keeps talking about Turkish delight pushing the part where Edmund agrees to betray his siblings for Turkish delight. The problem is they never mention the candy being enchanted making his reasons less understandable. Thankfully Edmund’s whining keeps the scene watchable, as he is the best character in the series due to his flaws, even if this film harms his motivation. He and Lucy go back and he tells Peter and Susan that there is no Narnia.
The older two talk it over with the professor who is just dull here (a problem Walden also had). All four then venture into the wardrobe and find Narnia. None of his wisdom that mirrors Christian apologetics comes through. Unlike Walden they do not waste time acting like finding snow is so whimsical and let the plot move forward. Edmund gives his lie away by mentioning pathways, and Peter nearly strangles him. It took nearly one third of the way, but the film is good now.
They go to see Mr. Tumnus, but his door is in need of maintenance. A note says he has been captured by the Queen’s secret police. Later Peter and Edmund have an interesting conversation that is normally removed from the adaptations. Edmund tells Peter that Tumnus may have been lying about protecting Lucy and he is a villain while the Queen is the hero. Peter is mildly considering it. This would be more interesting if the Witch was not so obviously terrible, but they at least help children realize that who you think is a villain is not always the case. Edmund’s best point still stands, none of them know the way back home. They met Mr. Beaver who tells them about them being the chosen ones, and Aslan will help them. They make a big point about Aslan being the son of the Emperor and that Aslan is very scary even to his followers. That is very accurate to Jesus. Despite him preaching peace and being based on forgiveness he horrified the priests and the Angels always have to say “do not be afraid.”
Edmund leaves for the witch, and all three adaptations did this scene differently. This film basically copied the book where Edmund has internal monologue, and most of it is exactly like the book. As my brother pointed out most of the best parts of the book is not the plot but the thoughts the characters have, which they would naturally not say to their family. The film shows them thinking it, which is fine, but that works on paper way better than film. Walden did this scene the worst by doing what they normally do, have a lengthy scene of characters just walking. BBC did it the best by having Edmund argue with himself in a reflection. When Edmund mocks a stone lion viewers here will at least know he thought it was Aslan. I also love it how he promises to make roads when he is king. It shows how he does want to help the land, he still mostly cares about himself, his methodical thinking, and desire for greatness in only one sentence.
Unfortunately we then meet the worst character, the wolf captain. He just acts so rowdy like he is completely new to being a secret police member when he is supposed to be a seasoned professional. The witch obviously turns on Edmund and immediately proclaims she will kill them all and the stone Mr. Tumnus cries. The beavers and other humans flee to a hiding place. They see several animals celebrating that it is turning into Spring and the animation then gets notably better (less bad). They see the witch turn them into stone from a distance, and Edmund is showing way more emotion than anyone else, as he is shivering in fear and looking horrified. Some grass is also poking through the snow. The problem is the heroes are walking instead of running making this seem less intense than it should when they flee the witch. Eventually the witch’s sled stops and Edmund finds himself acting as a pack animal.
The heroes finally get to Aslan and his army. I like the golden design, which makes him look more amazing than the average lion. You also see their fear when they debate who goes first to meet him. Aslan instead is welcoming, excited, and warm to them. I could also hear his concern for Edmund. Sure he shows some of the sexism that was in the original book, but since women only recently started actually fighting regularly in wars I will not fault this much. In a cool scene the army then rescues Edmund from the Witch. The army beats the witch, but she escapes by magically disguising herself as a tree stump. Unfortunately this makes problems later. Like why she did not try that against Aslan later.
We then get to one of the most iconic parts. The Queen points out that by the ancient rules made by the Aslan’s father all traitors belong to her and Aslan has to bring Edmund to her. If not all Narnia will be destroyed in fire. Now that the witch is showing the side of evil as a destroyer her over acting is working way better… Until it drags on too long. He is able to get the witch to mysteriously relent. The best part is how Aslan reacts.
He just looks so irritated with her overacting. As all who know the story can predict, he then surrenders himself where he is sacrificed on a stone table. The movie shows his sadness and worry like Jesus had at Gethsemane, but he is not beaten enough. He rises from the dead and he does something that I do not think any other adaptation kept, he then plays with the girls. I am happy to finally see it, as it shows this keeps the original’s mood. Contrary to what the Walden film did Narnia actually had a light hearted tone that was balanced with its religious symbolism. This version succeeds as a micro-adaptation while Walden only worked as a macro-adaptation. He also says there is a battle going on and they need to get reinforcements by freeing the witch’s prisoners. He wastes time with a speech after freeing them. In a serious work this and the playing is a problem, as that time is best spent on the battle, but in this work it does not detract. It is not taking the battle that seriously as Aslan already won the battle for good by beating death. Also as shown in the battle the heroes are being turned to stone (curable) not dying. The battle itself is quite Bad. Large battles are hard to animate with a good budget, and this is really bad except for a brief scene where Peter and Edmund are nearly killed by projectiles. Edmund heroically destroys the wand only to seemingly fall unconscious on the spot. Aslan then jumps on the witch, and she turns to smoke. It looks more like she teleported to safety rather than being killed. Melendez is not good at directing battles.
Aslan then crowns the four children kings and they rule a golden age for around twenty years until they go back home. The professor says “…This is only the beginning of your adventures in Narnia.” I think this confirms my theory that Melendez planned to adapt all seven books.
I think this is the most faithful adaptation. The story is the best part, but the animation really weakens the film. I still consider the BBC version to be the best, and I am torn on whether I consider this to be better than the Walden film. The visuals are way worse, and this also has big pacing problems where they move to slow, but the music is better, the dialogue is better, and the story matches the mood better. Granted the witch and battles are inferior.
As an adult man I would not say I liked it, but I think ten year old me would have liked it.
This is actually called Scooby-Doo: Legend of the Phantosaur, but the scene where Shaggy beats up a biker gang is what everyone writes about. It has become a huge source of memes, and now is the time to decide if the film is actually good or just an interesting scene.
The opening credits are in a very abstract style, and I like this in spite of Velma and Fred’s weird hair. It helps to stick out from the hordes of Scooby-Doo films. Some more good news is it has the same cast as the best series, “Mystery Incorporated.”
The film plot starts with Shaggy violating the laws of physics by screaming for several days in a row, and the doctor is told why. The gang explains it was only a normal day for them, chasing ghosts. The doctor is skeptical (defeating the Evil Entity did not make the news after all), and he says Shaggy has a rare condition, overactive fear stimuli. He forbids Shaggy from entering the mystery machine. Already he is my main suspect. Being good friends they go to “La Serena: The Least Haunted place in America.” I love this reference to Crystal Cove. They head there in the new “The Mustard Machine.”
They stay with the eccentric Mr. Hubley, who jokes about dressing as a ghost to scare the locals off to buy their land. Safe to say he is the red herring. When getting food Scooby runs into the Phantosaur.
I find the design lacking, but the atmosphere is silent, which helps the scary mood. Fred, Daphne, and Velma meet some other suspects/characters. like professor Svankmejer.
Based on her design, which is not obviously evil, but somewhat stuck up looking I guess she is the villain. They also meet the worst character in the film, Winsor. Winsor looks like a male clone of Velma, and they fall in lust, and every scene with them is just slow. Then the Phantosaur attacks destroying equipment and chasing everyone. We then get a much more intense chase scene than usual, no song and hardly any talking. Shaggy goes unconscious and Scooby carries him away long enough for Fred to ram the dinosaur with The Mustard Machine. Hubley explains the legend of the Phantosaur. Native Americans made a curse on attacking Europeans by reviving an ancient monster (planing on a bear). It was a large sharptooth who instead drove out the natives and Europeans.
Hubley then hypnotizes Shaggy into being fearless when he hears the word “bad.” He also accidentally hypnotizes himself into forgetting his own word, and only Scooby is even trying to find out the word. This plot is dumb, but the mood is not that serious anyway, and it does set up the good stuff only one third into the run time. Shaggy and Scooby go to an all you can eat diner and make the owner consider bankruptcy.
Daphne finds off dinosaur tracks, and that is character re-railment. In the first series Daphne’s main contribution is she was the most observant and best clue finder. It was not until “Mystery Incorporated she got that niche back. Back with Shaggy he is told “bad” and become the fearless fighter who wipes out a biker gang in a fight. The great part is the reaction from Scooby and all the locks and wrestling moves Shaggy uses. Then the leader, Tex, comes.
While surrounded by his beaten companions Tex challenges Shaggy to a friendly motorcycle race on Dead man’s peak, dead man’s tray, dead man’s bluff, dead man’s curve, and dead man’s avenue. Shaggy accepts and proudly admits it will be his first ever motorcycle ride. Tex is enthusiastic about Shaggy’s craziness and promises not to beat him too badly bringing back normal Shaggy.
Fred and Daphne see two people from a mining company who are obvious red herrings. They think it is solved except Fred “still hasn’t caught anyone in a net yet.” Velma is too distracted by Winsor to be of any help.
Before the motorcycle race Tex brings “other guy” back, and Ultra Instinct Shaggy has a small lead until Tex nearly falls to his death and Shaggy saves him.
This is where it becomes clear that “Other Guy” is still Shaggy just missing the fear. He is still the same selfless guy, but now more heroic. The Phantosaur attacks and Shaggy thinks “bad…” meaning Scooby has to save him. The bikers and the rest of Mystery Inc. flood out the mining inc guys and the Phantosaur’s circuits are fried. The two are arrested and Daphne points out that was solved earlier than usual, as they are only at the 53 minute mark. They go back to Hubley’s home where the holograph technology is gone, and they find velociraptor claw marks and footprints. Then they find…
Again this is lacking. Their introduction is too quickly paced for any sense of dread, and their animation is stiff. Granted it then gets good with slow, dreadful action and good sounds, but on a re-watch this is weird. The dinosaurs are overweight college students who are trying to eat people. They even eat a cake version of Scooby and Shaggy that was quickly made. The raptors run outside where things are worse (except for the viewers).
Now this is great. The dinosaur has fire breath, people are in terror, the plot is fast enough for action, but slow enough for the atmosphere. The design is great. The raptors get more drool. Then Tex declares “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s ghost dinosaurs.” The gang tries scaring them off until they eventually leave. They go to the professor who is evacuating, and her students have already left. Shaggy notices all the cars are still there even though the grad students supposedly just left. Fred makes a successful trap with flame throwers and Professor and Winsor run away. It was a hologram with heated air.
The professor found a preserved Allosaurus in the quartz and they needed to remove the town to get it out without anyone else noticing. The entire crew of students was in on it. They needed it out secretly and it was under public ground. It was the source of the Phantosaur myth, and they were inspired by the other fake Phantosaur. They use the explanation music from Mystery Incorporated, which I love. They had charges to blow the ground off, but they then go of due to a mistake Daphne makes meaning the cave they are all in is about to be mush. Thankfully professor says “bad” bringing a new leader to action.
In the very first episode of Scooby-Doo it was shown that Shaggy is a gymnast champion, and here he is jumping everywhere to get them to safety. He is doing all the work getting all seven out, and this is great. He is then one jump from getting out and getting help until Daphne says “not bad.” Scooby realizes the word but his impediment means he cannot say it or successfully communicate it. Shaggy is now panicking as the cave collapses, but Fred tells him everything Other Guy did is something he can do. Normal Shaggy goes for it in a surprisingly slow and tense scene. He has to jump, climb, and jump on moving rocks.
Peter Jackson, you plagiarist.
Shaggy makes the jump and finds Tex. He has ropes to get everyone out. He was there as he knew Shaggy could get out and his men camped at the only exit.
IS this good? In spite of its problems, yes. Like my last review it needed something that The Land Before Time sequels did so well, integrate different elements at the end for unity of plot. This has really bad unity of plot with two different dinosaur plots and neither are very connected to awesome Shaggy. The pace is to fast at times for the film’s tone and Winsor is terrible bringing down Velma too.
Yet this is the second best Scooby-Doo movie. Fred and Daphne are great in their limited role. It is nice seeing Scooby be so brave and smart, which are expected for a Mystery Incorporated type show. Shaggy is awesome and never disappointing. While the villains were too obvious Tex was great along with the other side characters like Hubley’s humor and the diner owner’s jokes. The tone was refreshingly serious, and I like the moral. If you did something great then you can repeat it or something similar. I recommend watching this.
The few defenders of all Disney’s live action remakes often say they are made to introduce the classics to a new generation of movie viewers. Thy are also using a tweet saying “Walt Disney put in his will that all Disney classics are to be remade every 10 years, so each generation gets to enjoy them.” They ignore that it is all false. Remakes do not contribute to younger people watching old movies any differently than any advertising.
The easiest to disprove one is the tweet supposedly about Walt Disney’s will. By a simple google search I just found a Snopes article which says he never said that nor did he have power to order it. If it is true then it has been broken already countless times. It means he should have remade Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1947, 1957, and another remake should have come out shortly after he died in December of 1966. It then should have been remade five more times by now, and that has not happened. It means The Black Cauldron should been remade three times by now, and Disney will never do that. Disney never has remade a film within ten years of being made (the current record is 26). Disney has never done anything extreme enough to follow those supposed instructions.
It also contradicts how Walt Disney acted in life. He was against sequels, and he never did a remake. He had almost 30 years to remake Snow White and he never did. He supported using new adaptations and making huge changes to the source materials.
The better argument I keep hearing is that the remakes allow a younger generation to enjoy old movies, as they apparently think no one can watch an old movie. Using a home media device is not hard. The only tricky part is advertising them, which Disney is terrific at. I always heard about the old films not from remakes, but from advertisements of old movie collections. Disney was the best at it with their “Gold Masterpiece Collection.” It made me know about old movies and some VHS tapes had bonus songs from older movies. The movies that stay famous do it, as people keep watching them, not for remakes.
The final case for remakes is they can add something. No one can watch a commercial for the Disney remakes and think they add anything. They are literally just taking scenes and putting photo-realistic CGI or live action over them. Artistically they are just inferior versions with an inferior medium for the story they used. Every film they have that can use a remake to fix past mistakes (The Black Cauldron, Atlantis, or Chicken Little) is not remade in favor of their most famous works that do not need major changes.
The Disney remakes are just a waste of time that I could spend just watching the superior version. Disney is supposedly “The House of Ideas,” yet they have no new ideas. In the real words of Walt Disney “You can’t beat pigs with pigs.”
A movie called Scooby-Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost just came out to be the finale to a shoe from 1985 that was ended after its first season with a cliffhanger ending, and I will review all thirteen episodes. I have never seen it before, but it was not typical Scooby-Doo. It had multi episode storylines, which has only been done by Mystery Incorporated, my favorite of the franchise, but I never heard it was good.
The plot is that Scrappy, Scooby, Shaggy, and Daphne are in a plane called “The mystery flying machine.” I am disappointed it is not green with flowers like all the objects in Cyber Chase. They crash onto a town where the town folks immediately want them gone (later revealed to be because they are werewolves). They meet a young con artist named Flim-Flam. He has magic bottles that basically get them out of every situation. Two ghosts need a person from the living to open a chest to unleash 13 ghosts/demons (they go back and forth). Scooby and Shaggy let them out for stupid and unfunny reasons and it ends with the gang going to track them down and the other two ghosts tagging along.
Episode one is not good. It is confusing, Daphne’s redesign is distracting, and Flim-Flam is a Mary Sue. I hope episode 2 is better. At least some of the jokes work.
The episode is about stooping a warlock who is taking over a magic kingdom. This time the tone is considerably less serious, and that works in the episode’s favor.
The tone is wacky and breaks the fourth wall a few times. At first it is just bad humor, but the second half of the episode is then pretty entertaining, and I would have liked it at ten years old. The music and animation are also better. The only problem is Flim-Flam somehow got even more annoying. Hopefully later episodes are like this.
Aquaman has made 1.1 billion dollars worldwide and counting. It has grossed more than every DC movie and more than all but six Marvel films. Unlike Wonder Woman it was a huge success overseas. Aquaman is now a bigger hit than Batman and Superman, and will get more exposure.
Obviously this will change their marketing, as Wonder Woman and Aquaman will be the new stars. I expect they will focus on using Batman less and make Superman lighter and more friendly to help imitate Aquaman’s success.
Not only will DC imitate Aquaman with current movie heroes, but this will make them more excited about other heroes getting their first solo movie. Maybe Flash will be the next Aquaman. Maybe it will be Cyborg or even Question. I think a Booster Gold movie could be a big hit. DC should stop viewing Superman and Batman as their marketable heroes and find ways to get their other stars to be movie hits.
This will also help to build the Injustice Gang/Legion of Doom/Secret Society of Supervillians. In the Stinger to Justice League they hinted at building a large group of villains to challenge the league, and I am ecstatic about it. In the animated Justice League my favorite episodes had the super villain brawls with around 6 heroes battling around 6 villains, and the MCU has not done this. There was no confirmation that Black Manta would join it, but he is good to go for future films and be a threat for multiple films. DC now has great villains in their films and I expect Black Manta will be one of the main physical threats of the group.
I am a huge fan of Arthur. I have seen every episode in the first nineteen seasons, and in my old blog (which got deleted due to my address being deleted) I reviewed every season. Despite this I never saw this special until then due to bad times it aired. The special was around 15 years old when I saw it and to my surprise, I did not like it. It was too ambitious for what the writers were ready for at the time, and it was made when the show was on a rebuilding season. It is a typical episode stretched into an hour five times longer than it should be.
“Arthur’s Perfect Christmas” is the finale to season 5, which had many issues. In seasons 1-4 Ken Scarborough and Joe “Crazy Joe” Fallon were the head writers. They both left after season 4 leaving Kevin Hirsch (a veteran from all 4 seasons) as the new head writer, and he wrote “Arthur’s Perfect Christmas.” Season 5 had some notably good episodes, but the rest were heavily lacking in heart and concept. They still had good comedy thanks to Binky.
In the typical season 5 episode the plot is rather dull, but Binky does something funny that saves the episode, and this is no different. His plot is rather small, as he has a few brief snippets of him trying to make a good dessert to give in a soup line. First he made pecan pie with shells in them. He then made brownies without sugar and banana bread with peals. The reactions are good physical comedy for comic relief. It is not very connected to the main plot, but that is true to the entire special.
At the time every episode was 11 minutes, starting two years later the show made occasional 22 minute episodes. At 54 minutes this is way longer than usual. The typical Christmas special would have around a forty minute plot and around 14 minutes of subplots like Binky. This has three main plots only connected by Christmas time. 2 are Typical episodes and the other is heavily padded. The plot goes back and forth between the three, but I will focus on one at a time.
In one plot Muffy declares herself “the princess of Christmas” and invites everyone to a party. Her best friend, Francine, is Jewish and instead goes to a Hanukkah celebration. As anyone could probably guess this plot is about accepting that your friends will have some major differences and keeping friendships. It is okay.
Buster has the best plot. His mom is always worried about her son being miserable on Christmas since his dad will not be there. Buster is worried about her, as she is visibly miserable during the time, and he asks her to not make Christmas a big deal and instead they make a new holiday, “Baxter Day.”
The final plot is with the Read family, Arthur, D.W., their parents, Grandpa Dave (he almost never shows up), and Uncle Fred. Who is Uncle Fred? It is also the last time Arthur’s original actor, Michael Yarmush, voiced him, and this is a bad farewell appearance. His voice was way too deep this season due to him aging, and the show has an immediate problem. It is a musical and the lead does a bad job at singing. In previous episodes they occasionally did musicals and Yarmush always did well, but this is different. It begins with a song that Yarmush does not sing in character. Until I read the credits I assumed it was a different actor singing, but it is Yarmush. His singing voice is so different that the song is terribly distracting. Muffy and Buster had songs that were fine because they were in character and it sounded like they were actually sung by the characters. This sounds like Arthur is lip syncing to someone else. To make it worse Arthur is constantly complaining that it may not snow on Christmas, and he keeps saying it is not Christmas without snow. This really bugs me. I am in my twenties, and I have never seen snow within a week of Christmas. Quit telling the Southern audience that we are not celebrating Christmas since it is only forty degrees here. It becomes apparent right away that the Arthur plot line is the worst one.
Another reason this is the worst of the three plots is all the padding. The other two had everything advance the plot, but this could have easily been half as long. A D.W. plot line is also introduced about wanting Tine the talking Tabby, a toy. This leads to another problem, the A plot is full of subplots. A plot is Arthur giving mom a great gift, a glass bird, as he broke one just like it. Other plots are waiting for snow, D.W.’s toy that is sold out, mom trying to explain that you cannot get everything you want for Christmas, introducing Uncle Fred, Uncle Fred’s car breaking and crashing with them, and a few others that are really short. The special explores all these with lots of padding. Arthur has a long scene shopping at the mall with lots of padding. The bird almost breaks several times before it does in long scenes, and it finally breaks in a very short one. Arthur has lots of daydreams which focus more on his sibling rivalry with D.W. It is occasionally interrupted by Binky but his filler is short and funny, and the rest is not. To add to filler the plot ends with Arthur badly singing the same song from the beginning.
I love Arthur, and I regret that I have few good things to say about this. Most of the jokes work, but it perfectly shows what is wrong with season 5 and the additional problem of being too long. At the time the longest Arthur story was 11 minutes, and this is five times that amount. The story is unconnected and full of padding. When I reviewed all The Land Before Time movies I realized how good they were at connecting seemingly unrelated plots at the end both thematically and in the climax for a great scene. That is what this needs. The only scene that connects all three plots is a party scene early in the special. On a positive note it has a uniqueness among Christmas specials due to its to one thing. Most of them dominantly take place on Christmas Eve, but this takes place dominantly on Christmas day. That is not enough to save it, but it is at least not generic. Sadly, this is a very bad representation of Arthur.
Sometime in the future I will review an hour long Arthur special that is good.