About entertaining adventures of penguin Lolo, about the nature and fauna of Antarctica. The film is about inhabitants of Antarctica penguins, about their existence full of dangers, about ...
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William T. Hurtz
About entertaining adventures of penguin Lolo, about the nature and fauna of Antarctica. The film is about inhabitants of Antarctica penguins, about their existence full of dangers, about adventures of penguin Lolo who being inquisitive since the birth, learns a lot of interesting about the world, the nature and the environment. Written by
a rather flabby children's movie that had wonderful potential, but was given poor treatment, especially in the dubbing process
I once saw "The Adventures of the Small Penguin Lolo" (or "The Adventures of Scamper the Penguin" as it is titled here in the United States) a long time ago. I was in grade school and we were watching it in a very dark room as an end-of-the-year activity. Years passed before I finally tracked the movie down again and revisited the experience of watching it. Between that time and now, I had almost completely forgotten about the film.
Watching it again for the first time in more than ten years, I can clearly see why. The plain truth about "Scamper the Penguin" is that it is a flabby children's feature. One with good intentions and some very nice moments, but ultimately rather forgettable. That is why I have very few memories of seeing it. Whereas truly good children's' features left an impact on me, this one was dead in the water. So as a child, it had little meaning to me. As an adult, it has even less.
"Scamper the Penguin" was originally a Russian-Japanese co-production. I can say very little about the original language version of the film, for I've only seen some clips of it. Like many other foreign films, especially animated ones, the movie was heavily re-altered for its English-language release. Beyond the process of dubbing, the American distributors committed other creative criminal acts such as cutting out noteworthy footage and completely replacing the musical score. The few clips I've seen of the original version clearly show that it is a more sincere and wholesome movie. Since I've had the worst of luck at tracking the whole thing down, this review relates to the English-language version, which I view as flabby and boring with some potential, but poor treatment.
I must confess, the first part of the movie worked for me. In the beginning, the movie is more or less an animated version of a documentary about penguins. The penguins are anthropomorphic, of course, (they talk and such) but it was really about a day in the life of a penguin, from its parents' struggle to survive, to hatching, and adapting to life in the south pole. So all of these scenes of Scamper the little penguin learning from his elder penguins and occasionally evading a hungry seagull or leopard seal worked for me, because there was something really sincere and appropriate about it.
However, once the fantasy elements came aboard, and the penguins became too humanlike, then I started having problems. And unfortunately this story consumes the second half of the movie and really waters it down. The back half of the movie, though enthusiastic, I'm afraid is really just as dull as a beige room.
Or the animation. One thing the original version certainly does not have is good-quality drawing. Early on in the picture, the narrator describes Antarctica as "a land of great beauty" and that nowhere else is "the scenery more beautiful." That's not the impression this movie gives. The drawing style is very flat and two-dimensional; the landscape is a poorly-decorated wall and the sea is as motionless as an oakwood table. We see little white specks painted on the ocean surface, meant to suggest sunlight rippling with the waves, but it's static, because there are no waves. The drawing of the penguins is also far too cartoony and the killer whale in particular is a very bad animation with dopey-looking eyes and over-sized teeth that contradict its intended menace. The leopard seals are even more poorly-drawn and there is no real menace coming from them, only gags. The new song done by Bullets says that Scamper is the cutest penguin of all. Well, he's not an ugly penguin, but the way his creators sketched him out really didn't give me that impression.
But perhaps most irksome is the horrendous dubbing done by the American distributors. Not only is the voice acting flat and deprived of emotion, but it's sloppy too. I can forgive the way the dialogue does not match the movement of the characters' mouths (I enjoy the Japanese Godzilla movies, after all) but I cannot do the same for the way we hear dialogue when nobody's mouth (or beak) is in motion and how it is so adamantly clear that they wrote this in desperation of making it fit along. So at times, it seems like they're trying too hard, and other times like they aren't giving nearly enough effort. The dubbing is truly terrible.
In addition, the new music score and songs are just unmemorable. Not terrible, but forgettable. Like the whole movie.
The few seconds' worth of footage that I have seen of the original version of "Scamper" indicate there is a better movie to be found. The story would still be the same and I would still have my gripes about the second half of the movie, but there would be more intelligent dialogue, a better music score, and a more wholesome product. In its English language version, "The Adventures of Scamper the Penguin" is a mediocre and forgettable production with flabby animation and atrocious dialogue. It works at first, when it assumes a documentary style, and then loses its way very badly, as Scamper does in the movie. Unlike him, however, the movie does not have the wits or the motivation to find its way back.
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