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The first time i've dived at a media franchise.*
*This review is a WORK IN PROGRESS.
Here's a first for me; If You haven't read the title already, I'm sinking my deeply-critical teeth into a property larger than any other I have reviewed thus far, because Amazon Jack marks the final appearance of Jungledyret Hugo - a Danish cartoon character with a decent reputation within his home country, but virtually invisible everywhere else.
From what I could gather, Hugo was created by cartoonist Flemming Quist Møller. Leading up to this film, the character had already starred in a pair of traditionally-animated films distributed by Nordisk Film, as well as a 13-episode series that ran from 2002-03 on Danish public TV. Together, these properties established Hugo as the only known member of Hugus Primiticus, a bipedal, koala-like primate native to Junglandia, a military dictatorship led by Maximillion Maximus - who aspires to capture Hugo due to his status as the country's national animal; Because he is widely sought for his rarity, Hugo often finds himself evading Capture by both the Junglandian government and film mogul Conrad Cupmann. Throughout the series, he is also aided by his close friend Rita, a red fox kit.
Amazon Jack picks up from the end of the TV series, with Hugo, Rita and their surrogate guardian Meatball Charlie having settled down in rural Denmark; However, being a jungle animal, Hugo has become disillusioned by his new lifestyle and dreams of returning to his natural habitat. Meanwhile, a pair of scientists have been tracking Hugo since his last escape; One allies with Maximus to bring Hugo to Junglandia for scientific study, while the other, Professor Strict, aspires to clone him and profit off the sale of his copies. A third antagonist, television host Prima Donna, wants to use Hugo as the mascot for her new perfume. These conflicting aspirations - especially those of Strict - begin
Hugo is captured by Maximus and taken to Junglandia, where he is reunited with his old friends Zik and Zak, a monkey duo. Meanwhile, Strict convinces Rita and Meatball Charlie to accompany him, in order to work with Maximus
The Legend of Sarila (2013)
Spoilers are likely (Not like you frankly give a damn...)
It is the year 1910 in Northern Canada. The Inuit shaman Croolik (Played By Christopher Plummer) has denounced Sedna, Goddess of water And The dead, so he can call upon the Spirit of Darkness. With the goddess withdrawing the region's fauna, Croolik's village is suddenly threatened with a famine due to a lack of game. Our orphan hero Markussi (played by Dustin Milligan), along with arranged couple Putulik (played by Tim Rozon) and Apik (played by Rachelle Lefevre) set out to find the eponymous land of Sarila, where animals are said to be plenty, in order to avert the famine. Along the way, Markussi learns that he has his own shaman abilities, while Croolik makes it his personal mission to undermine the heroes' quest whilst continuously trying to frame his estranged wife (Played By Geneviève Bujold) for his survival and benefit.
You walked into this review expecting it to be negative, and while it is, let's first list of the film's (surprising amount of) pros. This film is admittedly better-presented than most of the atrocities i've reviewed; Christopher Plummer and Geneviève Bujold have clearly taken their performances seriously as an estranged couple driven apart by evil itself, while Olivier Auriol's musical score does it's best to keep the audience enticed audibly. Got those? Good, because now here comes the shredding.
Right off the bat (as pointed out by I Hate Everything), this film's plot is one of (if not the most) formulaic in the entire animation medium, running in a pattern that any small child can point out with ease. That's right, the film constantly shifts between the perspectives of Croolik and the heroes in a pattern that sees Croolik executing a step in his sad excuse of a "master plan," followed by a section of the heroes' journey, usually with an action set piece thrown in. Also, this film boasts TERRIBLE production design. Even about a film following a nomadic people in the far north, where snow and ice are abundant, the film's backgrounds are in desperate need of detail. The film's environment is very flat with little terrain that desperately cries for that precious detail. It doesn't help that Sarila, which is supposed to be the film's scenic highlight, looks like something right out of a CalArts film project. And while Plummer and Bujold do their best to keep this failed project afloat, the mediocre screenplay upheld by the poorly-realized chemistry between Milligan, Rozon and Lefevere still lingers behind their talent and holds them back from completely saving the film.
With it's exotic Inuit setting, Sarila looks poised to be brimming with originality, right? You couldn't be more wrong. The film rips two pages right out of the book of Dreamworks, those being The (underrated) Road to El Dorado And Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. Anything that looks "original" are actually sprinkled on from several other movies, such as Brother Bear and Ice Age. Plus, the film's re-branding as "Frozen Land" means that this film will forever be remembered as a mockbuster held back by a lackluster script, abhorrent production design, awful pacing, a formulaic plot and poor chemistry between it's star-studded cast, among other things.
Call me demanding, if you desire. As a critic, i should be used to this kind of mob mentality bullshit.
Please. The Real Soviets Did Better.
Spoilers Are Likely (Not If You Know The Space Race)
So, Here I Am Again. Today, I'll Be Reviewing Space Dogs, Russia's First Full-Length CGI Effort. Even Though It's Based Off Stuff That Actually Happened In The Soviet Union, A Country I LOVE Learning About, There's Still Reasons For Me To Tear This Film To Shreds.
In Real Life, These Dogs (Belka And Strelka) Were The First Dogs Safely Returned From Space, Which Capitalised Off The Faults Of The Groundbreaking, Albeit Infamous Sputnik 2 Mission And Cleared The Way For The Soviets To Send Up The First People. This Film Exaggerates The Dogs' Capture, Training And Mission By Portraying Them As Actual Characters And Presenting The Film From Their Perspective. But In Spite Of It's Historical Roots...
The Film Still Sucks.
The Problem Is I Found The Dogs To Have Been Portrayed Pretty Bad, Even For A First Try. They Try To Make Their Dreams And Motivations Clear, But The Only Slightly Positive Factor Came Out Of That Was The Relationship Between Belka And Strelka. The Films Animation Is Up To Modern Standards, But Still Choppy And Unprofessional. The Only Time Where The Animation Looks Decent Is (Ironically) The Nighttime Scenes. Not To Mention, The Film Is Boring, Incoherent And Uninvolving, With Two-Dimensional Acting And Messages That Don't Translate Because Of The Aforementioned Reasons.
What Do I Have To Say About Space Dogs? Read The Title Again. I've Seen Better Films The Actual Soviets Made And-Wait, There's A SEQUEL?!
Delhi Safari (2012)
Ingrid Newkirk Must Be Proud. Like, Really, Really Proud.
WARNING: The Following Review May Offend Animal Rights Activists, So If You Are One, I Suggest You Get Your Ass Off This Page.
Spoilers Are Likely (Not Like You Frankly Give A Damn)
Where To Start With This One?
We Travel To India, Where A Wildlife Reserve Is Being Cleared Out For A Residential Development. Several Of The Reserve's Animals, Including It's Queen And Prince, Set Out To Capture A Parrot Who Can Talk To Humans, And Are Able To Persuade Him To Go With Them To India's Capital Of Delhi To Get The Project Cancelled.
To Say It Basically, Delhi Safari Is An Unoriginal Trainwreck.
The Main Thing That Bugs Me About This Film Is That It's WAY Too Derivative And There Is Almost NO Sign Of Originality. First, The "King" Of The Jungle Is Killed And Returns To His Son As A Ghost, Which Mirrors The Lion King (Don't Forget The Hyena Scene). Next, The Parrot Is Flightless, Something Some Consider To Mirror The First Rio. The Film's Overall Plot And Themes Also Eerily Mimic The Madagascar And Happy Feet Franchises. The Musical Number "All-Day, Party, Dance" Is (To Me) This Movie's Only Somewhat Poignant Redeeming Factor As It Is Pretty Catchy And Does Not Have Any Lyrics That Mention Humans Or Have A Huge Effect On The Anti-Human Plot.
Speaking Of Which, Let's Break Down The Chorus Of "A Mighty Forest There Is Not," Shall We?
"Oh, Yes, Yes, Yes, There Used To Be...But Then Came Humanity."
That ALONE Relays The Message That This Movie Is Nothing But An Hour And A Half's Worth Of PETA Propaganda That Looks Like Something Ingrid Newkirk Assembled Herself Just To Slam Down Your Throat About How Evil Humans Are. On Top Of That, PETA Tries To Further Push Their Agenda With The Scenes Involving Deforestization, Right Down To The Parrot's Climactic Monologue.
In Conclusion, I Really Hate Delhi Safari. The Plot Is A Mess, Driven Mostly By The Anti-Human Rhetoric That Reeks In Almost Every Scene. The Screenplay Is Abhorrent, And Right From The Start Every Line Tells You Exactly What This Movie Is: An Animal Rights Propaganda Film Which Rips Off The Screenplays Of Numerous Other Movies To Look Like A Coherent Film. The Cast Was Completely WASTED, With Big Names Such As Tara Strong, Vanessa Williams, Jane Lynch, Christopher Lloyd, Cary Elwes, Tom Kenny, Troy Baker And Several Others Being Brought In, Most Likely To Give The Film Publicity. The Animation And Design Were A Mess, Giving Us Things Like A Parrot With TEETH, And Finally, The Characters Were Forgettable And Lacked Any Charm Required For Me To Like Them. All In All, This Is An Easy 1/10. Films Like This Only Make My Desire To Barge Into A PETA Convention Wearing A Fur Coat And A Happy Human T-Shirt While Waving Around A Pair Of Turkey Legs Like A Complete Madman Even Greater. It Also Reminded Me That Not Being An Activist Is Something To Be Proud Of.
Jungle Shuffle (2014)
The failed lovechild of a bilateral relationship.
SPOILERS ARE LIKELY (not like you frankly give a damn)
Welcome back (your fault). Today, i'm ranting on "Jungle Shuffle," which follows your typical "get the princess" story, NOW WITH ENVIRONMENTALISM!
It is the year 1960 in southern Mexico, where a young coati named Manu has just been ostracized for destroying a statue his village had been constructing. After a prolonged time in exile, Manu's love interest, Princess Sacha (Alicia Silverstone) is captured by hunters under the employment of the geneticist Crazy Loco (Jeff Bennett). Manu (Drake Bell), now a resourceful young adult, sets out to rescue Sacha, only to come into opposition with Crazy Loco. In addition, Manu and his ally, a purple monkey and self-described martial artist, are pursued by a black panther who also holds a vendetta against Loco for the capture of his own mate.
Very little can be said to saves this film's life, apart from the presence of Jeff Bennett and Tom Arnold.
In terms of overall character qualities, Manu has to be one of the worst characters across all the films i've reviewed; As a protagonist, this red coati does an exceptionally terrible job at holding this joke of a story up, which owes largely to his poorly-realized "Save the jungle, get the girl" motives. Speaking of "the girl," Sacha is no better than her mate character-wise, just being your simple clichéd "locked in an arranged marriage but loves someone else" princess. Drake Bell and Alicia Silverstone also do an awful job realizing their respective sides of this heroic couple, with the child actors that play the younger versions of their characters having better chemistry than they do.
You expected me to mention the screenplay, so here's that well-deserved mention: IT'S ABSOLUTELY TEDIOUS. This film tries to cover it's poor storytelling with a constant flow of energy that is achieved by throwing in one action set piece after another, with little breathing room for our technicolor heroes. The perspective of the coati (especially against the humans) is also used to make each sequence appear more perilous than it actually is, giving a pseudo-bombastic feel. However, this did little to test my patience, because an extremely flat, boring and predictable environmentalist "get the girl" storyline lies behind all that action. Also, despite the capacity to make the action somewhat entertaining, it's also poorly done.
In conclusion, the only originality this film brings to the table is that coati are the heroes. Anyone else care to tell me this film's other merits? Oh, wait. You can't.