June 18, 2002
1:31 PM   Subscribe

It's the plot, stupid. USA Today runs their usual insightful commentary about the upcoming release of Lilo and Stitch. It obsesses over the absence of CGI graphics pointing to Atlantis as evidence for the failure of traditional animation to draw box office. Funny me, I thought that Atlantis bombed because of a plot better left in 50s serial format, a cast of sterotypes rather than characters, and no sense of humor beyind dirty French jokes repeated over and over again. And is huge success of Pixar due to their pioneering animation, or their brilliant comic talent? What causes FX myopia anyway? Granted I can understand why fanboys obsess over the wrong things in a movie. Do the studios set it up by trying to hype each new summer release as the next big technical development (while the artistic development gets trumped by Waking Life and Insomnia?)
posted by KirkJobSluder (7 comments total)
Interestingly, more and more video game makers are trying to make their games look like traditional animation, such as the upcoming Zelda and Dragon's Lair games.

I'm surprised the article doesn't mention the failure of the Final Fantasy movie.
posted by bobo123 at 3:22 PM on June 18, 2002

BTW, is Lilo worth seeing? I'm really wary: it is, after all, from Disney.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 PM on June 18, 2002

Atlantis sucked because Disney listened to the critics, instead of the folks who watch their movies - and took out the music and made it like anime crap.
posted by owillis at 9:37 PM on June 18, 2002

owillis? Atlantis sucked because it was not like anime: cardboard characters, uninvolving plot, no sense of humor, half the movie stolen from both anime and other Disney films, and serious problems with tone.

I didn't think the USA Today review was that bad. The movie sounds interesting. Lilo sounds like realistic and complex little kid, which has promise. As far as the art goes, I like that Disney is going back to watercolor backgrounds. Good anime, such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, the You're Under Arrest! OAV's, the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV's, and much of the Ghibli/Miyazaki canon make good use of gorgeous, atmospheric watercolor backgrounds to set the tone.

There's definitely still a place for cel animation. Atlantis had good CG, the problems were in the script. In fact, I think the visuals meshed better than in any previous Disney animated film. It's hard to blend CG with cel animation, as bobo123's Dragon's Lair pictures illustrate: putting a cel-drawn character against a Quake-engine type background just looks weird.

People have been doing cel animation for three quarters of a century, CG for a third that long. Not surprising we're still climbing the learning curve on CG.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:25 AM on June 19, 2002

Am I the only person that easily preferred Monsters, Inc to Shrek? I loathe Disney as much as the next informed geek (and no, you don't have to explain the Pixar/Disney separation either, especially since I'm no big fan of Jobs, either) but I found Monsters just as funny and much more affecting, plus the stylized motion of many of the characters in Shrek distracted me.

Admittedly, my favorite line/moment from the two is probably "That'll do, donkey. That'll do," but it's not anywhere near enough to tip the balance.
posted by NortonDC at 4:22 AM on June 19, 2002

And is huge success of Pixar due to their pioneering animation, or their brilliant comic talent?

Pixar's success is due to their ability to write characters worth watching. It'd be just as good if they used puppets... their characters are what sell the story, and thus the movies.

Another note; far too often people link Pixar and Disney (not you, NortonDC), and that's just plain wrong. They have a business agreement, but the creative force is Pixar.
posted by jpburns at 6:26 AM on June 19, 2002

NortonDC, I agree with you 100% on Monsters, Inc. vs. Shrek. Shrek will be unwatchable in about three years, when all the pop-culture references in it lose their meaning.

I rented Titan, A.E. the other day and was thinking this same thing. Great effects, which they obviously put a great deal of care and attention into -- it was an almost perfect mixture of 3D and traditional cel animation; really well done. The plot, however, was so inconsistent, dopey, and by-the-numbers that it ruined all the fun for me.

I just don't understand why they do that. I know the target market is twelve-year-olds who don't want to sit through a lot of exposition... but it would've taken so little effort to justify the worst lapses in plotting -- like, for instance, explaining why the bad guys blow up planet Earth in the first damn place, or why the good guy who's been downtrodden miner all his life suddenly knows how to fix a spaceship, or, well, I could go on and on -- and with that tiny bit of extra effort, that wouldn't even cost that much (writers are a lot cheaper than CG specialists) they could've expanded their audience tremendously. To include, say, thirty-year-olds who don't want to sit through a lot of exposition. Just seems like it'd be a cost-effective strategy.

My wife and I decided there should be a new credited position on all films: the Stupidity Filter. Put it right up there with continuity and key grip. This guy's job wouldn't be to come up with new ideas, it'd just be to catch the more egregious plot failures before they're committed to celluloid or pixels.

Think how much better, say, Attack of the Clones would've been if there'd been a Stupidity Filter present:
LUCAS: Okay, so at the end of this romantic scene, we'll have Annakin demonstrate his prowess by surfboarding on the back of a gigantic pig.

STUPIDITY FILTER: No, I'm sorry, pig-surfing is stupid. Besides, there have been surf- and/or skate-boarding scenes in every film aimed at the PG market for the last three years.

LUCAS: Okay, what if instead of a big pig, it was more like an enormous grazing tick?

SF: No. Sorry. Still stupid.

LUCAS: Hm. Ok, skip the surfing -- how 'bout Yoda comes in and kicks his ass in a lightsaber duel?

SF: Well, continuity might have a problem with it, but it works for me.
posted by ook at 8:24 AM on June 19, 2002

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