Animation that I love:
Balto, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Oliver and Company
I decided to get this on DVD. I'd read some pretty detailed info on it, seen a couple of images and decided to see it for myself. What can I say? It is everything a modern Disney film should be: good use of paint, digital art and CGI. The songs are upbeat and well-written (after all, they are all written by the guru of songwritiers, Phil Collins). I just thanked God - with the exception of a few lines from Koda - that none of the characters went and bursted into song.
The scenery and backgrounds are beautiful and realistic. The scene where "On My Way" started was drawn to the point of breathtaking beauty. The animation was fluent and the bears actully moved like real bears. Although I didn't find most of the lines comical, I found the DVD commentuary by the moose hysterical. And I quote:
(Tanana draws sketch on the ground, telling Kenai about the mountain)
TUKE: Hey, did she say that was where the lights touch the Earth?
TUKE: Well, from my point of view, it looks like the lights touching McDonalds!
The acting was OK; not great but OK. Kevin Bacon was great as Balto and Phil Collins was cute as the polar bears but the other characters, aside from Steele, didn't carry a spark with them. Their character designs were pretty standard and there was nothing really special about them. Being based on a true story; I looked up to 1925 epedimic and found they had bent - not tweaked - a few bits to make the story better. The storyline that the original events were sacrificed for seemed a bit too cliche: an outcast wants a popular girl who is eyed up by a popular boy who hates him so how is he going to get it? Easy, by travelling through freezing snow and blizzard for nearly 1000 miles to find medicine to cure her sick owner. Girl in the bag! Don't get me wrong, it's a great movie but it doesn't have the originality to be better. The animation was supurb and there weren't many bloopers to notice, the backgrounds of the Alaskan wilderness were very well detailed and some of the lines that the characters said were quite funny (I got people bumps!). It is dampened down for younger viewers, which impacted the story a little bit but I love it for its animation and the character style.
Overall, the story is pretty decent and some of the gags are quite funny, though are quite forced. The story is pretty easy to compare to the previous one. Whilst in the first one, the animals stuck together and decided to find a way to solve the problems that the wild presented, in this one; they merely go off to do their own thing. A disaster in the making. As Greykitty said, there is too much to be squeezed into an hour-and-a-half film. And where the heck did the romance between Gloria and Melmen come from? Julian's antic were quite funny and I found his character as cute as ever, pity he didn't get much screentime nor the penguins. I hated the 'Lion King' rip-off storyline and the zebra plot was just annoying (it made me hate Chris Rock when you have about thirty thousand animals getting voiced by him). I have to defend the music a little bit, though mixing a legendary composer with a former member from Black Eyed Peas is not a good idea, the music worked for me but it still rested into my brain in the same way as a dentist's drill. Hardcore fans of the original would love this but, to anyone else, watch it once and then give the DVD a miss.
*BEWARE. POSSIBLE SPOILERS*
The story in the first series is quite predictable but it is faithful to the books. The animals' homes are getting destroyed by the humans and time is running out for them. Guided by Toad and led by the resourceful and clever Fox, they decide to leave for an animal reserve known as White Deer Park. The journey itself is filled with danger, caused by both their own kind and by humans. Anyway, the plot of the first series takes a while to get going (two episodes) and the story isn't all that great anyway but the acting is great and the animation is sheer genius. It isn't the wishy-washy business that five year olds enjoy either, several of the characters die on the journey and there are scenes of peril that may scare younger viewers. All in all, Series I gets three stars from me; quite simply because the plot was too dull.
Series II is considered, by most fans, to be the best of the show. The story of family feuds, forbidden romance and learning to look after yourself all pushed together could've been a disaster but it cleverly worked out fine. The animals, predictively, make to their reserve but a band of blue foxes, alarmingly showing a animal version of racism, sees Fox and his mate, Vixen, as a threat to their control over the park. Scarface, their leader, is a great antagonist; he's scary, clever and, above all, brutal. He kills several of the animals over the series, including Dreamer, the daughter of Fox and Vixen. His war on the Farthing Wood animals not only spawns the sub storyline concerning Bold, Fox's son, and his journey of self-discovery and its tragic consquences but the 'Romeo and Juliet' storyline concerning Charmer, Fox's other daughter, and Ranger, one of Scarface's sons. The two's relationship puts a series of unfortunate events that led up to the series' dramatic climax as Fox and Scarface fight for the position as head fox of White Deer Park. The animation in this is more fluent than the previous season and the designs of the blue foxes were amazing, it tweaked a few bits in the books because of time issues, which could've been solved if they'd a left a few pointless scenes out, but it works out great and the storylines work well together. If you love the foxes of the stories, you'd love this series. Four stars for this series.
Series III was really disappointing. It was really the introduction of a new writer that I think let it down and digital animation was tried out on it too. Here's a lesson, if you make a three-part series and use traditional animation for two of the parts; do NOT use digital animation for one part. The characters looked downright horrible, the only one that didn't look out of place was Plucky, but the voice acting was still great. It also succumbed to joining the ever-lasting list of TV shows that you can just leave your snotty-nosed brats to watch for half-an-hour, something which I get sick of. Its main storyline was pretty decent: a bunch of rats try and take over the park but did they HAVE to dump the storyline of the weasel family and their 'adventures' slap bang into the middle of this? You just find yourself screaming for them to get back to the park so we can get some action out of the pointless time slots. I'll be fair to it and give one and half stars for the great acting but just pretend it doesn't exist if you liked the first two series.
All in all, a great series, bar a few misconceptions in the final one, and should be watched by all ages. Animation fluent, acting great and likeable characters; it's an animation legend.