Disney’s Mars Needs Moms opened today. It got no love from The New York Times where reviewer Mike Hale began his critique this way:
“It seems that it’s time to admit that dressing actors in LED-studded catsuits, asking them to give performances on sterile white sets and handing the results to a team of computer animators is not a way to make a good movie. It didn’t work for “The Polar Express,” “Beowulf” or “A Christmas Carol,” and it doesn’t work for “Mars Needs Moms,” the latest product of Robert Zemeckis’s obsession with motion-capture animation.”
“Live versus lifelike continues to be problematic for this particular technique. Despite refinements in the years since filmmaker Robert Zemeckis – a producer on “Mars” – pushed it into the long-form, storytelling arena in 2004 with “The Polar Express,” its characters still carry the Stepford look.”
I had a chance to catch M-N-M at a critics screening (there was no way I was going to pay to see it) and – Surprise! – I didn’t hate it. I’d certainly rank it next to Monster House as one of the better of the ImageMovers Digital bunch. But let me be clear, I despise these Zemeckis films for one simple reason – I cannot get past the zombie-like faces of the human characters. When I allow myself to do so, I can see the craft involved and actually think the stories and storytelling is very good. Simon Wells directed this film for Zemeckis, and it’s certainly an action-packed, visually delightful children’s adventure. But it’s so hard for me to watch the lead little boy (Milo, acted by Seth Green) and his mom (Joan Cusack). Since the rest of the characters are “martian”, I had no problem with anything else on screen – even humanoid Gribble (Dan Fogler) who was rendered almost photo-real and was less zombie-ish than the others. This might have been an incredible film, a children’s classic, if they inserted human actors into the picture. If you have no problem with the mo-cap visual phoniness of the lead characters you may enjoy it.
But will you or any other Cartoon Brew readers see it? If so, I really want to know what you think. The comments below are open ONLY to readers reviews by those who have actually seen the film. This will be strictly enforced! I’ll be very interested in hearing your opinions.
Check out this moody new music video for the Australian band The Audreys, produced by Luke Jurevicius and directed by Ari Gibson & Jason Pamment .
Produced by Luke Jurevicius
Directed by Ari Gibson & Jason Pamment
Production Designers: Luke Jurevicius, Shane Devries, Jason Pamment, Ari Gibson
Story by Luke Jurevicius, Ari Gibson & Jason Pamment
2D Animation: Ari Gibson
Background Art: Jason Pamment
Compositing: Ryan Kirby & Jason Pamment
Coloring: Jarrod Prince & Joshua Bowman
Executive Producers: Stu McCullough, Taasha Coates, Tristan Goodall
French film collector, archivist and Annecy Animation Festival creative director Serge Bromberg will present Retour de Flamme: Rare and Restored Films in 3-D on May 1st at San Francisco’s famed Castro Theatre.
Bromberg will be honored with the 2011 Mel Novikoff Award for his invaluable work as “a collector, preservationist, exhibitor, programmer and enthusiast of cinematic treasures”. On Sunday May 1st at 5pm, he will accept the award and then dazzle the audience of the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21 – May 5) with his collection dedicated to stereoscopic 3D shorts. The program includes rareties by the LumiÃ¨re Brothers, Georges MéliÃ¨s, Norman McLaren, Charley Bowers, Chuck Jones and the Disney Studios, films from the Soviet Union and contemporary shorts by Matthew O’Callaghan and Pixar’s John Lasseter.
Films will include Coyote Falls (Matthew O’Callaghan, USA 2010, 3 min); Falling in Love Again (Munro Ferguson, Canada 2003, 4 min); The Infernal Boiling Pot (George MéliÃ¨s, France 1903, 2 min); Knick Knack (John Lasseter, USA 1989, 4 min); Lumber-Jack Rabbit (Chuck Jones, USA 1954, 7 min); Melody (Ward Kimball, USA 1953, 10 min); Motor Rhythm (John Norling, USA 1940, 15 min); Musical Memories (Dave Fleischer, USA 1935, 7 min); Working for Peanuts (Jack Hannah, USA 1953); and many many others.
Tickets are $15 for San Francisco Film Society members and $20 for the general public. For tickets and information visit sffs.org/tickets. The box office is now open for members and on March 30th for the general public. For more information visit sffs.org. I highly recommend you attend this incredible screening.
Wolfgang Matzl remade Inception with vintage paper cut-outs, shot frame-by-frame on his digital camera, for the Done In 60 Seconds competition (where entrants recreate a movie in no more than a minute). His film was one of the 10 finalists in Berlin, Germany.
Don’t even think of visiting San Francisco without a stop at the Walt Disney Family Museum. And if you are in the Bay area on April 16th you are in for a treat as John Canemaker makes one of his visits to the museum to discuss one of the Disney studio’s greatest artists, Mary Blair. The talk begins at 3pm, with slides, clips and Canemaker’s insights and knowledge. Go! More more information and advance tickets, visit the museum website now.
Here, courtesy of Hulu, is an excerpt from last Friday’s telecast of ABC’s The View which featured the first meeting, 69 years after the fact, of the voices of Disney’s Bambi and Thumper – Donnie Donagan and Peter Behn. If anyone locates the whole View segment online, let us know:
Not every animated film is aimed at families and children. Coming next fall from Spain, Perro Verde Films and Cromosoma are coproducing a serious adult animated feature about the friendship between two senior citizens living in a nursing home. Arrugas (Wrinkles) is based on an award winning comic book by Paco Roca. I’m not expecting UP, but its heartening to know that somewhere in the world such subject matter can be produced, hand drawn, in feature length.
Most mainstream movie reviewers seemed to like it – but not all. Roger Ebert loved it, but Leonard Maltin was a bit disappointed.
I saw Rango and I recommend it, despite its flaws. SPOILERS AHEAD: The first 20 minutes – up to the early scenes in the desert town of “Dirt” – and the last 15 minutes (when Rango leaves town, crosses the road and meets the “Spirit of the West”, through to the end) are fun, innovative and an almost perfect mix of art and entertainment. That’s 35 out of 100 minutes worthy of current inflated admission prices. The remaining middle section is a mash-up of western movie cliches and spaghetti westerns – with a dash of Apocalypse Now and a pinch Chinatown – that goes on a bit too long. The characters are ugly, but that’s okay – they are supposed to be grizzled desert creatures. The “emotion capture” reference footage technique won me over, though I thought Verbinski relied on way too many close ups…
…but that’s me. How about you? Comments are open below to our readers opinions – but only if you’ve seen the movie. What did you think about Rango?
P.S. Having seen the movie, I can attest that the behind-the-scenes book, The Ballad of Rango; The Art & Making of an Outlaw Film, written by longtime entertainment reporter David S. Cohen, is a perfect companion to the film. As with most of these tie-in’s, it is loaded with incredible artwork that preceeded the CG images on screen and Cohen’s text goes deep into Verbinski and ILM’s creative process. Regardless of your opinion of the film, the book is an important document of an unusual production. If you loved the film, the book is a must-have.