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Oscar ’07: The fallout from the “Happy Feet” win


Happy Feet won. Does it matter?
The sad fact is, it may.

I won’t deny that Happy Feet was a well made, entertaining film. I liked it personally. It does qualify under the definition of an animated film. But it doesn’t respresent the medium.

Unfortunately, the win by Happy Feet will reinforce to the powers-that-be in Hollywood that motion capture is a valid subsitute for authentic character animation. That live action writers, directors and actors can make a “cartoon” without the skills honed by decades of accomplishment created by Walt Disney and his successors.

Oscar winning animator and Academy member Gene Deitch sent us his thoughts:

So, exactly as I feared, a Performance-Capture movie has won the Oscar, masquerading as an Animated Film.

HAPPY FEET is a good movie, full of charm, and with something important to say. Bravo!

But now, what about us? To paraphrase what General Douglas MacArthur once said, “Old animators never die, they’ll just fade away.” I just read that Disney will be setting up a new studio, dedicated to performance-capture production. I’m personally lucky. I’ve had five of my shorts nominated, one which actually won the Oscar. So I’ve had it.

Even better, my long-time client – nearly 40 years – Weston Woods/Scholastic, is virtually immune from mo-cap and even CGI, as they produce short films adapted from children’s picture books. Practically the only way they can be made is with traditional drawn animation. So my harangues against accepting performance-capture films for the Animation Feature Film category have not been in any way an effort to save my personal skin. I grieve for our craft in general, and for those skilled traditional animators, who will increasingly be shunted off into special-effects work. Their only hope of getting back into the big time of feature film animation will be if a powerful enough producer, with a powerful enough story, brave enough to finance a graphically advanced production – something that can only be drawn – immune from mo-cap – who will give frame-by-frame animation a chance to live. Aardman is still clinging to clay, and they may survive, but where is there a future for feature-length drawn animation?.

May the Power of Pegholes be with us!

My first thought last night was that this is the first time the Annie Award didn’t portend the Oscar winner. That made me a bit prouder of my fellow Asifa-Hollywood members who do indeed honor films created by actual animators.

I agree with most of Gene’s points – and share his discomfort with this new technique. To clarify, Happy Feet is an animated film – but it’s not a cartoon. To paraphrase Gene, where is the future of the feature length cartoon?

The plus side? 2007 is an exciting year for authentic animated features. Between Brad Bird’s latest, Shrek III, Bee Movie, the stop motion Coraline and the hand drawn Simpsons there seems to be some potential – both at the box office and with the Academy – to reverse Hollywood’s mind in this matter.

Perhaps this win will cause Warner Bros. to now take animation a little more seriously, after a history of botched releases (notably The Iron Giant and The Ant Bully). Perhaps this will inspire John Lasseter and the revived 2-D team at Disney to really prove themselves, to blow us away with something that mo-cap can never be – and force Hollywood to return the art of animation to the hand of the artist.

Let’s hope.

  • Great moral message eh!…Don’t eat fish and the penguins will continue dancing!…Unbelievable. The worst dancing synch I’ve ever seen, awful character design. Terrible movie!

  • Paul

    Was it just me, or was the shot of the penguin in the audience the worst-animated of the three? Seriously, it looked like someone came in and slapped some random motion on the model and called it a day.

  • The idea that “Happy Feetâ€? is all mocap, straight off of the ping pong leotard and contains no animation is narrowminded an uninformed.

    Motion capture, WHEN USED CORRECTLY, is a viable animation tool. It’s like using IK feet or constraints. It speeds up the process so that the animator can focus more on the performance and films with a larger scale can be created in a reasonable amount of time.

    I would bet that the loudest critics of the technique are also the people who know the least about the technique.

    When computer animation first showed up on the scene in features, many people claimed the computer did all the work. While that has died down quite a bit, there are still the fringe who think that is the case. I think it will take around ten years for this new technique to be accepted and used to it’s fullest potential… much like computer animation before it.

  • I hope the Simpsons feature does well. Their marketing of the film as being, “In 2D” can’t hurt either. . .

  • The technique behind the movie is secondary …
    I really liked Babe and even its sequel. I was very willing to give this movie a chance, but after 15 minutes of Happy Feet I was nauseated by its shmoltzy hypercuteness. I really couldn’t stand the story and its “immensely predictable, hit me over the head message”.
    I really wish we could make movies for kids that don’t pander to them this blatantly … with cuteness for cuteness sake …
    Sadly I wasn’t even surprised to see this movie win the oscar … but that’s a whole other long discussion.

    Bottomline I’ll take my nephew to see March of the penguins any day … I’ll pass on the happy feet …


  • Nick Burkard

    Even if Mo-cap is used in a feature, that data captured is still for the most part thrown away and only partially used.
    Case in point, King Kong, even though this is an effects film, Andy Circus’ actual mo-cap data was used for only a small part of the film (I heard like 12% of the capture data was used), the rest was tossed out and hand animated. I imagine Animal Logic went through a similar process.
    I do have to admit that it seems like we are comparing something like The Jungle Book to that Rotoscope classic Fire and Ice, in terms of the aesthetics of the film. But is the technology or Supervisors to blame? I think the latter.
    I can’t attest to the quality of the two films other than cars b/c I haven’t seen them *shame*. But I saw the animated opening for Road to the Oscars and the penguins looked decent and entertaining.

  • A few months ago, I attended a mocap show-n-tell at an animation house. They were showing off how closely the CG character matched the actor’s movements. I asked, “can you have the computer exaggerate the actor’s movements, so a fast gesture causes their limbs to squash and stretch?” And the guy running the demo said, “probably. Nobody’s ever tried that.”

    Eek. I hope other mocap advocates are more familiar with the development of the awesome animation techniques that Just Work. Otherwise it feels like we’re completely re-inventing the wheel just because a new model of car came out.

  • my first line should read: “The technique behind the movie is secondary to me.”
    Your discussion on mocap winning an oscar is certainly appreciated and on point, I just wanted to express my take on the movie itself.

  • Mocap is not animation! Even though it needs tremendously skilled animators to make it work properly. Live Action directors venturing into animation use mocap simply because they do not have the patience nor stamina to direct a film through the long proces of how an animated film is normally made. It is way easier to direct dotted actors on a set and feed that info through to a team that will then spend months cleaning it up without the director having to be there on a daily basis.
    I take my hat off for the animators who have the skill and willingness to work that way. But I’m sure that each one of them would rather be given a brief of what to do and invent their own version of what each character has to do. We used to say that animators are actors with a pencil (or now pixels). That implies starting your work from scratch and make it shine.
    That just can’t happen with mocap and never will. Brad Bird is a good example of that (and I know there are plenty more). As far as i can tell he is a director from start to finish of each one of his movies, even after animation is done.
    Mocap directors are onto another project before the ardous task of animation even begins.

  • Jay

    Maybe someone who worked on Happy Feet can clear things up.

    As I understand it, Savion Glover provided the mo-cap for Mumble’s dancing. This was done partly as a timesaver, I’m sure, but they clearly went this route to give the main character the moves that a well-known dancer has — in other words, it was an artistic decision, and doesn’t make the film “not animation”.

    The vast majority of the film is keyframe animated, as far as I’m aware. It’s ridiculous to write off the film as unworthy of an animation Oscar because of the use of motion capture.

  • gentoo

    Want to voice an opinion back to the industry?

    I’ll bet it will be easy to get donations from enough animators to take out a full page Ad in Variety, thru the Brew here.

    Some sappy drawn art with some great tagline.

    “My animation includes pegholes.”

    But it has to be done light heartedly, in the way animators have always been able to mock “da man.”

  • Something I forgot to mention in my earlier post: I actually didn’t mind ‘Happy Feet’ as a film. It sure beat the other furry movies last year. So did ‘Monster House’ in my opinion. I just wish they would have been animated by great, original animators, which would have made those films something different, something special. Mocap actually screwed that up.

  • Lee
  • Bill Field

    Well, Jerry, get used to it. I have an idea that “300” , Frank Miller’s MoCap melee, will win next years’ animated feature Oscar.
    I hear Happy Feet won more as a protest than because of it’s animated merits. Come Back 2D!

  • matt

    Nice to see that there are some constructive comments (well, barring Oscar’s and maybe Enrico’s – sorry, but baby penguins/first 15 minutes are inherently CUTE) here. Of course Floyd is right that we have to put up with a few more years of directors and their new toys/novelties in the same way most directors are using (or misusing) pre-vis as opposed to storyboards. What most of the criticism doesn’t take into account is that Happy Feet’s use of capture and Flushed Away’s use of CG as opposed to clay were both decisions that are completely in context and were made with the requirements of the story and characters in mind (penguins not being trainable and the most anthropomorphic of animals and Flushed Away’s inherent use of water). Other pics, well fair enough. Having said all that I’m only trying to be objective. I love 2d and I think most of Miyazaki’s recent work stands as an emphatic argument that Eisner and Katzenberg’s self-fulfilling assertions of 2-d being ‘dead’ are despicable and untrue. It does depress me that the animation camp generally isn’t any wiser with their sensationalist and reactionary anti-3d/capture/newtech reactions though. Horses for courses. And Story Story Story.

    Ironic that the picture used for the article is one of the many sequences in the movie that couldn’t possibly have used motion capture.

  • The bottom line for me is that Happy Feet is in no way animated. Once again we see what I like to call “The Shrek Effect”, where the crappiest movie, with the uglest characters and worst story has tricked the general public into thinking its the greatest movie of all time! I’m all for a movie having a message, especially one that concerns the enviroment, but, for starters, lets at least make it a “good” movie, for the love of god!!! Without all the songs and sweeping shots of mountains Happy Feet would’ve been 20 minutes long!
    Monster House should also not have been nominated due to the way it was made, but in my mind it was the best movie out of the 3, dispite it’s creepiness, and the fact that theres no reason it couldn’t just have been made “live-action”, it had a cool story and really had the feel of movies I loved as a kid like The Goonies and Princess Bride!! Not that counts for anything at the Oscars, who said they weren’t political!!!

  • If mocap is used as a reference to learn about realistic movement (like referencing a video of the motion) then I don’t have a beef with it. As a matter of fact I think it has it’s place (take for example a realistic video game – the aim is to reproduce realistic motion – and hey, motion capture is ideal for that – go figure).

    But comparing mocap to IK is a fallacy of accident. When mocap, like rotoscoping, provides 90% (or enter your own appropriate percentage value here) of the motion, then it’s no longer animation. Inverse Kinematics, on the other hand, does not provide or copy motion – it aids the animator in creating (or limiting) motion. Two different categories. So the next time someone says mocap is just a tool like IK… well, it’s not just a tool like IK, it’s more like a recorder. Sure they are both tools, but not the same kind of tool. In my eyes, that’s more than a distinction, it is a huge difference.

    Character animation, in my understanding, is the *creation* of movement in a character by the process of abstracting and distilling the essence of a motion that is directly applicable to a state of mind of a character. It is distinctly a creative process. Mocap, on the other hand, is just copying motion. How much massaging can you do to mocap before it’s not mocap and it becomes animation? I don’t know, but when it feels like mocap, it is still mocap.

    I also think it’s more than a matter of definitions (though it is that too). All things being equal, I think that there is something much more magical about animation than either live action or performance capture motion.

    The bottom line, though, is that in this industry the ‘bottom line’ is what counts. I think Jerry is right. The pendulum swing toward motion/performance capture is in full swing and, saddly, it’s only going to get worse. Hopefully we’ll see some exceptions.

  • call me shallow, stupid, and too goddam non-serious! I found “H.P’ to be nothing more than 9 million (“real”) penguins animated beautifully….no humor….and couldn’t even tell them apart!! My own taste….i prefer cartoony cartoons. “Animal Farm” goes North Pole didn’t quite do it for me.

  • Bottom line is that all the Mo-Cap (or even 2D) in the world can’t save bad writing, bad characters and bad storytelling. Happy Feet was guilty of all three.

  • Sooooo…if such a small percentage of the actual data from mo-cap is used, then why use it at all?

    I personally am not one for mo-cap being considered animation, but I have been convinced by it every so often when it’s used to a small margin and pushed farther as regular animation would. Happy Feet winning that Oscar was definitely an upset at our little Oscar gathering last night…and not one of the pleasant ones, assured.

    And I agree with you, Jerry, that the real reason the next 2D animated feature will come about is the people behind it. Agree 100%. Nothing is really stopping filmmakers from doing so any more that it’s stopping any other movie medium. I live and breath traditional animation, and I think my generation has quite a bit of energy for the traditional mediums…all of us 20-somethings. I hope we can give everyone else hope! I’ll back the making of a great 2D feature any day.

  • Let´s hope 2D animated features will find their way back to the big screen. Instead of discussing techniques, let´s focus on telling good stories with a suitable medium… CGI, drawings, puppets, whatever. On the other hand, I can´t see how Mo-CAp will ever be a good tecnique on its own. Even Frank n´Ollie and the old guys rotoscoped live-action to solve special drawing problems. BUT they used it only as a GUIDE. Let´s hope animators will continue to tell good stories, and use life-experience, art, music and movements (mo-cap or life-studying) as inspiration.

  • Bryan T.

    Enrico, I think it’s interesting that you’re saying Happy Feet panders to kids, because a lot of critics of the film (particularly of the Fox News variety, but also at least one reviewer on Ain’t It Cool News) criticized the movie on the opposite basis, saying that it dealt with adult topics that kids shouldn’t be allowed to know about. Some of them (insanely, I think) took the story of his tapdancing as being an allegory about homosexuality. Others felt (somewhat more correctly) that the zealotry of the penguin elders was an attack on organized religion. And like the Babe movies the poor bastard protagonist is constantly tormented and chased, almost eaten by birds and sea lions, captured by humans, etc., not to mention the mental torment of being constantly humiliated and misunderstood. There was also a commenter on the previous Oscar post who claimed it had some sort of obscene sexual positions joke in it (I didn’t catch that if it’s true). It ain’t exactly Teletubbies.

    It does have cute penguins in it, but I don’t see how that’s pandering. If you ask me it’s far more intelligent and sophisticated than the middlebrow Dreamworks style where they put in some pop culture references “for the adults” and that’s supposed to make it edgy or something.

    I hope the success of the movie and the (fact? myth?) that it’s all done with motion capture doesn’t hurt real animation as Jerry is saying it might, but I don’t see that happening. This is a special effects studio that was converted to do a feature, they will probably continue. Pixar will continue with animation, Disney will start doing 2-D again. Is there anyone other than Zemeckis doing mo-cap movies? Even if Happy Feet really is all mo-cap, which I don’t think it is, I don’t think the win is a significant enough event to open up new mo-cap studios or close down animation studios.

    I also think it’s important to note that George Miller is a unique director. Babe: Pig in the City is an incredibly complex movie starring hundreds of animals, seemlessly combining real animals with digital enhancments and puppets. Very few live action OR animation directors could’ve pulled off that movie. For him to move into an animation/mo-cap hybrid makes more sense than it does with most directors. I don’t foresee an avalanche of other live action directors going that route.

    If anything, the win is a threat to live action, because Miller has said he might do a third Babe movie but that it might be animated. Think of all the animals and trainers that will lose their jobs.

  • Cant wait for Coraline!

  • I don’t like Motion capture It’s stiff and creepy and really put me off seeing Happy feet and Monster house (both critically acclaimed films)…It copmines animation and live-action but has has all the disadvantages of both mediums and the charm from neither.
    I’ve got to admit that using a motion captured Andy Serkis for Gollum from Lord of thr Rings was a stroke of genius and really shows the potential of the technique for special effects work. But in a full, animated film the rules are different. Actors aren’t animators, they can’t move a cartoon character about in a convincing way…It’s probably not even possible for a human being to do any of the exaggerated motions you need to make a cartoon character convincing…

  • As one who worked on Happy Feet for almost two years I have to say its really all about story. 2D? 3D? Clay? Cutouts? Live action? Puppets? Whatever the medium its story above all.
    2D Animators hate 3D animators, 3D animators hate MoCap Artists, Live Actors hate CG doubles. It will go on and on and on. A painter doesn’t give up painting in oil just because water colour drys faster? Whatever your medium, whatever your style remember its all about story.

  • Richard

    Whilst as a proud Aussie, I’m glad a film of ours won and will hopefully give the local industry a shot in the arm (especially since the demise of the Disney studio).”Happy Feet” is a “cute” film, but I can’t really say that the “best animated film” won.
    Whilst motion capture can surely speed up the production process, and I’m aware that the facial animation in this film was keyframed, I didn’t find anything outstanding in this film. It was like a “Moulin Rouge” with penguins, bland character design and all of the colour sucked out of it, leaving an overwhelming whiteness. The attention to detail in “Cars” leaves it way behind.
    However, with the eco-friendly message that was slapped about our heads throughout the ceremony it’s hardly surprising that this film won and a film about cars didn’t. Therein appears to lie the answer to the choice of winner.

  • gottalovepixar

    It breaks my heart to see people enjoy a movie that left even a 13 year-old confused . This is, after all, for the family, am I right? So how can it be for the family when only the adults understand it?

    Sure it goes better with the whole “Saving Earth” theme, and Cars is the total opposite, since cars do run on fossil fuel – but Happy Feet had about five plots and conflicts, while Cars was easier to understand. So what if about half the people think it’s so close to Doc Hollywood, it’s still better than a message that Pixar had kind of created a bit in Finding Nemo for five minutes: Fish are Friends, Not Food !!

    I could go on and on about how Happy Feet wasn’t enjoyable for me, but I know people would just think I’m being biased. After all, I am called “gottalovepixar” .

  • Gochris

    After the Lion King, every studio got into the 2-D biz, and made a bunch of bad films, and most of the studios got out.

    After Shrek, every studio got into the 3-D biz, and are now in the process of making a bunch of bad films, and most of the studios will eventually get out.

    Now that Happy Feet has won an Oscar, every studio will probably get into the Mo-Cap biz, and the future holds a bunch more bad films, and most of the studios will eventually get out.

    This is just Hollywood doing its thing.

    There will always be an audience for animation. Whatever wins the Oscar one year has no bearing on anything. Great animation is so enchanting, it will never go away. Hell, even lousy animation can be really entertaining.

    Movies that are entirely Mo-cap will eventually go the way of 3-D, Sensaround and Smellovision. An interesting curiousity. It’s not animation, and it’s not live action – it’s not anything really, except a new gimmick.

    The only future it has is as a special effect in live action films.

  • Wolphin

    RE: “Motion capture is not animation!”

    Maybe if the Academy (and, oh I don’t know, the rest of the world) could come up with a universally agreed-upon definition of the word, “Animation” and what, exactly, is and is not an animated film…?

    Honestly, when “A Scanner Darkly” wasn’t nominated, I ceased to care about whatever won the Best Animated Feature award (I am convinced that the Academy has a vendetta against Richard Linkletter or something).

    I’m surprised nobody has commented on the insanely rediculous speil Cameron Diaz had to reel off to introduce the nominees. She all but said, “Oh, animators are *magical*! They wave their magic pencils and mouses and little things come to life!”

    It begs the question, do “normal people” (err… by which I mean, people who are not visual artists) seriously not understand how animation is created?

  • As others have already pointed out, I think that this idea that “Happy Feet” is somehow less ‘animated’ than Cars is ridiculous. If Happy Feet shouldn’t get an Oscar, neither should any 2D move that involves rotoscope or any 3D movie where an animated studies facial expressions before drawing/key framing them.

    Mocap is another tool in an animator’s toolbox, nothing more and nothing less.

    The idea that you can just stick actors in spandex and make an animated movie with mocap is a really misinformed idea that seems to be held held by studio executives and animation purists alike. I’m involved with a project that using real-time animation at the moment and I’m sure some purists wouldn’t call it animation either, but it lives and dies based on the work the animators do. Believe me it’s the director’s vision and the skill of the animators that makes or breaks ANY animated film – 2D, 3D, stop-motion, mocap or otherwise.

  • I was talking to my Dad last night about the Oscar winners, and when I told him that HAPPY FEET, he said that there might have been some politic-related motive behind. Something from an article he read about the movie.

    I was very upset that CARS didn’t win, because it was the only purely animated film up there. I don’t know if that’s what Jerry said as well, but from what I understood, I agree with him. Motion-capture is starting to get over-used. Whatever happened to a good story.

    I am also still upset that Joanna Quinn’s brilliant DREAMS AND DESIRES failed to get nominated in the short category. I have lost a lot of respect for the Academy.

    At least now we can look forward to the new stuff that comes out this year, especially Pixar’s new feature RATATOUILLE. And of course, unlike other animaton studios, Pixar is NOT repeating itself. That’s my praise for glorious Pixar.

  • Mo-cap *is* animation, but like all tools in the animation medium, it is just that, a tool. It has not been used very well in recent “animated” films, especially since Hollywood studios are using them as an easy way in rushing these movies out to one-up Pixar.

    At least HAPPY FEET was worthier than MONSTER HOUSE, which could’ve been a lot better. It seems Sony got really lazy; Not only do the characters barely have any expression (something that *COULD’VE* been corrected in the animating process!), but why does hair look like a one-piece prop!? That kid DJ’s hair looks like it was made of chocolate! You mean they couldn’t do hair that looks like hair!?

  • Well, there’s no doubt that what is overlycute is subjective … we all have our tastes, as this thread obviously illustrates.
    It’s all good, I have good friends that liked this movie … I don’t hold it against them … I swear … ;)

    But talking about the cuteness level … yes it’s inherent with these characters … but it’s not just about that.
    Of course baby penguins are darn cute, but this is about baby penguins moving and singing like they were kids on American Idol. Yeach! X( (maybe here the slightly hyper real movement of mocap doesn’t help, it might’ve come off as charming if animated)

    And the message? Uhm … “Hey little kid you can tap real cool but since for some crazy reason we only dig singing, you don’t belong … you’re not gonna be accepted … sorry … oh wait let me guess … you are gonna find your own way? You don’t say!? Be accepted as your real tapping self by the end of the movie? You’re gonna show them how narrowminded they were with the singing thing? Let me guess maybe by saving their asses?
    C’mon, isn’t that predictable?
    It’s like being hit with a huge pan over your head for me …

    And another one of the main reason for that is that our little guy has a gift from the beginning! Give this character a real problem then I might be along the ride to see what he can do to overcome it …
    Don’t give me a great tap dancer baby penguin in the middle of soul/rap/whathaveyou singing penguins! It’s too easy to see what’s coming message-wise …

    oops, have a feeling this might read as a tirade … I’ll get off the soapbox.

  • I think we’re splitting hairs over this.
    If mo-cap shouldn’t count as animation, neither should rotoscoping.

  • When I was in art school people were having the same argument about CGI in general. That it wasn’t real animation because it wasn’t done by hand. Now CGI is real animation and Mo-Cap is just cold technology. To me Mo-Cap is just another tool, and it’s all going to come down to how it is used. It creeped me out personally when I first saw trailers for the early mo-cap movies. But I liked Monster House when I finally saw it because they attempted to stylize the character designs rather than make them too realistic. And that’s pretty much the same why people felt about humans in early CGI films. The more stylized the better.
    I think in the next few years we will see mo-cap get better and used effectively in great movies.

    One thing no one has pointed out yet is that lots of kids really liked Happy Feet. When I saw it kids were dancing in aisles with excitement. And I’ve heard a lot of parents relate similar experiences. So a lot of Academy voters may have been voting for what their kids favorite cartoon was. God forbid.

  • I think the mo-cap argument is a bit of a furphy. The problem is that the film isn’t very good. As I argue here:


    … they should just get rid of the Animated Feature category altogether. I don’t accept it’s good for the art-form to have mediocre films like Happy Feet and Cars vying for an Oscar against a field of barely over a dozen films. It reinforces the perception that animation is a lesser form than “proper” films. As I say at the above link – if Spirited Away (for example) had been given a serious tilt at Foreign Language Film a few years ago, wouldn’t that have been better for the art form than its win in the Animated Feature category?

  • matt

    Interesting that you mention about the Foreign language film category, Stephen, as your argument about a ‘lesser form’ applies equally there. It’s a bit insulting for foreigners (I’m guessing you’re American) in the same way. Back to animation, I think Brad Bird might say that the category encourages the view of animation as a genre, and we all know how he hates THAT!

    Why does everyone keep ignoring the fact that motion capture is absolutely the best way to do a very narrow range of things, and that Happy Feet is absolutely the most appropriate use of capture ever. Not to mention it’s the only way the story (story story story) could have been done, which sure wasn’t the case with Monster House. I think some of the ‘hard core’ animation fans are being a bit disingenuous. As for March of the Emperors, I wonder if people would be so precious if they saw the original “Milo and Otis” French version! If Miller could have done Babe live-action (without using animatronics and mouth replacement animation), he would have. If he could have rounded up thousands of penguins and got them to dance any other way, he would have. You can’t even train ONE penguin!

    – Exactly how else would they have been able to tell that same story (Happy Feet) otherwise?

    Finally, maybe the issue here is the Academy’s perception or meaning of ‘Best Animated Feature’. This is something that perplexes me every year when the best visual effects category comes up. Do the Academy mean the best ANIMATION in a feature film or the best feature FILM that’s animated/not live action? As for effects I always wonder about what they mean by ‘achievement’. Is it about maybe existing effects that are really well done, or effects that haven’t been seen before/push at the boundaries? Both can apply, but both are different in themselves. What about costume design? Surely genre films and features that DESIGN from scratch are more of an achievement in the design of costumes than period pieces where a wealth of incredibly accurate information already exists? Maybe the Academy needs to clarify a bit.

  • Ian

    15 years ago before I was working in animation there was just Disney and that was about it, now there is more high end work for animators than I can ever remember (even just keyframe animators). Aardman, Dreamworks, Pixar, none of these guys were significant employers back then and now they are all part of the Hollywood animation juggernaut. We tried just jamming one kind of animation down the audiences through all the time back in the early nineties and the wheels fell off.

    The richer the tapestry, the more varied the technologies, the broader the influences then the longer the party will continue! Bring on the mocap! Its not what I do, or even like, but if it has more eves on animation I’m OK with it.

  • Benjamin DS

    I’ve written quite a long post in the other oscar thread about why I believe Happy Feet won (and might even have deserved it!). Don’t know if Amid & Jerry would enjoy crossposting so I’ll just point you towards that if you’re interested.

    But anyway, I thought Happy Feet was a wonderful film. It wasn’t particularly wellmade or directed, but it was different, it was fun, exhilirating and uplifting. And as far as I know, it’s mostly animated too, not mo-capped. Haven’t seen the other two nominees (none appealed to me, went to see Happy Feet thanks to word of mouth).

    I really doubt this is going to make mo-cap even more interesting for companies. Even they know mo-cap (if even used all that much) isn’t the reason they won. If anything, I think it might help animation to get out of the formulaic genre it usually works in.

  • Robin

    Following keenly on Happy Feet’s posting hear and some cg forums, I have learned a few things about mocap and animation. But first, yes, at the end it comes down to story.

    At many parts of the movie, I find it entertaining, and refreshing. However, the story has also flaws which made me to having mix feelings about it. From a story stand point I don’t think its as well executed or directed. For one, the messages of the film is convoluted. One moment you see feverish dancing penguins, and swinging to another moment of taking pot shot at organised religion, then it goes into an environmental message which seems somewhat last minute. It only happens towards the last 1/4 of the film. On top of all these, there’s the human footage mixed with the animation. I understand what Miller was trying to do, making the humans seemingly look like Aliens to the penguins. But I find it odd, and somewhat not working too well, and can’t pinpoint exactly what’s not right about it. I am not sure how this part can be improved. It could be that the humans are like cardboard characters, one dimensioned. At one part, the movie seems to be about acceptance, and going against the flow, be yourself, but it also says be conformed as one world to fight against environmental disaster. The values of tradition, age and community (and even religion?) are potrayed in the film as narrow minded. This is what I mean by pot shot carricature. It’s not handled well and meaningfully. There’s nothing wrong with the film calling for unity to fight against environmental disasters, but it seems to be a double standard putting one side of inter-dependence and co-operation down and championing for another type of comformity through carricature. That makes the story dissatisfying and shallow. But, having said that, there were some great humourous moments with the short penguins, Mumble’s ups and downs in the obstacles he had to go through. In regards to animation performance, some parts were very well animated and some parts, especially some of the tap dancing, have some mocap feel in them. The cinematography and visuals were great, and no doubt due to the talents of Animal Logic house.

    I find the discussion about animation and mocap an interesting one. I can see validity in the argument that animators who are using mocap data for manipulation are are considered assistant animators instead of animators in the traditional definition that they create their animation from scratch. That is, without relying on captured performance to tweak the data. This is due to the reason that the work the mocap animator started with is based on the performance of action actors or actors. While mocap animators may pour heart, mind and soul into making the mocap animation into something clearer, its not the same as creating an animation indepedent of direct existing data. As I understand, the argument says more than that, since animators in this sense are more independent and free, whether consciously or not, to creat a unique animation style, or which is argued as cartoon animation style. The argument is not so much arguing which one is superior, but the need to distinguish between apple and orange. In this case, a cartoon style animation is best created without mocap. Mocap seems to be more suited for live action shots since the style has greater potential to work effectively in this area. But, what if one day, mocap can somehow be used to create cartoony style effectively and seamlessly with efficiency of time? Can the animators themselves, who understand performances, perform themselves and make the data sets their own, and further manipulate the data to the cartoony style? Perhaps the reason why this is not considered at the moment is that mocap animation still looks a tat like mocap animation style, hence, the steering away from it as a potential tool for cartoon style animation? This is just my digress in understanding the issue.

  • RMS Oceanic

    I’m not going to debate whether Happy Feet was truly animated or not. I was supporting Cars for this award, but I was fully aware that Happy Feet was also a good film, and it could go either way. However, I suspect the award went to Happy Feet for the wrong reasons.

    When I first saw that Happy Feet won, I was disappointed, but pleased for Mr. Miller. When I then discovered who won the Best Song award, however, I was annoyed.

    Most expert analysts predicted that one of the songs from Dreamgirls (Listen or Patience, specifically), would get this award, and if the Dreamgirls vote was split, then Our Town would be the one to benefit (because who doesn’t like a Randy Newman Songologue?). For “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth” to get the award was a shock out of the blue. As far as I could tell, it was the least likely song to win.

    These two awards, Best Animated Film and Best Song, being awarded to these candidates lead me to suspect that both categories were politicised. Because they were both linked to what is “Vogue” in Hollywood Politics – Saving the Environment – members of the Academy voted for them because of that message, rather than the actual merits of the candidates in their respective fields. It’s like what nearly happened with Brokeback Mountain last year.

    That’s why I spent my Monday annoyed. Both Happy Feet and Cars are good films (for different reasons), but if I’m right, what tipped it for Happy Feet was not its own merits as an animated film, but political correctness.

  • Steve Gattuso

    Actually, RMS, it was “Crash” that won last year, but for the same political reasons as opposed to purely aesthetic ones. I only recall it because of Jon Stewart’s hilarious commentary during that year’s awards: “Three Six Mafia: 1, Martin Scorcese: 0” (Thank the fates AMPAS fixed THAT screw up.) But Oscar’s always had a lot of politics in it. I’m old enough to recall the 70’s and some of Marlon Brando’s shennanigans. And don’t even get me started on “Out of Africa” beating “Goodfellas.” On the other hand, the fact that people have a hard time remembering the awards from even a year ago says a lot about how important they really are to the general populace.

    As for the use of motion capture, I agree that it’s a tool. But it’s a tool that has a very limited range of use. Use it sparingly and in conjunction with the right elements and you get Gollum from “Lord of the Rings.” Do a whole film like it, and you have the awful stiffness of a “Polar Express” or “Monster House.” Or yes, a “Happy Feet.” But I wanted “Cars” to win because I preferred the story and direction over the other films, not because the animation was better or worse.

  • El

    Mo-cap … has never really appealed to me, period. I don’t like the way it looks in animated films (as opposed to CG characters in live action films), and I feel that it completely destroys the strongest points that CG animation offers, the ability to bridge the flexibility of animation with realism, stylized or not. Why even make a film animated if you’re planning to cheat yourself out of your biggest creative advantage?

    That said, I recognize that Happy Feet isn’t primarily a mo-cap film. But it still didn’t deserve an Oscar. Why? Because it wasn’t a good film, full stop. I saw it, I was prepared to like it, I wanted to like it — and I couldn’t.

    The film was completely unappealing, visually. While realistic animal animation is a very good idea, in this case, it amounted to watching a bunch of penguins standing around on a giant, featureless, white static flat plain. Yes, you say, but that’s what it really looks like — that’s fine. But even in live-action films, you don’t see two characters standing still, facing each other against the backdrop of a whitewashed wall. There’s no excuse for such excruciatingly dull visuals.

    This was another film that suffered from uninspired dialogue and jokes that weren’t funny. The voice cast was made up of actors selected apparently because they were famous, and no other reason — I don’t need to hear Elijah Wood feeling sorry for himself anymore, I saw LOTR. I don’t need to hear Robin Williams half a dozen different places in the same film.

    The plot? It seemed to bounce all over the place. The movie is about being yourself. It’s about accepting other people. It’s about not accepting religious entities just because they tell you things. It’s about how commercial fishing is bad. It’s about how a dancing penguin can end up in a zoo three quarters of the way through the movie and you think the movie is over, but it isn’t. And for a film that takes itself so seriously and “realistic”, the last half hour was random, unrealistic, and felt very tacked-on. The film was far, far, far too long. I kept thinking it was almost over, but it WASN’T. There were way too many secondary characters, none of whom were developed particularly well in all that time.

    This might have been just me out of everyone who saw the film, but I thought that the concept of penguins singing rock hits absolutely did not fit in with the rest of the film AT ALL. It was like two films, one about dancing, singing penguins, and another about ecology and a coming-of-age melodrama.

    Finally — when it comes down to it, I found the scenes that actually were mo-capped, of Mumble (I had to look up his name — I’d already forgotten it) dancing, to be terribly boring. While I adore tap-dancing, seeing a little penguin shuffle about was really disappointing. It just wasn’t impressive or cute or even interesting — it was just a little penguin shuffling about. Which basically describes the entire experience, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Benjamin DS

    On another note, I was just watching some oscar clips on youtube (broadcast didn’t air here in belgium), and I wonder how much it says about how animation is looked at by the general film community, that the best animated short was introduced by children. And for that matter, how they put the camera on Abigail Breslin when the best animated feature was revealed. Though I think her reaction seemed to say that she too enjoyed the film a lot. Nothing against them, but it just feels odd.

  • I’ll preface this by saying I didn’t like Happy Feet, it went off the tracks for me about when the lead took that dive off the cliff.

    I admit that I’ve been reluctant to think of mocap as animation, for me animation will first and foremost come to mind as pencil to paper, but I believe now that it has to be included in that category, I think it deserves it. You have to take a step back and look at animation in all it’s forms, stop motion, traditional, cg, and mocap. This is all animation if it’s a pencil a puppet or a rigged model, and all of it, well most of it, created by extremely talented people.

    To discount mocap as animation would not be unlike discounting stop motion, while the people generating the performance in mocap may be more likely to consider themselves performers than animators that really begins to fall into semantics. All animators are performers, actors. Maybe once everyone gets comfortable with that notion in the future we might see residuals for animators.

    One can dream I suppose ;)

  • LonghairedGerman

    Nobody talks about the SFX Oscarwin of “Pirates Of The Caribean 2”. I think the crew of the Flying Dutchman is a good example how mo-cap and “real” animation work hand in hand together.

  • George Miller making mo-cap animation, Robert Zemeckis making animation, James Cameron slated to do Avatar, animation.
    With all these live action guys doing animation, can I have a Terminator sequel to direct?
    Or better yet, if they want to direct animation, they should make the SALARIES WE MAKE! That will turn them off making animation!

  • Pssst…. I’ll let you in on a little secret about Happy Feet. But you have to promise not to tell any of the animators out there…
    I heard they mo-capped real penguin eyes and beaks. They were even clever enough to mo-cap real whales, snow particles, water, crashing icebergs and swimming penguins!

    Not one shred of animation was ever used. I think they sewed up this massive killer whale mo-cap suit, built an underwater mo-cap studio and just recorded them. No one did any over time because the mo-cap and pre-vis where so flawless that everyone was working with one eye open and their hands tired behind their backs…

    Out of the 500 people that worked on the film 99% of them where so worried what animators would think if they ever found out that the humans where… LIVE ACTION…

    Thankfully 99% of the viewers thought Happy Feet was a fantastic CARTOON!


  • I can only base this on what I’ve seen from the trailers and Oscar clips, but the animation from Happy Feet looks stiff and boring. Add the fact that all of the character designs are nearly identical (making the characters virtually indistinguishable from one another) and you have an an award given not based on animation but as a political statement (Happy Feet dealt with environmental issues – notice environmental themed movies swept every category.) I think this was an anomoly based on politcal correctness, not crappy mo-cap vs. real animation.

  • Sorry, edit: envrionmental themed movies and songs swept every category they were nominated for.

  • Tyler

    Benjamin, I noticed that too. Cause we all know that cartoons are for kids! (Grr… argh…)

    I haven’t seen “Happy Feet”. Now I feel like I never need to. There’s no way the movie itself could ever be as entertaining as the many controversies around it. (And here I am thinking it was, you know, a movie about singing, dancing penguins being cute.)

  • Robin

    I am not sure whether March of the Penguins receive any awards, but after watching Happy Feet, I watch the the documentary movie. While both are different in terms of medium, as a piece of story making, March of the Penguins are more striking and moving. I was thinking about how animation adapts the human world into the animal world, ie. singing penguins. What if the animation not make tapping and singing penguins but near to how the real emperor penguins behave. Then one may argue that wouldn’t be fun anymore, and that would lose the magical world of animation. I would think that this shouldn’t be so since its an creative alternative not explored. You still can make a good drama with penguins for cartoons. As I commented earlier how Miller seems to carricature age, tradition and community co-operation of the penguins to survive as an analogy of the human’s negative behaviour, in the emperor’s penguin world, it is their natural and instinctive way of survival. To use something which is the opposite to make it into which something is not, I find this weakens the story. Yes, it is a made up world for Happy Feet, but it would have been more positive to use something which is in the penguins behaviour to illustrate human behaviour. I think that’s more powerful. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  • Sullivan

    Jerry, I notice you didn’t list “Meet the Robinsons”.

    I guess it’s just the nature of animators to bad-mouth other people’s work. I liked Happy Feet. It wasn’t the movie I’d make, and there are things that bug me about it. But dangit, there wasn’t a perfect film made last year. It’s not like Cars was Toy Story or something.

    But I don’t begrudge Happy Feet or the talented people at Animal Logic and R&H for their film, their success or their Oscar. God love them, let them have their day in the sun. Congrats, Oscar winners!

    Leave the sour grapes for the salad dressing.

  • It’s pretty depressing to me that so many in the animation community have such a negative attitude about motion capture. Not that I’m claiming that it’s something to be excited about, either. It’s just that for years the conventional wisdom has been that “cartoons are for kids,” and the animation community–rightly–has been saying that it’s about story, not about the technology that delivers the story. And here we are, with so many folks focusing on the technology again.

    If animation is about anything, it’s about delivering the best performance onscreen regardless of how it’s accomplished, whether with pencil, clay…or any technology. Please, let this debate drop and celebrate movies on their merits!

  • Bryan T.

    Travis – having seen the whole movie (twice) I have to disagree with your assessment, especially about the character design. It hadn’t really occurred to me until you brought it up, but that’s another clever thing about the movie is that they made a story about almost-realistic penguins without ever having any confusion about which character is which. The protagonist, Mumbles, is instantly distinguishable because of his fuzzy feathers that never grow out (also a source of humiliation) and a marking on his neck which I hope was not supposed to look like a bow tie. He spends alot of the story with two other types of penguins that have easily distinguishable looks and movements. The differences between the other emperor penguins are more subtle (except for Hugo Weaving’s elder character, who looks like a Skexie from Dark Crystal) but I never had any confusion at all.

    So you have pointed out another strength of the movie. Its biggest weakness, I think, is Robin Williams. I usually hate him, and I didn’t hate him in this movie, but I would have no reservations about the movie at all if someone else was at least playing his character Lovelace, since he narrates the movie. The animators who did his other character, Ramon, did a great job and made him more tolerable.

  • Has anyone mentioned Flash yet ? Sorry, just joking ! The subject matter for this post is great because there are clear cut sides to the issue at hand and lots of material for critical thought. For me, it all boils down to two basic perspectives : The conservative/traditional view and the progressive view. Both are valid in my book. However, where I take issue with the subject is exactly on the question : How de we define animation ? From reading the many interesting comments above, I believe there is a tendency to mix technique with form. What I mean by that, and many of you raised the point, is that we shouldn’t really be looking at the technique to define animation, but rather discussing it’s nature and characteristics. Definitions are of course slippery subjects, both in terms of stating them clearly and in being able to pin them down. Some may even wonder, why do we need a definition ? And why indeed. I think that in the early days of cinema when we had film (the medium) and we had paper, clearly defining animation in the cinematic arts, was quite a simple matter. Today, however, we also live in virtual worlds with virtual tools, the medium as well as disciplines are constantly changing, merging, crossing over, dissolving, evolving and the boundaries between them have become less clean cut. I think that acceptance of certain things in terms of technological advances would be a prudent stance to take today – technology and technique shouldn’t stand in the way of merit for anything in this World but they also shouldn’t be seen as the be all and end all of what a discipline is really all about.

  • drone

    I think the uneasiness about mocap is in my case more about how it’s viewed by our bosses, not by animators or the people who manipulate it technically. And I worry that no one cares a damn what we think about it, pro or con.

    This is about, as always, costs vs. returns, and in that regard it must seem like a no-brainer for producers not already invested in animation using traditionally trained animators doing keyframe animation(or 2D drawing, for that matter).
    From my perspective mocap is a cumbersome, annoying addition to the process–a wrench in the works of presumably “animated” films. There’s far too little individual performance opportunity for the animator in its use to make me interested in it, whatever the end result; that’s my opinion as an animator.

    There may be some, but simply not enough–and it’s a livelihood and political issue for me that animators, already a step money men would like to cut down on, see their handiwork decreased. And then there’s the artistry of it, or lack thereof.
    I’d much rather have the animator down the hall start his scene on his own, based either on DRAWN, personality-filled boards or his own imagination decoding direction by a supervisor than have to have him wait on a mocapped “performance” by a living actor all wired up.
    Tell me that doesn’t steal from the animator what that character does?
    It may be animation in someone’s eyes, but it isn’t a form of the art I’d be interested in performing. If that relegates me and those like me to dinosaur status, so be it–but I suspect there are powerful places where it won’t.

  • Tom

    Gene Deitch? Didn’t he do those crap-ass Tom & Jerry cartoons?

  • matt

    Hi Robin,

    Wow, do I ever have some thoughts! Your post floored me a bit. Penguins are almost (barring apes of course) the most anthropomorpic characters you can have! Of course it’s appropriate to attribute human behaviour to them – why do you think they chose them for the movie? The metaphor fits. Hell, we ALL think of them as funny little men in tuxedos, even Bugs Bunny said it!

    As for the singing and dancing, wow. Penguins within a species are all exactly ALIKE (get the metaphor?) Male, female, all the same. This is why the characters look similar, Travis.

    They can’t recognise each other from looks so what do they do? They SING to each other and recognise their mate (geddit?) by their call. I’m pretty certain March of the Emperors mentioned this too. It IS how real Emperor penguins behave! So you’ve got little Fred Astaires. Hey, I’m not even much of a musical fan and it’s annoyed me for years that Disney think Animation and musicals must go together, but even I think Happy Feet is one of the most appropriate uses ever.

    El, why were they ‘rock hits’? Because if you’re using songs as a narrative device and have decided to tell it through existing songs (which are more specific and work in snippets for many different characters not to mention avoid the generic ‘out there’ and ‘tomorrow’ song clichés) then using standards is understandable to all audiences. If they used current hits it would date terribly and more importantly older audiences/adults arguably would be a bit lost (not to mention that tonally contemporary music is wrong as the genres aren’t wide enough). Also if little kids don’t recognise the song, they get the lyrics and different tonal charactisations. I thought it was used better than say, Moulin Rouge. The other thing is that you don’t get homogenous characters because it’s not written by one or two songwriters. Fair?

    Tom, I think you’re being a bit disingenuous too. I conceed that Zemekis has a fetish for mocap (why they actually put the dead-eyed final frames side by side with the original performers on Polar Express I’ll never know) and uses it for all the wrong reasons, but I think you’re all wrong (with respect) on Miller. As I said earlier, everyone seems to look at Happy Feet the wrong way. Miller didn’t set out to ‘make an animated movie’. He had a story he wanted to tell, and as I said before animation (and to a lesser degree mocap) was the best or even more the ONLY way to achieve it. Same may be true with Avatar. Don’t let the tail wag the dog my friend. ;)

  • Robin

    Hi Matt,
    glad that you responded to my thoughts :). I am not saying that Penguins can’t be used to anthromophise humans. I gather all animals can. But the problem with Miller’s story is that where he uses the analogy of the penguins sticking together as a community and not daring to stick out of that tradition for the fear that they might somehow be the cause of something worst to happen, ie. losing their food sources. This example is used to illustrate narrowmindedness in a human community where there not dare vere out from what was set as boundaries. The elder penguins almost akin to some sort of religious figures within a community. I see this as a typical pot shot of hollywood’s attitude towards religious institutions. Why can’t for once, respect of elders, tradition and co-operation be thrown in a positive light, or that there’s good even coming out of religious institutions? Given that Miller and his team of writers may not have an agenda here, or just using this as a reason to create conflict within the story, its weak. I think it can be handled better.

    And I think here’s another point which I may have not made it clearer. The penguin community themselves, esp. the emperor penguins have survived long and hard through the “tradition” they have developed. The cycle of life that they have, they go through that to survive, but sticking together to survive, and the females would go and find food, the male would protect the eggs and so on and so forth. In this sense, it is a positive thing. In Happy Feet, this is seen as a negative thing since it prevents them from accepting a solution, ie. Mumbles going out on his own to find out the source of the problem, and the rest of the community fears worst could happen and dare not vere outside of what they have been always been doing along. In the real penguin’s world, it is a good thing. This is what I mean, using a positive element in the real penguin’s world and make a negative spin on it. It makes the story less effective. Granted that there are shades of creative license in stories using animals to tell human behaviours, I believe some stories works much better than others when they use animal behaviours consistent in its own realities to illustrate truth. For example, in A Bug’s Life, when the ants came to a realisation that when they work together, they can overcome their obstacles, ie. against the grass hoppers. With one ant, it is weak. This speaks greatly to human effort, when you have great co-operation and group effort, you can succeed in the things you set out to achieve. In the ant’s world, we know that they always work as a mass colony and they achieve amazing results.

    Hope this makes sense, my 2 cents worth

  • Now Happy Feet in all honesty, was a film that was heavy handed. This is that new-age “Arrested Developent”(not the show) type story where the adults understand the plot faster than the kid audiance. Monster House, quite frankly was the better of the two lessers (Cars had a weak script that was saved somewhat by the acting)

    As for mo-cap? This is my problem with all tech, no matter if its a game-console to TV’s, is it a gimmick- or does it perfect the fundmentals in order to make the move the genre/game forward with new and exiting features? Mo-Cap is like the consle of the month, such as Wii/DS where as one that perfected there craft is moving with new ideas in a slow, but logical and concise manner. Mo-Cap isnt to the point where it has been mastered in order to do the exaggrations. But the Execs got to move forward, because there as well trapped by there own designs.

    Its gonna be a diffrent ballgame in a few years. Your not going to LIKE the people and the fan base that will bring 2D back to the forefront but this is what happens with some of the greatest artists in our business have called this new audiance- “unwashed masses” and the Execs have squanderd there chances with that same audiance.

  • I don’t really care if it was animated or not, no matter how this film was made, it was a horrible movie. One of the worst I have probably ever seen, right from the start of the opening scene. Why were they always singing these songs? I don’t even want to get into it, so I’ll stop here. It’s too bad, because Road Warrior is one of my favorite films.

  • Happy Feet winning the Oscar just reinforces the fact that if Hollywood thinks its good, it must be pure garbage.

    To reiterate:

    oscar = pile of excrement

  • Andreas

    I have to say I had a similar reaction as enrico. Within the first 3 minutes I was feeling queesy. by the 15 minute mark I had to stop the movie and take a break. It took me 5 sessions total to finally make it through the movie. I was not impressed by the animation. I was not impressed by the mo-cap dance scenes. I was expecting DANCING, not soft shoe and some beginner tap dancing. This is freaking animation, go big, exaggerate the movements, make it fun, interesting, give me a reason to care. Over at Uncle Eddie’s Theory Corner, Eddie posted up some dancing videos from YouTube. I would have been impressed if they made Mumbles (I think Shuffles would have been a more appropriate name) danced like that.



  • Do they ever explain how the yellow bowtie winds up on the penguin? Did it get there after focus groups couldn’t tell the difference between all the completely identical penguins?

    gene dietch was great.

  • Netbug009

    Pfft. Cars was robbed. Happy Feet only won due to a political bias with all the enviormental stuff.

    Notce that it won both the Annie and the Golden Glode, but nobody’s gonna care, because the Oscars is the one with the most money behind it. *eyeroll*

    Also, what has with Flushed Away not even getting nominated? Oh, I’m sorry, is it not sophisticated enough for you, and therefore the interesting story doesn’t matter?

    I don’t wanna hear about what film has the best “message”, I wanna hear about what film has a good story and is fun.

    So, forget the political bias. FORGET THE OSCARS.

  • Nice

  • Sadie

    We took our Daughter and we all liked the movie.
    I have to be honest, it was that Earth Wind & Fire tune that made the movie for me.

  • Henry J

    Wow. This argument’s retarded. I mean, really really retarded. “Oh noes! The dancing penguin mo-cap movie won! This is the end of real animation!” Damn. Y’all need to be beaten over the head with a ‘special’ stick, repeatedly.
    As for the movie itself, I like it a lot. I like most of Miller’s work (besides “Thunderdome,” really), and I thought it was a great film. It stands on my shelf as one of my favorite films, right next to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Fearless” with Jeff Bridges. And, seriously, no offense to anyone, ’cause your opinion is your opinion, but those of you who hated the film (most of you anyhow) on here, anyhow, seem to just be like “special children.”
    ‘Who cares if its sophisticated or not? What about the interesting story?” Dude, Flushed Away sucked. As did most of the other animated films that year with the exception of maybe Monster House and Happy Feet. You wanna talk about the film’s story, most critics (both actual paid critics and people who work for sites like CinemaBlend, among other places) will agree with me when we say the “story ain’t bad.” Hell, most of Miller’s films have had the same story, of the outside overcoming insurmountable odds, etc. He knows this. And, apparently, people like it, too. Just saying. But meeebbe you’re just diff’rent. No biggie.
    “Oh, it had too many themes in it!” I counted three, mebbe four. You’ve got the outsider story, the love story, the ecological fable. And, coolly enough, these all tie in together in a great way, IMHO. What you guys are perceiving as ‘pot shots’ at religion was really just fundamentalism. I mean, if myself, a spiritual atheist, can realize that the film’s essentially a messiah parallel story, then why not you guys?
    “The Oscars were biased!” Yeah, that’s the reason the film was also called “one of the best films of 2006” by the American Film Institute, that’s why it won the British Academy Awards, that’s why it won ‘Best Animated Film’ at both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
    and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. It also won the Heartland award for “Truly Moving Picture,” whatever that is. That’s also why, coincidently, it has a seventy-seven or so rating on rottentomatoes.
    So I think that point’s moot, whatever you think.

    My fingers are tired, but in closing, I’d like to say that I hold no ill will to what you call “real animation,” and I like quite a bit of it. But I agree with the guy when he said that HF is an ‘animated film,’ and not a cartoon. I’d also like to say that I agree with both Matt and Bryan T’s posts, and that Robin does make some very interesting points, and seems to be the only one on here “on the opposing side of the fence,” if you wanna call it that (and the only reason I am is ’cause I’m having a slight brain fart at the moment) who doesn’t read like they have to wear helmets inside. She brought up some really good ideas; I like that, although her points of criticism about the film I actually did answer up above, about the ‘religion’ thing. No biggie.

    I’m outta here. I think I have carpal.

  • Other-Guy

    Hi Robin,

    Your posts are very well thought-out, but I think you’ve missed the point of what Miller was going for, even as you described it.

    Yes, their religion and their ways have kept them safe on the barren terrain – this is established early on in the film, as well as in the climactic scene where Mumble is exiled – it helps to listen to the dialogue, because what the character of Noah is saying actually makes sense – as well as the ‘in the Wisdoms we trust ‘ scene directly following.

    It’s a far more complex film than most give it credit for – one needs only read the interviews with Zareh Nalbandian where he talks about the films layers to see this.