Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tales of Despereaux - thoughts

I just watched Tales of Despereaux after watching Star Wars: Clone Wars on DVD.

The level of animation quality was very high, in my opinion. It was the first 3D animated film that isn’t from DreamWorks, Disney, or Pixar that looks like the same level of animation quality. In contrast, the Star Wars movie featured characters without enough emotion (their faces weren’t animated to convey emotion) and the movement of the human characters wasn’t very good.

Visually, I loved the look and lighting of the film. The rats and mice blew me away. I felt much more engrossed in their world than in Ratatouille. The stylistic approach on the human models bugs me (the princess is too thin and angular, the king’s face is too long, etc.), but that’s always bugged me. I feel the same way with most 3D films with humans, including Up, where the old man has an unrealistic square face that could pass equally for style or for poor modeling skills.

The story was very strong. It wasn’t as epic as I wanted it to be (a lot of back and forth in the castle), but they kept it interesting, and in addition to the primary characters (mouse, rat, and princess) they also managed to intertwine a few more characters with their own stories (a chef with a magical helper, the princess’ servant girl, the jailer, and the king). The most impressive bit is what they accomplished with the servant girl. They turned her around full circle (much more convincingly than the rat) and really made you feel for her.

So the quality of the models, animation, lighting, and story, along with the fact that this is coming from an unlikely place (the director of Flushed Away returns to mice and rats in a completely different way; the screenwriters did Alvin & the Chipmunks), gives the film a decent chance for the Oscar for animated film.

I think we’re going to have quite a showdown for best animated film of this year: Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, Tale of Despereaux, and Horton Hears a Who.

The other possibilities are: Bolt, Madagascar 2, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Space Chimps, Igor, Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, Delgo, Roadside Romeo, and Fly Me to the Moon.



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