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Entries in animation animated film academy award (2)

Saturday
Dec152018

Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse Is It The Best Film This Year?

About a month ago after seeing the final trailer for “Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse” I stated how the animation style could be a game changer for theatrical cgi animation.  After seeing the film I still feel that way but was the movie any good though?

 

STORY: This story was “inspired” by the Spider-Verse storyline from a few years ago.  After an event with this worlds spider-man Miles get’s bitten by a radioactive spider and gains spider-mans powers(as well as a bit of something extra).  Various spider people start dropping be because of an incident with the Kingpin and the super collider.  All of the Spider-People have to stop Kingpins mysterious plan for the super collider before they as well as their individual universe is wiped out FOREVER!!!!

 

PRO

 

Stan Lee - I didn't cry during his passing because he lived a long fulfilling life but I have to admit I did get misty with his cameo in this film.  Small nit pick they should've just ended that scene after he said his line and not then pan over to the sign. 

 

Miles Morales - I believe this is the best iteration of Miles I've seen yet.  Even better that his early years written by Brian Michael Bendis.  A couple things that the film did was differntiate him from Peter Parkers character.  He isn't as socially awkward(we see he has friends from his previous school)but he still has insecruities kids(heck adults)have.  Also while it's brief they do play up the fact that he is part Puerto Rican. He always has been in the comics but it always seemed to be lip service.  So I'm glad we got what we got.  

 

Visuals - Character models, Character Designs & animation.  Pop Art stylings. I went more into this last month so I'll be brief here.  This is the most creative use of cgi I've seen in years.  While it maybe asking too much I just hope that animation studios will stretch their muscles and try to be more creative instead of all the cgi films that come out yearly looking the same.  Also I like how pop art was mixed into the textures of the film.  I don't think I've ever seen that before.

 

Miles Purpose - The filmmakers set up a valid believable reason why an inexperienced Miles has to be the one to save the day versus the more experienced heroes.  Hopefully more filmmakers will take note of this.

 

Story - Not bad.  Like previous in the series this was a coming of age story.  

 

Opening Credits - That has to be the most inventive and colorful opening credits I've seen in awhile.

 

Music - Most of the soundtrack and score isn’t generic and very distinct.  The music worked in the film.

 

Voice - It’s good.

 

The Year of Spider-Man - A relaunch of his comic series(ugh hopefully it'll get better).  A PS4 well received game and now this movie.  It's really nice that after many years we are FINALLY getting an ADULT Peter Parker in mass popular culture.  Despite what people think Peter's been out of high school sine the 1960's!

 

CON

 

Visuals - There is a constant blurriness in the backgrounds and sides of the film.  There is an critic that pointed this out recently and while I think he may have gone a little bit over board I do mostly agree with him that there are times that the film came across as unfinished.  It didn't drag me out too much and I still was able to enjoy the film.

 

Characters - While the acting and writing is good some of the characters don’t get enough time for us to care about them(ex. Uncle Arron and SPYDR).

 

Music - While it works some of the songs may be too specific for it's time for rewatchability in coming years.  However just for now it works in context of the film.

 

Kingpin - I understand the Kingpin's motivation but I don't think enough time was focused on it.

 

Recognition - One thing that disappointed me was during the end credits I didn't see(unless I missed it)the list of the prominent creators over the years for these characters.  The previous superhero films did that(I think even VENOM did that but I can't remember much about that film).  If their not in the film then that's just wrong.  It's a slap in the face to all the hard work these men and women did and it should be recognized.

 

Randomness - Just some thoughts that went thru my mind while watching the film.

 

Aunt May - There was an assumption by fans that Aunt May would be the Madame Web character.  She is in a way but not really.  Her character and home was used a hub for all of the characters

 

Voice Acting - All of the actors were fine.  Nick Cage between Mandy, Teen Titans must be having the time of his life this year.  That said some characters can be seen as glorified cameos due to the lack of dialog.  Was it really smart to hire a celebrity voice for a couple of minutes screen time when you could hire a professional voice actor who could at least do as well and do multiple characters as well?  After all 2 days from now who will remember what celebrity was in this film?

 

The Character of Dr. Liz reminds me of celebrity chef Carla Hall.  Was she the inspiration for the design of the character?

 

I didn't know the Scorpion was Hispanic.

 

If you look at the names on the phone list their comic book creators related to these characters.  Ex. Dan Slott, Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli.

 

While the after credits scene seems pointless but funny it may have a greater importance for the future(see what I did there?).  That scene can set up a film for that character also imagine if in their film they meet previous animated Spider-Men like the 1990's version, Spider-Man and His Amazing friends, Spectacular Spider-Man and so on.

 

Jack Johns plays a Peter Parker in the film but not the only one.  Chris Pine plays one briefly(per the credits).

 

At the end of the film does Miles still have that comedy mallet?

 

In the future Miles be thinking in comic book thought boxes?

 

Will Miles also continue seeing visions of what the spider was doing before it bit him?

 

Recommend:  Yes.  

 

Despite some small blemishes this is a really good movie that introduces the general audience to a more recent character or a few(Peter Porker has been around since the 1980’s).  Hopefully people will be drawn to him and them and want to see more of them and pick up the source material containing them.  Okay, okay that’s asking too much.  How about this, maybe this will get people interested enough in the character that this film is profitable and to have another film where he solo’s without the help of the other Spider/People?  

 

So is this the best Spider-Man film ever?  Well that’s tough to say.  Usually nostalgia googles play a part a lot of times and other times the newest is seen as an improvement over what’s come before(See Spider-Man 2, The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man Homecoming).  With some distance we’ll probably know more.  Okay but is this the best animated and/or film this year?  Well I haven’t seen as many films this year than last year but I would say that this is my favorite film of the year…if I hadn’t seen another film about 2 days before this.  That film is called Maquia When The Promise Flower Blooms and it was released earlier this year.

 

When The Promise Flower Blooms is a fantasy film that follows Maquia who hales from a race of immortals who stop aging once they become teenagers.  One day their attacked and she's separate from her people she finds a baby that is being clutched by his dead mother and the rest of the film follows their relationship as he grows older but she stays the same age.  We also see how they react to the world happening around them.

 

Both Spider-Verse and Flowers have great lead characters in Miles(Spider-Man) and Maquia And Ariel(Flowers).  The best parts of both films are the relationships between parent and child.  I'll admit some of my most emotional experiences in film this year was Miles interacting with his dad during the 3rd act and Maquia And Ariel in the climax of "Flowers".

 

Each film also are amazing to look at.  I would give "Flowers" an edge here because while some of the cgi was noticeable it was as bad as the blurriness in "Spider-Verse".

 

I think overall all Flowers is a better overall film but Spider-Verse is still very good.  I can't believe that my 2 favorite films so far this year just as last year are such different animated film.  Last year it was "Your Name." and "A Silent Voice".  I'm just so happy that there animated films of such high quality that are also so varied.  I just wish the general public would be more open and try more than just the average Hollywood animated film.

 

Oh, well...

Friday
Dec082017

Why The Best Animated Film Academy Award/Oscar Needs To Be Eliminated

This was originally written after the Academy Award submissions were released at the end of October.

 

The submissions of the films for the animation oscar for this years academy awards have been released.  Let’s take a look at (some of)them and see why it’s pretty predictable on what’s going to win.

 

“The Breadwinner” is about a Afghan girl who’s father is jailed and has to crossdress as a boy to support her family.  2D animation has a 92% on RT(if that’s important to you) and is nominated for “BEST ANIMATED FEATURE” at the 2018 “Critics Choice Awards” as well.

 

“Birdboy:  The Forgotten Children” is based on a Spanish comic.  In a post apocalyptic world bird boy is constantly on the run from the police who think he’s a drug dealer.  Meanwhile Dinky wants to escape the island and begins a journey to find Birdboy in order to aid her.  This is an expansion of the Birdboy short from 2011.  It won the 2016 Goya Award for best animated film.

 

“The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…”  (2D) is based on the comic by Benjamin Renner.  This was originally going to be a 30 min tv special but was later made into a anthology film.  There are 3 segments to it.  Renner and his animation team last film was “Ernest & Celestine”.  That was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for best animated feature.  It of course didn’t win…for reasons(of which I’ll discuss later).

 

“Cinderella The Cat”  (CGI) The story follows a mute girl named Mia trying to escape her “evil” stepmother and Camorra Boss(pssst. since I started this article this wasn’t selected for the academy award consideration).

 

“Ernest & Ethel” (2D) Based on the 1998 graphic novel by Raymond Briggs.  The film focuses on a couples marriage from the 1920’s - 1970’s.  The comic covers their courtship to their deaths.

 

“The Girl Without Hands” (2D) this is based off of a Brothers Grimm tale.  It premiered in 2016 at the Cannes film festival. It follows a girl that was accidentally sold to the Devil by her father. The devil eventually demands to have the girls hands lopped off after which the girl runs away and meets a prince.  The rest of the film follows their adventures. 

 

“In This Corner Of The World”  (2D) based on the Japanese manga of the same name.  Set in the 1st half of the 20th century it follows characters before and after WWII.  While this is a work of fiction the film does use real facts and incidents.  It has a 98% on RT(If you care about that stuff).

 

“Loving Vincent” (real?) The film covers the life of Vincent Van Gogh.  This is an experimental film.  The animation is all oil paintings on canvas’s by 115 painters.  That’s 65,000 frames of paintings about an interesting subject.  God I wish I could see this now.  

 

“Mary and the Witch’s Flower” (2D) based on the Mary Stewart novel “The Little Broomstick”(1971).  A girl (Mary) discovers a flower that makes him a witch…temporarily.  This was produced by Studio Ponoc(created by former animators from Studio Ghibli). 

 

“Moomins and the Winter Wonderland” (stop motion) based on the Moomins series.  

 

“My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea” (2D) A film that follows a couple of teenagers writing for the school paper.  The school auditorium falls into the ocean that’s filled with kids and wackiness ensues.

 

“Napping Princess: The Story of the Unknown Me” (2D) A fantasy film where when a girl named Kokone Morikawa (from our world in 2020 Japan)takes naps and dreams of a fantasy world named “Heartland” that’s main focus is cars.  Kokone starts slipping into both realities.  The film follows her as she goes back and forth from fantasy and reality.  She also has to come to terms with her relationship with her father and the truth of what happened to her mother. 

 

“A Silent Voice” (2D) based on the Japanese manga by Yoshitoki Oima that follows 2 characters.  Shoko Nishimiya a death girl who is bullied by Shoya Ishida.  It get’s to the point where everyone at school starts to bully her as well and she changes schools.  Afterwards Shoya finds himself the subject of bullying as well.  It get’s to the point where he becomes a shut in and strongly considers suicide.  Because of the isolation he no longer is able to see anyones faces.  Slowly over time he begins to reconnect with people.  He then decides to fix his previous sins and perhaps have some redemption.  Of all of the films on the list(along with the “Ernest and Ethel”) this is the most relatable story.  It’s a coming of age story with regret, depression, love, friendship, understanding and redemption.  It has a 0% chance of winning of course. 

 

“Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale” (2D) hmm I may want to skip this one.  It’s based of the light novel and animated series of the same name.

 

“Window Horses The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming” (2D) based on the Anne Marie Fleming’s graphic novel.  The film is written and directed by Ann Marie Fleming as well.  It was crowd sourced via Indiegogo.  It follows a young Canadian girl (Rosie Ming voiced by Sandra Oh)with strict Chinese grandparents.  She finds out what really happened to her mother and father.

 

Okay so that’s an awesome crop of possible contenders.  All varied and even though there are a ton of 2D films the art styles are radically different.  Unlike almost all CGI films.  So just how many of the films I just noted have a chance at winning the Academy Award for best Animated Film (2017)?  

 

None of them.

 

That’s not how the academy works.  In order for the Best Animated oscar to stay active for a given year there at least has to be 3 films that get enough votes.  At least one or two foreign film will get nominated so this category will always stay active.  Okay, but again why wan’t any of these films win.  Well a clue can be found if we look at the previous 16 winners.  14 have been cgi.  Of those 12 have been Disney or Pixar.  See a theme?  The 2 none cgi films were: “Wallace & Gromit Curse of the Were-Rabbit”(2005) and “Spirited Away”(2003?).  It’s been over a decade since a non cgi film won.  The only films that will receive any serious consideration are ones that have a huge campaign as well as having a wide release.  None of the films I noted earlier will receive that.  Also there are a certain type of film that get’s nominated.  The kid or “family” film.

 

The academy members don’t see animation as a viable medium.  This is further proved when over the last few years members have been interviewed(anonymously) on why they vote the way they do or why they don’t vote(for the best animated film).  

 

Reasons given: 

 

They picked the ones their kids liked.  

They don’t care it’s not important it’s only cartoons for kids.  

They liked all of them so they didn’t vote.  

They didn’t see any of they so they just picked what was popular. 

 

That’s not good or okay.  What’s worst is who is eligible to actually vote for it.  Directors vote for directors.  Writers for writers.  Actors for actors and so on.  Just who votes for animation?  Everyone.  Not veteran voice actors(not including stunt celebrity voices) not animation writers, directors or producers but everyone in the academy.  Because of this there shouldn’t be any surprise on who wins since the ones voting don’t really know anything about the art form and/or medium their voting on.  That’s why Disney/Pixar wins almost every year.  They’re more well know and popular and have a HUGE marketing budget.  That shouldn’t matter.  When it comes to the “Best Picture” award popularity doesn’t matter right?  It’s for the best film that year.  I could make an argument that if we are going to the best film winning then films like “Zootopia” and “Frozen” would have lost to films like “The Wind Rises” and “.Your Name”.  For the last 5 years a Disney film won and odds are that’s going to happen this year as well.  Usually what happens is whatever Disney/Pixar film that made the most money that’s nominated, that’s the won that’s going to win.  So by that logic if Cars 3 is nominated it will win but if it’s not and Coco is it will win.  None of the other films has a chance.

 

“But it’s just an honor to be nominated” or “A nomination makes for bigger box office for the film”.  Nope.  For live action yes for animation no.  When a live action film is nominated or wins it will be re-released to make more money since it has a higher visibility at that moment.  For animated films nearly all of the films are already out of the movie theaters.  The winner a Disney/Pixar and occasional Blue Sky/Dreamworks will have already made whatever money their going to make(or at least that’s what the film studios seem to think).  As for the foreign animated films they only get a VERY limited run theatrically in order to qualify and that only happens at a couple locations in LA and New York.  They never get a re-release.

 

Okay so what can be done to change it?

 

One:  Don’t have this category open to everyone.  If you respect the other categories and have them be more selective then do that here.  Have it so only voice actors, animators(if it was animated in the united states) animation directors who have more than say 5 credits in the field(this way it won’t just be celeb voice actors) as the voting field.

 

Two: Cancelled the award.  If the academy is going to treat the “Best Animated Film” as a nothing category then I rather to not have it exist until some respect will be shown to the animation medium.

 

Well so the oscars credibility on this issue is debatable but “THE ANNIES” are different because their given out by the animation industry right?  So let’s take a look at the nominees for best animated feature:

 

“Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” Dreamworks Animation

“Cars 3” Pixar Animation

“Coco” Pixar Animation

“Despicable Me 3” Illumination

“The Boss Baby”  Dreamworks Animation

 

….huh…well I stand corrected.  So nothing out of the box.  Nothing non cgi.  Nothing non hollywood related.  Also only maybe one really good film in the mix.  Only major releases and only kid oh I’m sorry “family” films.  Why should I be surprised.  If even the animation industry doesn’t take itself seriously why should hollywood?