Today is the first time anyone's accused Merrick of being too happy...
I have two complaints about all of this CGI crap: 1) For a while it seemed like filmmakers reached a safe plateau with rendering and seemed to just...sorta ...sit there (when, OBVIOUSLY, the form could have been pushed much, much further); and 2) storytellers can do anything with CGI...so why do they settle for farting, talking animals?
I'm sure both of these considerations are economically driven - at least to some extent. But, according to Massa, THE WILD addresses at least one of the problems…
Hola all. Massawyrm here. If there’s one thing that keeps being repeated over and over again about Disney’s The Wild, it’s that it looks a hell of a lot like last years mediocre animation offering from DreamWorks Madagascar. Easily the biggest strike against The Wild is that not only does it look a lot like Madagascar, it IS Madagascar. Now Disney as Disney execs will be quick to defend, The Wild was in production longer than its predecessor, but unfortunately for them, it’s a hollow defense. It’s all about which one comes out first. Or is it?
While the primary plot is slightly different, the plots points are almost beat for beat the same. We begin in the New York City zoo, where a group of animals roam free at night and despite their differences in species, are all the best of friends. Then, when one of them leaves to find out what it’s like in ‘the wild’, it’s up to the other animals to chase them down in New York City. This all leads to a boat, which takes them to an island where they meet singing and dancing animals and a group of secret agent chameleons, all the while expounding upon the confusion of animals in life long captivity not understanding the rules of the aforementioned ‘wild.’ Sound familiar? Yeah. It’s not only going to be accused of borrowing from a success, but of full on stealing from it.
Of course, the biggest thing in The Wild’s favor…is that it’s exactly like Madagascar. Without being a sequel, the Disney name and the built in audience ready for more means throngs of children will rush out to see it this weekend. And frankly, it’s a much better version of that movie. Everything about the Wild is superior to Madagascar. The CG is quite frankly the best American animation to date, with rendering more akin to the gorgeous surrealism of Japan’s recent efforts, including a few very artistic sequences that really make it something to look at. Compared to Madagascar’s ‘Quick! Render faster! Render it faster!’ approach to CG, this is a nice change of pace. The story, while pretty much blatantly ripped off from Finding Nemo, is more involving then Madagascar’s ‘Neurotic New Yorkers in the jungle’ angle. And the jokes are better. While there is more than its fair share of animals getting kicked squaw in the nuts jokes, there are some really great sequences and running jokes that made me laugh out loud. There are a few side characters which prove to be some of the best in the film – like a troupe of Indian Maharaja pigeons, a pair of “secret agent” Chameleons (which are just as funny as the “Secret Agent” Penguins) and an insane Wildebeest (voiced by William Shatner) who is bent upon joining the top of the food chain.
But of course, this film is by no means perfect. While they certainly let Eddie Izzard out to play with his character ‘The Cuddly Koala’, Janeane Garofalo (a terrific stand up in her own right) is caged up in a one note character that doesn’t allow her to even be half as funny as she was restricted to being in Titan A.E. Then there are ridiculously superfluous characters like this retarded snake that seems only to exist to sell more toys and make 4 year olds giggle with his over the top silly voice. And with little originality in the characters or story, there’s not much new to play around with, leaving adult audiences with very little reason to see this.
None the less, it’s actually a well constructed family film that isn’t the least bit painful to sit through (unlike the dreadful Ice Age 2), and should entertain the living hell out of the kids. So if your kids are already clamoring to see this, know now that you’re not in for anything rough, and might find yourself taken in by the sweet nature of it. It’s cute, it’s occasionally very funny, and overall I liked it. I would actually willingly sit through this again, which I cannot say about the overly mentioned Madagascar (which I was barely able to sit through the first time), Disney’s last animated effort, Chicken Little, or hell, anything animated last year that didn’t contain the words “Wallace” or “Grommet.” It’s worth a look, but really only recommended for families with kids already dying to see it.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will.
Anyone wanna take bets on how many critics have reviews this weekend saying they're either 'Wild' or 'Not Wild' about 'The Wild'? Send your betting lines here!