Formulaic yet Surprising: MOANA (2016)

moanaWell, I must say I approached the film with the old misgivings and contempt I’ve specially reserved for Disney (and of that kind) products. The change of setting, though, is welcome. The bodies of the characters broke stereotypes yet crafted new ones. For a start, the protagonist looked healthy. And the delineation of the hair, achieving milestones ever since Brave, was dazzling here. The deranged rooster as sidekick is hilarious, and especially so since I knew one of its kind, unbelievably daft and unfathomable. The story of the young adult girl having a ‘dream’ and pursuing it no matter what her father says or any stick-in-the-mud detractors might say, and finally achieving success and glory — same-old theme — is predictably boring.

That is, until Maui aka Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started to sing “You’re Welcome”. The quirky animation, the genius of the “animated” tattoos (the only hand drawn animation in the film, ref. Wikipedia), and the cheeky suavity of the lyrics, found me actually, unconsciously enjoying it. I soon retained my composure, however, and was back at nit-picking, when alas! Continue reading

Advertisements

O Menino E O Mundo(2013) – A Musical Bildungsroman

the_boy_and_the_world_-_p_-_2014.jpg_0Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo, 2013) directed by Brazilian animator Alê Abreu tells the bittersweet story of a little boy who goes in search of his missing father from the idyllic village of naive, simplistic childhood to bustling towns of growth, progress and knowledge. The music elevates the whole narrative to a whole new level, with its instrumental and folk touches.  The drawings are mostly minimalist, created so as to look like a child’s drawings splattered with a wild but intelligent sense of colour. Continue reading

Idealism and its Aftermaths – ZOOTOPIA (2016)

Zootopia.jpgIt appears that I’m simply against animated film produced by mainstream, popular animation studios. So I found it hard to ignore the hardened prejudice that gloated maliciously at the premise of American-Dream-turned-sour-but-yet-somehow-managed-to-save-face-due-to-the-individualism-of-the-hardworking-underdog, or precisely, the hardworking bunny rabbit. While the story was one of empowerment and social mobility, and therefore, the same-old, I was delighted at the meta-generic Godfather spoof and the Sloth bureaucracy. The Fox is charming and suave, basically the same-old Flynn Rider, with an adorable suave shrewdness, bad only due to circumstances, and not incorrigible; the Bunny whats-her-name naïve and optimistic like those rote female protagonists representing a better future and converting the beast into prince–in this case, good cop. Continue reading

Kung Fu Panda 3, or How to Become Supercool with Awesome Powers Overnight

25590159901_a92e7b660b_b

“The more you take, the less you have.” With this paradoxical and overwhelmingly simple statement embarks another movie of the quasi-Asian, quasi-American farrago – Kung Fu Panda 3. It seems to be an indictment of consumer culture and capitalist greed. A chink from the philosophy of the Tao, Grand Master Oogway’s dictum suggests to the unwary audience (me, of course) a breath of rejuvenating fresh air from the mystic elusiveness of eastern philosophy. Sadly, the movie makers have concocted a philosophic base mixing the rejuvenating fresh air of eastern thought with the cool mintiness of American optimism, manufactured to guarantee the dazzlingly white-toothed cheerfulness of billboard dazzlers. Continue reading

BIG HERO 6 (2014): On the Un”health”iness of Revenge

hiro-and-baymax-hi-res-big-hero-6-37406381-2053-3383

(Spoilers galore!)

A 14-year old genius, Hero (Hiro) takes revenge for his brother’s martyrdom-cum-murder. He is helped by his brother’s nerdy and eccentric friends and a health-care robot, Baymax. Perhaps, I am mistaken, but Japanese anime and Disney’s ordinary brew seems to have been unappealingly mixed up; the characters have Japanese names, but look American, the place is San Fransokyo in a future era.

There is a lot of ‘butt’fights (bot-fights, the future of boxing), car chases, super gadgets, financial no-concerns even though the protagonist is an orphan (inevitably, he has a rich friend), flying, and more flying, narrow  escapes, destruction and vain attempts at humour, primarily by Baymax’s Sheldonic* health tips and comments and Totoro-ish build. The subplot deals with the greed versus ethics theme.

The surprising thing is the scene of mourning where everybody is in black. Death and grieving, normally so out-of-place and convenient in Disney, looked unfamiliar but real (it needed a futuristic setting for realism). Another offbeat design is the pro-health message (those who do health care are equally superheroes), despite the violence and high speeding (“Always buckle up!”).

The final message: Revenge is no good. You lose what you lose, you can merely hold on to memories and souvenirs, in this particular case, robots. Death is real.

CLOWNIN’ Score: 3/5

* of the Big Bang Theory TV series, NOT the author.