Old Review: Alpha and Omega

Alpha & OmegaHumphrey is an Omega, a low socially ranked wolf who likes to play games with his friends and is skilled at breaking up fights and working with other members of his pack. He has a crush on an Alpha wolf named Kate, who, like her parents, takes her duty and responsibility as a high ranked pack member seriously. The problem is that he cannot be with her because of his rank and vice-versa. Because of a dispute problem with an opposing pack fighting over food and territory, leaders of both packs Winston and Tony agree to unite the packs under the marriage of Kate, Winston’s daughter, and Tony’s son, Garth. Although she understands the reasons and wants the best for the pack, she finds that Garth isn’t the wolf that feels right for her. Suddenly a pair of rangers shoot tranquiliser darts at both Kate and Humphrey and taken them from Jasper National Park in Canada to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho. Because she doesn’t want a large fight over territories, Kate wants to head back to Canada, so with the help of Humphrey and two birds Marcel and Paddy, they all go on a journey back to Jasper, where they will face many obstacles and test both of their relationships along the way.

As far as I know at the moment, there isn’t much information about the development of the film. After a shaky history of animated features, Crest Animation Productions (formally known as RichCrest) made a deal with Lions Gate to make three animated feature films that would be shown in 3D, Alpha and Omega is the first film. Animation was done at the India based animation studio, with pre-production, post-production and voice work done in America on a $20 million budget, and was able to break profit which now results in a second film for the company in the works. The other notable fact about this film is that it features the last official role of long time actor and director Dennis Hopper, which the film has a dedication too.

The animation is alright, not really special but on a CGI standard it does a good job. The lip syncing is almost perfect and character movements are smooth and detailed and some of the action scenes are well presented but there are occasional minor flaws that are noticeable and some of it feels wasted from some of the scenes that are pointless, so at least I credit them for showing effort in there. Other than that the visuals aren’t impressive or interesting to watch, there aren’t really any memorable scenes, with the exception of the few good jokes but the film is quite dull overall.

Also, the 3D effects are almost none existent and this film is an example of what is stupid about using 3D, if you advertise it as having 3D, then where is it? It’s not a good sign when the only good 3D effects are from the film’s credits.

The character designs and artwork aren’t that bad, but is also dull overall. Most of the textures are blurry and the backgrounds feel plain. The design of the characters all go into the field “Looks like what they are meant to be but…”. All the animals look like real animals but my only nit-pick is the designs of the female wolves, because they have hair, and it’s weird. I know that it’s a way to try and distinguish males and females but it isn’t subtle and I don’t see how necessary that was on a design aspect.

The music is professional in quality and style but bland and forgetful. They set the scenes and are edited very well, and I did like how the score is a nice blend of acoustics and orchestra but chances are you won’t remember the scores at all.

Then there are the vocal scores…oh god the vocal scores. To be honest there are only three, and only one sounds good with the rest being listenable at the very least. One thing that is actually unique for these kinds of films and actually works in this one is that none of the vocal scores have any lyrics. Since this is a film about wolves and they refer them as howls then it’s pretty obvious why they work well. The first one is the worst one mainly for how awkward it enters into the vocals and sounds through the duration, the second one is the good one however mainly because the vocals are actually good and it focuses on the main protagonists.

The voice acting is actually surprisingly good; each role is done really well and fits each character. Justin Long goes slightly over the top and clumsy as Humphrey, Christina Ricci has a soft shy voice for Lilly, Dennis Hopper and Danny Glover both do great jobs as the Alpha-Males Tony and Winston, both giving a mature and vicious voices, Larry Miller and Eric Price are both hilarious as the French-Canadian Goose and British Duck Paddy, make them the best comic relief of the films despite being underplayed and Vicki Lewis as Kate and Lilly’s mother Eve, who sounds sweet and charming, which makes her violent and gruesome lines a lot more scarier, which in turn makes her one of the funniest characters in the film. I did have a problem with Hayden Panettiere’s voice as Kate which sounded like a stereotypical blond despite being a smart alpha with a strong understanding of her position, but she did improve as the film went forward.

On the positive side for the story is that for a romantic comedy, I was surprised that it didn’t just pull off one good relationship, but two. Humphrey and Kate’s relationship does progress really well and it bothers me to spoil it, but Garth and Lilly also have a good relationship and both are very believable and touching. Some of the jokes and gags in the film are well timed and are pretty funny, and a few did make me laugh. The film is thankfully more innocent than other CG animated films, since I dislike it when these films try to add mature jokes so the adults in the film would pay attention.

On the other hand, the storyline is really predictable and clichéd, and even when watching the trailer you can have a good idea to how the story will play out and the actual film will be almost similar. Most of the gags are also predictable and aren’t really as funny, and some of the gags are just pointless and either have nothing to do with the story, or are never explained again.

Overall, Alpha and Omega isn’t a bad film, but isn’t really a great film either. I think kids would like this film for the characters and the jokes but for more mature viewers, it’s a predictable and dull experience that does have a good jokes and characters, but doesn’t really go as far as it should visually.

Alpha and Omega is available from Lions Gate, as of posting this review it is still viewing in cinemas in the UK, and will eventually be released on DVD in December.

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So I saw Winnie the Pooh at the cinema…

So I saw Winnie the Pooh at the cinema, try saying over the age of twelve and unless you were with a younger relative, prepare for some odd looks. If you want to know why I walked into the local cinema by myself, walked up to the ticket and said “One for Winnie the Pooh please” and went into a screen room surrounded by kids is because I wanted to see the movie. I, like many other people my age, grew up with good old Winnie the Pooh before they got Disney Toon Studios to make a series of movies with no relations to the books, so seeing a trailer for a back to basic, traditionally animated Winnie the Pooh film, I was interested.

So after finding a seat and waiting through the trailers that consisted of a sequel that shouldn’t be made (Kung Fu Panda 2), a spinoff from a series that should be dead (Puss in Boots), a film about a kid that clearly isn’t whimpy (Diary of a Whimpy Kid: Roderick Rules) and a film about a rabbit so stupid and pointless I believe the trailer should’ve counted as the movie itself (Hop), I was about to get ready to see Walt Disney Studio’s latest and finest.

But little did I know that there were not one but two animated shorts. The first one, which I guess is part of a series, is a Disney Junior short involving a group of kids who are apparently pirates as they try and stop Captain Hook from succeeding in his…mildley cruel plans. How bad are these plans? Well in the short I saw, Captain Hook stole a goldfish to put into his fishing tank! Despite how cool it is to see both Captain Hook and Smee in the same designs as the Disney’s Peter Pan movie, the whole short was incredibly stupid. It was so simplified and rediculous that noone in the audience was laughing, not even the kids.

The second one however, was much nicer. It was a story about the Loch Ness Monster, and how its original pond was taken over by a golf obsessed scottsman, so Nessie is told not to get upset and find a new home, however it was Nessie’s tears that created Loch Ness, showing that the moral of the story is that it’s ok to express your true feelings. It’s nicely animated, has some slight humor and it’s easy to sympaphise with Nessise while you watch.

Finally it was on to the actual movie, and it is brilliant! The animation is well crafted, with some really creative moments (I love the chalkboard artstyle and animation in the Backson song!). The musical numbers are just as good and well transitioned as any Disney movie. The cast is really fun to listen to, with Jim Cummings reprising his roles as Pooh and Tigger, comedic actors Tom Kenny and Craig Ferguson as Rabbit and Owl and John Cleese as the narrator among others, all entertaining to listen to and create very likeable characters. The best thing is that the movie is very funny and self-aware of it’s flaws, especially since there’s no fourth wall in the entire movie and small parts of the humour is purely the film making fun of the plotholes through the characters.

I could go into detail in a film review, but all I can say now is no matter what age you are, you need to see this movie! Just make sure you find a way to skip over the Disney Junior crap…

Review: Summer Wars

Here it is, my review of Summer Wars. If you read my JesuOtaku Dilemma post, well this might make sense why this was quicky put out after my Felidae review, since I got the DVD of this film yesterday. Well now I can watch JesuOtaku’s review of Summer Wars without trying to sound like a complete plagiarist.

Click the poster for the review

New Review Ready for Tomorrow

Hey everyone, I’ve just being rereading and checking on my newest review to make sure it’s good and greatly explains my points across. It’ll be submitted tomorrow for the third installment of my Oscar Nominees Month, “Persepolis”.

What’s Oscar Nominees Month?
Despite me having something to hate about it every year, especially because they always favour the films that I am not interested in, I love the Academy Awards. They are always so fun to predict, it’s a great topic for film discussion every year and I enjoy how they give an opportunity to lesser appreciated and indie films to show how good they are compared to the high budgeted, well cast and mind inducingly marketed blockbusters that we saw in the past year. Since being a fan of animation on a whole, it interests me to find animated films that I had previously never heard of, or barely remember, nominated along with the big features like the ones from Dreamworks and the future classics from Pixar. This is why every Tuesday from 25th January, when the nominees are announced, to the 15th February, I will review a barely remembered animated film that unfortunately failed to grab the Golden Statuette.

This is the line up:

  • 25th January – The Secret of Kells (2009)
  • 1st January – The Triplettes of Belleville (2003)
  • 8th February – Persepolis (2007)
  • 15th February – Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)

Currently, The Secret of Kells and the Triplettes of Belleville are up on Studycove.co.uk, so you can find them on the site or go to the Reviews Page on the Menu Bar and find it from there.