Review: Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki

While in the middle of a class at University, a young student named Hana comes across a man who regularly sneaks into her classes. The man, named Ookami, is mysterious, but kind natured and so Hana starts falling in love with him. The two start dating for some time, but there is a secret Ookami reveals to Hana that is quite startling; he is a Wolf man, the last descendant of the Japanese wolf. Because of Hana’s love, this detail is no bother to her, and later on in life Hana and Ookami have two wolf children, Yuki and Ame. Unfortunately, one night Ookami goes out and hunts for food, and dies, leaving Hana with the two children, who, because of the lack of knowledge of caring for wolves, is constantly struggling to find out how to care for them. Because of crowded city and fears that her children would get taken away, Hana decides to move to a peaceful rural village, where Yuki and Ame can roam freely where no one would suspect them otherwise. However, even the rural lives, as well as having Yuki and Ame grow up lead to new problems that even Hana cannot avoid. Continue reading

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Oscar Prediction Game 2012 – The Results

So the winners were announced on Sunday, broadcasting at after midnight here in the UK so now I’ve got a page with the winners and I’m gonna tally my score and compare it with my previous year’s average.

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Oscar Prediction Game 2012

The Nominations have been announced, so this means it’s time for the film critics favourite past time, The Oscar Prediction Game!!

Most years it’s been fairly predictable which titles would win their Oscars but this time there is something different. The main one being Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, a children’s book adaptation by a legendary film maker, and The Artist, a back-to-form Black & White silent movie, both having the most nominations with 11 and 10 nominations each. The rules have also changed, mainly to strictly define that the Best Picture award should be nominated to films which are considered to be the Best Picture, and the Best Animated Feature award is finally being taken seriously.

So the rules are simple, for each award you list the nominees in the order of you probability of it winning, the top being the most likely and the bottom the least. Then when the ceremony announces the winners, you score yourself based on those results. You can score yourself in one of two ways: you can try and aim for the lowest score, meaning 1 point for every nominee you accurately predicted will win, and then it will go higher the lower you put it. Or you can aim for the highest score and the points will be reverse (e.g for an award with 10 nominees, the top would be 10 and the bottom would be one). You add up your score and compare it with the lowest/highest possible score. Any award you missed will automatically get you the lowest/highest score from that award.

Since I’m following from last year, I’m doing it for highest possible score. So now onto my predictions!

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Review: The Fox and the Hound

Fox and the Hound PosterFinally back to reviewing comfortably, here is my review of another underrated Disney classic, The Fox and the Hound. A couple of years ago, I knew a friend who would outright defend this film, and all I knew of it was as Walt Disney Animation’s beginning of a downhill in their 80’s animated feature career before their Renaissance era, jokingly called Disney’s “Dark Age”. Finally taking a dive into this film head first, what do I think? Click the poster for the review

EDIT: The link should be fixed now. For some reason WordPress is having issues.

Review: Solatorobo – Red the Hunter

Solatorobo: Red the HunterHey guys, sorry for the delay, along with exams and organising holiday stuff, I’ve been working on three reviews at once! I’ve also been playing some cool games on my Nintendo 3DS and I thought I’ll review this one since I fell in love with it in the previews. Yeah I promise that this review is an unbiased opinion since I’ve reviewed it in comparison to other RPGs on the DS. Click the Box Art to head to the review!

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…

Musical Numbers in Animated Features

So I’m guessing many people now have heard of Tangled? It’s Disney’s 50th Film and it’s doing well in the theatres. What’s interesting is that despite being advertised as a romatic-comedy with action and a varying group of characters as shown in the trailers and posters, it is actually a romantic-comedy with action and a varying group of characters…and it’s also a musical.

Despite Disney practically lying to us, for good or for bad, it’s still a good movie with some really nice songs, fun moments and it’s Disney so expect an unlikely romance between two good looking people with completely different lifestyles, lovely sidekicks and a dark yet enchanting villain.

However, as I listen to the songs, I realise that many Disney and even non-Disney films have musical numbers, songs that focus on one or a group of characters, that gives us an idea of either who they are, their motivation or their current feelings. Even if they aren’t musicals, writing a list of western animated features that DO NOT have at least one song sung by a character is much shorter than the other than ones that do. Disney is a master at musical numbers, An American Tail had a few, even The Secret of Kells and Tales from Earthsea both had one sung by their female protagonist. So one thing I wonder is, why?

Admit it, you owned a video like this once in your life!

Like mentioned in the last paragraph, musical numbers are normally used for plot & character development, such as a character detailing who they are or what there goals are (also known as the “I Want Song”). Writers and Directors probably like using these since they can make development more entertaining than a simple monologue or narration, allows opportunity to use creative visuals and scenery or just add a minute or two to the total running time. Animated Features specifically for kids are normally have these, and its easy to see why after remembering god knows the amount of Sing-Along videos Disney made during the 1990s and Early 2000s. However, just because you can go that route, doesn’t mean you have to.

Musical Numbers have their problems, they can be unnecessary and poorly transitioned making them stick out, you need song writers to make sure the lyrics flow with the music, you need people who can actually sing to take it seriously among other reasons. Sure young kids can appreciate even the bad stuff, and songs don’t have to be good or brilliant in order to be redeemable or memorable as long as it has some quality to it, but there are animated films I’ve never watched completely purely because I couldn’t stand the music.

So when should they have songs and when shouldn’t they, and what kinds of songs do you use? Well that varies depending on what age group, genre of film and the environment of the film. If you watch several films you can notice a few common points where songs are used, like not long after a character is revealed to explain who he is and a motivational song when a character is feeling like all hope is lost, although those are the clichéd ones.

If you want to get a person’s best attention, the song needs to appear when the viewer half-expects it.An example of this is Aisling’s Song in The Secret of Kells, in the scene, you can tell the song is about to start since the music and the environment calms, yet you might not if you’ve never seen the film before since you do can see that Aisling has an idea, but the viewer doesn’t know what it is, so when the calm yet enchanting song starts, the viewer’s attention is gained as the music feels sudden, yet since it was brought in carefully it doesn’t lead to surprise in confusion. They also feel captivated as the song suits the dark and peaceful environment from the scene.

To understand it better, you need to see what the worst example is. In my opinion the worst you can possibly get in an animated film is the “Party Time” song in Titanic: The Legend Goes On. You are meant to have a child friendly retelling of the Titanic, and the scene takes place inside the docks after a dog saves a mouse’s life from a hungry cat, with the mouse giving his thanks, at this point the creative team thought it was very “suiting” to then have the dog do a rap completely out of nowhere, about absolutely nothing to do with the story, characters or setting, where it doesn’t fit at all with the film. It leaves the viewers in surprise and confusion to why it is in there, and disgust to the point where they could break the DVD because of how bad and out of place it is.

But back to my original question, why? Why do some animated features feel they need to have songs when they aren’t musicals? Why did Tangled have to leave out the point that it was a musical in its marketing, misleading a portion of its viewer-base?