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Mars Needs Robert Zemeckis to Stop Making Animated Films

March 15, 2011 1 comment

Before I jump into this pool with both feet, let me first say that I’m quite sympathetic to the fact that a lot of sweat went into making a movie like “Mars Needs Moms,” and that I even know some of the talented folks involved on the project. As I’ve also stated in the past, I’m a huge fan of Brekeley Breathed, both from his comic strip days as well as his children’s books. To top it all off, I’ve really enjoyed some of Robert Zemeckis’ live action films, especially those released in the 80s.

So with all of that out of the way, now that “Mars” is officially an utter bomb, can we please all just agree that these types of animated motion capture features just do not work?

I would contend that the only Zemeckis mo-cap film that can be considered a hit is “Polar Express,” and I think most people could even make the case of that film being a hit based more on it’s premise than it’s actual execution. Films like “Monster House,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “Beowulf,” on the other hand, did not exactly set the world (or Box Office) on fire, and with “Mars,” it seems as though audiences have finally had their fill of living in Uncanny Valley, and are moving on.

These types of films attempt to bridge a gap between live action and animation, only to find that people are pretty happy on their current sides of the water. Films like these rarely take advantage of the respective strengths of live action or animation, and instead they wander somewhere in the middle with results that are often stiff and lifeless. When you strip away the charm and exaggerated physics of keyed animation, and couple it with characters who look close to their live-action counterparts yet feel dead from an emotional standpoint, it’s very difficult for audiences to connect on any level.

With “Mars,” this disconnect was pretty obvious, even from a 30 second trailer, and the results seem to be playing out in the form of a $6.5 million dollar opening weekend for a film that cost $150 million on the production side alone.

However much like 3D, I’m sure that Hollywood will take a break from these types of mo-cap animated films for a few years and then attempt to cram it down our throats again. They’ll probably even re-brand it and call it “EmotionCap” or something stupid like that.

I can’t wait!

Dreamworks Animation Takes On Berkeley Breathed’s “Flawed Dogs”

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

If you spend more than 5 minutes with me on any given day, chances are that I’ll bring up Berkeley Breathed and what an influence he was on my own personal work. So I was thrilled to learn that Dreamworks Animation has picked up his “Flawed Dogs” book, and will be turning it into an animated feature!

From Variety:
DreamWorks Animation will adapt picture book and novel “Flawed Dogs,” by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, for the bigscreen.
Story centers around a dachshund who must reclaim his place in the family after being wrongly exiled by a jealous show dog.

Breathed, who will exec produce the project, is best known for creating “Bloom County,” the 1980s comicstrip featuring Opus the Penguin.

DreamWorks Animation head of development Alex Schwartz and development exec Damon Ross will oversee the project.

“All my stories are sparked by a nugget of truth hiding in plain sight,” Berkeley said in a statement. “In this case, it’s that all animals dream… but only dogs dream of us.”

As you may or may not know, the very-soon-to-be-released (and somewhat questionable) “Mars Needs Moms” is also based on one of Breathed’s books:

I’m really looking forward to seeing what a top-notch animation house like Dreamworks Animation can do with “Dogs,” and I’m hoping this finally leads to a Bloom County movie.

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