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    We just moved hosts on this system, and this has caused a few updates. One is the way we encode and store the encoded passwords.

    Your old passwords will NOT work. You will need to reset your password. This is normal. Just click on reset password from the log in screen. Should be smooth as silk to do...

    Sorry for the hassle.

    Dave Koch
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Chicken Little For The Birds

Discussion in 'The Animated Word' started by Dave Koch, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Dave Koch

    Dave Koch Cartoon Admin

    Oct 27, 2013
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    [​IMG] Disney is under the impression that the road to future profits- and the future of the studio- is through CGI animation. The attitude at the Mouse seems quite clearly to be if it is computer-made, it will make money. To date, that has been mostly true. But for Disney to hangs it's hopes and future on Chicken Little, the company's first full attempt at an in-house, computer animated feature does not say much for the direction of Disney as an animation powerhouse.

    In the world of CGI animation, this film is mediocre at best- surely better than some of the Barbie features my daughter loves so much, but no where near the standards set by ex-Disney partner Pixar. And having a few films already under the belts, Dreamworks and Blue Sky/Fox seem to have a better handle on how to make this sort of film. Disney is a late-comer to this genre, and the public's fascination with the newness of CGI is already starting to fade. Just being "CGI" is not enough anymore to guarantee a hit. Not that the problems with this film- and there are many- are a result of the production technique. Rather, Disney seems to have just gotten lazy in this film, focusing little attention to the production values of a film in favor of using a new technology.

    Much like what happened when studios made the jump to sound films in 1928, Disney seemed to have lost much of what they learned about film making in the preceding era in their eagerness to jump into the next. With the advent of sound, cameras that had learned to roam and fly suddenly found themselves locked down and static. So it is with modern Disney animation; while they may have new, gee-whiz tools at their disposal, they have forgotten many of the lessons- and triumphs- that have gotten them to this point.

    The animation of Chicken Little shares much with those original sound films- scenes are blocked out statically and stoically, sequences are held captive by the very technology that should be used to liberate them. There are no grand entrance to the ballroom shots as we saw in Beauty and the Beast or thematic tour de force sequences like the opening of The Lion King... just an endless succession of equally bland two-shots to tell this story. It makes me wonder just how boring the storyboards must have been- was the goal here just to get anything out, just so long as it could be stamped as "CGI"? This film makes no effort to go anywhere new, much less exciting.

    The actual rendering of the film looks as if they missed a step- it seems Disney may not have learned all that much from its association with Pixar after all. The first step of computer animation is to create- and animate- basic characters. So far, so good. Then, those objects have materials and textures applied to them- skin, clothes, hair, feathers, etc. Then those objects are lit and shaded- at least usually they are. Not so much in this film. Yes, there is some shading, but it seems that the Disney artists were so in love with their texturing, they really stopped at about that point. I found the textures so overwhelming as to be distracting- I was looking at the comb on Chicken Little, or Runt's pants, or any other number of mundane things that should not have taken my attention away from the film itself.

    But the biggest problem this film has is the story itself. Without regard to animation technique, this has been Disney's problems with feature films forquite a while. With the wonderful exception of Lilo and Stitch (which, it should be noted, was traditionally animated!), the last ten or so Disney feature animation outings have been dogs. Why? Story. Some were just plain formula, some bland, some high-aiming, but none were inspiring... or memorable. And this film has the worst story of all of them. Compare this with what we have seen from Pixar- who would have thought a story about a fish would be fun? But Pixar pulled it off with a great and entertaining story. The Toy Story 2 script was even better than the original, by most accounts. Pixar scripts are each original, well written, exciting, funny and include great dialogue... all of the qualities the recent Disney films lack.

    The Chicken Little story is not just bad, it is abysmally bad. The story takes about one hour's worth of content and stretches it to fill the feature length; this film feels- in content and production values- much more like an hour-long episode of a TV show than a Disney feature. With as much time as is available in a feature format to develop real themes and conflict, it is a shame none was used to create any sort of complexity to the plot. And the climax is about as contrived as one can imagine- Who is really going to believe the aliens come down to destroy the Earth, just because their child is missing? And then, after vaporizing half the town, they very nicely just un-vaporize it, just like that? Sorry, this may work when you need a quick resolution to a plot problem, but does not feel like anything more than laziness or lack of creativity by the writers. The whole story is uni-directional and one-dimensional, with none of the depth or richness of the classic Disney films. It is ironic that this film is also released in a three-dimensional IMAX version- perhaps that is where all thought of dimension in this film was focused? It is certainly the only place any dimension or character in this film is present.

    The characters lack any nuance or evolution; because they are such standard, cookie-cutter characters, they are instantly recognizable as the stereotypes they were designed as. None of the characters step out of the mold they are cast into. Little seems to closely resemble an avian Jimmy Neutron for half the film. And, for some reason, I keep expecting Runt to speak with a German accent (shades of A Bug's Life, whether intentional or not). Fish was certainly fun, but here again no depth or fleshing out of what could have been a real great character. The rest of the animals are little more than caricatures (in looks and behavior) of the species they represent.

    Much like Dindal and Fullmer's previous Disney film The Emperor's New Groove, this film tries incredibly hard to be hip. Just like that predecessor, it falls flat trying. Like a bald man combing over his hair, it is just a bit embarrassing to watch. The first half of the film feels like a really bad teen film, with kids flipping out their phones when the teachers are out of the room, or playing on the differences between the "cool" kids and the dweebs. The reconciliation between Chicken Little and his Dad was nice, but not enough tension is created in the body of the film for this to really have any meaning or importance. It is really too little, too late in a film with very little else to offer.

    If I seem to be unusually harsh on this film, perhaps I am. However, I expect more from Disney, and this film comes up lacking in almost every way. By focusing on a new technology to make a film great rather than what has always made great films- great stories- Disney has lost it's way as a producer of great animated features. This film is probably very enjoyable for the 8-10 year old crowd; my 4 year old loved it. But Disney animated films- at least until this film- have always been a step above because they entertained on more than just the child's level. When you stand it up beside the Disney films of just ten years ago, you have to wonder where and why this company got off track. This would have been a fine direct to video release- but no more than that; as part of the Disney legacy, it just shows how far the master has fallen. As a look at the future of Disney as an animation studio, it is a strong indication they have abdicated their throne.

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