Thursday, 14 October 2010

Film critique- Home on the Range

Today, through a complete lack of energy or enthusiasm for what I was supposed to be doing, I sat down and watched my dvd of 'Home on the Range' by Disney, which has been sitting, unopened on my shelf for a while. Apparently a classic- I watched it and didn't care for it much.
But then I wondered why. I'm not really that great at distinguishing why a film does or doesn't grab me whilst watching it. After skimming over it again for a second time, I got a few points from it.

Lately, one of my latest crazes has been playing the new Rockstar game, 'Red Dead Redemption'. I have played it to death. And Home on the Range is set in the same type of wild west/ late Victorian Texas. And red dead redemption is so beautiful and photo-realistic. Home on the range in comparison looks like a cheaper, mockery of it.  Look at this to have an idea of what I mean
Compared to Home on the Range.
I also think the trailer looks a hell of a lot better than the film executes. The trailer is probably the most palatable bit of the whole film...
I read an article on 'The worst Disney films of all time' and Home of the Range was on it. The author pointed out that most of the efforts were put into home on the range's marketing. I do remember it years ago being plastered over every MacDonald's Happy Meal and all over the tv at the time. But I didn't know anyone who'd actually seen it.  

The style used on Home on the Range, to me, was too much to digest. They put too much effort into inking the original drawings. All the lines were far brighter and more obvious than they should have been. This took away impact from the actual characters and made them look odd to the eye. I found I couldn't focus on the characters because there was just something wrong about them. They weren't defined enough against the background. To me- as an adult finding this... would it not be more difficult to follow as a child- the intended audience? And oh dear LORD the bad puns in this. They were every 2 minutes. It was awful

They used an obvious way of mixing 2D and 3D put together. To me, 2D and 3D should be kept separate. They are are mixed, the 3D should be disguised as much as possible to look like 2D.
I do give them, that the film was in theaters 2004, and since then technology has moved on. Still, films like the Lion King used 3D in scenes like where the wildebeest were pouring down the canyon into the gorge to flatten Simba. It still looks amazing and the Lion King was made long before Home on the Range.

The action overall was all far too snappy and exaggerated. It seemed skimpy on the inbetweens. They didn't have enough texture to the animation as a whole. All the scenes seemed to be too fast. Very much like Disney's Atlantis. Everything is GO GO GO!... film over. There seemed to be no time to rest and digest the story. It overall gave an impression of a very low budget film (which it really really wasn't) (money they should have better spent on the action,story, character development instead of the fancy lineart). The cows didn't move like cows. They had no weight behind them, physically or emotionally. The horse character was up on his back legs, flexing his biceps (??) in an anthro fashion and it really did not look right. Horses, on two legs... just no.

Another thing- the cows had dexterous monkey-like tails. Their tails acted like a hand. It was very weird. If it had been a gag that was used once for a trick, then it may have worked that once. But it was used throughout the film.    

The cast of voice actors didn't gel with each other or the film as a whole. The character designs aesthetically were brilliant, but poorly voiced. Some characters, I felt, would be better put across to the audience with another voice. Like the 'show cow' character, who's name I can't even remember- none of the characters were that memorable.

Cats's Don't Dance Goat
Home on the Range goat

Although, while still on the subject of characters, most of them were so cliche and seemed to be stolen from other films. For example, 'Cats Don't Dance', a brilliant film produced by Warner Brothers 1997 had a grumpy goat character.
Home on the Range, 2004- ALSO has a grumpy goat character with an identical personality and strangely similar appearance and voice... HMMM, funny that.

I do have one or two good things I have to say about it though.
I did like the character 'Grace', the yellow cow. She was brilliant. She was the only one who was well developed and her voice and looks matched. She was this new-age/ hippy, alternative therapy cow. She was always so calm and collected and buckets of ditzy.
She had this brilliant few lines when she was introduced as a character first. In this scene she is trying, and failing to break up a fight between the bickering goat (shown above) and the three piglets (also shown above).

GRACE: Woah woah. I'm sensing a lot of negative energy here.
PIG: That's our can, and Jeb took it. And now he says its his can.
GRACE: Now lets not play the shame and blame game. This is an organic problem and there's a holistic solution.
GOAT: You don't get this whole farm concept do you sister?
PIG: Kill the goat!

Also, the pigs, they were adorable.

I watched another bad bad BAD film recently, still in cimenas 'Alpha and Omega' but thats for another night. I'll tell you about it another time when I have the energy to describe everything that is wrong about it.

I feel bad for criticising anything which a lot of work has gone into, especially an animation where it takes so many man-hours and so much effort to complete. And I'm not saying that I could do better than these films if I had to do it myself. But I have to say, this is a REALLY bad film. There is nothing that ever goes above average with it.  But hopefully in writing things like this, it'll help me learn what NOT to do when and if I get the chance to ever make one for myself.

This video here pretty much sums up my entire opinion on this film far less politely but in a correct way.
Go watch :D

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