Archive for the ‘animated’ Category

Mecha Scramble! – Macross Zero: Return to Zero

September 9, 2010

Welcome to the first in a new series we’re going to try out here on Grump Factory: Mecha Scramble! We’re fans of anime on this blog, and one of the enduring genres of the medium is mecha. What is mecha? Mecha is a Japanese term describing animation that focuses on robots (giant or otherwise) or complex machinery in general. Mecha is the place where mechanical designers are king! A good example of a mecha show is the original Mobile Suit Gundam; so iconic that it’s become as inextricable with Japanese pop culture as Star Wars or Star Trek is here in America!

But Gundam and all its myriad offspring shall be dealt with in due time. Today the focus is on the origins of another revered series: Macross. But not the original Super Dimensional Fortress Macross series, but the chronological origin story, Macross Zero! Macross has been mentioned before on this blog, but now it’s time to go back in time and uncover the shocking beginning of the Macross timeline!

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Toy Story 3: Sobbing Man-Children

July 8, 2010

It’s difficult to remember what theatrical animation was like before Pixar. I remember that a Disney movie would come out every year or so and I’d beg my parents to take me and that’d be about it. I wasn’t stupid enough to go see a Don Bluth movie in the theater, at least. And pretty much all the animation was 2D! I remember when it was a giant fucking deal that Aladdin had 3D CG mixed in. I remember when people’s jaws were dropping during the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast. You’d occasionally see a 3D CG animated short on Nickelodeon (especially on Thanksgiving), but other than those, that was about it. Computer graphics were a delicacy, like caviar for the developing eyes of a cartoon-addled child. This was back when 3D viewing was still considered retro and gimmicky, too!

But then it was 1995. Disney was quickly losing their shit (Pocahontas? HUNCHBACK?) and no one was stepping up to take the doddering king’s place. Except for one studio who dared to look toward the future, and saw the potential in the shiny, plastic-looking aesthetic of computer animation. And Disney still had enough sense left in them to see the potential, as well, and released Pixar’s film Toy Story into theaters. And it was a success! The rare non-Disney animated feature to garner universal acclaim and commercial success! Combining heartfelt storytelling with sly, inventive humor, Pixar created a franchise.

A franchise that’s never quite sat well with me.

I mean, I liked Toy Story well enough. I could appreciate it for the way it pioneered a whole new medium and for the relative sophistication it had compared to other offerings. Even as a child, it seemed a bit sharper than the competition. But the movie’s aesthetic just didn’t age very well (see: any human in the film) and then there was John Lasseter’s unhealthy taste in Randy Newman. It just didn’t resonate with me the same way Aladdin or other films did. And seeing Toy Story 2 years later, when it was rereleased in 3D, I can see why people consider it a marked improvement. The added characters actually ADD to the proceedings rather than detract and it explored some interesting aspects of toy culture. But it still wasn’t yanking me like I wanted it to. Was it the indifference to stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen?  The still-uncanny-valley human characters? The seemingly recycled bit where the gang has to deal with another fresh-out-of-the-box Buzz Lightyear? The world may never know.

So it was with some chagrin that I learned that Pixar was going back to the well again with Toy Story 3. I mean, I’m not surprised. Aside from Cars, it’s probably their most profitable property. It also has that nostalgic glimmer of being their first feature animation, and enough time has gone by that super-fans of the original might have kids of their own to take to a sequel. Canny Disney thinking at work, there. So after enduring months of breathless Toy Story fans spazzing out over the idea of a threequel and the outpouring of praise from the rest of the press, I decided to go see it to give it a fair shake. If anything, I probably wouldn’t hate it.

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Third Grumpiversary – The Pebble and the Penguin (and some whizzing too)

April 28, 2010

marc: Pebble and the Penguin right?
john: http://www.hulu.com/the-pebble-and-the-penguin
they have secret of nimh? :O
maybe magus would wanna watch that instead
unless he really wants the SHITTY factor
marc: I havent seen that either
john: we’ll ask
cuz pebble and the penguin’s shit
as you can see by the art
marc: I thought that was the point though? :3
john: i know!
but nimh’s not beyond reproach
it’s got like one segment i remember being awesome
the rest i can’t remember

sirtmagus has entered the room.

john: his wihizzes are like fifteen minutes long, the hell
;3
tim: so i weighed myself before i whizzed
134
and i weighed myself after… 133
john: lol
did you?
tim: a whole pppoooouuund of whiz~
john: god you are so thin
marc: 133? seriously?
john: anyways
it seems hulu also has secret of nimh
tim: oh god.
nightmare fuel.
john: so i was asking you which you think would make better third grumpiversary fodder
tim: hmmm.
whichever one’s shorter |:VVVV
john: PEBBLE IT IS
i got it paused at the start
so just say when

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Blahvatar – Cameron’s Courageous Catastrophe

January 4, 2010

Dances With Wolves, Stargate, Atlantis, The Last Samurai, Last of the Mohicans, Fern Gully, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The Day After Tomorrow... with a new hat!

After three hours of  nature tours, massaging six-legged horses with fiber optic cables and the big, dumb, obligatory Good Guy vs. Bad Guy brawl, the pure and innocent Na’vi send the evil human race back to their “dying world.” The campaign on Pandora was humanity’s last hope for survival, yet after all of Avatar‘s crybaby tirades about respecting life and walking in the Other’s shoes, you’d think it’d go both ways. But no, humanity’s sent off to die like the bunch of greedy losers we are, because replacing one potential genocide with another makes everything okay apparently. It’s suicidal, self-loathing smugness on par with The Day After Tomorrow.

According to James Cameron we all deserve to die,  and since everyone’s heralding his boring, corny mess as a masterpiece, rewarding it with over $1 billion and counting worldwide, maybe he’s right. Just kill us all right now.

Something happened to James Cameron since Titanic. Something bad.

Maybe he rented Halo one afternoon and decided “Ah, I can do this, too, but with more tie-dye”, in a bizarre cannibalistic twist, since Halo and the rest of the video game medium lifts so heavily from Camerons’ milieu — y’know, bald space marines in dropships, of which there is no shortage in Avatar. It makes sense then that Cameron would come full circle and produce the longest, dumbest video game cutscene in history and put it before us, daring to call it a revolution in cinema.  The man’s courageous for sure, serving us Krusty Burgers and calling them steamed hams when they’re clearly grilled.

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The Princess and the Frog: JAMMIN’ WITH THE BIG BOYS~

December 24, 2009

Let’s face it, when people think of animation, they don’t think of Akira or obscure Czech stop-motion animators or even My Neighbor Totoro. They think Disney. And with good reason! Classic Disney animated features such as Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty are among the most technically accomplished and beloved animated movies ever made. Hell, there was even a bit of a renaissance in the late 80s and early 90s when Disney was spurting out movies like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. (Can we include The Great Mouse Detective in that, too? {:3) But the momentum couldn’t last, as the features started to become pretentious and a drag (Pocahontas), adapted from sources that were increasingly incompatible with Disney’s values and audience (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and eventually abandoning their musical roots (Atlantis: The Lost Empire). When the best you can come up with is Roseanne as a cow (the most modest creative leap I’ve ever seen), perhaps it is best to just tear it all down and start anew. And that’s exactly what Disney did, shutting down their fabled 2D animation studios in favor of computer-generated animation features. Unfortunately, it seems the stagnation and creative bankruptcy went deeper than just the medium of animation, because I’ve hardly heard any recommendations from people I trust for Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons or Bolt.

Thank god that Disney had partnered up with Pixar, eventually buying them up. Pixar honcho John Lasseter was wisely put in charge of Disney’s animation studio and mandated a return to the stuff that Disney was known for and actually good at. And it would star a black characterWAIT WHAT

sick how they're promoting bestiality

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Ponyo: The Extra-Terrestrial

August 19, 2009

Do you know who Hayao Miyazaki is? If you’re reading this blog, you should. But just in case you wandered in here accidentally while trying to google lolcats, Here’s the skinny: Hayao Miyazaki is basically the Steven Spielberg of animation in Japan. He makes animated feature films with his production company, Studio Ghibli, and is considered a master at what he does. He’s responsible for such anime classics as Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winner Spirited Away, and Japan basically considers him a national treasure.

And I sometimes find it difficult to stand the guy.

Don’t get your feathers ruffled just yet. I adore most of his movies, such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso, The Castle of Cagliostro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s the other half I have trouble stomaching. I think Nausicaa is a pretty standard fantasy adventure starring one of the most insufferably optimistic heroines I’ve ever seen.  The character Nausicaa pisses sunshine and farts rainbows. I cant stand it! Castle in the Sky is basically the blueprint for every Japanese RPG ever made, so by the time I saw it, there wasn’t much new for me to glean from its picked-over bones. I don’t really enjoy Princess Mononoke‘s setting or the fact that the ending doesn’t do any of the preceding 119 minutes any justice. In fact, it’s a huge problem with Miyazaki’s movies in general. They don’t end; they just stop. You’re lucky if you have even a few minutes of falling action after the climax. And then there’s probably my least favorite: My Neighbor Totoro. It’s a movie aimed at very young children, so I probably wasn’t the target audience when I saw it, but it’s still an aimless creature that tries to get by on cuteness and whimsy in lieu of having story or even the barest shred of conflict. I’m sure if I was a toddler I’d love it. I can’t ever say that Miyazaki’s movies are outright crap. They’re always beautifully, painstakingly animated. But I do occasionally have problems with what Miyazaki chooses to do with all his abundance of talent and resources.

And recently, Miyazaki’s latest yarn, the child-oriented Ponyo, washed up on our shores. Was this a hit or a miss?

y helo thar

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(grumplet) Up: Up, and Straight Up My… Heart~

July 18, 2009

Sorry this has taken so long to make it up here on Grump Factory, but the theater, she is an expensive beast! And between taking summer school on the weekdays (BAH!) and rising ticket prices (it’s $10 here!) the local AMC 30 has a difficult time coaxing me out. Why, it would take a miracle for me to carve out the time it would take on a weekday to get a decent ticket price to go see a movie. Well, a miracle or a Pixar movie.

SO THIS ONE TIME IN WEASEL SCOUT CAMP

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