The old dogs had the best tricks?

Last night we watched 101 Dalmations after buying a remastered copy on Amazon.  Yep, that’s right, the original Walt Disney cartoon from way back in 1961.  The last time I saw this film I was just a wee little boy and Cruela was the most frightening woman a small boy could imagine.  Of course, these far too many years later it doesn’t look quite the same and it is a little odd that all the “adult” characters have English accents whilst all the little doggies talk with American children’s accents.  On the other hand, the artwork behind this animation is just superb.  You look at the incredibly short list of animators responsible by comparison to the screenfuls nowadays that need a specially written 5 minute song to playout while they are being displayed and you wonder how it could have been possible.  When you look at the loving detail and careful craftsmanship of these old Disney cartoons you also wonder if all the increased technology has been worthwhile.  The modern cartoons are very bright and glitzy with lots of special effects but it is a very different kind of artwork.  There is a charm to these old Disney cartoons that is somehow timeless.  By comparison, the modern ones seem cold and impersonal.  I don’t know how emotionally involved modern animators are in their work.  Maybe some of them do really love what they do but I am certain that the animators who worked on 101 Dalmations and the other early Disney classics poured everything they had into their work.   It is good to see that the cartoons have been so well remastered and can be preserved for future generations.  Almost 50 years on from when 101 Dalmations was first released maybe some of those animators are no longer with us but what a legacy of love to leave behind.   Maybe new is not always better …

“I’m Beowulf, I’ll kill yor monsta! …”

“… and then I’ll shag its muvva … maybe I’ll go dahn the pub forra laager .. or get in a pizza!” For those who believed Beowulf was Scandinavian it can now be revealed that he is a cheeky cockney (Ray Winstone). But that’s not the real issue with this film. How many people don’t realise they are actually going to see a computer game rather than a film? Several near us didn’t, judging by the comments. I’m sure there is a film review of Beowulf 2007 out there saying how awesome and wicked this Beowulf film is. Either they are between the ages of 12 and 14 or they have never seen Anthony Hopkins act because even with it being his voice this totally computer generated film cannot produce his acting ability. Very well done but the characters are flat and lifeless compared to real actors. Lusty young men hoping to see Angelina Jolie naked are treated to an animation nude straight out of Manga instead. So; why is it not the actors themselves in this film? Apart from Ms Jolie being understandably reluctant, it’s all about money as usual. Much cheaper to make an animated film than use real people (we all remember the terrible dodgy original Lord of the Rings film before Peter Jackson did it properly). As a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s work I’m really sorry he was involved in this Beowulf con trick … because that is surely what it is .. all the hype and big names to get people, who never otherwise would, to sit in front of a computer game masquerading as a film for two hours. Neil Gaiman can be forgiven as his passionate interest in old legends must have made the offer irresistible. So let’s blame Robert Zemeckis for this con trick. Do yourself a favour if you haven’t seen this Beowulf film and don’t. Animation is fine in its place but trying to take the place of real acting is pathetic. Anthony Hopkins is a brilliant actor, his animated double in this film is nothing like brilliant. A cardboard cut-out. A positive note though, the dragon is excellent! But then, it should be as that is where animation works – creating the imaginative images that do not exist in real life. If a trend set by this Beowulf film was to continue do we end up with a race of people who think real life is as flat and lifeless as these characters? Does the whole world turn into one great computer game? Should cinemas be allowed to show this film without a declaration that the whole film is CGI with no live actors? What do you think?

The next film version of Beowulf is going to be an ecological one apparently … “I’m Bio Wolf, I’ll save yor planet!”