Sunday, May 29, 2005

Mad at gascar

We saw "Madagascar" yesterday. Don't go. Or if you have to, the kids will enjoy it but adults should not have high expectations. As eye-candy it is typically impressive. The lion's mane, the shimmering water and Grand Central Station are all lovingly, cleverly rendered.

But that's exactly the problem - the Lucasization of movies, the notion that the "wow" factor of CGI can carry a film. In this case, it's like they stopped working on the script about midway through the drafting process - it has an unfinished, unpolished feel.

The storyline has the obligatory two-tier format - winking pop culture references for adults and a Disneyesque adventure for children. But the drama (will the lion go native and eat his friends?) is obvious and belabored - and never really resolved. I kept wondering how they were going to address the problem of a hungry lion in the wild with the only available lunch being cute anthropomorphic animals. Finally they whip him up some sushi. Here, spiders can talk but the fish are conveniently non-anthropomorphic. I guess this is a shot at "Finding Nemo."

Anyway, the jokes are flat, lame slapstick pervades and the ending is abrupt - I suppose in order to set up a sequel, but it just stops short with a couple of big plot points unresolved.

It's sad to see such great art direction dressing up such a lame story. Dreamworks has produced one great CGI film - "Shrek" - that managed to break the Disney mold. But Pixar is still whupping them something good. The problem is, nobody seems to notice. So much craft has been lavished on the eye candy and computer-animated films are still enough of a novelty that the mediocre efforts are still packing them in. But this won't last - right now, there are 2 or 3 of these movies coming out a year. In a few years, there will be more and the public will be more inclined to pick and choose. Or at least more movies will mean better odds at finding a worthy.