Sunday, 29 June 2014

World Animation Roundup 2

Jez Jerzy (George the Hedgehog) (2011)

George is a skateboarding hedgehog with a human girlfriend who lives in a world of skinheads, sleazeballs and corrupt politicians.  If you’re not out partying and getting wasted every night, then you’re probably a bad guy.  There is a muddled plot in here including a conspiracy theory and George gets an evil clone at some point, but this film is more about the humour and not particularly subtle social comments.
Jez Jerzy is dark and destructive in its cynicism and audiences will be sent into a world where political correctness does not exist.  Escapee inflated sex dolls and mutant hedgehogs humping power sockets are fun enough, but many will find the racial jokes way more hit and miss.  Few films have the (smelly) balls to have this kind of trashy underground edge, but Jez Jerzy lets it all hang out.  It’s well made enough with 2D flash-style animation and is brave in the grotesqueness of its ugly, ugly character designs. Deliberately unappealing, but it’s still the best film of those in this blog entry.

Availability:  The native Polish DVD has good English (and seemingly UK-centric) subtitles.

The Thief and the Cobbler (1995)

This DVD is a sorry little release, but to deny its existence at all would be even more cold-hearted.

The Thief and the Cobbler’s rocky history is well-recorded.  Production began in the 1960s before going through multiple financial hiatuses where it finally breathed its last in the 90s.  With large chunks of the incomplete film being animated, and the director having long since abandoned the project, the pieces were stitched together and a hideous monster was born.

The animation in The Thief and the Cobbler is amazing and you really have to remind yourself that it’s all hand-drawn stuff.  The amazing artistry is sadly ruined by a naff reworked script that replaces the idea of near-mute protagonists with near-constant babble.  The abrupt shift from serene animation to condescension kills any kind of enjoyment which could have been made from this DVD.  Sad faces all round, but a historically interesting curio nonetheless.

It’s worth nothing that there is a fan-made ‘Recobbled Cut’ out there online which pieces together the film’s gaps as best it can.  Worth a peek for an idea on what might have been.

Availability: As the film was unfinished, you could say it’s unavailable indefinitely.  This version is widely available.

Rejsen Til Saturn / Journey to Saturn (2008)

Per is an astronaut who capitalises on his fame by selling autographs at sci-fi conventions, even though he suffered terrible grades in his qualifications and has the contempt of all his peers.  He falls victim to his reputation when an emergency vacancy appears on a mission to gather natural resources from Saturn.  He is recruited into a crew consisting of a militarist, a perverted drunk and an Afghan asylum seeker.

Coming from the same makers of Terkel in Trouble and Ronal the Barbarian, I was expecting a mix of gross-out comedy and hard cynicism, but Journey to Saturn combines these same elements and plonks them in the middle of a truly average story.  The inevitable alien invasion is an uninspired turn of events and only act to dilute the fun.  Don’t be expecting a UK or US re-release any time soon either.  Jokes about anal probes suit most South Park-watching audiences, but comments on major figures of Danish society won’t translate as well.  Not a bad film by any means, just average.  See Ronal first.

Availability:  The Danish DVD has English subtitles, but not for the extras.  A shame as they look way more funny and risqué than the main feature.

Tintin L’affaire Tournesol (1964)

This hour-long special is a bunch of television episodes cut together… and it shows.
Following the outline of the plot from The Calculus Affair, the feature starts on the full assumption that the audience is already familiar with the cast and just runs full steam ahead.  There is little in way of pacing as the story moves from point to point without really bothering with ideas of dramatic tension or filling plot holes.  The art reflects the style of the comic quite well, but the animation itself is crude and cheap.  Most action involves heads revolving on static bodies and scrolling movement sticking strictly to directions of left or right.  A hilarious/awful example of this occurs when a car needs to turn around, and does so simply by driving off screen and re-enter with the drawing flipped over.  If classic Scooby chase sequences are your thing you might find enjoyment here, otherwise you’re much better served by The Adventures of Tintin series from the 90s.

Availability: The copy I have was from a Tintin Movie Collection set.  It’s dub only, and it’s a pretty awful one.  As Tintin exclamations go, ‘By Jove!’ is not what I expect or want to hear.