Monday, November 03, 2008
Tony Leondis, 2008
If you followed me from my dA masterlist, then you know JUST how much I was looking forward to Igor. Being the big, wonky line loving, bug-eyed stop motion lover that I am, I took one look at the trailer and thought- Oh My God. It's a total rip-off of Burton's style.
And I LOVED it.
I loved the colours, the designs, and I was already planning in my head which toy I was gunna buy out of the characters (Brain, because he looks like Tom Servo from MST3K).
So I was so hyped when I FINALLY got to see it this weekend, despite the fact that, okay, over the months the warning signs became rearing their ugly heads.
So, okay the posters looked pretty naff, and didn't really match my expectations from the trailer... And okay, the news from Frankensteinia (which I follow religiously, for all my Frankenstein related news) that the early reviewers were really negative, and that the Toy line was cancelled was a little more than disappointing. And then just before we left to go see it, that it had only JUST made £1,110,859 was even more frightening.
But for once, I was trying to be optimistic. Perhaps it had more of a cult edge to it. Sarcasm was one of the main words that jumped out at me from the reviews and I just reasoned that Adults think that sarcasm is lost on kids. And maybe the studio was new at this, and that's why the marketing sucked (Which is true in hindsight- Apparently all they'd ever done before this is this crappy TV show).
So shoving all of that out of my mind, off we went, in the freezing cold, to see Igor on a Tiny screen with the 3 other families that came to see it. (It's not the first time my boyfriend and I have gone to see a kids movie on a date- out first was to go see Flushed Away).
And it was...TERRIBLE.
The point of this post is not to just let me blow off steam, but it's also to try and explain why just because your movie looks cool and you have a big cast of famous actors at your disposal, doesn't mean you can just forget about pacing and scripting.
The opening sequence, in which Igor explains the world starts the unbelievably bad writing that makes an other wise decent little cute movie on the wrong path. Igor is a character that has little real charisma, so having to listen to him give exposition makes it very difficult to pay attention to why exactly the country of Malaria (Which is a COOL name for a country of Evil Scientists in any case) is in darkness, and why the once peaceful farmers are now Evil Scientists holding the rest of the world ransom. Another thing I'd like to point out here is that there is a short montage of the inventions the country has previously used to inflict terror on the world- and they're the same fricking machines you see at the very end of the movie. Lazy.
During this you also get introduced to the concept of Igors. I was rather interested into why exactly the Igors got lumped into the whipping boy position- in the original Frankenstein movie, Fritz (the igor of his day) had a personality- he was cowardly and cruel towards things he didn't understand- he whipped the monster, and gave it it's fear of fire. He also didn't always conform to his master- he swapped the "normal" brain the Doctor wanted with an "Abnormal" brain. The next assistant in Bride of Frankenstein was a convict, and killed willingly for his master, but he lacked a hunch. I know that hunchbacks are now the common stereotype of all Mad since assistants (i.e Ala Young Frankenstein and Rocky Horror) but it's more than a little Lazy to just give ALL hunchbacks the name of Igor, and only one of them to have any sort of motivation- Fritz wanted to kill the monster, The Convict from Bride just wanted enough money to run away, and even Riff-Raff wanted to go home and have incestuous sex with his Sister.
Anyway (enough Frankenstein related fandoming). The monologue ends and we've learnt during the uncomfortable montage that Igor is a secret inventor (as you could have guessed from the get-go), and has created an immortal but suicidal rabbit called Scamper and a brain in a Jar- variously called Brain or Brian due to a misspelling on his Jar to keep him company whilst his Master mistreats him and talks disjointedly about his mother. Both of these characters are SUPPOSED to be the comic relief, and to be fair, they do raise a few small smiles, but they're rather uncomfortable and here's the main reason why.
Pacing. Not a second goes by with out someone talking, or something happening. The jokes that are made are immediately lost on everyone because some one else has already started another. Theres little to no build up and theres no room to breathe. I was constantly looking over at Luke next to me to see if he found it funny or not, but half way through the movie and we were slumped down in our seats, and my optimism from before had vanished.
So the plot races on, and before you know it, the Doctor has a visit from his girlfriend Heidi, who is suddenly Igors love interest. She leaves almost as quickly and we don't see her again until much later. I'd just about taken that in when the Doctor dies. And so does one of the two major actors I'd actually pricked an interest in. John Clesse isn't really that noticeable as his character is really hard to look at. One of two things that bother me aesthetically about this movie is that theres very little surface texture. Call me a harden animation nut, but after so many wonderful Pixar movies in the last few years, I've become accustomed to surface textures. And this movie has VERY little (especially towards the end- its like they gave up). Igor himself has more than the rest of the movie put together.
So the Doctor dies, and Igor is alone to create his masterpiece at last something no other Mad has ever done before- Life! Which I find strange- aren't Mad Scientists all about "Tampering in Gods Domain?"* So they go about creating the most oddly shaped woman in the history of monsters.
The Monster (or Eva) herself is pretty cute, but she would be, seeing as she essentially has the quintessentia Burton Face. Big eyes, tiny nose, and twisted lips- she could be Emily Corpse BrideSally ragdoll's cousin. She's dressed, oddly enough, as Snow White, which I thought was a little odd a first. It's the oddest choice ever, but then she does oddly enough suit the look.
The rest of the characters take this line too, virtually copying every "indie" animated and creepily designed franchise (Luke swears that the main bad guy looks like Lord Barkis from Corpse Bride and that Scamper reminds him of Ren, and I think that The King looks alot like Couch Oleander from Psychonauts).
So she comes to life. But Oh NO! She's too Nice! Instead of doing what any other self-respecting Igor in movie history has done, and poke fire in her face (come on thats obvious! every igor knows that!) They decide to get her brainwashed. I actually liked the Brainwashing scene (Nice touch with the guy with the fly head/ fly with a human head there) but the major plot point of the movie also comes from here- one that I'm still not sure I'm convinced by- Eva's personality is the result of watching too much of the biography channel, about some woman's acting career. As such she convinces herself she's also an actress- specifically one who wants to star in Annie- thus officially becoming the most random of all Frankenstein-style monsters. This is all very well, but the pacing is SO bad in this movie that It's around here I start to loose track of whats going on, and I am only going via memory here, so lets just go straight to the end of this half hearted rant shall we?
A good animated "kids" movie needs alot of things to make it work. I'll write up a proper check list one day on what I think makes a good animated film (mainstream or otherwise). But for now just consider this.
You can fill your movie with as many stars as you want, design it as "quirkily" as possible, pump up the colours and copy ever is popular amoung the trendy dark set, but you can still fuck it up by having a poorly written script, crappy jokes and pacing it so fast your out blinking in the sunlight before you've even finished your pop-corn wondering what the heck happened.
I was sorely disappointed after waiting all summer to see this.
*(if you get the reference, then you've gotta suggest what the next cartoon I blog about).