It's official. Hollywood is running out of original ideas. What's worse; is that this trend is becoming increasingly more popular as time goes by. Cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and various Disney fairytale cartoon films are STILL being exploited even to this day.
And i understand that some cartoons can be well converted into CGI/live action, for example Transformers seems to do well in this medium. But most cartoons can't be converted so easily; at least not very well. Particularly ones with animal protagonists, because usually; the CGI version of cartoon animal characters end up looking like lifeless plush puppets, as you can see in the image. Even worse is when they try and blend CGI animals with live action people, with very awkward results.
Don't get me wrong though, i understand what they're TRYING to do here. They're trying to appeal to people's nostalgia, and at the same time introduce a new generation to an old classic cartoon. But with that said, why don't they ever rebroadcast the original TV series' that the film was based off of? At best, the movie introduces a new TV series based on the cartoon, but they almost never play re-runs to introduce people to the original series. It kind of defeats the purpose they claim to have.
By the way, have you noticed something about the marketing strategy for the CGI remakes of these cartoons? Notice an overuse of a particular eyewear that is often placed to make characters look 'cool' or 'rebellious', when in reality it just makes them look like total douchebags?? And here i thought putting sunglasses on a character for this reason died out with the 1980's, but for some reason this cliche is making a very obnoxious comeback! And i referenced the CGI characters from actual movie posters, so i'm not exaggerating this! Even Disney doesn't use this cliche anymore; after Oliver & Company failed miserably despite this marketing method. Sunglasses don't automatically make characters cool! They have to earn that status with an actual PERSONALITY.
Anyway, there's a lot to get through here! So lets go!
1. ROCKY & BULLWINKLE (TV series 1959 - 1964) vs. (The Movie - 2000)
If I'm not mistaken, this is the one that started it all. This i believe was the first cartoon to be converted into a full length CGI movie. The results....were not so good. Yeah, you're probably just now looking at this and thinking: "oh yeah, I (vaguely) remember when this existed." Anyone would tell you that this was not a good idea from the start, this movie has aged TERRIBLY! Almost to the point of non existence. The CGI is a real eye sore, this movie has probably some of the worst graphics you'll EVER see in a movie! And you can't even blame its age for this, think about it: this movie came out in 2000, a whole five years after the first full length CGI film was released (Toy Story), and the CGI in Toy Story looks MUCH better than this film. But that's not the only problem, the TV series really didn't need to be made into a movie, its simplicity made it too difficult to develop a good story. This is the problem for most of these remakes, another reason why i don't understand why movie makers want to do this in the first place. Very few cartoons have versatile universes in which the characters live. Most of the time, their worlds restrict creativity and development, because these worlds and character personalities can't be distorted too much; without a severe backlash from loyal fans.
2. PEABODY & SHERMAN (Peabody's Improbable History TV series 1959-1964) vs. (Dreamwork's Peabody & Sherman 2014)
For this, i've seen both the series and the movie. Yes, the graphics are MUCH better in this than the Rocky & Bullwinkle movie; that much is obvious. But as a movie goes, while it got reasonably good reviews; i was rather unimpressed. When i saw the trailers for this, i thought to myself: 'Another one of these?? Give it a rest already!' But then i saw it was animated by Dreamworks, and i thought: 'oh ok, Dreamworks can make pretty good movies; perhaps this one won't be so bad.' THEN i saw it was directed by Rob Minkoff, the director of one of my all time favourite movies The Lion King! Then i was like: 'Hell yeah! This movie is going to be awesome!' Dreamworks does great animation, Rob Minkoff can do great movies; i was pretty psyched for this! So i went to go see it, sat down and watched it and...eh.
It wasn't BAD, but it wasn't that great either, it wasn't even that memorable. I think it roughly has the same problem as Rocky & Bullwinkle, not much elbow room for creativity. And i say this because; Peabody & Sherman are literally from the same cartoon universe as Rocky & Bullwinkle! Peabody's Improbable History wasn't even a show on its own, it was a short segment series in the Rocky & Bullwinkle show. Each episode is literally only 5 minutes long, they were cute and charming but they don't leave much to work with. Also, the show is too old and forgotten. CGI cartoon remakes usually only work if the characters are widely recognizable, this isn't the case with the characters from THIS cartoon. I only knew of them thanks to a particular Simpsons episode! Speaking of which, this movie seems to be very similar to another Simpsons episode as well, the one where Ned Flanders trusts Marge to look after his sons Rod and Tod; and she inevitably helps them break free from Ned's overprotective grip. This film pretty much has this plot too, but panned out for a full length movie. It also has all the common cliches in the book, right down to the heroic sacrifice fake out death scene; I really HATE those in films now! Yeah i know 'it's a kids movie', but i don't think this excuse should justify bad writing. Can you imagine if Disney started making bad movies with lazy writing; and used that excuse to justify it? We wouldn't be impressed.
Again, this movie wasn't horrible by any means. But i did expect more from Dreamworks, and i expected a LOT more from you, Rob Minkoff.
3. GARFIELD (TV series 1988-1994) vs. (The Movie - 2004)
Remember when i said that CGI cartoon animals look really awkward when mixed with live action people? This is what i'm talking about. The two elements really don't blend well together, the only time this can be done well is if the animal is animated realistically (i.e Aslan from Chronicles of Narnia), when they are animated as CGI cartoons however; you get awkwardness. When i started this; i was sure that i had never seen the Garfield movie, but actually; i did. I saw it when it first came out in cinemas, but it was so forgettable that i forgot i had even seen it. That's not a good sign. Unfortunately though, it was popular enough to warrant a sequel. Only one sequel though; thank goodness! Garfield himself is a timeless comic character, very loved and well recognized in pop culture. He was uncaring and incredibly self centred, but never to the point where he was unlikeable. The movie however, failed to capture Garfield's natural charm, which was really a disadvantage for a full length picture. Why is he unlikeable in the film? I'm not actually sure. Maybe it's his voice actor's delivery, or perhaps his dialogue was badly written; maybe a mixture of both? I don't know. But i found Garfield in the movie just not that fun to watch, because of which; i found the movie not very fun to watch either. And i have to ask 'why is Garfield animated but Odie isn't??' I never got that. They used a real life dog to play Odie, but used a horrible looking CGI puppet for Garfield! And they never explained why! That annoys me way more than it should!
All i can say is, i really hope Jim Davis was payed a shit load for letting Hollywood mess with his character like that!
4. ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS (TV series 1983-1990) vs. (The Movie - 2007)
This one is a little harder to talk about, because i haven't at all seen any of the cartoon series' about these characters, but i have seen the (first) movie. While i was working on this piece, the Alvin & the Chipmunks movie played on TV, so i thought i should watch it to gain a perspective on it. Honestly though, i didn't watch the whole movie. I got through most of it, but then the whole 'sabotage' plot point came up with the record producer (or whoever was the 'Villain' in this movie) and i thought to myself 'i've seen this plot point play out in movies SO many times; there's no point watching the rest because i already know exactly what's going to happen.' The movie up to that point wasn't THAT bad though, i'll give it that. It was predictable and gimicky; but it was also cute and harmless. One big flaw though, is the music they decide to feature in the movie. If you want your movie to withstand the test of time, go for timeless themes and stories. Don't put modern day references in your film! It will age your movie with every year that folows it, the same problems lies with the sequels based on what little of them i have seen. This franchise was popular for a while, but now it has really died. That's what happens when you try to make your movie popular instead of good.
5. SCOOBY DOO (TV series 1969-1972) vs. (The Movie - 2002)
Ok, this one REALLY annoys me. I grew up watching the Scooby Doo cartoon, and all of the knock off series' that came after it. While i wasn't a 'hardcore' Scooby Doo fan; i still enjoyed watching the cartoon as it has well imprinted itself into my nostalgia. And then this abomination came out and annoyed fans the world over! With good reason...it sucks. It's badly written, it's stupid and it's just weird. The original series may have been cheesy and outdated, but it had an identity and a personality to it that is still being satirized even to this day. The movie tries WAY too hard to funny, and the CGI is pretty bad! Yeah, i know it's from 2002; but they made Scooby Doo look like Marmaduke! The plot 'twists' made no sense, the characters' personalities were way off and the movie had very little to do with the original show regardless of the fact that they used the same characters! For example, the (original) show makes it clear that there's no such thing as supernatural beings or occurences in their universe; something this movie clearly didn't understand.
The only thing that i can give this movie credit for; is that it is responsible for Scooby Doo's major comeback. Whether or not that was actually a good thing though, is debateable.
6. TINTIN (TV series 1991-1992) vs. (The Movie - 2011)
I can't really talk much about this because I haven't seen the movie on this one, but i have seen the TV series. It makes me wonder why they decided to make a movie based on a comic and TV show that no one really remembers that well. It has the same problem as Peabody & Sherman. Personally, i had forgotten that show even existed until i saw the trailers for this movie. The show was decent enough, but nothing spectacular. I remember only watching it when there was nothing else on. So, i wasn't really surprised when the movie tanked finacially. The movie didn't look that bad though, the animation i thought looked really impressive; and the film itself received generally good reviews. But i guess it just didn't have much to offer adults or children, which is probably why not many people remember this movie at all. I think it's established that Tintin does NOT convert well to other mediums other than comics, much like Garfield.
7. THE SMURFS (TV series 1981-1990) vs. (The Movie - 2011)
Again, i haven't seen the movie of this one. And to be fair...i don't want to. Just looking at the poster made me cringe! Why Hollywood? WHY? Talk about an odd choice for a full length movie! And how did it become so popular?? I have no words for this. If any of you want to contribute to this section, feel free to do so. Because i've got nothing.
8. YOGI BEAR (TV series 1961-1988) vs. (The Movie - 2010)
Yet another childhood classic of mine to suffer at the hands of CGI animation! I didn't watch the actual show that much, but the Christmas specials centred around this character were a big part of my childhood! And i still watch them every year as a Christmas tradition. When i saw the trailers for this...i died a little inside. It received terrible reviews, the movie tanked...thank god.
9. THE LORAX (Cartoon special -1972) vs. (The Movie - 2012)
What is it with Dr. Suess adaptations and dumbing down the story, message and characters? The original cartoon of this was sombre, thought provoking and dignified. The movie is the COMPLETE opposite! It focuses too much on being mindless entertainment and completely neglects the original story's tone and message. But again, this movie became wildly popular for a while. Why? I don't know. Luckily, its popularity has died; and now it's just another one lost in the rubbish pile of these films!
Ok, i think i've bitched and moaned about this long enough now. I'm not suggesting that there's anything wrong with CGI animation, but for crying out loud; leave classic cartoons alone! And you know what comes next don't you? You'll deny it, but the fact is; it's already happening as we speak. Live action/CGI remakes of classic Disney films! It's already begun, Alice & Wonderland has had the treatment already; and soon Dumbo!
What's to stop them from doing this to other films like Aladdin or The Lion King? You know it could happen, and there will be nothing you could do about it.
Oh, and i almost forgot. The idea for this piece was heavily inspired by the discovery that a new classic cartoon CGI remake is coming soon! All i can say is; I hope none of you are too emotionally attached to the classic Peanuts cartoon...
- The Flintstones
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
And way too many more!..
L E T I T D I E
L E T I T S H R I V E L U P A N D D I E
Tintin was amazing though; I also thought that the Lorax was okay depite being detatched from the original story and tone. Peabody and Sherman made my inner history nerd go nuts (in a good way) and as for the Chipmunks, Yogi and Smurfs...meh.
I didn't see Rocky and Bullwinkle though so no comment on that.
I like both versions of 'Rocky and Bullwinkle'. (Mostly the movie.)
I like both the comics, the cartoon and film series of 'Garfield', although I never seen the 2 films series.
I like both versions of 'Scooby Doo'.
I think I like the film version of 'Mr. Peabody and Sherman'.
I think I like both versions of 'Yogi Bear'.
I like the movie version of 'TinTin', although the artist in the film made the cartoon self of him.:rofl-rev:
I like both the cartoon and the film versions of 'The Flintstones', but when watching the 1st film, starring John Goodman, I didn't like how dirty Fred Flintstone's feet are, but only on one scene. [Link]
I thought 1994's The Flintstones and the original 90's TMNT film series worked perfectly fine in live-action as well, largely in part due to those great looking animatronic suits in TMNT and the amazing recreation of Bedrock in The Flintstones.