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two animated flicks

Posted Nov 07 2005 12:00am
This weekend we rented Batman v Dracula on Saturday, and we went to the movies on Sunday to see Chicken Little. One sucked, the other was a lot of fun. Can you guess which was which?

Batman v Dracula was a blast, if you like this sort of thing. Flat, somewhat angular, shadow-laden animation that is just one notch better than Saturday morning fare, but a decent enough story and reasonable script that kept things ticking along at a lively pace. This is one of the newer incarnations of Batman, The Batman, and he seems to have a good balance of brooding, Dark Knight moments along with lighter Bruce Wayne stuff, and this version of Alfred is a lot more stuffy than has been seen since the original TV series. I liked the connection of The Batman's mystique to Dracula's; it was an angle I hadn't thought of before. The Batman series plays up a nearly Spider-Man like question of whether The Batman is a good guy or a bad guy -- most every other incarnation I've seen (except for the recent Batman Begins, which I quite enjoyed) plays the Batman as a straight, unambiguous good guy, no questions asked. There has always been that element of vigilantism, of course, but in previous versions, the ordinary people have been grateful for his efforts. This time, there are just too many questions, and the answer to many of them keeps pointing towards the Batman, so...

Anyway, I liked it. I liked it a lot more than Chicken Little, which featured a host of really, really appalling messages. Like never go to your parents when something you don't understand is happening, because they won't listen to you, and couldn't help you figure out what to do even if they did listen to you. Or how about, just disappear and pretend you don't exist after you make a mistake? Whatever happened to, Hey, we all make mistakes, we need to learn from them? Then there's also the idea that to get your parents to pay attention to you, you have to do (or be) something really extraordinary -- something other than yourself.

One the whole, it's enough to turn anyone's stomach. That so much garbage is wrapped up in a number of cutely drawn animal-characters doesn't make a bit of difference. The main characters are fine, sympathetic and funny, but Garry Marshall's character, the Dad, should never have made it off the storyboard. Gahhh! There is one genuinely scary scene in the movie, but the suspense that it generates is rapidly unravelled. It's too bad because if it had played out the way it seemed to be going, it would have given the movie some much-needed gravity and would've shown the serious consequences that miscommunication and lack of trust can cause. But that doesn't happen because, ya know, it's Disney and they (frankly) suck.

The one good thing about this movie is that there were no weird or inappropriate in-jokes for the adults involving things like wife-swapping or gang rapes or breast-ogling. I'm not at all sure what was going on with the pig character's love of show tunes, Barbra Streisand, and pop anthems ("I Will Survive", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), but that stuff just came across as funny to the target audience (the kiddos), even if it does leave me with the impression that the adults are supposed to understand that the pig's gay, wink-wink. Honestly: what's the point?

You've been warned. I don't want to hear any complaints about this one in the future.

An addendum: I watched the fairly wretched Blade Trinity this weekend as well -- the same night as I watched Batman v Dracula, and let me tell you, The Batman was far better. As much as I love watching Wesley Snipes kick ass and weild that sword, this movie was just ridiculous. Way too much pointless fighting, especially when all the vampire hunters had to do was shoot a vampire with one of their special bullets and the blood-suckers would just evaporate. If you have weapons that good, why would you ever bother going hand-to-hand with anyone? Clearly, the writers and director never thought that particular point through. Snipes looked great, but sadly Dracula (yeah, he shows up here, too) is badly miscast and has no charisma -- fatal! He doesn't have to be gorgeous, but he does have to be compelling, but this version simply wasn't. Also, not too bright for someone who has supposedly been alive for thousands (don't ask) of years. And I won't even go into how stupid the denouement was. If you must watch this, put the mute button on and supply your own dialog; you'll be a lot happier. One cool thing: the mutant vampire Pomeranian was a hoot. Again, I say: you have been warned.

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