Right, literally got back from my meeting with the Robinsons!
My initial thoughts, as they pour from my head...
Working For Peanuts: GREAT to see some classic Donald on the big screen. I don't know if they're showing this cartoon in "flat" theaters, but I went 3D, so it was attached. Laughed out loud several times even though I know this cartoon backwards. The digital restoration on it looked superb...if only all archival cartoons could look and sound this good. Speaking of sound, I noticed two instances of replaced effects, if I'm not mistaken.
New Disney animation logo: nice, but what was with the marker pen Disney signature? It looked odd, and the D - the most prominent letter in that whole logo remember - looked flat and boring. Almost perfect, but let down big time with that mistake.
Robinsons: Actually, I very nearly thought this was the worst film I've seen since Robots!
Loved the opening. Very atmospheric and set the scene well. Danny Elfman's score throughout was as good as everyone here has been saying. I wasn't sure how much I liked the animation on the orphanage woman, nor the fact that Lewis and his roomate seemed to be the only two in there!?
Bowler Hat Guy...great fun character, but worth anything? He didn't seem to have much grounding. I also couldn't work out, knowing what we do about him by the end, why he was British!? And if he was British, why was he bothered about the baseball game?
That's not all that didn't match up for me. The future: I'm presuming Lewis' time was now, so going on how old Cornelius was, that's only a 20 year difference, roughly. So, given that Lewis wouldn't really start changing the world for another three-five years, they're saying the whole world's going to change <I>that much</I> in 15/20 years at a minimum? Nope, didn't buy that. Better for the future to have been set another generation or two in the future and maybe have the Cornelius character be the grandpa, because the difference in time does not equate the differences in the world.
The future, part II: I almost hated it. The opening of the film was great, followed by the science fair and some typical Disney kid speak that started to put me off. Then Wilbur came along and the whole movie just went random, and not in a likeable way. There was no real heart in the future at all, which is what it needed to ground the randomness. Being crazy is all well and good, but it needed something else. It collapsed into a mumble of one-liners and shouty voices that I thought were just loud, aggressively trying to be "funny", and studio-self concious.
And then...the end... I don't know if any of you are familliar with Blood Brothers, the musical play. As anyone will tell you, it's pretty rank amateurish throughout, and many people leave half way or can't really work out why this thing has run for so long and what all the fuss is about. And then...the end comes, and it hits you hard, and the first thing you want to do is go back in and see it again. That's what happened here.
Just when I was thinking, "gawd, this is almost as bad as Robots, what happened to all that good stuff at the beginning", we then meet Cornelius, and somehow the whole film locks back together, he brings a dramatic weight to things and super-injects a whole lotta heart that's been missing until now. Then Lewis gets the trip he wanted all along, and it's played really, <I>really</I> well. I felt for the characters more than I had done all along, and I don't mind admitting that I shed a tear, half for Lewis, and half in respect of the work that the artists pulled off in these final moments based on the great values that Walt Disney created all those years ago.
Though it suddenly all became rushed, with Lewis finding a family, all the coincidences that occur in the last seconds of the film, and how neatly - too neatly - things all wrap up, it all worked. And then we get the "Walt quote" and that just knocked me for six. This film is all about the ending for me, and though it was sometimes a tough slog to get there, it pays off.
Things I found didn't work: I couldn't go with the fact that the characters were stylised but that real people's photographs were used in picture frames. This didn't make sense. Why no caricature of Einstein and Tom Selleck instead of real photos. Doesn't that make the entire cast of characters freaks in their own world? Or are Einstein and Selleck the disfigured freaks? It works on South Park because that's not photorealistic. Robinsons is striving for a stylised photorealism, so those real photos stick out and don't work, plain and simple.
Doris...while the background story to her character doesn't quite add up, it works, but I felt her threat could have been bigger and more of a build up to a proper showdown. I could have done with Lewis coming to a realisation about what he could do to stop her rather than just say what he says. Doris really needed and deserved a slightly bigger ending, and <I>perhaps</I> a little more resolve for the roomate kid (forgetting his name here).
Overall, I liked what was being attemtped, buy found the middle tough going. What was with the Frogs? Just too much was thrown in there that didn't make sense. Tiny was funny, but how did Bowler Hat Guy get him there? I knew they weren't going to show that and have him just turn up, but still...
I felt that some parts were rushed or didn't have enough depth, while other parts tried to get too much in, and some sequences went on for too long or didn't have a reason to be there. I'd have to see it again to give it a full appraisal, but those are what I brought home with me.
The look of the film was overall okay, though once again the 3D didn't really add anything for me. It didn't put me there, like going to the Titanic in Ghosts Of The Abyss did. The animation was uniformly excellent, apart from some characters, and for such a crowded film there were not many people on the streets...another thing that never seemed to be a problem in hand-drawn times. Nothing particularly "wowed" me, including Bowler Hat Guy, who had had his best scenes revealed in trailers and clips. The voice cast were overall good apart from Wilbur, who was too old, and possibly Lewis who was too whiny. Why did a man play the sister part in the future? I didn't see the reason for that. I didn't think the dialogue overall was that well written.
A good effort, but not a strong one, and certainly not a "return to form" from the Mouse House. There were peeks of very good things in there, but not enough and not across the entire movie. Lastly, given the onus on Lewis and the fact they had a name change anyway, I wondered why they didn't go with a more suitable title? Given how rished through and meaningless meeting the Robinsons actually turned out to be, that didn't seem to make sense either.