Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday animation: The Princess and the Goblin


I meant to review this last week, but was unable to.  I finally get to review an obscure movie, yay!  Though I think many women my age have probably seen it.  They just might not remember it!

I saw this movie when I was very young, and though I watched it multiple times, it had been so long that I had to review it.  Plus, back then, I didn't have a real appreciation for animated films, so I needed to watch it as an adult to understand it better.  When I first saw this, I probably would've given it five peridots!  But now, I can be a bit less biased.  :b

I also read the book on which this film was based several times when I was little.  I still had trouble remembering the story up until this past week.

Overview: The Princess and the Goblin is an animated childrens' fantasy film released in 1991 in Hungary and 1994 in the U.S..  The film combines the efforts of teams from three different countries: the UK, Hungary, and Japan.  The film received mostly negative reviews, especially since its American release was overshadowed by the highly acclaimed The Lion King from Disney.  As suggested by its American distributor Hemdale, children tend to rate the film quite high.

Art: Some of the backgrounds are actually really nice and lovely.  Facial expressions don't always match the emotion or words that the characters express which is just poor animation.  It does not surprise me that Japan had a hand in this film as anime is well-known for characters only flapping their mouths but not expressing much otherwise.  Well, that's how it was back in the early nineties, anyway (and to some degree, that's still how it is!).  The designs are okay, better than a regular cartoon, but not particularly nice to look at it.  Everything is mostly fluid, and there is actually some nice rendering of light and shadows.  Not always, but sometimes.  I like the way water is rendered when it's falling, too.  There are actually some fairly impressive shots like when Irene rides down the cave walls on a rock.  I liked the animation over the credits as that suggests some extra work went into the film, though the dedication was strange (to babies born during production?).  I appreciate the obvious effort that went into this film and am giving the animators the benefit of the doubt that the lazy animation was not due to lack of caring but rather lack of money.  Considering the other movies that came out around this time, though, I still can't rate it too highly.  I would expect something like this from the seventies or even eighties, but from the nineties, this is quite poor.  It's only a few small steps above a regular cartoon.  Even so, I definitely recognize the talent of the artists and that this was a film that they cared about; it was not just made for money.

I wish the characters looked as good as the background.  They seem a little out of place.
I love how light looks in this film.

She should be leaving a shadow behind her.  I love when animation pays attention to those kinds of details, but not in this film.  Oh, well.

I love how the water looks here.
Fairly impressive animation in this scene.  Not as mind-blowing as Tarzan makes it look later, but still good.

Sound: Terrible acting from almost everyone.  Curdie's voice actor is especially terrible.  It's almost painful to listen to him.  The voices all matched, though.  I actually enjoyed the Prince Froglip's voice actor, Rik Mayall.  He was so fabulous!  I understand that this actor is dead now, which saddens me.  He really was the best in this movie, easily the most talented.  Sound quality was not perfect, but it was clear and easy on the ears.  The music was just okay.  I enjoyed the one song that Curdie sings, but it wasn't that great or memorable.  It was certainly triumphant and nice, but it's kind of boring.

Story: This story is definitely intended for children.  I do not remember the book at all, to be honest, but I imagine that this film is probably fairly close to the source material for the most part.  I imagine that there is no cat in the book, though, at least not like the cat in the movie (named Turnip).  Anyway, the movie has some dark moments, but it's overall pretty light, perfect for children.  Princess Irene is one day chased by goblins but is saved when a mining boy named Curdie sings to scare them away.  The two become friends and then must save the rest of the kingdom from the goblins who plot to have their goblin prince, Froglip, marry Irene and thus rule over the "Sun People."  While not the most compelling story, there's enough adventure and fun to keep you entertained.  The characters are not the most interesting.  Curdie is especially kind of flat.  Irene is a bit of a brat at times.  The most interesting character was probably Prince Froglip, but that's likely because his voice actor really gave him a lot of energy.  There is a moral of finding your own strength and not relying too much on others, but it's kind of a thin moral.  It's very easy to miss or forget.  This whole film reminds me of Disney's The Black Cauldron, just with poorer animation, character designs, and acting.  But really, Curdie is a bit like Taran and Irene is a bit like Eilonwy.  Even Eilonwy's bauble can be compared to Irene's great-great-grandmother.

Isn't that adorable?  Except that they're like eight.
The king looks like the Burger King.  D:
Personal appeal: I loved it as a child.  I remember renting it from our local rental store several times and watching it over and over and over.  For that reason, I like it today on a very nostalgic level.  I can't say it's a great film, but I can say that it is a good one.  I would definitely be up to watching it again with my own children (if I ever have any, haha) or if I'm babysitting (which I no longer do, but who knows?).  I admire the animation for what it is.  It's poorly done at times, but considering the time it came out and the countries it came from, it's pretty good for my taste even though it does look like it belongs in the eighties, not the nineties.  I never expect the quality of animation that Disney produces from any other companies because that would be unfair.  Most non-Disney animation companies at this time simply did not have the money to produce high-quality animation.  I appreciate the obvious effort despite this limitation.  Any company that creates animation just for the end credits obviously cares about their work.

RAINBOW!  One of the most cliched ways to end an animated film, haha.
Overall, I give this film two peridots.  If the acting were better, I would probably give it another half peridot.

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