General Review: The Wild Life

Hello, Spongey here.

Well, I took a bit of a break, didn’t I? Sorry about that, I wanted to save up some money, and the films coming out didn’t grab my interest. Don’t Breath looks good but I’ll wait  til Dvd on that one.

But we’re finally back with another animated feature. One that I know…nothing about. This film is an enigma to me. I got the trailer a few times, but I never heard of it before and doing research didn’t give me too much.

It’s a Belgian/French film from the studio behind Fly me to the Moon and A Turtle’s Tale. That’s all I really know about it. Plenty of odd films come out, but not in American Theaters nowadays.

I was surprised my local theater carried this, but not Nine Lives. On the bright side, it has nothing going against it, minus being from the studio behind two badly reviewed films. And also some of the directors and writers of those films.

Okay, I’m a bit worried now…but hey, even a 20 something on RT won’t deter me. I know so little of this film aside of the premise, that this will be interesting. It will be interesting when lined up to all these other animated films this year.

The concept is that it’s Robnson Crusoe from the POV of the animals. I’ve never read that one so this should be especially interesting for me. I don’t tend to go into films this blind, so this will be extra fun.

With all that said, will this film be a pleasant surprise, or will it be like Robinson Crusoe…primitive as can be? Let’s find out!

This, is The Wild Life

ANIMATION:

Being from a small studio, it’s safe to expect less animation. What we get is a mixed bag. It doesn’t look horrible, and some of it works. The main two locations of the ship and island are well done, with enough detail to make them look livable.

The island it’s exactly a paradise, but it looks enough. That’s the highlight of the animation, as the character is mixed. Sometimes it looks nice with solid rendering to make them realstic but still cartoon-y but other times it’s direct to video quality.

The humans never quite look right, and the movements can be slightly jerky or too fast at times. It’s hard to describe but it just looks off. It can look fine during action heavy scenes. The animation in general is very standard.

At best, it looks solid for the budget, but unspectacular, and at best it’s a slightly higher scale Direct to Video effort. It looks passable enough for what they were going for, and while it can be sub par, I can’t complain due to not being a big studio.

Plus, looks better than Norm of the North. At least it almost look theatrical ;sometimes.

WRITING:

n a tiny isolated South Pacific Island, Mak, a parrot and his friends live the perfect life. Then one day, after a violent tropical storm, they wake up to find a huge ship broken up on the beach. Two strange creatures emerge from the bowels of the shipwreck: Robinson Crusoe and his dog Aynsley. Unbeknownst to everyone, two ferocious cats have also survived the storm. They are determined to take control of the island and make the human pay for the years of bad treatment they had to endure as ratters in the darkness of the ship’s hull.

Slowly but surely the islanders drop their guards and welcome the newcomers to their island. Until one day, the cats with multiple litters of youngsters decide to put an end to it all and wreak havoc on their little piece of Eden.

As I’ve said, I’ve never read the book or seen any other version, so I have no idea how it works on that level. I can just say how it plays out on it’s own. And on it’s own, the writing is…not very good.

Yeah, let’s get that out of the way. At best, the writing is just kind of generic. At worst, wow is it messy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The basic concept it’s a bad one, but they don’t use it for much.

The concept to begin with is basic, which is fine. But in order to keep our attention, you have to give us something other than the basic plot. This mostly doesn’t. It amounts to what you would expect from the set up.

They are scared of Robinson but Mak wants to get to know him. They eventually find out he;s find and bond with him. And I told you the extent of the depth in the writing. Some of these bits are borderline interesting, but not only is it rushed but in the end not resolve too well.

Most of the film is spent with either them dicking around or them helping Robinson, while the Evil Cats do nothing. Seriously, after a run in with them they go into hiding and do nothing until the climax. …Well, one does something but we’ll get to that.

Speaking of rushed, they often rush anything interesting. At one point something happens that I won’t spoil, that they did not earn due to the poor pacing/writing and is not brought up again, despite how big it seems to be.

Speaking of pacing, man of that out of whack sometimes. Like I said, things are often rushed but other things go on too long. Any time an action scene happens, it will drag on forever, especially the climax but we’ll get to that.

As for the humor, it’s not horrible, and there’s a chuckle sometimes, but it’s mostly just easy jokes with no real wit. Not the worst humor, but pretty flat. For the most part, I was going to just write the movie off as simply not very good.

It had plenty of problems, but is just boring. Some of the stuff with them bonding can be nice enough, and it’s not always painful. It didnt’ piss me off….until the endi…actually, no. It’s not the ending because there is no ending.

This has one of the worst abrupt “endings’ I’ve seen in a long time. At one oint, the writers flat out giveu p on nay story or development and give us an overlong climax that seems to never end.

Then before we can care, it goes back to this pointless framing device in a very lazy way that ruins the point of even having one. After stuff happens, …it stops. By that I mean, the credits roll…while Mak is narrating what happened, while a freaking slideshow plays.

That’s right, not only do they start the credits while the ending is happening, but they don’t even bother to animate it. What happens is important enough to deserve full animtion, and no real enidng happens right before this happens.

Anything the film was building up to is TOLD to us here in such a lazy way. I was honestly insulted with how bad this ending was. I’ve seens films that seem to just stop but this is just beyond lazy.

I didn’t care beforehand, but an actual ending would at least make sense, and sasyfying anyone who cared. But if you do care, you will be pissed it all lead to nothing. I know I’m ranting but just…wow.

Before the movie just bored me, but not it pissed me off. So yeah, the writing is not good. At best, it’s just generic with nothing that interesting, and at worst it’s incredibly lazy and doesn’t care at all about proper story structure or any kind of development.

There’s more I can say but I’ve gone on long enough and some belong in the next section. Overall, the writing is “Eh” at best, and very poor at worst due to crappy pacing and no ending. This is just…wow.

CHARACTERS:

The biggest problem with the film before the ending would sadly be the characters. In order to make a simple story work, you need likable or well developed characters. However, these guys are bland at best, and unlikable at worst.

Starting with Mak. He’s sick of the island and wants to see what else is out there. Yes, that cliché and that’s all there is to him. He’s the dreamer that everyone scoffs at. And he’s the best animal character because at least he’s not an asshole, and has some reason what he’s doing. He’s just a dull protagonist.

Then we have Robinsin Cruseo, voiced by Yuri Lowenthal. On purpose,he’s in the background most of the time but he’s the most passable character because at least he’s somewhat nice, and gets a couple nice moments here and there.

He barely does anything though, aside from making a treehouse. In the climax he adds nothing. That’s kind of the point but I think them teaming up in the end would have added to their “development”.

And we also have villains in the form of these evil cats that want to kill them because reasons. Honestly, I’m surprised Wikipedia found a reason because it’s poorly explained in the film. They aren’t too threatening and their dynamic is typical. The female one is the brains while her partner is dumb.

They would just be pointless but they carry something odd. The female gets pregnant at one point to breed more evil cats. The thought of these two doing it is bad enough, but she gets preggo again later on.

Now, keep in mind her male friend does not like her too much and is best confused by her. He didn’t like the first batch of kittens because they are evil like the mom. He has no reason at this point to do the deed.

So the only way this could happen is if….uh…yeah. I don’t know, but this sounds like something that belongs in a children’s movie!

It’s sad that this is the most memorable thing in his movie before the ending. Honestly, it’s not worth it to list everyone else because no one changes enough for them to matter. The most important one is this other bird who is the voice of reason.

When they bond with Robinson, she acts like a bitch and thinks it’s not worth since he’ll just leave them later. This is never brought up later. Ugh. Otherwise, the other characters are just stereotypes defined by their annoying voice.

Any depth they could have goes away with the non-ending. Doesn’t help that they can be dicks and almost never shut up.

Overall, the characters are very dull with nothing to make them interesting or likable. I don’t think I hated one, but I never found one to be good. Getting the characters right is important in simple film like this.

They failed, making the entire thing just a bore. These characters are not only dull but become the film’s biggest problem.

Final Thoughts:

Some say a boring film is worse than an annoying/frustrating and The Wild Life is exactly what they’re talking about. Sure, the animation can be passable, and it’s sometimes harmless fluff, but the incredibly dull characters, and weak writing with crappy pacing topped off with a Non-Ending make it just a stupid sit.

Above all else, it’s boring. The writing makes it so you don’t care about anything going on, so you just kind of sit there watching people do things. There’s no attempt to engage the audience and any attempts are pointless with the ending.

Even if you cared, the movie surely doesn’t care if you care with how it ends. They simply did not care. Honestly, it can just be simply dull rather than terrible, but some truly poor writing in the end drags it down further.

Like Norm, this has no business being in theaters. Even with the okay animation, it feels like a direct to to video feature in terms of writing. Even with me getting the trailer a few times, I’ve seen very littler advertising.

Which is why I had only 4 people in my screening…two of which left! It hadn’t even gotten that bad yet. Maybe they left for another reason but ouch, this is the emptiest theater I’ve been in.

So yeah, I don’t recommend this. Maybe to very young kids, but I doubt even they would care about it. At best, it’s a rental. It’s not even interesting like Norm, it’s just boring. Norm still reigns as the worst animated film of the year, but this is now 2nd. At least Ice Age, Rachet, and Angry Birds had their share of inspired moments. This was just…bleh.

Not really horrible, but with very poor writing, it’s not worth it, sadly.

Writing: D-

Animation: B-

Characters: C

OVERALL: D-

Hopefully Warner Bros can save us with our next animated film. It could be fun. As for the next general review, it’ll either be that or a return to a found footage classic next week. We’ll see if I feel like seeing it.

Either way, at least I finally got to go to a movie again. Even if it sucked. Hopefully I’ll see something better next. If my theater carried this, I’d hate to see how Nine Lives is, given they skipped that one.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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