Hello, Spongey here.
It’s already time for another general review? Man, time flies. But I’m too excited about getting to this one. We have our 2nd animated film of the year already and it’s a Chinese Co-production being released by Lionsgate, who last year distribute Norm of the North.
And before that, they gave us Alpha and Omega and Happily N’ever After. Yeah, they only distribute movies but still…not a good track record. Honestly, everything about this movies looks insanely meh. Maybe not Norm bad, but still.
However, I’m not one to totally knock something before I see it, so maybe something okay can come out of it. The films comes to us from a bunch of companies, but is mostly animated by Reel FX.
They gave us Free Birds, than Book of Life. Even with only 2 movies, they’re already hit or miss. Hopefully like Free Birds, it’ll be to tide us over until something way better. It’s based on a Chinese Graphic Novel I’ve never heard of, and the director has worked on some real movies, including being a Co-Director on Surf’s Up, the greatest Sony Pictures Animation film to date.
He’s also a writer along with someone who has done nothing. It was actually released in China last year, making this a 2016 movie but it came to the US in 2017 so there. There haven’t been that many reviews yet because it’s that kind of movie, but the ones that exist are pretty eh, as expected.
My expectations aren’t that high, but I always want movies to be good, even if it’s not that likely. But I’ll talk about that more when we get to The Emoji Movie. This film isn’t getting a Canadian release, so Ani-Mat is missing out on it.
But I got it, at that same theater that skipped Arrival and Nine Lives. Why do they stick with the mediocre looking animated films? With all that said, will this movie actually manage to rock out, or will it drop like a rock?
Let’s find out.
This, is Rock Dog
I won’t be too hard given the background of the film and honestly, for what it is, the animation is okay. Not bad, not great either. Most of the film looks very generic and plain, especially the characters. The design are nothing special and I swear most have the same face.
Some look better than others, and their movements are pretty competent but nothing too flashy. The locations are also fairly plain. Things are done well enough to be okay but not good enough to be that interesting looking.
However, there is some nice lighting in some scenes. Nothing amazingly flashy but there are attempts to add a bit more of an artistic flourish, like the scene where Bodie listens to the radio. They at least put some level of effort into the animation. It’s mostly no better than an above average looking direct to video film, but I’ve seen far worse. There’s not much else to say.
It’s mostly plain looking and generic but it is completely animated in genera, and some small flourishes make it look…okay. Just…okay.
Bodi a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, is expected to become the next village guard to a group of fun-loving, country-side sheep, but fears he does not have the passion to assume the role from his dad Khampa
Everything changes when a radio literally falls out of the sky and Bodi hears a song by rock legend Angus Scattergood opening his heart to a musical world he must explore. Leaving home to chase his destiny in the big city, Bodi attracts the attention of Khampa’s nemesis Linnux Leader of a hungry wolf pack, Linnux believes that Bodi is his ticket back into the village and closer to delicious sheep. It is up to Bodi to save his family and friends from harm without giving up his newfound dream.
The writing is kind of half and half….and neither half is that good. Half of is just…generic. That’s it’s biggest crime half the time. Right from the first scene, you know exactly what is going to happen. Dad bans music because reasons so he’s pissed when Bodie likes it. Bodie goes out to achieve his dream and meets his idol only to find out he’s a jerk, although he grows to like Bodie overtime.
It hits all the beats you expected and it’s not done any better than in most stories like this. There’s no investment because it’s so very generic. Even the “follow your dreams/” moral is very watered down and not that interesting.
It’s not generic in a horrible way, just in a very meh way. The other half of the writing…is really incompetent. Not to Norm levels, but still weak. There’s a fair amount of things that don’t make sense, and scenes that go nowhere.
There’s the usual problems like weak pacing where it takes too long for things to happen, while also being too rushed to really feel the “character progression” supposedly going on. Then we get some randomly odd stuff.
Like how the villains have been staking out the village, as we clearly see. It’s how they discover Bodie. Yet they never thought of any plan to sneak into the village to see what they are up against. When they find out it’s mostly sheep, they immediately decide to invade. How did they not know this before?
There’s lots of stuff like that, where you are forced to question the logic of a movie called Rock Dog. Other logic problems play a part in the plot so you can’t ignore them. There’s also the pointless scenes, like when Angus is accidentally captured by the villains and they put him back after realized their mistake.
This is never mentioned again. Angus doesn’t tell Bodie that “Hey,i was captured by wolf businessman gangsters, might wanna keep your eye out for then”. Not even when they eventually do capture Bodie. You’ll be asking “what was the point of that “ a lot in this. This script not very well thought out sometimes.
Of course, there;s a very rushed ending and a non-climax. Even the title is a lie, as the Dog never actually rocks out. The guitar is not an electric one and even when he uses it at the end, it’s not that rocking.
And yes, it shades of other movies like anything with the follow your dream moral, and anything with animals. It kinda resembles Kung Fu Panda in places, like with the 2D Animated opening. To be fair, that was the best part of the movie.
So yeah, the writing is not very good. Half the time it’s very generic, but not awfully so and the other half, it’s incompetent with leaps in logic and weak pacing with scenes that go nowhere. I’ve seen way worse but this is still a little pathetic for a movie like this.
Yeah, spoilers, it’s another Direct to Video movie put on the big screen. Not as bad as even The Wild Life, but still not deserving of the big treatment. This about what I expected but I still got a few surprise…in a bad way.
With writing as generic and messy as this, you shouldn’t be too shocked to read that the character are the same. No one is hateable but no one is memorable or developed. Starting with our lead Bodie, voiced by Luke Wislon, he is the typical dreaming who wants to do something most people do want him to do.
That’s it, he’s as boring of a lead as you can get. Even Luke doesn’t sound that invested. In general, the voice acting isn’t bad but it’s clear they weren’t given that much to work with. Even the better ones are just…okay. So yeah, pretty dull lead who isn’t hateable but not interesting enough to root for.
His Dad is not even gonna try to spell his name, voiced by JK Simmons. Yeah, this is full of wasted talent. He’s not only the typical disapproving father…but he’s kind of a jerk. I know that’s the point and he learns his lesson but it’s rushed and he goes too far. The scene that makes him let Bodie head out is rushed, and in one scene he tries to scare his son straight by well, actually scaring him pretending to be a wolf.
He’s no Buck Cluck but he’s still overly jerky sometimes. JK Simmons was frankly used better as a pointless-ish bug. Then we have Angus Scattergood, voiced by Eddie Izzard. He’s the only voice actor who seems to be trying and he has some almost amusing scenes. However, the character is also pretty typical.
He’s not the biggest jerk ever, but him liking Bodie comes out of nowhere and while I sort of like how he has a sort of arc that connects to him bonding with Bodie, he’s still pretty meh. He hardly even helps in the 3rd act too.
Then we have these wolves that serve as the villains, lead by Lewis Black. They are some of the most useless villains. Not only the henchmen the typical dumb minions are do nothing right, but the bad guys aren’t even in most of the movie. Their presence feels pointless, honestly. The wolves are just an excuse for Dad to want Bodie to be a guard, really. Lrewis Black is given surprisingly little to do as well. These guys aren’t horrible, just pointless.
Speaking of pointless, every other character is pointless too. There’s some sort of love interest voiced by Mae Whitman who just appears sometimes to be helpful and even then she again doesn’t do anything to help in the third act.
She has this stoner friend who is kind of amusing, I guess. Sam Elliot appears as Fleetwood Yak (Ugh) who serves as the 4th wall breaking narrator. He’s okay.
As you can tell, this movie is full of characters who aren’t crazy unlikable, but are very generic, boring, and sometimes pointless. You won’t remember anyone from this, just like you won’t remember the film in general.
Well, that was boring. Rock Dog does have okay animation and a few laughs, but in general, it’s very generic. The animation is nothing special, the characters are all boring, and the writing switches between generic and incompetent.
But I still can’t really hate it. I can’t say it pissed me off THAT much and I suppose it’s harmless enough. Plus, it seems to have more effort put into it than you know who of the you know where.
It’s very close to being kind of bad, with all it’s problems, but I just can’t too mad at it. It’s saved by the just boring parts and it’s not exactly harmful. Maybe my standards were skewed by Norm but still, I can;’t call this that bad.
I can however call it very very mediocre. Will it earn a scene by scene review at some point? Eh, maybe. I was torn on leaving the emptiest theater I’ve ever been in (Yeah,i was the only one. Sad). But for now, this review will be it. I know I typically review the worst animated fim o each year, so if this ends up being it, I’ll give it another look near the end of the year.
I hope this stands as the worst, with it being just extremely mediocre. I still have no idea why this didn’t come out in January. Maybe they wanted to start animation for the year on a good note or once, but it’s still odd.
Needless to say, I don’t recommend this. Even kids won’t care too much for it. It’s not even bad enough to be watched out of curio sty. Just wait til you can rent for cheap on iTunes or whatever, it’s not worth seeing it otherwise.
This even bombed in China and given my turnout, I think it’ll bomb pretty hard. Which is too bad, there’s clearly some talent here but the film is just not good. Hopefully their next project will be better.
At least it took 3 movies to find a not good 2017 will for me. Next on the animation slate is an odd looking Dreamworks movie, so that should be fun. But I’ll see you next week for another X-Men that isn’t’ an actual X-Men movie which is getting pretty amazing reviews already. Looking forward to it.
Oh, and tomorrow, a scene by scene review of a worse dog movie.