Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Pinocchio’s Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a fresh take on Pinocchio. This one is by the Rankin/Bass guys and doubles as both an origin as well as a Christmas special. It’s an interesting version for sure, but it’s fairly short and once again this feels like it ends too soon. I also think the film didn’t work hard enough to make Pinocchio a sympathetic character and by the end you’ll be left unsatisfied with the whole thing.

The film starts with Geppetto looking to get Pinocchio a present. He decides to get the one thing he’s sure the kid always wanted, an arithmetic book. From the start you can tell that Geppetto means well but he is seriously out of touch. Pinocchio immediately sells the book and looks to buy something for his old friend. That’s when his other friends Fox and Cat show up. They tell Pinocchio about magical seeds he can buy. After suckering Pinocchio out of his money he becomes desperate for more options. He joins a travelling circus and even gets kidnapped at one point. What’s a puppet to do?

The problem with Pinocchio is that he’s never particularly sorry about what he does. The lies come very naturally to him here, even more than in other versions. Of course by the end he basically gets over his lying ways, but it took a lot of effort. He even chased out Jiminy cricket early on. Also, Pinocchio is extremely gullible in this version. Fox and Cat trick him numerous times yet he somehow doesn’t ever find out that they aren’t his friends. You’d think that after a while he would put the pieces together, but it would seem that he is simply too trusting. It becomes annoying by the end though as you’d like those characters to have met some kind of justice.

Geppetto also doesn’t look good here. When Pinocchio is lost he starts looking around town, but can’t even recognize Pinocchio through a simple disguise. So much for their strong bond right? He is very old so I guess his eyesight is going a bit, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that he should still be able to do a little better than this. Cat makes for a terrible villain with how she keeps sabotaging Fox, but Fox was reasonable. I think the voice actor had a lot of fun with this role. He was pretty over the top but in an intentional way that just worked well. If you gotta have a villain to mess with Pinocchio, you want someone like this.

As always, I do have to say that the animation style isn’t quite my thing. It’s not terrible but not as smooth as the traditional hand drawn animation we’ve all come to love. I’m also pretty mixed on Pinocchio’s design. It just doesn’t look right as I’m so used to the old one. It’s not a bad design though, it’ll just take some time getting used to it and the special isn’t really long enough for that to happen. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but the writing is decent. Nothing special, but nothing bad. It’s just around.

Overall, Pinocchio’s Christmas is a decent special, but I wouldn’t call it the most interesting or enjoyable. It’s not a bad time and I don’t think you’ll regret the 40 minutes it took to watch this one, but it just feels bland. The writers grabbed the story of Pinocchio but didn’t actually do anything with it. Switch around the characters with other iconic figures and the plot really wouldn’t change almost at all. That’s always a bad sign. Still, if you want to watch some adventures it’s a reasonable flick to check out. Otherwise, I’d stick to the classic tale. At least in the full movie him turning into a donkey was pure hype.

Overall 5/10

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Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Review


It’s time to look at a classic short about the origin of Santa Claus. It involves cosmic beings and a debate on if mortals should become immortals. It’s a pretty fun special but one where the length works against it to an extent as it ends so quickly. The plot appears to be on turbo mode the whole time so you’ll stay entertained, but Santa doesn’t get to properly prove himself. By the end of the special you’ll be on the fence about making him an immortal. If anything you may want to give him the thumbs down.

The short has a time jump near the beginning but essentially when Santa was a boy he was raised by a tiger. After that he was stolen by a fairy god and taken to the realm of the gods. They showed him how to live and eventually showed him how sad Earth was in comparison. Still, Santa decided that he needed to go there and help those who couldn’t help themselves. He was given a few holy beings to help him as well as some sprites. At last he could make the world a better place for those who didn’t have enough. He would make Christmas fun for everyone. Unfortunately, some cave trolls don’t like this and decide that they will rob all of Santa’s presents for themselves. Can Santa stop them or will he needs the gods to save him?

Naturally you’ll hope that it’s the former right? Unfortunately, Santa is able to do very little against these guys. He barely even tries to come up with a good plan and just does the same things over and over again. He insists on just walking through this dangerous valley over and over again to no avail. Santa is a nice guy of course, but he just doesn’t seem all that capable. Without all of the magical beings helping him I feel like he would have been absolutely doomed. The guy wouldn’t have even known how to live on his own since he was raised in a world where food is unlimited.

I will admit that the scene where the gods show up to fight the trolls was hype though. In particular, the Great Ak (The main god) shows up and basically tells the trolls to surrender or die. They choose the latter option and that’s it for them. In stories like this the high above beings usually just watch from afar and do absolutely nothing. I’m glad that this wasn’t the case here as they should be willing to come and help Santa out. They were his friends for a while after all and want him to succeed. Maybe they should have prepared him a little more before sending him to Earth.

Also, why should Earth have all of these supernatural beings anyway? You’d think that the gods would have wiped them out or established some rules as otherwise the normal humans are basically doomed from the start. These are all world building questions though and the special is way too short to deal with all of that. These aren’t really negatives, just observations. At the end of the day I thought this special was pretty fun. It had a little more action than I had expected and the premise is pretty interesting. It’s really not what you’d think of at all when you picture a movie about Santa Claus’ origin.

I’m still not a big fan of the animation style, but what else is new right? You either like it or you don’t by this point, but it won’t really hurt the film. It does limit how good it can be from the get go, but the movie stays in the positive area. I think if it had been just a little longer it could have possibly earned an extra star, but as it stands the movie ends up losing to most of the big Santa Claus titles or the more iconic Rankin/Bass productions. There’s a reason this one isn’t very well known.

Overall, This film will certainly teach you a very interesting way to look at Santa’s origin. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re curious. You certainly aren’t very likely to see the story play out like this again. It’s not their best production but it gets the job done and since it is fairly short it’s not like it’ll take a whole lot of time out of your day to check it out. Maybe one day we’ll get another Santa origin and it’ll draw inspiration from this one.

Overall 6/10

Animated Short Reviews, Animated Shorts, Reviews

The Little Drummer Boy Book II Review


It’s time to look at the relatively obscure sequel to the original Drummer Boy. At the very least I had not heard of this film before. The first Drummer Boy was certainly a classic so this one had a lot to live up to. It’s a reasonable special. Not a whole lot happens but that’s a given considering the length. The villains were pretty fun and I think the special did a good job with the visual gags. While this is a special that feels like it was made for kicks, I’m still glad we got a sequel.

The short starts out with a bunch of roman guards storming a poor village. Someone had spent months creating a few large bells to signal the birth of Jesus Christ and was preparing to set them up. Unfortunately the villains had other plans and quickly stole the bells. They plan to melt them down into pieces of silver so the villains will all be rich. All hope seems to be lost but that’s when the Drummer Boy steps in. He figures that he can distract the villains with his performance while the animals grab the bells but this task may enact a greater price than he could have ever suspected.

Naturally the guards are as corrupt as they come. You certainly aren’t supposed to root for these villains by any stretch of the imagination. Still, the special at least makes them fairly humorous. I actually enjoyed the song about money. Both because of how unexpected it was and because the lyrics actually made sense. It just had a catchy beat and if anything the villains were able to pull it off better than the actual Drummer Boy. Throwing in some good music is always a good way to make a special even more memorable and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting this one anytime soon.

I’m still not a fan of the claymation style though. It all looks rather clunky and the animations just don’t look as nice to the eye. There’s nothing particularly appealing about the style and since everything looks like clay you won’t be watching this one for the visuals. Still, the actual plot is good. It’s always cool to see something taking place around the birth of Jesus. The Drummer Boy makes for a good main character. He also made quite the sacrifice for his mission which is more than other leads would have been able to do in his shoes. The special has a happy ending though and so everything worked out in the end.

Overall, The Little Drummer Boy Part II is a pretty good sequel. It’s nice to have the old gang return even if his actual drum skills didn’t really look so good this time around. I guess realistically you can’t expect such a tactic to work for very long right? At least he was able to keep it up for a little while and it was a nice homage to the original. If you enjoyed the original Drummer Boy then I certainly think you’ll like this one and vice versa. They’re pretty similar and you could easily watch them both back to back since combined they would be about as long as the average episode if not a little longer.

Overall 6/10