Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In short: H.P. Lovecraft & The Frozen Kingdom (2016)

I’m not the kind of orthodox Lovecraft fan who clamps his tentacles in horror at the mere idea of an all ages animated film concerning the man (or as in this case the boy) and his yog-sothery, so in principle, I have no problem whatsoever with the basic conception of Sean Patrick O’Reilly’s animated feature. Unfortunately, I do have quite a few with the film’s actual execution.

The animation side suffers from all the problems you might suspect when confronted with low budget computer animation: movement is often jerky, characters lack personality thanks to their painfully generic design and a minimum of detail, and the lack of background detail here borders on the absurd.A more creative approach to these technical and budgetary limitations could have turned into a style of its own for the film, but the way things end up on screen, the characters and environments just looks tacky and cheap. That’s certainly not a way to get sucked into the film’s world – unless bad digital animation is cosmic horror for kids.

The voice acting is weird. On paper, the film features a perfectly capable cast (with the bigger names of course playing the smallest roles), yet the style of the performances fluctuates wildly, one third of the actors aiming for an 80s Saturday morning cartoon style, another third sounding as if they were reading directly from a script the have just encountered for the very first time, and only the last third turns out something that actually fits the tone of the film they are in. It’s so all over the place one might question if there was any voice direction involved at all.

The concepts for the film’s world aren’t half bad, though you can hold it against The Frozen Kingdom that half of its Lovecraft references are mere namedropping without any actual use for the narrative, whereas much of the other half is used in often terribly un-Lovecraftian ways. The latter isn’t a problem for me, but the more conservative Lovecraft fans among the audience might get somewhat annoyed. And it’s not as if there’s much to distract anyone from any annoyances here, what with the lack of visual power, and a plot that is a very basic quest set-up presented with a lot of convoluted detail to make it look more complex than it actually is - and failing at that. Frankly, it’s a waste of a good idea, or the rough draft of a movie waiting for someone to actually polish it up.

No comments: