Friday, April 06, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Family Portrait

Disney's recent animated features have been misses, with the likes of Chicken Little and The Wild performing below expectations despite the updated computer generated toons and marketing gimmicks, bringing to mind the age old adage that the story comes first. As far as animated movies go, Pixar's the one to beat, having crisp drawings perform to the tune of a superb story. Meet the Robinsons is not a Pixar movie (given that the two companies have now merged), and I'm pleased to say that Robinsons has indeed remembered to go back to basics, in whipping out a strong, engaging tale for its computer generated animation.

The trailers have more or less summarized the story. Lewis is a brilliant kid inventor who meets up with a boy from the future, Wilbur, who enlists Lewis' help in stopping the evil plot of the Bowler Hat Guy, who intents on coming to the present day to wrong certain rights so that the future can be changed, to his advantage of course. It's a time travel movie, and I dare say, space time continuum aside, that it makes cinematic sense, as well as filling it with loads of imaginative fun, especially with the Robinsons, folks from the future whom Lewis meets in the course of his mission.

Though the story developed at a slower than expected pace with a relatively dry introduction, its buildup is measured and it got better as time went on, grabbing your attention hook line and sinker. At times you can guess how the narrative will proceed, and how the expected twists will turn out to be, but it is indeed its delivery of the final act that made it all worthwhile, wrapping up the loose ends with that trademarked fuzzy Disney feeling, that lifts the movie from mediocrity, into an instant contemporary classic.

It is not everyday that a movie comes along, and celebrates failure in a non-comedic premise, coupled with reminders of never giving up, and a theme of family, camaraderie and belonging. It looks on the positive side of things even when the situation is bleak, and I'd bet by the time the end rolls around, there'll be a tinge of bittersweetness in its triumph. The story contains great characters in its ensemble, even though some only feature for a limited time and most already seen through promotional material and trailers. And I thought they dampened expectations too, especially that classic scene with the T-rex about its arms - you're constantly expecting that scene to turn up, and when it does, it becomes anti-climatic.

Based on a book and filled with great songs, Meet the Robinsons evokes the same spirit as movies like Back to the Future and Frequency, both of which are among my favourites, so it isn't difficult to proclaim that this animated movie is a must watch, even if its voice talents are not contributed from those in the A-list.

The screening is preceded by a classic Mickey Mouse short called Boat Builders. A rare opportunity to watch Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy on the big screen, so enter the theatre hall early in order not to miss it!

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