June 26th, 2006

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The movie that should have been 2D

Last night, penelopecat and I finally saw Valiant. I thought there was something just not quite right about it, but couldn't put my finger on it.

Yeah, its character development was lacking, but so it is with a lot of minor animated features, even ones carrying the Disney banner as this one is despite its mostly British production. It was a nice enough movie, but something seemed wrong.

Today I finally hit upon what was wrong. It shouldn't have been CGI. I think the movie really would have worked better in traditional 2D animation. Yet, I can't exactly say why this is.

So, why is it that a film might not work well in CGI but would in 2D? I don't think it's a case of simple "2D is better." Would Shrek or any of the Pixar features work as well in 2D as they do in CGI? I don't think so.

Maybe it has to do with who makes the film. I don't know about the rest of the production staff, but I recognized the lead storyboard artist in the credits: Art Vitello, whom most of you will recognize from his work on Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania and, earlier, a lot of Pink Panther productions. Could it be that a 2D artist (or artists) working in a CGI film is what made it seem wrong? What intangible thing is it? I don't know. I just know that when I imagine the characters and their scenes in traditional hand-drawn cel animation style, it seems like it would work where in CGI it seemed, ironically, somewhat "flat".

One possibility I thought of is its historical setting. CGI looks "modern" or even "futuristic", thus seems out of place on a film set in 1944.