Sunday, November 19, 2006

Happy Feet

From the ads, you would think that the new CGI movie Happy Feet was nothing but dancing penguins. The reviews give the impression that it is mainly plot. The actual movie is half-way in between. It has plenty of song and dance routines but there is also a lot of plot.

The plot itself is pretty familiar. It's pretty much the same as Rudolph - a character is dorn different, his father is ashamed and encourages him to hide his differences. When he reaches adolescence he is excluded and finally expelled. Eventually he returns to save the day with his special talent.

That said, Happy Feet is a much more satisfying version of the plot. The setup is that Emperor penguins find a mate by signing their "soul song". The trouble is that Mumble, the main character, can't sing. In fact, he's so bad he disrupts everyone else.

What Mumble does do, is dance. He was born with "happy feet". But he is the only penguin to do the soft shoe (claw?). The elders are wary.

Then there are the aliens who abduct animals, probe them, and release them with strange things attached to them.

The movie does graft in an ecological message but it's pretty weak (don't fish).

Where the movie really stands out is the quality of the CGI. The animals look photo-realistic. Even the few humans seem to be on the right side of the uncanny valley.

All told, this should be a good contender for best animated movie of the year.

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