Tuesday, September 20, 2005


SPECIAL ARTICLE: It’s about that time, at last. . .

Still working on enochallen.com, but I stole some time away from that energy-sucking endeavor to post another installment of the ol’ Suite 101 work. Many of you know how this works.

No alterations. Even if you see a word spelled wrong in the article, like “balls” spelled “ballz”, or even worse--“bcullz”--that is the way I typed the word when I initially posted the article. That is the way that you will see it. That’s me—a writer full of integrity, to the point of embarrassment and humiliation. No edits, whatsoever. No spell checks. Only the unabridged, unmolested article.

Let’s get this thing movin’.

Not Brave Enough To Go Theatrical

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 10, 2002

by Enoch Allen

By now, you’ve heard of the Disney sequels, formally labeled “cheapquels” by dissenters. But, Disney isn’t the first company to make animated sequels, and neither will they be the last. Paramount advised their companion studio, Nickelodeon! Films, to manufacture a continuation of the 1998 hit “Rugrats! The Movie”, and the sequel came to be called “Rugrats in Paris”. That did well also, on a meager budget. (Now, the first one wasn’t all that good. The second one was even worse. I can only torture myself by imagining how bad the third one’s going to be.)

A third Rugrats movie, “The Rugrats Meet The Wild Thornberrys”, is slated to be out either this November or early next year, depending on how hard up Nickelodeon! Films is for additional cash. Or maybe they’re just plain GREEDY.

But, there something to be said for Paramount’s audacity to distribute their animated sequels--in a theatrical fashion. Astonishingly, none of them have gone direct-to-video, while Disney, Warner Bros., and (yes) even Dreamworks did not have the stomach to give their animated sequels a theatrical release. (For Disney, “Return to Neverland” doesn’t count for crap. It is a film that stands all by itself in terms of being “linked” to the Disney classic “Peter Pan”.) “Toy Story II” counts as a legitimate release, partly because the same exact characters--and the same voice actors--return for a second outing.

But Disney seems to think that releasing swill like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame II” is acceptable. Okay. If they think that it is acceptable to put this trash on video, why not “Go the Distance” (title of song on the soundtrack to “Hercules”) and commit it to celluloid. Or, at least digitally. It’s bad enough that critics severely bashed it when it appeared on video. Why not take some lumps, for being so--um, what’s that word, Roger--GREEDY.

I would not like to call Dreamworks “greedy”. I’d like to believe that they are a respectable film company. I mean, after all, it was founded by Spielberg, Katzenberg, and Geffen. All three of these gentleman know what it’s like to work with greedy studios. So, they don’t repeat their mistakes. As a result, Dreamworks’ films tend to be higher in quality. I mean, how else do you explain two of their films in a row winning Best Picture at the Oscars? (The two Best Pictures were “Gladiator” and “American Beauty”.) That’s why it puzzled me as to how they could release a picture as good as “Joseph: King of Dreams” direct-to-video. Another thing is Universal, releasing “Balto II: Wolf Quest” to video. That was a well-made production--too well-made to be among the other amazingly poor direct-to-video efforts (if they can, indeed, be called “efforts”).

Maybe they just weren’t brave enough to go theatrical.


Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 11, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Just that simple. A title, as short as the one above, that explains away the subject matter of this article. E/I. You know, I have a problem with that rating, given to children’s shows that “meet” the FCC educational guidelines. The FCC demands that the classroom time be extended to three hours every week. So that means that even if their teachers aren’t physically there to harp on them about the War of 1812, there’s always substitutes when you need one. And the FCC have appointed themselves substitutes.

Or rather, enforcers. The “substitute teachers” in question are the animators that are forced to decrease the entertainment value of the program by instilling useless aesthetic, scientific, or historical facts in order to meet the guidelines set in stone by the FCC. One such program that will help FOX fulfill its educational obligations is titled “Stargate Infinity”. I don’t know much about it, but rest assured when I get some additionals on the animated show I will profile it in a future article.

But, I can barely stomach education these days now. After twelve years of getting useless facts shoved down my throat and succumbing to New York State’s education system, I doubt whether I’d want to see ANY(!) programs that would remind me of grade school. Entertainment should be entertainment, not used as a tool to further inundate children.

Picture this. You’re an adult. After hours of hard work on a highly stressful job, you come home--dead, dead tired--and you flick on the television. A sitcom is on, that features--bang!--a telemarketer, dealing with intemperate customers. Hey, wait a minute! You just got done with that job. What do you do? Do you:

A.) Change the channel?

B.) Put up with the program and say, “Hey, it’s not my life.”

C.) None of the above.

Some of you would probably pick C. And then again, I’m hoping that the overwhelming majority of you would pick A, because that’s exactly what I would do. If I’m a telemarketer coming home from work, I wouldn’t want to see, hear, or breathe anything that might remind me of the job that I just came from.

And this can be tangentially related to children, coming home from school. Let’s not remind them of Monday. Instead, let them enjoy Saturday and Sunday.

Maybe You Can't . . . But I Can

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 11, 2002

by Enoch Allen

Animation can do so many things that can’t be accomplished in live-action. Think about it. In animation, we can mesh and metamorphose two human beings into all shapes and sizes, and even some that haven’t been invented yet. In live action, you will need any number of special effects masters to achieve a RESEMBLANCE of the figure that I described to you. You would need to import and combine a number of special effects programs to make it look halfway believable. And THEN afterwards, you would need to ask of the audience to suspend their disbelief.

Let’s imagine Live Action and Animation as two separate characters. They can each bring to life two sets of inanimate objects. One of these sets of objects is in this dimension called reality, which we live in. The other set of objects are in another dimension, that fanciful dimension which is inaccessible. But nevertheless, Live Action and Animation are both living, breathing life-forms that exist--if only in our imaginations.

Live Action claims superiority over Animation because Live Action brings to life objects that we, as LIVE human beings, can relate to. Animation likes to bring to life objects that CHILDREN can relate to, but can adapt its practices to adult tastes with little or no effort at all. Live Action, though, has shortcomings that we are very familiar with, such as the ability to be original. You see, we see Live Action bring to life the same exact objects, every day. Animation, however, can bring to life whatever it wants, wherever it wants, and it could do so seamlessly.

There are proponents of Live Action, more proponents for this living medium than there are lobbyists in Washington. Some of these proponents of Live Action are indifferent towards Animation, while others are fiercely opposed to it. Than, there are proponents for Animation, who will fight to the death in defense of the medium.

The major aspects of both mediums are their collective abilities to entertain. But, how much entertainment value may be gained from Live Action vs. Animation? More entertainment value can be gained from Animation, because of its elasticity and its capability to adapt to so many different tastes and ideas and visions. Live Action doesn’t have the “elastic” ability. While it doesn’t have to be manually mastered, it even requires the assistance of some of Animation’s tools to make itself logically acceptable to the viewer. Meaning, computers are one of Animation’s tools. And, they have to be used in order to assist Live Action in its quest to gain authenticity. Things that look too CG in Live Action blends effortlessly into Animated environments.

This is just another case of Animation saying to Live Action, “Maybe you can’t, BUT I CAN.”

To Be PG Or Not To Be PG-13

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 12, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

Animated pictures these days are either rated G or PG. Rarely are they PG-13, and even rarer do you see an R rating awarded to an animated picture. (Though, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” got the R rating--no surprise there.) Recently, though, we’ve seen an abundance of animated pictures receive the PG rating, which is mildly shocking. No, it is not an indicator of maturity in the animation industry--rather an indicator that their subject matter is getting more and more intense. The MPAA has young viewers in mind and slapping on a PG rating just informs the parents that the comic mischief or small bits of violence featured in the film might exact some influence over their child’s behavior . . . thereof.

So, I’m a paragraph into this article, and yet I haven’t identified a clean theme. Maybe I’ve run out of steam after 20 or so articles. NOT.

This article’s about the inane ratings that the MPAA gives animated movies in particular, but this topic can appeal to movies as well. For a PG rating--or, to earn a PG rating, a movie must have no more than five “s**t” words, and a dozen or two mild profanities (the usual “hell, damn and ass”). For a PG-13 rating, such a film must not have more than thirty or so “s**t” words, two “F” words, and three dozen mild profanities (although, the defining boundaries as to what constitutes an R picture and a PG-13 are getting blurred; more gratuitous violence can be allowed in PG-13 pics, in addition to three “F“ words and more profanities than stipulated). Rating “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Lilo & Stitch” PG just shows the shallow-yet-obtuse criteria that these pictures have to meet to rile the feathers of the board, and not get the coveted “G” rating. Both of which could have passed for G movies as recent as ten years ago. What can’t be explained is a PG-13 rating for “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, which features multiple beheadings, impalements, and dismemberments. True, it does not feature scenes of sexuality (or even sensuality, for that matter) or language. But the fiercely intense violence of the battle scenes would not have been labeled suitable for general audiences ten years ago, when “Last of the Mohicans” featured the same thing.

But, on the same token “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, which by all rights should’ve gotten a PG-13 (and even more puzzling, it was released in the comparatively conservative year of 1993), serves as a sterling example of the instability, or the integrity, of the MPAA ratings. I believe that, if an animated picture receives a rather mature rating, they should earn it, by displaying something really offensive.

Page 2

Let me turn my focus now, on the fact that most animated films released in the past two years are not mature enough to warrant a PG rating. I sincerely hope that animated films released in the future grow up to be PG-13s.

A Promising Start

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 13, 2002

The “Best Animated Film” category at the Oscars appears to be a step in the right direction, in regards to the process of legitimizing the animated film industry. Close-minded individuals should take note that the Animation will be suppressed no more. Now that Animation is on the verge of being recognized, maybe it is possible that they might select quality animated films and recognize them with Oscars, also. Giving out Oscars to the most popular animated films will only serve to shut out more deserving films.

“Shrek” wasn’t a bad movie. Actually, it was pretty good, parodying animated movie conventions. “Shrek” fits much into its ninety minutes--the funny animal sidekick, the obligatory villain, the beautiful princess, an epic cast of characters--who all serve to mock the Disney-fied tried-and-true formula of making animated pictures.

“Monsters, Inc.”, the penultimate of animation, is an orgy of artistry, so much so that one could overdose on the visuals. On the DVD, which comes out September 17, I plan on pausing every scene of the film so that I may take it all in. I can’t get over the designs of Mike and Sulley, and the very human face of Boo. Check out the film’s enemy, Randall--he’s a hoot in more ways than one.

I’m still not sure why “Jimmy Neutron” was nominated. I mean, it sure wasn’t a shoo-in for the award. Everybody knew that “Shrek” was going to win--after all, DreamWorks paid $220,000 for a three-page spread in the New York Times. Plus, the studio posted glaring “For Your Consideration” advertisements in almost every major publication.

Recognizing animated films with Oscars truly indicates that Hollywood is finally giving a long-denied honorable mention to animated films. Notice, though, the term “honorable mention”. Unless animated films can compete with live action films in the coveted “Best Picture” slot (Like “Beauty and the Beast” did, once upon a time), their honoring of animated films will not be looked upon as anything of strong significance.

Randy Newman's Oscar

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 14, 2002

He is one of animation’s most gifted composers, yet he didn’t always compose exclusively for animation. He received Oscar nominations for pictures like “Parenthood” and “The Natural”, starring Robert Redford. Oh, but then he received a bunch of other Oscar nominations, for which he was subsequently denied the statuette. What was astonishingly amazing was, on March 24, 2002, he finally won.

But this time around, he should have been denied a 17th time.

Or was it a 16th? Heck, I’ve lost count. But the nominees for that category produced material that was superior to his. However, none in the same category was more superior to Enya’s “May It Be”. NONE. Most, if not all in attendance that night were transfixed by her soothing, almost spiritual, voice. Just hearing her sing put all of my nerves to rest, and made me dream of an intangible place. The song made me (and I wasn’t the only one experiencing this) escape. Not many, if any, songs make people do that.

John Goodman’s singing, complementary to Randy Newman’s piano performance, made me shake my head. I thought, “There’s no way he’s going to get it. No way.” It was good enough for a nomination, though. The words to the song reminded me strangely of the relationship between Boo and Sulley in “Monsters, Inc.”, from which the Oscar-nominated song was part of. Oh and by the way, the song was called “If I Didn’t Have You”. The song personified, and put into human definition something that couldn’t have been explained otherwise. But the tone, the music that the words were put to didn’t connect somehow to the animated movie, quite the same way that Enya’s “May It Be” connected to “Lord of the Rings”. And so, the song did not deserve to be recognized and distinguished with a golden statuette*.

Nevertheless, Randy Newman got it. I guess that the Academy made a moderately wise tradeoff by giving Howard Shore an Oscar for his overall score to “Lord of the Rings”, over Newman, in which he was also nominated in that category for his scoring of “Monsters, Inc.”. If you ask me, “Lord of the Rings” should have received Oscars in both categories, instead of just one--but I’m positive that I’ve made that point known already.

Thus, many viewers believed that Newman’s Oscar for Best Song was a Pity Oscar (and Newman himself acknowledged that it was a Pity Oscar by stating in his acceptance speech, “I don’t need your pity”). Even if the Oscar had been awarded to other nominees like Paul McCartney for his “Vanilla Sky” or Sting for “Until” (“Kate & Leopold”), they would have been more deserving but less so than Enya’s “May It Be”. Even now, it almost seems like the Academy has committed an astonishing act of injustice towards Enya.

Nevertheless, Randy Newman finally won an Oscar, not necessarily for his song work on “Monsters, Inc.” but for all of the years of hard work. And all of the times that he was humiliatingly denied the Oscar.

*The Academy also flubbed up by awarding “Pearl Harbor” with an Oscar for “Sound Effects Editing”. Its only competition was “Monsters, Inc.” and if this was a perfect world, “Monsters, Inc.” would have took that golden man home. But, if this were a perfect world, overly-melodramatic films like “Pearl Harbor” wouldn’t have been made.

Robocop: Alpha Commando

Author: Enoch Allen
Published on: August 15, 2002

Page 1

by Enoch Allen

No one seems to have much info about this series, but it existed quite a while ago in syndication. Someone was bound to remember this series, and that someone was I. I remember “Robocop”, the animated series. It was even nominated for an Emmy, but it seems to have faded into obscurity. You’ll see this often in my columns, me spotlighting “lost” shows. I don’t have much info about this animated series, but I do have a complete collection of episodes (okay, so I’m missing one episode or two).

The show was about . . . well, if you don’t know what the movie “Robocop” was about, then I can’t really help you. Well, wait. Maybe I can. The animated series was about Alex Murphy, who is not really Alex Murphy. He is a cyborg of sorts, more machine than man. And, he’s a cop with a partner--Nancy Minor, who in turn has an 11-year old, Matt. Together, they fight (or fought) wacky villains on the streets of Detroit.

New Detroit, that is. You see, it’s the near (very near) future, in 2030--thereof. There’s actually 300 million+ living in the United States. I doubt that we’ll be as high-tech as “Robocop” insists we’ll be, but we should be making advances at an astonishing rate. Anyway, crime has advanced, too. And, it’s up to the team of Murphy and Minor, nail ‘em and jail ‘em, to clean house!

Corny, corn, and more corn. If you couldn’t tell by the above paragraph that this stylishly-animated series was super-corn made by senior-citizens, then I guess I’m gonna have to spell it out for you. Whoever wrote the scripts for this series should go to some more writing workshops, because (on some episodes) the writing was shockingly poor. Consider this one-liner, said by Robocop’s chief-tech scientist, Cornelius Neumier: “You’re ‘burned’ out, eh Robocop? Guess I’ll have to fix some circuits in you.” My God in heaven.

But, there were a few standout episodes. I really liked a particular episode that centered on Murphy’s partner, Nancy Minor, who double-crossed Murphy. Or, did she? The viewer did not immediately know that Robocop’s partner went south, and even after the viewer found out that Robocop was being set up, the viewer didn’t know why until the very end of the episode, when it was revealed that while Robocop was in Neumier’s lab receiving maintenance, Minor was kidnapped and replaced with a look-alike. For some inexplicable reason, I’m always a sucker for these types of plots, even though they aren’t very coherent and this one was no exception. If you went plot-hole hunting you’d likely find a couple of Atlantic-Ocean-sized gaps in the narrative. But being that this really was the very definition of what a “cartoon” is, you can’t hold that fact against the creators. It’s very hard to do a “conspiracy” episode and not pull some kind of a fast resolution--like a deus ex machina--in favor of a long, drawn out resolution that works logically, in all areas.

Page 2

Since there were 40 episodes in the series, I really don’t have the time, space, and attention span to discuss them all. Even though it is my sincere wish to do so. I can talk, for a little bit, about the history of its airing. It aired on FOX Kids (in my area, Utica, NY) from August 30, 1998 to the summer of ‘99, thereof. Though reruns began in February. It was not renewed, and in fact I can go into another entire rant about executives who don’t even have enough respect to dignify an animated series with a final episode. It’s just, they’ll stop ordering episodes and voila!--considered the show cancelled, without any fanfare. Of course, I’d like to see both sides of the equation. These days, it costs around $600,000 to make an episode, and “Robocop”, I bet, didn’t come cheap. The series featured advanced CGI (in some spots) and, as I mentioned earlier in the article, stylish 2-D animation. If it cost Orion (along with MGM) $600,000 per episode, then altogether it must have took ($600,000 x 40 episodes) $24,000,000 from their piggy bank. Ouch.

On the same token, if Orion/MGM knew that they were going to have to put “Robocop” on the chopping block, why didn’t they alert the creators and provide funding for a last episode? They’re business strategists. Sound strategy means having to incorporate entertainment logistics. It would be logical to conclude the series instead of just leaving it without an end, because then it could actually come to be called a finished series instead of an incomplete one.

But, being a fan means having to take things as they come, and even though I wouldn’t proclaim myself a die-hard fan of “Robocop”, I must say that it was a watchable animated series that merited some success and recognition, that which it did not get.


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