Friday, April 12, 2013

Project Terrible 10: Michel Strogoff

It's not Terrible, but it sure is weird!  Today's film is Michel Strogoff, a film based on an obscure Jules Verne novel.  It's not about submarines or trip to the moon, so I've certainly never heard of it!  It's a novel about the titular character helping the Czars in their battle against the Tartars.  So why did this film get selected for Project Terrible?  Two words: talking mice.  Yes, like the animated Titanic and Tentacolino, it has talking mice for absolutely no reason.  The best I can guess is that this was an attempt to get kids to watch a film that they normally wouldn't.  'Don't worry about learning, kids- here are talking mice.'  If that was the was a weird one.  Can you imagine Disney doing this?  Actually, I can imagine those guys doing just about anything to squeeze $15 from parents, so 'yeah.'  This is a weird one, so let's dive right in...
This is weird, so try to keep up.

A woman is reading a book in a Library, but gets distracted.  The real cleaners- the talking mice- dick around until they find Michel Strogoff, which the lead mouse proceeds to read.  The mice appear since, well, he's reading it...I think.
Thus begins a pretty route re-telling of Verne's tale.  It's decently-animated, but it's a pretty dry tale.  In addition, the mice never interact with the leads.

So, to be clear, they added talking mice, but not in any 'meaningful' way.  Right.
One odd thing about the animation is the inconsistency.  The animation is good enough, but they use really cheap-looking backgrounds.  I get the use of pre-rendered backgrounds, but these are really low-quality.  It's like The Flintstones, really.
There's really not much more to say.  Michel is a hero, he saves the day and gets married.  The mice continue their freaky, unexplained existence (why is there only one adult...who is male?) and the film stops.  The End.
Terrible is not really applicable, I'd say.  The worst thing I can say about the film is that it is really, really generic.  Looking at any shots from the film, you see nothing special.  The story is not bad- it is Verne, after all-, but I didn't find much reason to care.  Is the plight of the Czars really all that important to me?  Hell, is it all that important to a French film-goer either?  I don't hate this, but I just don't feel all that invested.  If you are going to watch for ironic value, it's kind of a mixed bag too.  The mere existence of the talking mice is funny, but they come and go at random.  They also don't really do much, as mentioned before.  They show up during action sequences, look funny in their outfits and then vanish.  If they only even exist because the only adult mouse is telling the tale, why are they so unimportant?  Actually, come to think of it, why aren't they the lead?  While it would be a weird insult to Jules Verne, I'd probably care more about a film with talking mice in all of the lead roles.  It would be stupid, but it would be my kind of stupid.  If you want kids to read Michel Strogoff, try something other than just adding talking mice.  Make it, you know, interesting or something.  Take us away, triply-creepy image just four minutes in...
Next up, a film with a famously-deceptive marketing campaign from last year.  Can you run ads for a film that espouses how evil advertising is?  Stay tuned...

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