Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quick Reviews: Extraordinary Tales

For a man that only lived to be about 40, Edgar Allen Poe influenced so many.  Take, for example, this Animated Collection of Shorts based on his Stories...
The big thing here: the people that did the Narration.

Of note, the now-late Christopher Lee, the much-less-recently-late Bela Lugosi and hopefully-not-late-for-a-long-time Guillermo Del Toro.
I'll spare you the vague and mostly-pointless Framing Device.  Let's just focus on the Story.  First up...
 This Animated Segment is Gothic, colorful and wonderfully-narrated by Lee.  No complaints.
The next Tale is a familiar one, but benefits greatly from some otherworldly voice work from Bela Lugosi.
The Noir style and the (possibly intentionally) grainy sound of the Lugosi narration mesh well.  Again- no complaints.
In a stylistic change, we get this Comic Book-style adaptation of a Poe Tale with narration by Julian Sands.
Next is a dark and stylish adaptation of another Poe Tale, this time with Del Toro's voice.
Lastly, a segment with only a little narration- this time from Roger Corman.  It looks like a creepy painting, so...mission accomplished.

To see all of this in motion, watch the Film.
Cool stuff.  The Animation Styles are a bit different throughout, but all good overall.  'Usher' has that dark story book style, while 'Valdemar' has the look of a 1950's Pulp Comic.  This is a bit of a Catch-22 though.  If they had made all of them look the same, this would look like a standard Animated Film.  Since they made them all a bit different, the Film is (and feels like) a collection of Shorts.  If the right structure is there, it is fine.  There are quite alot of Animated Short Film Collections, be them from Warner Bros or Ralph Bakshi's Studio(s).  In this case, the Framing Device is the weakest part.  Basically, the Spirit of Death is talking to a Raven inhabited by the spirit of Poe.  The pair discuss his thoughts on death and whether or not he can accept it and move on as a spirit.  It isn't bad- it just isn't as good as everything else.  The Film is obviously not the first to give you Animated Poe Tales.  That said, it gives you some damn good (if often used) ones and features some great Actors.  How am I hearing a 'new' Recording of Bela Lugosi in 2016?  If you like Poe, check this one out.  If you don't know his works, this is a good way to get acquainted.  Stick with the so-so Story around it all for the good Stories within.  My only other complaint: not enough purple light...
While it would work best as a simple collection of Shorts, the overall experience is quite good.

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