Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Emperor's New Groove (2000)

Based very very loosely on the Hans Christian Andersen tale (by the title only really, almost), this Disney flick came outta nowhere at the start of the new decade. At first appearances it didn't look or sound too good either truth be told. A weird title, David Spade in a Disney animation? offbeat looking animation and a wacky spoof-like approach, not exactly the stuffy classical Disney you'd expect.

So yes this is a bold move away from the traditional cuddly Disney we all know of. The first thing you notice is the lack of musical numbers (thank God!), there are none I do believe, none whatsoever, and its quite refreshing giving more time for fun and story. The other thing that hits you is the change in pace animation and artistic style wise, no more Disney eyes folks. This film has a very vibrant zany blend of styles which sees a bit of old style Disney in characters, countryside and native dwellings, mixed with some cool straight symmetrically geometric shaped artwork for the royal Peruvian temples within the royal city.

The visuals are glorious as usual with the Peruvian countryside and jungles looking lush and green with rolling hills, deep valleys and blue waters. On the flip side the royal palaces and temples are adorned with beautiful symmetric carvings in the walls, massive angular sculptures and lots of uniform guards. The palace tends to be more golds reds and yellows at first but when 'Yzma' takes over everything goes purple and blue. I especially liked the neon flurry of purples, pinks and blues down in the laboratory, that was a bizarre inclusion out of the blue (no pun intended).

As said I couldn't see satirical smartass David Spade in a Disney animation, not by a long shot, but blow me down he actually does a good job with his whiny voice. He is perfect as the spoilt Emperor 'Kuzco' (word play on Cusco in Peru) and actually fits the llama character even better. All the main voice actors in the main roles are really good actually, my favourite easily being Warburton as 'Kronk', that guys voice is just funny...it just is!, his character is brilliantly matched to him also. Same can be said for Kitt as Yzma who was clearly designed around her. Believe it or not but there are only four main characters in the entire film! yep just four, but you don't even notice it.

The film is pretty quick to the chase really, not overly long and not overly complicated, but it is quite original in a way. The action can be crazy and over the top feeling more like a weekend cartoon rather than an uncle Walt flick but its thoroughly enjoyable at every turn. My only quibble would be the fact it feels stretched out quite badly, the plot clearly isn't enough to cover a proper run time and you can tell. The whole film could of ended after about 30mins really, both of the two main characters never really feel as if they're that far from the royal city/palace. Oh and 'Pacha's' sweet adoring family make you wanna gag...but that's about it.

Certainly a shocker this one, didn't think it would be any good and yet it turns out to be one of the best Disney adventures I've seen for a long long time. The colourful visuals, quirky unconventional (for Disney) artistic style, brisk pace and amusing llama characterisation by Spade are all winners in my book, plus there isn't too much schmaltz. But boy you better believe by the end Kuzco has learnt his lesson in humility and how to be a nice guy and not just thinking about himself all the time. Yeah there's always a good moral in every Disney flick, can't escape em.