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Animation fans aren't all that wild about "The Wild" preview

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Animation fans aren't all that wild about "The Wild" preview

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If you listen carefully, you can hear an awful lot of Disney animation fans out there hollering today.

And -- no -- it's not because they're imitating the Lord of the Apes. But -- rather -- because of a special feature that can be found on the new "Tarzan: Special Edition" DVD, which actually hits store shelves today.

The feature in question is a "Disney's Movie Surfers" segment which talks up two upcoming Walt Disney Pictures releases: A remake of "The Shaggy Dog" and Disney's latest CG-for-hire project, "The Wild."

The "Shaggy Dog" redo actually looks pretty promising. Thanks in large part of comedian Tim Allen's whole-hearted commitment to making the whole man-turns-into-a-dog gag work. Whereas "The Wild" ...

... Well, here. Let me share some comments that an animation professional made about this upcoming film:

Jesus, Jim. Wasn't having one version of "Madagascar" bad enough?

For more than two years now, Disney has known that Dreamworks/PDI had a CG feature in the works that was built around the premise of neurotic New York zoo animals having a really rough time of it once they're released back into the wild.


Copyright Dreamworks Animation

So -- if you have that advance knowledge -- why even begin production of a picture like this? One that you know has a very similar premise to the PDI project. Particularly when you know that the Dreamworks feature is going to beat yours into theaters. Disney now looks like they have to resort to ripping off Dreamworks in order to come up with concepts for their new animated films.

I mean, would it have killed these guys to have at least varied the types of animals that they were using as leads in "The Wild"? Or at least change the location.

After all, everyone in the industry knew that "Madagascar" was set at the Central Park Zoo and that that film starred a lion, a giraffe, a hippo and a zebra ...


Copyright Dreamworks Animation

... as well as prominently featuring a comical group of penguins.


Copyright Dreamworks Animation

So what does Disney do? They okay production of a CG film that's set at a zoo that's located in NYC's Central Park ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

... That stars a lion & giraffe ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

... as well as featuring a hippo ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

... and a comical group of penguins.


Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc.

So how is Disney ever going to avoid having people compare "The Wild" to "Madagascar"? The DVD for this film goes on sale next month. Plus Dreamworks is already hard at work at turning "Madagascar" into a franchise, what with that new penguins short in front of "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and "Madagascar II" coming out in 2008.

Add to this that "The Wild" is virtually a carbon copy of "
Valiant." Another one of these deals where Disney execs though they'd be clever by out-sourcing  production of a CG feature. Thereby getting Pixar quality at Kmart prices.

Well, as "Valiant" proved, when it comes to computer animation, you get what you pay for. And while WDFA executives were quick to distance themselves from that Vanguard-produced picture, the fact of the matter is that those guy actually had script approval on "Valiant." So they knew well in advance the sort of film that they were getting. And they still went ahead and greenlight production of that picture.

And from what I've been hearing about "The Wild,"  "Valiant" 's script is going to seem like something that was written by William Shakespeare in comparison to the lame script that this second zoo-animals-return-to-the-wild film has ...

Trust me, Jim. The CG sh*t is going to hit the carefully rendered fan come April 2006, when "The Wild" finally rolls into theaters stateside.

That seems kind of harsh, don't you think? Which is why -- to be fair -- I made a point of checking out that "The Wild" preview on my "Tarzan: Special Edition" DVD.

And ... Well ... I have to admit that I did find the "Disney's Movie Surfers" preview to be kind of underwhelming. Though -- that said -- I don't think that Buena Vista Home Entertainment did "The Wild" any favors by including a promotional feature on the "Tarzan: Special Edition" DVD that featured so many incomplete shots. Scenes from this still-in-production film that hadn't been color corrected, properly lit and even completely rendered yet.

Which is why -- me personally -- I'm going to reserve judgement on "The Wild" 'til I get to see the finished film up on the big screen. When this C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures production finally makes its US theatrical debut on April 14, 2006.

But -- between now and then -- I really hope that Walt Disney Pictures can get its act together and mount a proper promotional campaign for "The Wild." For the teaser that you'll find on the "Tarzan: Special Edition" DVD really gets this film off on the wrong foot.

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