Saturday, 19 December 2015

Film Review: "The Peanuts Movie" (2015).

"Dream big", this is synonymous with the world and characters of Charles M. Schulz and now have been brought to the big screen with The Peanuts Movie. This 3D computer-animated comedy film directed by Steve Martino, written by Craig and Bryan Schulz (Schulz's son and grandson, respectively), and Cornelius Uliano and produced by Blue Sky Studios. Based on Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. It is the fifth full-length Peanuts film, and the first feature film in 35 yearsafter A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy Come Home (1972), Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977), and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!) (1980). It commemorates the 65th anniversary of the comic strip and 50th anniversary of the TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the beloved Peanuts gang make their big-screen debut, like they've never been seen before. Charlie Brown, the world's most beloved underdog, embarks upon an epic and heroic quest, while his best pal, the lovable beagle Snoopy, takes to the skies to pursue his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron.

Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward. The strip is the most popular and influential comic strips in history, with 17,897 strips published in all, making it "arguably the longest story ever told by one human being". At its peak, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages. It helped to cement the four-panel gag strip as the standard in the United States, and together with its merchandise earned Schulz more than $1 billion. Reprints of the strip are still syndicated and run in almost every U.S. newspaper. The strip focuses entirely on main character, Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. Peanuts is one of the literate strips that flourished in the 1950s. Peanuts achieved considerable success with its television specials, several of which, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, won or were nominated for Emmy Awards. The holiday specials remain popular and are currently broadcast on ABC in the U.S. during the corresponding seasons. The Peanuts franchise met acclaim in theatre, with the stage musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown being a successful and often-performed production.

In 2006, six years after the release of the last original Peanuts strip, as well as the death of creator Charles M. Schulz, his son Craig Schulz came up with an idea for a Peanuts film, which he showed to his screenwriter son Bryan Schulz. "I was happy to show my son," Craig said. "He showed me how to make it bigger—how to blow it up more—and he helped me put in structure." When presenting their film to studios, Craig stipulated that the film remain under Schulz control, saying, "We need[ed] to have absolute quality control and keep it under Dad's legacy... You can't bring people in from the outside and expect them to understand Peanuts." In October 2012, it was announced that 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios were developing a 3D computer-animated feature film based on the strip, with Steve Martino directing from the screenplay by Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, and Cornelius Uliano. Craig, Bryan, and Uliano also produced. Craig chose Martino as director because he showed faithfulness to literature in his adaptation of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! (2008)Various steps were taken with the animation to emulate the original look and feel of the comics and the previous animated specials. For example, the trees and other foliage in the background are static and never billow or sway in the wind. Even on the characters, their animation appears "jagged" and skippy. This was done to emulate the low quality hand drawn animation that the Peanuts television specials were known for. Martino and his animators spent over a year looking at Schulz's original drawing style to help translate the "hand-drawn warmth... into the cool pixel-precision of CGI" without the fear of something getting lost in translation. In addition to receiving the rights to use Bill Melendez's voice for Snoopy and Woodstock, Martino was also able to get the rights to archive music from previous Peanuts specials.

Hollywood has finally found the key to bringing a Charles M. Schulz story to life with The Peanuts Movie. It is a frequently beguiling fantasy packed with ticklish sights and vocals. Peanuts started as a comic strip, to make it a feature just seemed unlikely. But the magic of Schulz is there. It's got the look and the flair. Taking on Schulz has proven a challenge for Hollywood, but a nice balance has been struck here between authenticity and new ideas. This one's a winner. Schulz's imagination has never gone out of style. What is most remarkable about this film is the fidelity it retains to Schulz' work and intentions. After overcooked Pixar films and nauseating Disney flicks, Hollywood has finally served up a tasty adaptation of Peanuts. The filmmakers capture the whimsy of Schulz's drawings and add a nice tactile feel. The film succeeds where other 3D animated adaptions have fallen short, most notably by using animation -- fluid, elastic, genuinely Schulman animation - to tell the story. Lovely and only marred by a slightly sagging middle and a gratuitous, tacked on pop song finale. Even if the film can't shine like some of cinema's greatest animated films, this movie's visuals keeps things vivid, while digital animation is so often crisp, precise, and cold. In addition, the film adds a manic spin that strains to convey far too many moral messages. It is perfect for children, for adults not so much. Despite the stretch of adapting Schulz's tale to a feature movie, Schulz's original story and the world he created, plus some particularly winning characters, put the film on the top of the best animated film of the year. In the end, the film is sweet and really memorable.

Simon says The Peanuts Movie receives:

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