What a better way to issue in a brand new month than by closing up on this strange, delightful acid trip to my eyes that is this movie?
...I can probably think of a million better ways to celebrate the month of September than by sitting all by my lonesome in a quiet room and watching the hopes and dreams of Hungarian animators get silently crushed by horrible time schedules and weak budgets, but since I went for a specific theme for my blog, this is what I'll write about. Otherwise I'd be boring you all about anecdotes involving the colorful people that inhabit my dorms.
Anyways, Felix the Cat! I just recently learned this, but there are a couple Felix the Cat black and white shorts involving circuses. There aren't any women dancing in bubbles or overweight alligators with throat scars in them, but this proves that I was wrong about the filmmakers. They were making a really clever allusion to "Felix Wins Out" and "The Circus", very classic silent 1920's shorts.
...either that, or they were making this crap up as the film was being produced. It's hard to tell.
...either that, or they were making this crap up as the film was being produced. It's hard to tell.
|NO IT ISN'T, FELIX.|
So be prepared for the final reckoning as we see this movie finally get out of the circus and reach its conclusion. And trust me, you will be disappointed once you see how this movie ends in...
Felix the Cat: The Movie Part 4!
When we last left the fractured shell of what was originally a great 1920's silent film protagonist, he was still in that damn circus, but we certainly saw a lot more of Princess Oriana. Princess Oriana proved how much of a pleasant heroine she was by dancing in a bubble and then later mocking, laughing, and otherwise being rude to our feline companion. Somehow, that didn't stop Felix from asking her to tell him her whole backstory for him. Once our black-furred little idiot learned that Oriana just sort of sat on her elegant princess tush while her horrible uncle completely suppressed and enslaved an entire country of peaceful mutants, he fell completely head over heels for her. Because nothing's hotter than violent political coups.
In other words, Part 3 was a lot more plot-driven, but unfortunately that plot involved unlikeable princesses and a villain that could've been a lot cooler than the product we're getting onscreen. I mean, geez, the man controls an army of robots and yet a circus ringmaster is more interesting
...speaking of the ringmaster, is it me, or did that whole scene in Oriana's bedroom explain every single major character's motivations and backstory except for Wack Lizardi's? Why did the Duke choose Wack in the first place? Why a circus? Unfortunately, Wack Lizardi's backstory, from where got his fashionable chin scar (probably doing something badass like wrestling swamp dragons) to where the hell he got that talking stick, all lay tantalizingly off-screen and are never ever answered.
|I love how Felix the Cat gets top billing in this poster.|
But I'm getting off-topic. We're here to see a member of royalty perform with a talking cat in the middle of a swamp circus! Also, I can't believe I'm just accepting this as perfectly normal. See what you've done, movie? Anyways, all of the hideous aberrations are properly seated, The Professor and Poindexter are incognito and are ready to watch this trainwreck unfold, Wack steps onto stage, and...the animation's quality drops so far that it plummets through the floor.
This is part of the reason why I cut off my review where I did. It's hard to describe what happened to the animation in this scene and to a lesser extent the rest of the movie, but Wack announcing the upcoming acts is just pure ass. There's incredibly bizarre glitches like Wack's shadow moving independently of his actions (so Wack is Dracula?), and Wack, instead of actually moving his mouth in sync with the words he's saying, decides to randomly contort his facial muscles in ways that baffle modern scientists to this very day.
|Let this be a lesson to future animators; never animate while under the influence.|
Oh, and while Wack is talking about Felix the Cat's act like it's both hilarious and amazing (giant space lizards are pretty bad liars), a lion tries to eat Felix, only for Pim (who was freshly appointed as Felix's celebrity bodyguard) to fracture its skull by beating its head in repeatively with the magic bag. Why am I mentioning this? Because nothing fits the atmosphere of a sleazy circus better than attempted cannibalism and violent assault and battery.
|I guess it would be funny if Wack pulled back the curtains, only to show the audience |
Felix's disemboweled, half-eaten corpse.
Also, Felix's act is environmentally friendly, because it was made of 80% recycled parts. The only new footage was the part with the Stilts of Disappointment, with the audience and Felix's other actions pulled from previous scenes. Get used to this, because we're at the point where this film starts reusing animation as if it was going out of style.
|"I paid 75 dollars for this!?"|
I love the expression Wack gives him when he asks this, by the way. He knows how it is, when a performer is suddenly the most popular act in the circus and suddenly starts bossing him around like he owns the place. Wait until he pulls some other 1920's animation star out of the freakish hellswamp, Wack is thinking to himself; then we'll see how long Felix can call the shots.
|"Yeah, kid, fame is an addicting drug. I would know."|
It's a really quick "blink and you'll miss it" frame that's only onscreen for a fraction of a second, freaking out children on a subconscious level. It's like I'm watching the animators' sanity fall apart right before my very eyes, because they sure as hell didn't go for deranged sight gags like this earlier.
|Wack's a harvester of souls on his days off.|
This scene instantly gains kudos from me though, because if you pause at just the right moment, you get to see Wack flipping the middle finger at the audience. Inbetweening error or deliberate attempt to sneak in Wack's true feelings of the Duke in the cartoon?
|"Suck it, Duke of Zill!"|
|Look at that grin. You know he's lying.|
|Whoo! Bubble tornado!|
|When the Jazzman's testifying |
A faithless man believes
He can sing you into paradise
Or bring you to your knees
He then makes up for this travesty that is this scene by saying a line that's surprisingly not that bad considering the character uttering it. He says "Have fun in your wonderful new kingdom, princess!" in a sarcastic tone and then honest to god points and laughs at Princess Oriana like he just pwned some n00bs on the Blizzard Entertainment forums. The Duke of Zill; truly the Kingdom of Oriana's best troll.
|"LOL @ U!"|
I also fondly remember this scene as a kid because I can clearly recall a time I tried to make my clarinet blow bubbles because I thought it was so cool. My music teacher did not enjoy me spraying soapy water all over the place during class.
|And yet this doesn't make his music sound like crap.|
|They found his broken, lifeless body 50 miles away in a tree, baffling all the locals.|
|Wack probably made a lot of money selling Oriana-themed snowglobes on the side.|
|Think this is lame? He puts up a better fight than the Duke.|
|This is the person that enslaved two separate kingdoms.|
Also, I believe he survived the fall. No, I'm not in denial and you can't make me change my mind. Wack didn't die; he just broke one of his arms but became a better person from the harrowing, humbling experience with the backstabbing feline and the other workers that double-crossed him. Otherwise it'd be a cruel, cruel universe devoid of sunshine and happiness where someone that cool dies and yet the Mizzards live.
|"I've been defeated by trusting my employees!"|
...wait a second. There were people, including children, inside that tent! You hear the screams and everything! Holy crap, how many people in Progress City died that day!? Does Felix realize just what he did?
|Pictured: Horrible, senseless death.|
Also, is it me, or do I find it kind of chilling that you don't see anymore Progress City citizens after the circus falls?
|"How wonderful. With those hideous creatures all dead, I can turn this |
festering city into a park dedicated to me!"
That being said, the backgrounds completely overshadow the characters by being freaking awesome. I said it once and I'll say it again. Progress City's designs are amazing. I mean, just look at this shot where they're walking across a bridge. If Felix the Cat ever decided to revisit Oriana (fat chance of that happening considering the quality and the popularity of this movie), they'd better do the smart thing and give Progress City more focus. Partly because I need to know whether any Zillians survived.
|I'm pretty sure this city also appeared in Captain EO.|
Also, the Mizzards are in one of the The Professor's suitcases, somehow not suffocating or starving to death in their leatherbound tomb. Just telling you now so you don't wonder where the hell they went. Not sure why you'd do a silly thing like that, but there you go.
|"Man, that certainly was a bloodbath back at the circus, eh Poindexter?"|
"What has been seen will haunt me forever, Uncle."
|Well, what do you expect from Progress City-grade transportation?|
Unfortunately, even though the silly motorcycle horse cylinders still work, that doesn't stop the heroes from looking absolutely ridiculous when they ride them. They don't so much drive out of Progress City as they do gloriously putter out of it. I especially got a kick out of seeing the Princess ride this jerking, falling apart piece of failed technology while somehow maintaining perfect princess composure. Very little fazes a woman who had to dance in front of a crowd of amphibious dregs of society.
Oh, and when they exit the city, our black-furred hero realizes that he left his magic bag of tricks behind. Good going, Felix the Cat. It's not like that was the source of all your power or anything! Seriously, who sets their very important magical artifacts down and just leaves them behind?
|"Way to rub it in, Princess."|
|Any other villain would be embarrassed at the idea of their army of evil |
looking like a pretty rainbow, but not the Duke!
By the way, notice the sudden change in backgrounds and color values. Notice how they don't at all match up with the flat, muddy plains they were driving down earlier? This took me a while to figure out just what the hell happened, but apparently they were running from the cylinders all night long and now they're in a completely different location during the day. Geez, even a quick "Six hours later" time card would've helped here.
|Long road trips are always hell.|
Luckily, this doesn't go on for too long, because suddenly, they run into cylinders...
...and a dragon reciting Marlon Brando quotes from A Streetcar Named Desire (what?), both obstacles blocking off their major escape routes. Yeah, I'm just going to avoid this sudden lapse into acid trip territory here, if you don't mind. It's hard to make fun of a movie when it just rolls over and gives up.
|No, I didn't make the Marlon Brando dragon up.|
But first, Poindexter decides to flash a giant technological middle finger at the Duke by rigging one of the silly-looking vehicles with plastic explosives (so he just carries that kind of stuff around? What else in that backpack?) and uses it to destroy the cylinders even though no one was going to use that route. Because suck it, Duke! A young boy of indeterminate age is smarter than you!
|Hey, looks like the melting gobstopper tree is in season!|
|So now we're in Hell. Interesting setting for a Felix cartoon.|
Oriana, when she hears that they've walked into the Gates of Hell, has some composed princess angst in that she's already gotten them in enough danger. The group, like the people watching this, quickly discards this with Felix suddenly adopting a look of utter disgust. Princess, now's not the time. Wait until after they get out of Satan's Garden.
|"Keep wallowing in self-pity and I'll use you as a human shield."|
|Why is this in a Felix the Cat movie!?|
Oh, and to make matters worse, they have a head Headhunter. Eyes glowing with the fires of Hell, he brings with him the other Headhunters' bodies, because these creatures spit in the face of nature by having heads that can naturally behead themselves from their terrifying skeletal bodies just so that they can attack. Also, it turns out that every Headhunter wears a living rattlesnake as a belt and carries around javelins as back-up weapons. In short, I just pissed myself twice.
|"See you in your nightmares, kids!"|
The Headhunters like the generous bribe, because they're as well-dressed as they are scary. Felix better be grateful that these creatures didn't ask for the normal blood sacrifice they carry out as toll for passing through their lands.
|The way they're gripping their snake belts is pretty awkward...|
...and where the hell did he get the boat!? Don't tell me he just happened to find an abandoned one sitting next to the Headhunters' territory, because that leaves a really morbid thought in my head about the boat's previous owners.
|"Look down. Look up. Where are you? You're on a boat. |
With the man your man could smell like."
Wait, does this mean that Oriana's really close to a nest of creatures renowned for being nature's guillotines? Holy crap, man.
|Why aren't these backgrounds and music in a better movie?|
|"Way to not include railings in your treacherous mountain secret route, princess!"|
|"Climb a little slower, princess. Boy howdy, that's the stuff."|
|They even removed the random paintings. Robots have great taste.|
Also, I love the expression on Grumper's face while Princess Oriana is wailing really loudly about his betrayal. Look at him. That is the face of a man who will never find true satisfaction. He knows that nothing will ever stop the decadence in Oriana's government and he knows that he just traded one political clown for another. Weep for this man and his drooping goatee.
|"Hmmm, what if Oriana was run by a democracy instead of by corrupt monarchs?"|
|With the right dub, you can market this as a preschool film about shapes.|
|I guess halfway through the film, the animators saw how silly the Duke was and ran with it.|
The moment Felix sees the Duke and his Taxi of Shame, he decides that he wants to take a shot at being Wonder Woman. Interesting choice of weapons, Felix, even though it's been established that you can turn that thing into something lethal like a sword. Unfortunately, since Felix just sort of stands there and twirls his lasso instead of using it, he's quickly disposed of with the application of cylinder-shaped glowing robots.
|It's the Lasso of Outsourced Animation!|
|"Don't worry, Princess. The viewers won't notice the reused animation if they're distracted by shiny lights!"|
|"And while you're fetching the Book of Ultimate Power, can you dance inside a bubble? That was hot."|
|"Oh my god, you're actually serious!?"|
So of course with that platitude pushed onto the table, the little bubbledancer goes and fetches the book. Because hey, the movie's almost over and she wants to get this climax over with too.
While she goes to some sacred chamber of royalty that hasn't been established until just now, Grumper pulls the best face he's ever pulled this entire movie. He just looks so deeply satisfied at the fact that his side is winning that, for a moment, he channels his inner Fonz and goes "Aaaaay". Ah, Grumper. Why couldn't he be the main villain of this film?
|"Man, Pearl is looking fiiiiine..."|
|The reactor core's about to erupt! Everybody evacuate the area!|
...yeah, if you've been following along, you probably have noticed that whenever I make a rhetorical question such as this in regards to this movie, that means the end product is going to be vastly disappointing. And really, don't expect much from a plot device that's only been brought up twice this entire movie.
|The book is as disappointing as the Duke's taste in fashion.|
...wait, did Kung Fu Panda rip off Felix the Cat: The Movie by having the secret dragon scroll being incredibly similar to this?
|Eh, it's still a better read than Twilight.|
But then he ruins what little sympathy I have for him by tossing the Book of Ultimate Power within reach of Felix the Cat. That's like getting on your knees and pleading for someone to kick your ass, Duke.
|"Here, you scrugnut pollifister! Have a weapon to use to conveniently slay me!"|
|Guess what they went with. Go on. Guess.|
Yes, that really was the entire fight. A book defeats the entire bad guy and his army. A book. A book with three words in it. A book.
|"No, not into the pit! It's BUUURNS!"|
...by the way, when the Duke disappeared, does that mean that Grumper went with him? We never see or hear of Grumper ever again, so he's either with the Duke or currently hanging from a noose in the middle of the town's square.
|It's the most ridiculous, sparkly death ever.|
|Look where Felix's hand is.|
Oriana: "I'm going to close down the Dimensporter for good. Next time your dimension might be the one that needs saving."
Translation: "Even though you risked your life to save Oriana, if something happens in your dimension, we're not even going to raise a finger and attempt to help you."
...can the movie bring back the Duke, please?
|"I don't care if you saved me from a distopia filled with reptilian abominations. I'm still not helping you."|
|"Let us never speak of this movie ever again, gentlemen."|
"You mean like how we never speak of Baby Felix?"
Also, is it me, or is the Princess rather lax about the fact that two visitors from Earth just tried to make off with solid gold dinnerware from the royal kitchen? Any other society and those two would've hanged.
...and wait, how did the Dimensporter room completely drain of water? Remember the fish?
|But who cares? Mizzards!|
And what about Progress City!? You'd better start giving those starving, overpolluted mutants some economical assistance because there was a pretty good reason why they liked it when you were enslaved! I sure hope they don't try to start a peasant revolution because, without an army, you'll be first on the chopping block, Princess.
|"Sorry, no refunds!"|
The Mizzard song got top billing.
The Mizzard song got top billing.
There are no words.
The Morals of this Movie
*Anyone can be a better ruler than Princess Oriana. I mean, really.
*The Duke of Zill is, of course, the boss.
*Throwing ancient books of untold value solves everything.
*Old prospectors and giant, scarred lizard carnies make good business partners.
*The best place to hold the leader of an overthrown government captive is in a circus held in another country.
Okay, what is there to really say about this movie?
First, I'm going to list the things that it got right, because I don't like acting like something is completely irredeemable. I'm not like most review sites where it's all "Everything sucks and I hate it!" all in here, even if the movie involved is something in this kind of quality.
For starters, the backgrounds and world building are incredible, even if they don't fit the Felix the Cat character at all. Oriana is a strange, horrible world filled with smog-infested cities and demonic abominations, and it was really fun to watch and see what new locations the movie invented. The music's incredibly good (earlier tracks aren't as good, but man does it get amazing later on down the road), and I actually really liked some of the characters. Besides Wack Lizardi and Grumper, I actually started liking Felix the Cat and getting invested in his story once he started to cool it on the background chatter. I also liked the circus and the idea behind the circus, and just wish they had more to do with the plot.
And now for the bad stuff.
|Which will be illustrated by this bizarre animation goof.|
*The animation. The best I've seen the animation was in the circus, and only because it was only at mediocre level. The animation gets really lazy and mushy at the worst possible times. The best animation is in the circus, and the worst animation is when they're actually facing off against the Duke of Zill. How does that make sense?
*Horrible pacing. Again, three minute Mizzard dance sequence, and the Master Cylinder dies in less than 10 seconds. Did we really need three minutes of the Mizzard shuffle to tell a story?
*And worst of all, it almost has nothing to do with Felix the Cat. Really, if you were to show, say, the Headhunter sequence to someone who grew up on the 1950's TV show, and you're going to get some strange looks. The cylinder army WAS a really clever reference to the Master Cylinder so really, all they needed to fix that was probably The Professor and Poindexter being more important to the plot and maybe an appearance by Rockbottom or Vavoom.
All in all, this is basically a bad movie with grandiose delusions that it's a good movie. The backgrounds have more personality than the characters, the music is better than the animation, and it's just all around uneven in quality.
But despite all of this...I still try to watch this movie at least once a year because it is still kind of a personal favorite of mine. That's right. After all of that, I'm turning around and telling you that I like this movie. I know I just spent who knows how many words tearing it a new one, but I think one of the reasons I was able to make fun of it so thoroughly is because I genuinely have fun watching it this strange animated drug. It's a bad movie but I can't bring myself to hate it. It has an odd charm that, to me, sucks me into this strange world.
And really, it's better to me to admit that I like and watch a crappy movie than to go "No, shut up, this movie is awesome!" and just flat out deny all the flaws present in this piece of cinema. I'm fine admitting that I like something that's crap.
That being said, I praise anyone who managed to make it this far in this review series and I want to thank you for reading. This series of reviews were actually my first blog posts that hit over 100 views, which is actually pretty good numbers considering how young this journal still is. My next series of movies will either be a Disney sequel or Happily Ever After, another bad movie from my childhood that I still kind of like.