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Directors: Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick
Release Date: May 19, 2006
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Over The Hedge © DreamworksBased on a comic strip, ‘Over the Hedge’, Dreamworks’s sixth computer animated feature, is a charming, if unassuming film, which belongs to the better half of the Dreamworks features, if barely so.

Unlike the unappealing movie ‘Shark Tale’ (2004) for example, all the actions of the characters have their origin in real animal behavior: they hibernate, they forage and they’re threatened by a human environment to which they have to adapt.

The film’s story is original in that it’s not found in the comic strip on which the movie is based. However, at the same time the story is not too original as it contains some standard, almost obligatory scenes, a feature that hampered more and more American animated feature films from 2005 on.

Nevertheless, the film’s story is well executed: the storytelling is lean, the contrast between the two likable protagonists, the brazen raccoon RJ and the cautious turtle Verne, is well-played, as are the two villains: the mafia-like bear Vincent and the Verminator. Even the side-characters are developed enough to like and to care for them (unlike the many personas in Blue Sky’s ‘Robots‘ (2005), for example).

Even though it contains some very realistic effects, like the animation of fur, the animation generally is not very lifelike, and more akin to the jerky animation of Tex Avery films than to the flow of Disney. Especially, the animation of the ADHD-squirrel Hammy is frantic. This character is also responsible for the highlight of the film, in which Hammy, on caffeine, has sped so much that he sees the world practically motionless.

‘Over The Hedge’ is by no means a classic, but it’s entertaining and well-told. In the world of American computer animated features this is already a plus.

Watch the tailer for ‘Over the Hedge’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1967
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Historia Naturae, Suita © Jan Svankmajer‘Historia Naturae, Suita’ is an abstract, yet morbid and disturbing film.

It uses drawings, models, skeletons, stuffed and live animals, which change into each other and which perform morbid dances. Their antics are interspersed with a close up of a man eating meat.

We see molluscs (Aquatilia, foxtrot), insects (Hexapoda, bolero), fish (Pisces, blues), reptiles (Reptilia, tarantella), birds (Aves, tango), mammals (Mammalia, menuet), monkeys (Simiae, polka) and man (Homo, waltz), successively.

It shows us that we, men, are made from the same mortal matter as the rest of the animal kingdom, which in this film appear to us only as collectibles or food. This unsettling reminder is emphasized by the last shot, in which the human is replaced by a skull, eating…

The music is a perfect match to the surrealistic imagery, with its rather abstract, uncanny and atonal renderings of the dance forms mentioned.

Watch ‘Historia Naturae, Suita’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.totalshortfilms.com/ver/pelicula/379

‘Historia Naturae, Suita’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’

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