Reel Opinions

Sunday, December 14, 2008


If you're someone who saw 1998's I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and have spent many sleepless nights waiting breathlessly for Freddie Prinze, Jr and Jennifer Love Hewitt to team up in a movie again, your wait is over. And yes, you should probably seek professional help, but at least your wait is over. The new independent animated fantasy, Delgo, features their voices, as well as a wide array of B and C-List stars such as Val Kilmer, Malcolm McDowell, Chris Kattan, Eric Idle, Burt Reynolds, and the late Anne Bancroft (in her final role). This movie's supposedly been in the works for about six years now. One can only look at the finished product, and wonder what anyone saw in it to devote that much time, and why the movie isn't a lot better after all that effort.

This may be an independently-funded animated film, but that's no excuse for Delgo's complete lack of imagination, choppy storytelling, lame dialogue and humor, and some genuinely ugly character designs. The story is set in a far-off fantasy world that, like a lot of recent bad fantasy epics, looks like a low rent version of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The world is inhabited mainly by two races - the lizard-like Lockni, who look kind of like dinosaurs crossed with Jar-Jar Binks, and the Nohrin, who fly around with wings on their back. The two races were previously at war, but are currently upholding a shaky truce despite the fact both races don't trust each other much. Delgo (a Lockni) is voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr. The Lockni seem to hold mystical powers that are not really explained very well in the screenplay, and hold the ability to make special rocks glow and fly around. This is an important skill for Delgo to learn apparently, as his mentor Elder Marley (Michael Clarke Duncan) keeps on pushing Delgo to master it. Elder Marley is the "wise old master" type who gets to say dialogue that even Yoda wouldn't be caught dead saying. Stuff like, "there's only honor in fighting for what you believe in if what you believe in is honorable". Uh-huh.

While jaunting about with his best friend and obnoxious comic relief sidekick, Filo (voiced by Chris Kattan, in a particularly grating and unfunny performance), Delgo happens upon the Nohrin Princess, Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt). The two know they are supposed to hate each other, but they don't because...Well, the movie never tells us. There's no time for that anyway, because there's danger afoot. We learn that an evil Nohrin by the name of Sedessa (Anne Bancroft) was banished and had her wings cut off by the King (Louis Gossett, Jr) for her cruel ways in war. Since then, she's been plotting revenge and building an army of orcs and monsters to attack both races, and take the Nohrin throne. She kidnaps the Princess, and has her spy within the King's castle (Malcolm McDowell) spread rumors that the Lockni were responsible. With war between the two sides about to be reignited, it's up to Delgo, Filo, and the disgraced Nohrin General Bogardus (Val Kilmer) to rescue Kyla and stop Sedessa.

This is one of those movies that just makes you wonder why did anyone involved feel that this was a story worth telling? Not only is it as old as the hills, its poorly developed and explained in such a minimal sense that you wonder if the six credited screenwriters even knew what it was supposed to be about. Delgo simply screams of desperation on ever level of concept. The story is uninspired, the characters are non-existent, and nothing is able to hold our interest. The fantasy world the animators have created for these characters to inhabit isn't even all that imaginative, nor does it hold anything we haven't seen before. I blame this on a total lack of imagination on the part of the filmmakers, not on its low budget. Speaking of the budget, the movie's animation leaves much to be desired, as does the character design. Whoever approved of these designs must have been joking. When I saw the lizard-like Delgo, I was repulsed instead of drawn to him. That he's the hero of the story is not a good sign. The uninspired line readings by Prinze, Jr only adds to the overall unappealing nature. And the Romeo and Juliet-style relationship between Delgo and Princess Kyla is so underdeveloped, I'm still trying to figure out why they were drawn to each other.

And what about the cast? While it's great to hear Anne Bancroft one last time, most of it is comprised of actors who never quite became famous or are on their way out. Burt Reynolds pops up as the voice of Delgo's dead father in one or two flashbacks. Sally Kellerman provides a lengthy and drawn out narration setting up the story at the beginning. Former Monty Python member, Eric Idle, has his talents wasted in a very unfunny role as one of Sedessa's comic relief minions. But that's nothing compared to Chris Kattan who, after this movie, I never want to see in a film again. He's the main comic relief in the film, and made me groan a little every time he showed up on the screen. His character, Filo, is probably the most obnoxious CG creation since the infamous Jar-Jar Binks made Star Wars fans the world over lose their faith in George Lucas. As for the casting of Bancroft as the lead villain, it had an odd effect on me. I ended up liking her, because it was Bancroft. Seriously, if you were asked to take sides and had to choose between siding with Freddie Prinze, Jr and Chris Kattan, or Anne Bancroft, who would you choose?

Delgo will most likely appeal to children under 10, though the movie is rather dark and violent at times. (Note to Parents: The movie is rated PG for a reason.) I can't say with any certainty, however, since I was the only person at my screening. Still, that doesn't hide the fact that there's much better animated films out there for them. They're much better off seeing Bolt again, or staying home and watching their Wall-e DVD a couple more times. According to the IMDB, the filmmakers planned to turn this into a trilogy. While I don't think the movie deserves a sequel, if it should come by any chance, I want it to open with Delgo and Kyla pushing Filo off the edge of a cliff.

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  • I have a weird thing for Burt Reynolds, I mean I even just got him as the voice on my GPS. I got it from that does celebrity voices for GPS. I love it! I also got Mr. T and Kim Cattrall but for some reason I keep going back to Burt!

    By Blogger Richard, at 11:19 AM  

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