Horton Hears a Who!

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Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:08 am

I've watched Horton Hears a Who! yesterday, and I enjoyed it a lot. Technically and artistically it's on par with recent productions of other studios, what sets it apart is the story: I don't know the book, so I can't compare it, but IMHO the screenwriters did a great job in adapting it into a screenplay.

The animation is great and there's some nice camera work, and Blue Sky's renderer produces stunning images (the opening sequence is terrific), although their motion-blur sometimes seems to be a bit noisy - which makes me think that a hybrid REYES/raytracing approach is still superior to pure raytracing.

All in all it's a great movie, quite a relieve after the disappointing Ice-Age sequel.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby pndragon » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:00 pm

The kids got this movie for Christmas but they haven't gotten around to watching it yet... Ironman and Kung-Fu Panda reign supreme right now.

I personally loved the story of Horton when I was a boy and one of my greatest treasures was (long since vanished, I fear) an autographed first-edition of the Cat In the Hat. Dr. Seuss rocks!

--- Jim
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day."
--- Paul McCartney
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:06 pm

Dr. Seuss rocks!

He seems to be completely unknown in the non English speaking world - at least I haven't heard of him before watching the movie. Although Amazon lists some German translations of his books, they're all out of print. And due to the nature of his writing, I doubt that the translations can be any good (the rhymes narrated on the DVD's English soundtrack are taken from the book and are both funny and intelligent, while the rhymes on the German soundtrack are mostly dull - but of course it's nearly impossible to translate a poem and keep the meaning, the rhyme, the rhythm and the wit of the original).

Nevertheless, to fill my gap in education, I've ordered the English editions of Horton and Cat In the Hat - I guess the kids will like it too.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby dcuny » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:01 pm

My favorite Dr. Seuss book as a child was On Beyond Zebra, where he tells of the letters in the alphabet past the letter "z". It wasn't so much the actual contents as the heady idea that such mysterious things might actually exists, and that I had "discovered" the book in the library myself.

I'm still waiting for the video from the library. The scenes that I've seen look gorgeous, as most renders from Blue Skies Studios do.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:26 pm

I'm still waiting for the video from the library

Well, don't expect too much (I've expected nothing, so for me it was a nice, positive surprise). There are still plenty of things to frown upon, like the obligatory cross references to other movies ("I love the smell of bananas in the morning" :roll:, among others) and Can't Fight This Feeling at the end.
I'll never know why they do that (is the target audience really supposed to know Apocalypse Now by heart? - if they did that in Hot Shots! or something like that it's probably OK, but here?) - but I'm Hollywood-brainwashed enough to simply ignore such things - and the story is strong enough to ride these tings out, so it is still a great movie.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby pndragon » Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:42 pm

"I love the smell of bananas in the morning"

The phrase "I love the smell of ______ in the morning" is such a catchphrase in our culture now, that people who have never seen Apocalypse Now, who don't recognize Robert Duvall, and who, God forbid, haven't got a clue what napalm may be, use it all the time. Another phrase, "You can't handle the truth!", is almost as bad; you hear it all the time in TV and movies.

--- Jim
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day."
--- Paul McCartney
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby dcuny » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:26 pm

pndragon wrote:The phrase "I love the smell of ______ in the morning" is such a catchphrase in our culture now...

The quote works for the same reason it worked in Apocolypse Now - it's a joke because it replaced the expected value ("coffee") with something much more twisted.

But I think in the long run, it doesn't serve a fantasy film well to reference anything popular in the "real world". It breaks the fourth wall, and really takes you out of the story.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:53 pm

it's a joke because it replaced the expected value ("coffee") with something much more twisted

I don't want to spoil anything, but believe me, in the context it definitely was a pun on Apocalypse Now. I've got nothing against cultural cross-references in general (you'll find them anywhere, from books to music to film anyway), I just thought that this one was particularly dull.
There are others that are at least partially funny ("We will put a speck on Mount Nool before the end of the decade") - but I think (as David pointed out) that those who don't get it are catapulted out of the story, thinking "WTF?!?", and those who do too, thinking about Kennedy and rockets. So all in all, if not used very carefully, these things do more harm than good.
Nevertheless I like the film! :)
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby pndragon » Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:37 pm

There are others that are at least partially funny ("We will put a speck on Mount Nool before the end of the decade") - but I think (as David pointed out) that those who don't get it are catapulted out of the story, thinking "WTF?!?", and those who do too, thinking about Kennedy and rockets. So all in all, if not used very carefully, these things do more harm than good.

I will have to reserve judgment until my kids make time in their busy schedules to allow me to watch their movie that they got from Santa and I get to see the quotes in context... but it sounds like you might be over-thinking this. Your kids (the target audience) are probably not going to be appreciably jarred by either of the quotes so far noted because they probably haven't seen Apocalypse Now. And given the sorry state of education in this country, the target audience for this movie might not have heard of President Kennedy's challenge for the Nation: To put an American on the Moon by the end of the 60s. It does however make a possible intro to the subject for homeschoolers.

--- Jim

Edited once for terrrrrible spelling and grammar
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day."
--- Paul McCartney
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:53 pm

You could be right. I just felt that my initial posting might have sounded somewhat too glorifying, so I tried to even it out by badmouthing it a little :wink:
Seriously, watch it with your kids, it's a nice film - and let me know what you (and they) think about it.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Thu Jan 15, 2009 2:14 pm

I've read the book now (it's great), and after that I like the film even more. Although they've added a few plot-lines (the story in the book wouldn't make up for 80 minutes of film), the film is very faithful to the original book(s). There are also references to "Horton hatches the egg", and the Whos eat green eggs and ham. ;-) But what's amazing is the design of Who-ville: it looks just like the drawing in the book - very well done.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby dcuny » Sun Mar 01, 2009 10:59 am

We got the video from the library a week ago, but no one showed any enthusiasm for watching it. I finally got some free time last night, and played it.

I enjoyed the film, but found the various references really distracting. On the other hand, the kids really loved it.

But it's the images that really got my attention - stunning stuff. Reflection, refraction, global illumination, hair - all of it gorgeous. I didn't pay enough attention to the blurs to notice the noise. I'm really very envious. And they did a fantastic job getting the look and feel in 3D.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:41 pm

I didn't pay enough attention to the blurs to notice the noise.

I've got a new Blu-Ray drive in the PC, and Horton was the first Blu-Ray Disc I've rented from the video store. I only saw the artifacts when I hit the pause key - they're practically invisible during playback, and I doubt that they're visible at all in SD resolutions. I've seen the same thing on the Blu-Ray version of Pixar's short-film collections, again, they'd be pretty invisible on a DVD - so it's nothing to worry about (I guess it wouldn't make much sense to triple the render-times just to make still-frames at full HD resolutions look better.)

I agree that the rendering quality is stunning, you could also add subsurface scattering (Horton's ears, for example) to the list.
They did a great job in adding elements to the story (without compromising the original storyline) to fill out a feature length movie - that Horton's a teacher, the father-son story, etc. I somehow miss the songs from the Chuck Jones version ("We're the Wickersham brothers...") though - but I think that's out of fashion these days.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby dcuny » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:50 pm

sascha wrote:I agree that the rendering quality is stunning, you could also add subsurface scattering (Horton's ears, for example) to the list.

Yes. Did you see it anywhere else? I didn't see it on the leaves, or the fish.

They did a great job in adding elements to the story (without compromising the original storyline) to fill out a feature length movie - that Horton's a teacher, the father-son story, etc. I somehow miss the songs from the Chuck Jones version ("We're the Wickersham brothers...") though - but I think that's out of fashion these days.

There's some irony here - songs that fit the action, and move the story ahead are "out of fashion", but adding a song that doesn't make any sense in context of the story gets added... :| In my mind, it's just lazy, because you're relying on the goodwill that the song has already generated. Wall-E managed to pull it off, because the song made sense in context. Plus, they selected a song that many people (myself, for example) aren't familiar with. But in Horton, it was pretty jarring - how are the Whos supposed to know the song? They weren't even supposed to be aware of the world outside themselves.

For that matter, how would they know what an elephant was, or what peanuts smelled like? They kept throwing things which kept taking me out of the story. You could argue that kids didn't mind, but I think that movies that use songs that are intrinsic to the story just work better.

Anyway, seeing this stuff has got me thinking about resuming work on Inyo at some point. If I can get the SSAO working with the scanline renderer (I'm still busy with other projects), my plan is to go back and add it to Inyo.
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Re: Horton Hears a Who!

Postby sascha » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:14 pm

SSS:
It's most visible on the ears, because in some shots the backlight scatters through the ears. But I'm pretty sure it's used on other surfaces too, most likely on the entire skin (I'm not sure about the Whos though, they're generally quite furry.) But anything skin-like tends to look like plastic if no SSS was used, and if you didn't spot that, chances are they've used SSS...

The songs:
Oh, don't remind me, I've almost suppressed that "Can't fight the feeling" song at the end of the film from my memory. The film was great until that point, and as it was over by then, it was save to press the STOP button on the remote. So let my subconsciousness repress that once more...

Whos knowing about elephants:
At least in the book I think they don't know what an elephant actually is, they just know that they're talking to something called an elephant, and IIRC it's like that in the film too. Gotta read the book again, but right now everything is "Grich" - the DVD runs hot in the player and I have to read the book to Nadja over and over - well, at least she's learning English that way :-)

Wall-E:
What song was that? I just checked Google and have a vague memory about "Down To Earth" by Peter Gabrial, but I couldn't say if it was in the film or in the credit roll.
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