This Film is NOT a Future Release.
The Following Preview has been Archived.
October 27th, 2006:
Twelve-year-old Lewis (voiced by Daniel Hansen
) has spent most of his life in an orphanage, desperately attempting to impress potential parents with some of his brilliant, but quite unpredictable inventions. Unfortunately, his faulty gadgets have had a rather negative effect and Lewis has had far more success scaring people off then enticing them to adopt him. With his latest and most ambitious invention, the memory scanner, he hopes to at least shed some light on the situation he has found himself in by looking into his own past to find out about his birth mother. Impressed with the preliminary results, Lewis decides to present the ingenious device at a local science fair. Unbeknownst to him, another man has an interest in the memory scanner and has been watching Lewis very closely. The mysterious Bowler Hat Guy (voiced by Stephen J. Anderson
), who plans to use it for his own secret purposes, creates a distraction and steals the boy’s contraption. Soon after the incident, Lewis meets Wilbur Robinson (voiced by Wesley Singerman
), a boy from the future who may have all the answers that Lewis seeks. Together, they travel forward in time to a mesmerizing metropolis of floating cities and flying cars. Lewis is introduced to Wilbur’s eccentric family, who not only welcomes him, but actually looks to him for help. The two boys decide to hunt for the Bowler Hat Guy in order to reclaim Lewis’ valuable invention and save the future from the villain’s dastardly plot.What to Expect:
2006 has been a record-breaking year for digital animation. It was nearly impossible to get through an entire month without some brand new CGI feature hitting theaters and 2007 is not shaping up to be any different. In January, Disney
’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar
proved to be a major acquisition given some of the legendary company’s struggles to make a transition from traditional animation to digital technology. The late 2005 hit, Chicken Little, was the first ever all-digital feature from Disney’s in-house animation studio and established that the company could tread water without Pixar. The next film, The Wild
, turned out to be far more disastrous, although C.O.R.E. Feature Animation was the primary party responsible for the disappointing results, while Walt Disney Pictures only produced and distributed it. Still, neither Chicken Little nor The Wild made as much impact as even the quietest Pixar release in the past so Disney executives can rest safely at night knowing they still have the powerhouse branch to fall back on in the coming years. Article continues below
In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to practice. Disney’s in-house animation team will make their second attempt at digital animation with Meet the Robinsons and will reportedly utilize the same technology that they employed while making Chicken Little. Similarly, Meet the Robinsons will also be released in 3D in select theaters, which should certainly be a treat given the fact that it is shaping up to be one of the best-looking animated films of the year.
William Joyce’s beloved 1990 book, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, provides the basic storyline for the movie. Truthfully, the novel does not contain much of a plot and serves primarily as a journey through a wondrous futuristic world inhabited by Wilbur’s eccentric family members and filled with unbelievable technology. The one element that does seem to push the narrative along is an amusing little mystery involving grandfather’s missing false teeth. The remainder of the text is quite free-flowing as Joyce avoids a conventional structure and instead focuses on creating a universe with ideas that tickle the imagination. An aunt with a life-sized train set and a grandfather with a dancing frog band are just some of the examples of what lies within the book. The reading is filled with Joyce’s surprising details and tongue-in-cheek observations – all greatly illuminated by his innovative illustrations. The author has previously provided artwork for the New Yorker Magazine and some of his paintings are displayed at national museums and art galleries. Much of the film’s look is derived from the 1940s advertising-type of illustrations that Joyce uses in the novel.
Some fans of the book have already spoken out against the feature film adaptation. Their chief complaint seems to be that the movie replaces much of the book’s imagination and spontaneity with rather conventional story elements. The film becomes plot-driven entertainment, very much unlike the novel itself in which a plot was virtually non-existent. Furthermore, Disney has actually decided to throw in a villain and has molded the story into a far more traditional tale filled with the usual lessons of wisdom and morality. The original source on which Meet the Robinsons is based is nowhere to be seen in the movie.
Others at Disney have found their share of problems with the project as well, but not everything has been easy to fix given the sensitive nature of the feature. Meet the Robinsons has been hyped as highly personal material for director Stephen J. Anderson, who was once an orphan himself before being adopted as an infant. This reportedly made it difficult for other filmmakers at Disney to approach Anderson with ideas, although they found many elements questionable. Finally, folks at Pixar flexed their muscles and approached the director about some much-needed changes. Meet the Robinsons, which at one point was overpopulated with eccentric characters, now reportedly does a much better way of introducing them to the audience. They are no longer presented as bizarre caricatures, but rather as truly likeable personalities. Initially, the Bowler Hat Guy was utilized primarily as a comical figure and as a creative way to show off Disney’s animation. Since then, he’s acquired a bit more edge and menace and will be seen as an actual threat to the two heroes, Lewis and Wilbur. Otherwise, the idea of having a villain would have been fairly useless.In Conclusion:
I’m not fooled by the animation and the gadgetry. While it looks like it could be a visually spectacular adventure, something about Meet the Robinsons feels like Pixar-light. If Pixar is interfering in the production with hopes of making improvements this late in the stage, then the classic Disney animation studio we all know sounds like it has been reduced to a group of students. Pixar is clearly dominating the market at this point, but I would expect more buzz from Meet the Robinsons. With the Disney tag and the clever futuristic premise, it’s bound to attract an audience, but it will not be the winning, digitally animated release that Disney may be hoping for.Similar Titles: Chicken Little
, Monsters, Inc.
, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius