Monday, February 10, 2014

Rescue Rangers movie announced ... and it decidedly won't be a "MovieToon" ...

About 25 years ago, it was reported in an issue of Animato! -- and perhaps elsewhere, but that's the only place I remember in which this claim was made -- that the first "Disney MovieToon", DuckTales: The Movie, would be followed by a Rescue Rangers movie. This was appropriate, as DT was Disney's first weekday syndicated animated TV series, and RR was appropriate. However, Scrooge and Co. didn't farewell at the box office, and so Gadget, Monty, and Zipper were never to grace the big screen.

...until now. Learned the surprising news yesterday  from an DCF thread started by a member going by Jarred. His source is a article. There's also a Variety article reporting the same info.

It has always seemed to me obvious how to due a Rescue Rangers movie: 1. Traditional cel animation, just like the series. 2. A straightforward action-adventure story with comic relief sprinkled throughout, just like the series. 3. A continuation/part of the series, with all of the same character designs, "set" and "prop" designs (Ranger Headquarters, the Rangerplane, etc.), and voices. 

If the MovieToon had happened, the movie I just described most likely would've been exactly what was made. After all, that was the approach taken with the DuckTales film. At any point from the mid-`90's on, however, if a Rescue Rangers movie were announced -- say during the era Recess and Pepper Ann -- it most likely be overseen by execs and creative personnel who wouldn't have had a thing to do with the original series, and was view it as an outdated, worthless anachronism. Thus, I'd be worried. Into the 2000's, as traditional cel animation became more and more outdated, such an announcement would have me even more worried.

Now, that announcement has actually been made ... and, I'm worried. 

It's going to be CGI with live-action -- so, most likely, the Rangers and other animal characters would CGI, and the settings and human characters would be live-action. From the sounds of things, it's being handled as a revival of an old franchise, playing to the nostalgia of children of the late `80's and aiming to introduce the children of the mid-2010's to it with something that will suit their sensibilities. From the comments on the articles linked above and at DCF, I'm not alone in dreading a movie in the mode of the Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks atrocities of recent years. 

However, there's some hope. As far as it being a continuation of the series, we can safely assume that's out the window, picked up by the sidewalk cleaners, and in a landfill somewhere. Fortunately, the original series' entire premise -- a realistic world in which the animals have their own sub-world that the humans are completely oblivious to -- actually lends itself to an animation-crossed-with-live-action approach, provided that the filmmakers know where to draw the lines between the two worlds. CGI-rendered animal characters can be cartoonish enough but still realistic-and-three-dimensional looking where suspension of disbelief would work when it comes to accepting them as part of a live-action world. A Rescue Rangers movie juxtaposing cel animation with live-action wouldn't work, because there's too much of a disparity. It works for, say, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, because the Toons were supposed to be Toons. 

For this movie to be anywhere remotely good, but allowing for the CGI-live-action hybrid, this movie will only be remotely decent, provided:  1. The creative team doesn't go the Alvin and the Chipmunks route and trying to make the title characters look way too much like actual chipmunks, resulting in putrid, outright disturbing character designs. (I seriously do not have a clue what made those movies so popular.) 2. As mentioned before, competent world-building on the part of the creative team, with an intelligent, complete understanding how to balance the human world and the animals' sub-world. 3. a straightforward action-adventure movie with comic relief sprinkled throughout. Not a musical self-parody polluted with a bunch of pop culture references. If we get to the point where there's trailers and it were obvious that that's what the movie would be, I wouldn't even go see it. If it weren't apparent until I was actually in the theater, I'd get up and walk out.

Here's some visual aides. There should be action, adventure, and danger:

...adventure meaning that the Rangers travel to places that are so far away, it's really cold and they need to bundle up:

...and there should be enough personal drama between the Rangers to keep the hardcore fans happy. Like when Chip and Dale are really mad at each other (if the 'shippers have their way, because they're vying for Gadget's affection... which Chip would be the one to ultimately win, of course...):

Keeping my fingers crossed (kind of in hopes that this won't even happen...)

-- Ryan

1 comment:

  1. Ryan,

    It's hard to imagine this working well. You make an excellent point about the problem of meshing the CGI Rangers with the live-action human world. The human characters in RESCUE RANGERS tended to be caricatural in nature. The few times they weren't, such as in "Flash the Wonder Dog," the effect was a bit jarring. Putting the Rangers in a live-action world would be rather like making BOLT and putting the same animal characters into the real world. It would have looked completely phony.

    I think Disney regards this idea as its "answer" to SMURFS and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS and it WILL probably play up the pop-culture references. No matter that the original show was decidedly light on that kind of humor, focusing instead on adventure and character interactions.
    Poor Dale, he'll probably have to shoulder the brunt of the modern-day stuff. Better get his hoody fitted.

    If one good thing can come of this, it's that the need for publicity might convince Disney to finish releasing the "Golden Age" WDTVA series.