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Happy Feet

Year: 2006
Production Co: Animal Logic
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: George Miller
Producer: George Miller
Writer: George Miller
Cast: Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, obin Williams, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving, Magda Szubanski, Steve Irwin
Animal Logic and George Miller go all Pixar, both transforming the Sydney digital boffins into the full production house for one of the most photo-realistic CG cartoons ever.

Now, that's not as much of a selling point as it could be. Software rolls on, computers get stronger and smaller, and every six months moviemakers can do more than they could before. When Monsters, Inc came out everyone was turning inside out at the excitement of being able to render hair, now it's passé.

The reason I'm fixating on the software is because to some extent, George and AL have too. Obviously it was a monumental job to bring together all the motion capture and digital effects, and in that regard, Happy Feet is brilliant.

But in telling us a story about something we've never seen before (and personally, that's why I go to the movies), it's not nearly the standout everyone would have you believe.

As a Penguin who can't sing but can dance, Mumble (Wood) is an outcast, destined never to find love in his flock. The story follows that very predictable plot stream and love-everyone-for-their-differences morals while embarking on an environmental message, Mumble deciding to find out what's happening to the fish stocks the penguins depend upon.

It's the second story that gives Happy Feet the opportunity to deliver the requisite adventures, new characters, set pieces and 'journey' aspect that's nearly essential for every CG cartoon.

The two mesh together clumsily, neither one feeling strong enough to make a real impact - something the characters ironically suffer too despite the considerable voice talent in the recording booth.

The result is a film that - while it looks fantastic - feels half-heartedly realised.

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