Animated film review: Samurai Academy [2022] by Bastien L.

Review of the French version

American animation cinema is often seen as the prerogative of big studios that flood our screens with family entertainment, leaving only a few crumbs to more modest productions from lesser-rated studios like Samurai Academy.

As we know, the production of a film is far from being a calm river, but it must be said that Samouraï Academy, initially announced for 2017, had a series of problems before arriving on our French screens in October 2022. , it is a kind of remake in computer graphics so very free from a comedy/western by Mel Brooks, The sheriff is in jail (1974). The American also participated in Samurai Academy in terms of production, writing and dubbing, explaining that we find a lot of his cinema in the final result. The project was born in 2010 with plans to stage humans before animals are chosen. After years of pre-production, and a succession of screenwriters, Rob Minkoff first joined the adventure as a producer. The American is best known for having been the director of the cult Lion King in 1994 before continuing with projects combining live action and animations such as the first two Stuart Little or The Haunted Manor and the 999 ghosts. Initially, the production was entrusted to animation veteran Chris Bailey, whose first film in this position after having worked for a long time for disney as an animator, notably on The Lion King. Unfortunately, the chain of production concerns (a script struggling to take shape, production changing hands and the Covid crisis) got the better of Bailey (like the initial producers) in 2021, who still retains his status as director in the credits. He is replaced by Rob Minkoff (a great name that the department will be able to use marketing) and Mark Koetsier, another American very experienced as an animator as an artist of storyboard having collaborated several times with Minkoff, notably on The Lion King, once again. The film thus knew a long production between the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and China for a distribution by Paramount in the summer of 2022 in the United States first for a rather catastrophic result because the film only recovered two thirds of its budget of 45 million dollars…

The film takes place in an imaginary country, largely inspired by feudal Japan, populated by cats. The remote village of Kakumucho suffers the wrath of the local lord Ika Chu who thinks that the locality spoils the view of his palace which he wants to make perfect since he is aiming for the estate of the old Shogun of the region. He then decides to send his guards disguised as bandits to scare the villagers who are then abandoned by their appointed samurai. The villagers then ask the Shogun to send them a replacement but the task is entrusted to Ika Chu who decides to send them the dog. hank released from his jails. Unfortunately, in this country exclusively inhabited by cats, Hank is seen as a plague victim and only receives contempt and disbelief from the villagers he must protect. Hank is not really a samurai but a naive young man who wants to become one in a sort of crazy dream. He could nevertheless count on the help of the taciturn and severe Jimbo, a former samurai reluctantly taking him on as a student. Hank will therefore have to undergo very difficult training such as facing the machinations of Ika Chu to raze the village.

The main problem with the film is above all its scenario, which is far too classic, not to say ordinary, to convince. We have the impression of having seen this journey of a hero that no one expects, who faces an insurmountable task but who will gradually get there thanks to the strength of the will and the help of his friends. … The plot therefore unfolds lazily before our eyes with its characters being above all archetypes once again far too classic for us to be surprised… The demanding old master hiding an old wound, the young novice full of will too often set aside, the huge formidable enemy just waiting to be loved, the big bad guy sarcastic and violent towards his subordinates… And above all the hero full of will, clumsy, a little horrifying but ultimately terribly endearing … From this observation, you can also easily guess that the themes covered are just as classic and not very original in their approaches. The film wants to talk to us about racism as tolerance where the dog takes a long time to be accepted. History shows the absurdity of prejudices and that it is always very difficult to be accepted when one has the status of foreigner.

1668342265 836 Animated film review Samurai Academy 2022 by Bastien L

As has been said, the shadow of Mel Brooks is prominent over this film when it comes to its humor. The influence of Sheriff is in jail is felt in the sense that anachronisms abound in this medieval atmosphere like the way the film often breaks the 4th wall. Likewise, we feel the spirit cartoon, parodic and absurd from the director of Frankenstein Junior as of Dracula, dead and happy to be. This humor very cartoon in the spirit nevertheless clashes with current productions which generally do not push the delusions so far. The gags follow one another at breakneck speed where word games are legion (the French version is also of high quality at this level) allowing both children and adults to have fun. Nevertheless, one could find that humor is sometimes aimed too much at adults at the risk of losing the youngest who do not necessarily have all the references. A humor that sometimes parasitizes the plot because the moments when the emotion wants to be more poignant often fall flat after all the antics we have just seen or because the film often plays down its scenario with a setback of a valve. It is therefore a little difficult to cling to a universe, in any case rough-hewn, which mixes as much The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven (even Fievel in the Far West…) in a double western/feudal Japan atmosphere populated by cats. This certainly offers a rather original atmosphere where the valves based on the behaviors specific to cats and dogs are quite effective. As for the artistic direction of the whole, we are once again on the classic, effective but fairly agreed.

It is certain that with such a complicated production and its 45 million dollar budget, it was not necessary to expect a lot from the animation of the film. If the whole remains correct, it seems a little rigid and takes us out of the film at times with a few backgrounds that are too frozen or slow motions in the action scenes that are mostly jerky. The action is also a disappointment in this samurai film, a shame… The whole thing is once again too conventional and there are few really epic moments which in any case pale in comparison with works like the saga Kung fu Panda to stay in an Asian atmosphere revisited by Westerners. We must also admit that the directors are not particularly known for their experience in action cinema. If Rob Minkoff was put forward, we must still admit that the director was touched by grace with The Lion King, a feat that he had difficulty in repeating chaining a career of yes man able to integrate animation well into live-action movies. He delivers, alongside Mark Koetsier, once again fairly agreed results. The set is especially effective for sticking to the mind cartoon of the film where the gags are correctly staged and the rhythm of the whole turns out to be quite catchy making the 85 minutes of the film pass pleasantly. As for the French dubbing, it was entrusted to experienced actors in the discipline, which offers a very satisfactory result.

1668342265 33 Animated film review Samurai Academy 2022 by Bastien L

We would love to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this awesome web content

Animated film review: Samurai Academy [2022] by Bastien L.

Our social media profiles here and other pages on related topics here.