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DELGO
2008
Written by Patrick J. Cowan, Carl Dream, & Jennifer A. Jones and directed by Marc F. Adler & Jason Maurer
94 Minutes
Rated PG for sequences of fantasy action violence.

Reviewing Delgo was more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. I started seeing previews for it two weeks before it came out, and quickly saw it leave theaters, which is never a good sign. I'm sort of an animation masochist in that sort of way. I did, after all, go to the theater to see Happily N'ever After, which shares the starring voice actor (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) as this film.

Of course, that rule isn't always true in animation, as some classics have had similar treatment from studios. The Iron Giant got it, and Battle for Terra did, which from what I've read is a good movie, and I'll review it when it's released to DVD.

There's actually a slightly interesting set up to the world in Delgo. A conflict between a flying people: The Nohrin who just move into the area after their old land becomes befouled, and a non-flying people: The Zahn, who can use the force with rocks. The Nohrin experience deception in the royal family which starts a war when the king's sister is found out to be a traitor. She murders his wife and is exiled after getting her wings chopped off, and an unsteady truce begins. This is the interesting part of the movie, it's all in the first five minutes, and it's surprisingly dark for a PG movie that doesn't have the free rein that Pixar does.

The Nohrin and the Zahn are disturbed as a result of betrayal and poor ethics on one side. The consequences are some of the most interesting parts of the movie, and again, they're all in the first five minutes, involving the best character in the film, Sedessa.

The problems with the film start when we get past the exposition and see the main character (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and his best friend (voiced by Chris Kattan.) It then turns really cliché, really quickly. Over-protective fathers for the female character, the hero-character who has lost both his parents in the past war giving him something tragic to relate to, and motivation and anger to get things done when no one else will.

With such an interesting world for a setting, it's just a shame that but for a few places, the world itself isn't explored much aside from a few establishing shots and scenes. They spent six years making this thing, spending their time on this world, and the parts of the world we get have very little interaction with the characters.

The character models aren't Pixar level, and they certainly aren't as bad as Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The models and animation just seem more suited for something that would be on television, and not for film. It's not as in-depth as I would have liked to have seen. The characters are animated well, and I have no problems with them moving oddly, even when they're not supposed to.

Outside of the first five minutes, there is no real drama, and any attempts at it are quickly ruined by Chris Kattan or another badly timed joke. We get badly done nut shots, girl power (quickly revoked by her being kidnapped), and a hero who quickly masters fighting in ways he in no way could have with what we've seen earlier in the movie. It's an animated film, sure, but do we really have to pander to all of the trends that have been going on for the last fifty plus years? Monsters, Inc. can make me laugh with a nut shot, but that's because it's in the proper time, and it doesn't take anything away from anywhere else.

Something else needs to be pointed out about the voice acting. Freddie Prinze, Jr.? He just sounded so bland, with no range in his voice - not that I should be horribly surprised considering his work in Happily N'Ever After. Or his real life acting for that matter, where there's not really any acting or depth of emotion. Chris Kattan's voice acting is painfully abrasive, and pops up all over the movie. If he had just toned it down about fifty percent it would have been passable, but it's just so over the top that it sneaks into horrible territory. Micheal Clarke Duncan is usually a solid voice actor (see his Rhino Guard in Kung Fu Panda), he just falls short in this endeavor.

Anne Bancroft was the shining point in the voice acting for Sedessa, the banished royalty/villain. She had a strong range of emotion and her work made the character the most interesting by far.

Delgo is supposed to be a love story, but there's no real chemistry. They meet twice, kiss the third time and magically they're in love after Delgo spouts off repeatedly how he can never trust one of the Nohrin race, but ultimately they move past the racial barriers through work, dedication and communication. Oh wait! No, they don't. After five minutes, and fighting with another of the same race as her.. they're all cool.

Here's the bottom line: Have kids? They'll probably enjoy it. This isn't Pixar. This isn't Dreamworks. If you're not a kid, there's not much here for you. Even if you have kids, all the different parts of this movie have been done better in other places. Go find them and give your children a better viewing experience, you'll be doing them a favor. And really, do you want your kid quoting Chris Kattan in a loud shrill voice? I wouldn't.

There's a reason this thing had the lowest gross per theater in HISTORY. Not to mention it's also a bigger box office flop than The Adventures of Pluto Nash. While I don't think it's quite THAT bad, it's mediocre in most ways and any ways it's not bland, it's annoying. In this age when we're getting so many really well done animated pieces that interest both adults and children, with wonderful stories...with all it's flaws and plot holes Delgo never stood a chance.

Looks like I've learned my lesson, at least until Battle for Terra comes out.

- Brandon Witte

All written content and colored rating system copyright Dustin Sklavos 2009. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.