After Disney’s first and pathetic 3D animated outing with Chicken Little, it would have been an understatement to say that I went into this film with much skepticism. But you know what; this movie actually did manage to surpass my low expectations.
I mean, literally everything is done better in this movie. The story is actually coherent; well, as coherent as a time-travel movie can get. Although it is told to us by the villain who really had no reason to tell us, I like how the story actually allows our protagonist’s experience to change him for the better. The characters are not all babbling idiots. I mean, besides the villain, everyone is more silly than stupid. And, although I didn’t particularly like the villain, there is this one moment involving him that made me laugh… hard.
The jokes are actually jokes. Yeah, there was only one that made me laugh out loud, but they’ll probably deliver a few more giggles from its child audience. The songs are actually songs. Yeah, they weren’t very good or memorable, but at least they didn’t freely rip off other artists. The animation is much improved. Yeah, there are still moments when it looks like Disney slacked on its computer graphics, but for the most part, it looked satisfactory.
Although this movie is leaps and bounds better than its computer animated predecessor, it is still leaps and bounds away from Disney magic. This movie suffers from two main problems. First, it has low ambitions. Two, it deviates from Disney’s comfort zone and tries to go for substance instead of style. Unfortunately, it shows.
When I say this film has low ambitions, I mean that it is targeted really for the kids. Everything is either predictable or so chaotically unpredictable. Like the future world they try to immerse their audience in? It almost felt Alice in Wonderland weird at times. The message is explicit and not open to personal interpretation. While Beauty and the Beast let you come to your own conclusions on what is true love, and like how The Little Mermaid let you come to your own conclusions on what it means to dream, Meet the Robinsons does not let you come to your own conclusions on how to deal with failure and the past: always move forward.
The fact that this movie went more for substance than style could not be clearer by the end when they reveal a quote from Walt Disney. Obviously, the studio had a message they wanted to focus this movie around, and yeah, they get it across in a kid-friendly manner. However, I think they forgot that Disney always focused on capturing the audience’s heart via magic, and that magic is sorely missing.