Directors: Stephan Fjeldmark, Michael Hegner, Greg Manwaring.
Possibly the most straightforward title for an animated feature we'll ever see.
I saw parts of this on TV a month ago, and didn't think much of it. Though I felt I had to give it a second chance, and review the DVD (because the name kept haunting me).
First things first, Help! Is a Danish 2D animated feature. The US/UK cut is the usual redub of Canadian/American/British voice talent to rope the audiences in. This last fact alarmed me when I saw the name 'Alan Rickman' on it. Anything with Rickman means he will have the most screen time because he has..... to..... annunciate.... every.... last.... word.The Plot
Three children, Fly (the cool kid), Stella (his younger sister) and cousin Chuck (fat nerd without the comedy aspect) go fishing and accidentally discover the labs of eccentric professor MacKrill. He shows them a potion to turn people into fish, and how to make an antidote (which must be taken within 48 hours). After a set of 'bizarre and wacky circumstances', they all end up as fish (a flyfish, starfish and jellyfish respectively), set loose into the ocean. There they must deal with finding the antidote and a troublesome fishy dictatorship.The Look
The only thing people ever wanted to mention about this film when I asked was: 'It has a very nice intro.' They weren't kidding. A fantastic series of shots passing through some brilliantly rendered marine life. It's almost a shame it's the best part of the film, because the spectacular toonshading on the fish should have set the standard for the rest of the CG fish in the film. Alas, after the intro all of the non-effects computer animation is sub-par.
It goes from this:
The 2D animation is one of the strong points for the feature. The characters are interesting to look at, and are drawn so that they have soft body mass, instead of rock-hard anime standing still bodies. The timing ranges from pretty snappy to quick & smooth, which keeps interest going. Luckily no sign of human character rotoscoping, so it all looks fluid on either ones or twos.
Colour design is fun and appropriate for all settings, which is also helped by some creative camera angles and lens-emulation.The Script and Sound
The film runs a little short at 78 minutes. Seeing as the plot isn't very complex, it doesn't require much time to set up. The script is fairly competant for such a short film, so no worries with dialogue really. However, there are some mind-blowingly large gaps in plot, such as how Joe (the dictator) managed to set up an underground lair, army, and transportation system in less than a day (in a film set around 48 hours). Though these things will fly over the kids' heads, so I guess they could justify letting that chunk slip.
It does seem odd that all-American children seem to have Canadian parents, but most Europeans can't tell the difference.
If you can withstand the style of European pop music, then this film is for you. There's plenty of it. I guess we should be lucky, as they didn't re-write the music with some even worse American/Brtish pop teams.Overall
Despite running short and just not being as good after the intro, it's still a fairly entertaining watch. In this case, less film equals more animation. This one's more for kids and marine life enthusiasts. I give it a B- because of how good that intro is.