Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown!

Wrestling and Cartoons, honestly these two need to team-up more often, though the year of 2015 seemed to have Hanna-Barbera connect and make many specials. One special that was a fantastic choice, but a strange way to bring back a series was with this film, was one of the first Animated Television Series, the Flintstones. The last feature or special from the Flintstones franchise was the Live-Action film The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000) or the hard to find made-for-TV special The Flintstones: On the Rocks (2001). This is more than a decade from the last appearance, unless one counts The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy episode (Modern Primitives, 2006) still the series hasn't see much interaction, even being as world renown and iconic. I'm glad that one of the most famous and celebrated cartoons that Hanna-Barbera created is getting a few more eyes on it's newest animation (especially since I love the way guests are designed on the Flintstones).

For the first film in about a decade this is maybe the best thing I've seen from WB animation for awhile, next to Batman: Brave and Bold. The film has taken on the spirit of the series and putting in a modern take of the franchise. Also a lot of adult jokes, love that they give nods to the adults, though still keep it all kid friendly. Well, as kid friendly as a semi-surreal broad prehistoric technological period merged with contemporary inventions can produce.

One of the most charming fixtures in the Flintstones was the way of integrating things in present society into this quasi-Stone Age. The Remote was a bird that pushed the buttons on the TV, the sink was a Mammoth, the hedge clippers were a bird, it was amazing as a kid to see animals utilized within a way that functions in this community in a fun anatomical purpose and as an homage to toons from the 30's and 40's. A lot of the devices for the Flintstone series is still used in this updated version, all interesting and ingenuity mixed with modern technology. Though I'm still confused by the Shell Phone and Rock Computer, how does it work? I'm thinking too hard again about the science of One being a Stone Age citizen and Two cartoon technology. Don't get me wrong I used to watch a show where two men and a gorilla would solve mysteries in the same building over and over again like a fever dream, the 70's where a weird time for television.

There are a lot of moments that are surreal and weird and reaching instants for that point of trying to be odd, but feels really awkward, though fits the idea that this might be a fever dream. Not sure why it feels so out of place, but it's growing on me as the flick moves closer toward the end. I think it's the performance that makes me happy, though the writing isn't wonderful, it's good and acts like a tool for the animators. The Animation is interesting, to say the least, since it goes form the standard homage to the experimental, especially with Hoppy and CM Punkrock's fight. Speaking of CM Punkrock and Marble Henry are amazing actors and remind me of classic 80's teen movie villains. The Superstars from WWE did a wonderful job of not sounding like they were muddled within the film, since some guest actors have that tendency to feel out of place within the recording and presentation. Barney sounds off, it's annoying, though the acting is skillfully preformed by Kevin Michael Richardson. It's the laugh that bothers me the most, since it's not Mel Blanc's chuckle, though that's a different actor, a different style of the character, but like I said Kevin Michael Richardson updates the character and brings a great take on my favorite stout neighbor.

The homage designs stays pretty true to the source material, though with modern takes on the characters, it feels very loose, but open to a lot of action for the Flintstone Universe to take advantage of especially within a wrestling cartoon. Warner Bros. Animation are season professionals for action and fluid animation. Those familiar with The Flintstones: On the Rocks this is a close style to their 14 year old television special. I like the exaggerated forms and limited animation that gives an homage to the 1960's source series. Even keeping those designs in something so out of place for this weird timeless Stone age world like an entertainment auditorium center. Bedrock seems to have grown from a little town to a City, a center for all of the Stone age to celebrate like New York City or Los Angeles. I've always seen the small sleepy village as being around Wisconsin, close to Milwaukee, a place that has a City close by, but nothing as influential.

Gom has made a leap from the top ropes!
(Which is a running start from Gom's resting room over the banister to the living room)

Quick lead into the film, Fred learns that people like watching other people fight, then convinces Barney to be his fighter. Also meets the characters that don't look like background folks like JOHN CENA! Anyhow Fred hides that he took the vacation money he's been saving for his family and the Rubbles and get it doubled. He does so, then goes wild with his spending, renting everything and cutting ties, it all goes horribly wrong, since he comes back to his senses. Fred learns a lesson, though where did he come up with the money to rent the arena and all that space, still with all the vacation money it makes me wonder, are we in the past, as in the prices for travel and food and work are set in the 1960's or are we in a modern age with prices of everything? Cause in the past it could totally be enough money to rent local television time and a stadium, though anything from this day and age wouldn't be possible, since he only make hundreds of clams (dollars) and it would take thousands if not millions to have that many people and pay for everything that's involved for a spectacle like this. Also the costume changes that Fred has, where is all this money coming from?! I feel it's another Bedrock Kids question, making a modern version of a show that's from the past about a past that never had these things is difficult, though easy, since that generation wasn't too different from the Stone age, since the only real additions were sinks, cars, and record players. With technology today there's computers, cell phones, and TVs, well they had TVs in the old cartoons too, though I never really understood how they worked either, I mean flat screen TVs.

Tea Steeping is in for a world of metal menacing mayhem from the automaton terror of the ring.

The main problem I have are the cliches, though some are fun, but they're not really great. Don't get me wrong some cliches are from the show and the time that these cartoons were made, it's the cartoon cliches that I don't like. Turning the character into a ball and bouncing them around, doing jokes from other cartoons that don't need to be done, just give a nod for the adults that the actors or makers of the show know about animation history, and the character 180. The character 180 is the most complex, since you'll see this in a lot of 80's-90's family characters, mostly WB owned, since they want the kids to lean something. Though in a character's fall from grace, it's a weird arc to move from one direction to the other, it's too wide of a swing from one path to the other. It shows a good story writer when the character doesn't murder someone then say "opps" and gives a speech about friendship and family. The writer really could have pushed that note, the note that Fred was dealing with mental health problems, had his family and friends help him keep regain health or end this vicious circle differently.

Moving on, Fred in this film goes into beyond bankruptcy, assuming that he paid for everything, he had to get loans for all this stuff to put on this show. Meaning that Fred still has connections with Gangsters, though with modern times implied, he's just murdered his family and friends, since by the end of the film he wouldn't have enough money to pay off all the people that would loan him money. It's a darker turn to the film, I'd love to see a thriller short of the Flintstones where Fred has to do favors for the Mob, enough that he gets the money or at the least calls in favors to famous people that can give him the money to save his loved ones. Again this is looking at the special as if money really matters, but this is a huge plot problem to me. That's resolved as a beach party vacation closes the film, like being written off as if Fred was chewing gum.

In short this was a ton of fun, even with it's problems it still had the same spirit as a Flintstones cartoon and a Flintstones movie special. I would watch another of these movies, since it fits all of my joys of Animation and entertainment. Though it's not prefect, there are a lot of problems, but the acting and skill of production have convinced me that an annual special would be welcomed. If you like the spiritual embodiment of older cartoons in contemporary animation, then this is your movie, if not, you're kids will love it for all it's worth.

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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