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Good luck keeping up with Storks. Although not directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of Lego Movie fame, Storks mirrors their manic pace. While Lego Movie had a pop culture armature to build on in form of known characters and licenses, nothing supports Storks other than an adorable idea.
Storks isn’t just thin; it’s equivalent to a strand of hair. While the story bounces between the dawning relationship of a stork and 18-year old girl – creepy, if not to Bee Movie level – and a small boy hoping for a brother, there’s no time to breathe. Get in, get a joke, move on. Coming from Warner, Storks is identifiable as the studio’s own, with allusions to the spirited energy of Looney Tunes.
The loss is primarily character, staged with a stork, Junior (Andy Samberg), begging for a leadership position within an Amazon knock-off. Then the girl, Tulip (Katie Crown), a leftover from the stork’s days of delivering babies until package delivery netted more profits. The anti-capitalist angle comes fast, then disintegrates, only to blow up with a misplaced giant robot clash in the closing moments. There’s a lot to take in.
Storks plants itself into an adorable zone
Storks plants itself into an adorable zone
As an adventure, Storks passes by predictably, if with exhaustive energy. The quest to drop off an accidental infant at her new home rolls through plenty of scenery, with a handful of bit players nudging the stork/girl pair forward. Storks plants itself into an adorable zone, exploiting the baby’s cuteness at will, self-acknowledging its own tactics as a wolf pack swoons over the kid and her infectiously caricatured eyes.
Gags all come from physical humor or dialog timing, a miss since the premise itself presents with comedic potential. Instead, the usual motions – a mismatched team comes together, fall apart, then back again to fit the finale. A splash of rudimentary conflict with a dude-bro pigeon and the shipping firm’s CEO offers the minimum for an animated film to get by.
Ignoring much of the above though, an original animated outing from a non-major animation player is worthy of attention. It’s not a license or a franchise or a sequel; anymore, these circumstances feel like seeing a unicorn. Unless there IS a sequel, then the whole thing collapses. For under 90 time wasting minutes though, Storks has a creative concept and it’s narrative heartbeat is so rapid, good luck being bored.
With a little bit of differentiation from other CG animation, Storks features a light grain filter. Artificial, of course, but interesting since this genre tends to skew for total clarity. Warner’s encode handles it enough, leaving few artifacts. The effect does undergo an increase when dealing with smoke/fog/haze. This goes double for a nighttime excursion at a shipping dock.
On the plus side, contrast is absolutely marvelous. Bold, dense black levels merge with an energetic contrast, helping these images standout. Image density is a high spot, even when against other films in the genre. Plenty of saturation helps too, with vivid leaps through different palettes. The core remains regardless – Tulip’s vibrant red hair, Junior’s bright orange beak.
Fidelity does its thing too, especially with the plethora of feathers all about. In close, Junior’s finer feathery covering shows faultlessly. Pulling back, the environments catch pleasing definition and human characters boast brilliant facial detail.
For a film about flying animals, the 3D disappoints. The resolution hit means the mild “grain” isn’t visible, but that’s not a benefit. Neither is the depth. Distance between foreground and background feels like inches much of the time. If it works – Tulip in her mailroom for the first time – it’s a mere oddity.
Strangely, Storks seems composed for the format. An exploitative moment uses a bird as a paddle ball, tossing it toward the screen in a nod to House of Wax ’53. It’s clear the filmmakers were cognizant of the format, yet pull back as to not reach any extremes. End results leave Storks unfortunately flat and lifeless with only a handful of exceptions.
The extreme stretch across the front soundstage is only the start for this enjoyable DTS-HD track. Dialog travels far into the stereos, keeping the visuals split, even if the characters just nudge their way to the side of the frame.
Hardly surprising then is the track’s ability to utilize the rears with superb frequency, adding life to the factory floor and panning with precision. Any action pays close attention to placement, traveling between channels without a miss, making sure to boost those extra rear channels as needed.
LFE support bests the expectations for this usually tepid genre. Storks adores the chance to hit the low-end, from the CEO’s shouts of “boss” to ignited engines. It’s splendid stuff. As the finale kicks off, machine engines start up, adding sizable kick. The soundtrack, too, provides a boost.
Four key players pack themselves into a commentary, including directors Douglas Sweetland & Nicholas Stoller, editor John Venzon, and storyboarder Matt Flynn. They continue their chat over some deleted scenes, 10-minutes worth.
Two brief shorts, some fully animated outtakes (a la A Bugs Life), and a music vid follow in a small collection of extras.
So frantic in pace as to be tiring, the energy works in Storks’ favor as there’s little time to absorb how thin the story is.
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