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The Legend Of The Titanic
(1999)

Director: Orlando Corradi, Kim J. Ok
Voice Cast:
Gregory Snegoff, Francis Pardeilhan, Jane Alexander


English writer John Heywood is credited with the origin of a very common expression in the English language today. Way back in 1546, he wrote, "Some heades haue taken two headis better than one." That evolved in the expression "Two heads are better than one". There is definite truth to what Heywood wrote over four hundred years ago. Certainly, it applies to cases when two individuals collaborate, but it can also apply to combinations where only one person is in the collaboration. Or none at all, come to think of it. Such desired combinations include motorcycles in the deserts in the American southwest, macaroni with cheese, black clothes with clothes of different colors, the Internet with pornography, and Kim Jong-un with a noose. You can probably add to that list, but first I feel I need to mention that Heywood also wrote, "But ten heads without wit, I wene as good none." In other words, sometimes it can be true that adding someone to someone else - or adding something to something else - can produce disastrous results, even if both people or things are good by themselves. As I once mentioned in another review, chocolate is great, and so are hamburgers. But eating chocolate simultaneously with a hamburger would make anyone's stomach turn. Another example is when cane toads were introduced into the Australian countryside. (And rabbits on another occasion.) And while I feel the color of pink can be soothing, and houses are a great and beneficial for mankind, I really can't see houses painted pink to be a good thing, no matter what John Mellencamp may claim.

But the same idea - joining up of two or more people or themes creating either great results or dire results - can also be found in the motion picture industry. One obvious example in this industry is with comic duos - who doesn't know the critical and financial success that came with such pairing as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis? Other successful pairings up can be found behind the camera as well. For example, animator/inventor/special effects technician Ub Iwerks and the legendary Walt Disney found their collaborations to be extremely fruitful; Iwerks provided the ideas and inventions, while Disney generously bankrolled Iwerks. Both men ended up getting incredible fame and recognition. I could go on with fruitful combinations, such as adding sound (and color, for that matter) to movies, but now I want to point out some examples when adding two ingredients in the motion picture industry resulted in disaster. Some were due to miscasting; I still can't believe that Hollywood thought that pairing up John Travolta and Lily Tomlin in the romantic drama Moment By Moment was a good idea, nor can I understand why Clint Eastwood thought that casting Leonardo DiCaprio as the title figure in J. Edgar would fly. But there are also misguided pair-ups that don't involve actors. I know people like sweepstakes, and I know people like comedies, but even as a teenage I thought the idea of combining both in Million Dollar Mystery was dumb; who wants to work at something while trying to be just entertained? Also, there is the time when Telefilm Canada decided to pair up with the film concept of... well, uh, just about everything concept they have dealt with over the decades.

The misguided movie pair-ups I really want to talk about involve family entertainment with dark subject matter. Oh, it can work sometimes; Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory had a really dark edge, but it was made in a way that was palatable for both children and adults. But when it comes to family entertainment using really dark material - namely real-life tragedies - it certainly is a heck of a lot harder. You are always in danger of insulting the memories of who suffered and/or died in the real-life tragedies. This was certainly the case of an Italian animated movie I reviewed a while back, Titanic: The Animated Movie. Even if you haven't seen the movie or read my review, from that title alone you probably got some sense of the tasteless territory the movie gets into. If not, let me inform you that the movie has musical numbers, a number of talking animals (including a dog that does a rap number - yes, a rap number), and as the back of the video box proclaimed, "CHILD-FRIENDLY ENDING ASSURES EVERYONE IS RESCUED AND LIVES HAPPILY EVER AFTER!"

So by now you can probably guess why I practically proclaimed in my review that it was one of the worst movies ever made. Once I had the review written up and posted, I immediately The Legend Of The Titanicput the trauma of seeing the movie behind me, and felt that I would never see anything quite like it again, thank goodness. However, in the years since I reviewed the movie, I learned that about a year before Titanic: The Animated Movie was released, another Italian film production company had made an animated movie aimed at family audiences that concerned the sinking of the Titanic! That movie was called The Legend Of The Titanic. My first reaction to learning there were two Italian animated movies about the Titanic disaster was, of course, disbelief. Doing some subsequent research on it, I uncovered that people that had seen The Legend Of The Titanic seemed to think it was terrible in the way Titanic: The Animated Movie was, maybe even more so. Part of me was filled with morbid curiosity, but another equal part of me was holding me back to potentially save myself from great pain. But recently, I found out a new fact about The Legend Of The Titanic, that being that while it was an Italian production, the actual animation was done by an animation house in North Korea! While that news did suggest the end results might be more of a train wreck, the news also pushed my curiosity level to a high enough level that I finally sat down to watch it. You don't get to see every day anything resembling entertainment coming out of North Korea, so I felt seeing animation from North Korea would be interesting to some degree. Probably not interesting in a generally good way, but interesting all the same.

The plot: The ship hits an iceberg and sinks. Oh, you knew that already, and knew I tried to pull the same fast one with the previous Titanic movie I reviewed? Okay, here is more of a plot synopsis: In the opening we meet an elderly mouse in present day New York City named Connors who on this day decides to tell his grandchildren about what really happened when way back in 1912 the Titanic sunk. He knows the real story, because he happened to be on the Titanic while it was on its ill-fated journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Also on the voyage are the aristocrat Camden family, consisting of young lady Elizabeth, as well as her prominent whaling-business father and her stepmother Rachel. Elizabeth's father and stepmother have been arranging for Elizabeth to soon marry Evarard, who is also big in the whaling industry himself. Elizabeth doesn't know that secretly Evarard and her stepmother are arranging this marriage in a scheme to give them full power in the whaling industry. But just before the Titanic left port, Elizabeth spotted another passenger on the ship, a gypsy named Don Juan, and there was an instant attraction. After some time, Connors, along with Ronny, another mouse that Connors met earlier, get wind of the evil scheme of Evarard and Elizabeth's stepmother. Connors and Ronny decide to do some scheming of their own, and with the help of some talking dolphins, manage to convince Elizabeth to stand up for herself and not marry Everard. When this news, as well as the news of Elizabeth declaring she is in love with Don Juan gets heard by Evarard and Elizabeth's stepmother, both are so furious that they decide to do the most natural reaction: Hire a shark called Mr. Ice who with his shark buddies will cause the Titanic to hit an iceberg and sink, killing Elizabeth's father in the process.

Ooooooookayyyyy... In a family movie such as this, a thorough critique can just focus on three specific things: The animation, the characters, and the story. I'll start by writing about the animation. So how did those NorKorComms perform at it? Well, to put it as kindly as possible, it's the best "Internet Edition"such animation I've seen from them... though also the only such effort I've seen to date. The animation may be best described as what you would find from a mid-1980s American animated television show, albeit one with slightly more polish and money towards it. There are some moments with a lot of movement from multiple characters and/or objects, and occasionally there is some presentation that attempts to be elaborate, like glare from the sun or the use of multiplane cameras. Though there is always something a little "off" and clunky about these ambitious techniques, such as a few times when one particular plane shudders a little. Things get even worse in the less ambitious moments. Most of the time the colors of the characters and backdrops look dark, murky, and unattractive. And while the outer edges of the characters may move smoothly, the features inside the outlines of the characters look incredibly stiff, resulting among other things characters having unattractive and not very expressive faces. But this hand drawn animation is Disney-quality compared to the moments that use CGI. The level of CGI animation would embarrass even those who have held onto their PlayStation Ones after all of these decades. I would also like to add that whenever The Legend Of The Titanic uses traditional or computer animation or artwork, you can clearly tell that the animators weren't very familiar with what life was like in the particular time and places the movie takes place. The most memorable example of this is when a character is reading a newspaper that has the year "1912" printed on its front, but also on the front page of the newspaper you can read the words, "Internet Edition".

Should it then come as a surprise that when it comes to the characters in The Legend Of The Titanic, they are just as bad as the animation? In fairness to the makers of the movie, the problems with the characters were made worse by the atrocious English dubbing given to the version I watched on Tubi TV; Conners the mouse, for example, often sounds like a drunk Porky Pig. But even with better dubbing, the characters would still suffer from idiotic dialogue, which ranges from statements like, "I don't know how a telegraph works, but if it has a wire, why not cut it?" to when a mouse pining over a human female says to his disapproving mouse pal, "Well, there's one thing I'm not, and that's a racist!" But even if the dialogue was a lot better, there's no escaping the fact that all the characters, animal or human, are extremely weak. I'll focus in the characters of lovers Elizabeth and Don Juan as a good example of the humans. At the beginning of the movie, we are barely introduced to both of them, and for the longest time all we know of Elizabeth is that she's being pushed into a marriage she doesn't want, and that Don Juan likes a good dance and thought Elizabeth looks beautiful when he briefly saw her when the Titanic was docked and taking in passengers. Don Juan then disappears for a very long time while we learn pretty much nothing more about Elizabeth. Eventually the two bump into each other again and fall in love, but guess what - I'm having a hard time recalling them actually talking to each other before the ship hit the iceberg! They are just in love with each other's looks. I should also add that it's not just Don Juan who disappears for long stretches, but all the other main human characters... and much of the animal cast for that matter. At the beginning of the movie, mouse Connors goes ga-ga over the sight of his mouse friend's sister, but then she doesn't appear again until the very end of the movie when out of the blue she and Connors are getting married! Also, the movie can't decide if the human characters can engage in dialogue with the various animals or not, and there are big questions like how the evil Evarard and his equally evil human sidekick managed in the past to find and start a verbal connection with the shark Mr. Ice.

The shark Mr. Ice, by the way, wears a zebra-striped prison hat on its head, and has an indelible prison number on its body, which raises questions like if there's such a thing as marine life prison, something that The Legend Of The Titanic never bothers to answer. For that matter, the movie doesn't explain a lot of other things, like why the movie starts with an instrumental of the theme for the 1977 movie New York, New York over the intro of the elderly Connors (unless mice can live for decades)... why multiple passengers suddenly have life jackets on seconds after the Titanic hits the iceberg... and how an octopus (somehow the size of the Titanic) managed to lift and throw this particular iceberg in front of the ship. There are a lot more unanswered questions like this in other parts of the movie, but until about the last twenty or so minutes of the movie, what really makes the story of this movie suffer is the poor style of general storytelling. Obviously, the movie is a rip-off of the James Cameron Titanic movie (not just with the romance subplot), but while only about half the length of Cameron's movie, it feels a lot slower in advancing its story. Which is curious, because at the same time there are a number of moments that feel very rushed, including some sudden cuts to new scenes that are quite jarring. Whether the story is running too slowly or too quickly, it is quite hard to find pleasure in the only possible entertainment the movie can offer - camp appeal. That is, until those aforementioned last twenty minutes. I don't want to spoil too much about the movie's last twenty minutes, except to say they contain some of the most batsh*t insane plot turns and actions I have ever seen in my many decades of watching motion pictures, not just for the fact that like Titanic: The Animated Movie, everybody on this cinematic Titanic, human or animal, ends up surviving the disaster. Thinking about that later Italian animated Titanic movie, it sure seems that those wacky Italians not only like to rip off Hollywood movies, but themselves as well.

So... now that I have unfortunately seen both Italian animated Titanic movies, the question comes up: Which Italian animated Titanic movie is worse? That's a tough question to answer, because each movie has many unique terrible attributes that each make them absolutely torturous to watch, and make both of them two of the worst movies ever made. But after a lot of thought, in the end I will say this particular Italian Titanic animated movie I am reviewing here is the worst of the two. That's because unlike the other Italian Titanic animated movie (my review of it is here), this one did not make me think about lesbians.

(Posted January 24, 2022)

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See also: Hugo The Hippo, Pinocchio In Outer Space, Titanic: The Animated Movie

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