Story + Style, Not Just Style

I collect things. Too many, most would say when they see the jars of "stuff" around my apartment--bottle caps, ribbons, buttons, etc. Among these things, I have newspapers with articles I think would be interested. I was rifling through my things the other day, and came across a USA Today article on Wreck-It Ralph. It praised the film and basically said it brought Disney back from the grave. From what I've heard about the film (haven't seen it yet), they're not wrong.

The issue I had was with this paragraph, talking about Disney's decline:

         "The reason for the slump? After an animated revival in 1989 with the bubbly The Little Mermaid, Disney clung to its tradition of 2-D hand-drawn cartoons a little too long. As a result, the company lagged in converting from pencils to pixels, releasing such relics as 2003's Brother Bear long after in-house rival Pixar and DreamWorks claimed computers as their preferred tool."

The article then builds its argument (that Disney was in a huge slump) on the notion that 2D films don't hold a candle to 3D.


I think they're forgetting about story, which was a huge part of it. Yes, Toy Story broke barriers in terms of style, and I don't think anyone would argue that it would look better as a 2D film, but a giant part of why that film was so successful was that the story appealed to the masses.

I get that, when done well, 3D is incredible. But I could say that about any medium. When done well. The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet was beautifully done. Mary and Max by Adam Elliot is a mix of clay animation and 3D, and is one of my favorite films. Another favorite, done in --gasp--2D, is The Iron Giant, released in 1999. And must we forget about Titan A.E., not by Disney but still cool as hell? Yes, there was a slump in the quality of 2D films after people saw the possibilities of 3D, but that's because studios weren't focusing on quality 2D films anymore. They wanted to use 3D, so they used 3D, quality stories or not. The abandonment of 2D caused the drop in quality, not the other way around. At least, that's the way I see it.

Not all 3D films are amazing, either. Goodness knows Chicken Little and Alpha and Omega were sub-par. Disney tried with Chicken and failed. They latched onto the 3D concept without their usual gusto for, you know, actually making a good film.

I'm not going to say style doesn't matter. That would be naive. But it's style AND story, not one or the other. Disney abandoned one for the sake of the other; first, leaving story for 2D, then again for 3D (even though I thought Atlantis was a good 2D adventure). There are plenty of incredible 3D films that I wouldn't put in another style.

My point is, whether 3D or 2D, if the story isn't there, I don't want to watch it. Period. I think most people would feel the same. Or, at least, I hope so.

Anyway, let's all go see Wreck-It Ralph, it looks fantastic, and no one's yet told me otherwise.