Extraordinary Tales

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Long time animator Raul Garcia jumped into the writer and director seat for this homage to Edgar Allen Poe. Its animation is wonderfully inventive, but the thread binding the multiple shorts that comprise this anthology film is, unfortunately, a bit weak (Poe and Death discussing his work). And this is the main weakness of the project overall, it is derivative in its story selection and the script writing.

What kept me watching was the changing styles of animation used to tell the stories and the wonderful voice talent Garcia had lined up. Julian Sands, Sir Christopher Lee (The Hobbit), Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim), Roger Corman (Attack of the Crab Monsters), and even  the late Bela Lugosi, whose recorded voice underlies The Tell-Tale Heart.

No episode is longer than 15 minutes, and the stories are necessarily edited down. Garcia, no doubt, hoped that visuals would bridge the text gaps. In some cases this worked, but in most, it did not. Part of the joy of Poe is the language and part is the tension he creates. Stories like The Fall of the House of Usher are not, necessarily, meant to be actual, but more allegorical or metaphorical. By turning them into art, they become actual and, frankly, quite a bit less interesting, even if really pretty to watch. But it is also that the stories, themselves, seem to be rushed and missing pieces, often ending abruptly. If you don’t know the originals well,  you’re probably being left unsatisfied.

You need to both love Poe and animation to sit through this film. It isn’t for general audiences at all. The voices certainly add value to the effort, as I’ve said. I’d like to see what Garcia could do with a richer script and where he had full creative control to bring it alive on screen. He is talented, but this was a few too many hats to wear.

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