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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Retro Review: Duck Tales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)

Ducktales: The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp
Cast: Alan Young, Terrence McGovern, Russi Taylor, Christopher Lloyd, June Foray, Rip Taylor 
Genre: Animated Adventure Comedy Fantasy Film
U.S Lifetime Gross: over $18 million

Plot: Huey, Duey and Louie & their long-suffering uncle Scrooge McDuck are back, battling an evil sorcerer, Merlock for the possession of a magical lamp

'One of Disney's Early '90s Animated Movie Efforts That Is More Of An Extended Episode of Duck Tales'

Released in 1990 by Walt Disney Pictures and produced by DisneyToon Studios, Duck Tales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp was the first Disney animated feature-length film that was based on a TV show and not as an original feature-length theatrical release like with Peter Pan, Basil The Great Mouse Detective, Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and many others before it. 

Other DisneyToon Studios produced straight- to- video and theatrical movies include 1996's Aladdin and the King of ThievesCinderella II, A Goofy Movie and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride to name but many. 

Scrooge, Launchpad McQuack and his nephews, Huey, Duey and Louie and niece, Webby are in the Middle East in search of the treasure of Collie Baba and the forty thieves, whilst stumbling upon some Gold coins and stones there is a magic lamp containing a wise-cracking, funny Genie. Sounds familiar to another movie, right? 

The film is a mish-mash of Indiana Jones meets Aladdin. It is more of a regular episode of the TV show only it is extended, rather than a standard animated movie. There is very little difference between this film and the series, other than the plot and the story could have been a whole better. After seeing the narrative unfold in Duck Tales: The Movie, I could understand why Disney made Aladdin, 2 years later. 

Alan Young, famed for voicing Scrooge McDuck passed away this year aged 96 and as ever, lent his vocal talents to his character.

The film earned Disney $18 million in the U.S and they made back its budget, but unfortunately it wasn't the huge, monumental success Disney was hoping for and as a result, all future Duck Tales movies were shelved, which is a great pity. Duck Tales was a hugely successful property for the company in the 1980s: the animated series was a tremendous success, ratings-wise on Saturday mornings & received appraisal from fans alike, but Disney gave up making more theatrical movies based on their cartoon properties, because of the financial 'failure' of this movie. 

A lot of people complained about the quality of the animation, although most of it was produced by Disney in France and not by Walt Disney Feature Animation in America. And why is it that whenever a movie is animated in 2D or any cartoon released is in 2D people complain about it and say it is awful by today's standards? The art designs are well done, yet simplified and thus, showing they put in a lot of work into it. 

This Genie voiced by comedian, Rip Taylor though has practically nothing on Robin Williams's Genie in Aladdin (Which makes me wished that Robin had voiced the genie in Ducktales The Movie instead of Rip); plus, this Genie is an anthropomorphic duck with legs & a huge turban, and acts more like Scrooge than a proper Genie. He isn't anything particularly special, nor magical enough, no interesting personality to speak of. Not even his quips are amusing. 

It's obvious judging by the production values that this is more suited as a made-for-TV feature. Character development was non-existent, there was no feeling whilst watching this movie that the protagonist characters had really changed or grown for the better. Duck Tales: The Movie is in essence, Duck Tales the animated TV movie. As a blueprint for Aladdin, it appears the makers in France, or be it Disney themselves just treated this as an entity and that they didn't go out and away to make this effort so varied, huge and spectacular as it ought to have been. I know this film didn't do particularly well, but personally, that is down to their own fault for not showing enough faith in Ducktales and believing the transition from the small screen to the big screen will work. They didn't treat this movie with the proper respect the franchise truly deserved and yeah, I know a lot of critics put this effort down, but whilst it is nowhere as terrible as they make it out to be, I came away feeling though it was interesting in places, there just wasn't more of the good stuff that made the original TV series the hit that it was in this movie. 

It lacks the visual extravagance of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, but this is a TV movie after all. Even with the inferior version of Genie voiced by Rip Taylor and that it is too easy to dismiss this as a lesser version of Aladdin, there isn't really anything that is terrible about this film. Rather I just wished this film could have been so much more and the story should've been a whole lot more interesting. Then- Hanna-Barbera veterans, Bob Hathcock and Alan Burnett had a hand in the production of Duck Tales: The Movie. Hanna-Barbera cartoons get a lot of slack from so many people, but I guess they couldn't work their magic on this one. 

And the complaints made by some people saying this movie rips off Aladdin is laughable, given this movie came out 2 years prior to it. 

If we're going to judge this as a proper feature film, then Duck Tales: The Movie won't win brownie points for that, but as a small budget, based on TV series film, it is nonetheless a valiant effort all-round. 

Final Verdict:

Whilst today's Disney is a mere shadow of a company that they used to be from the early 1930s to the late 1990s, back in the 1970s to 1980s they came up with such gems as The Rescuers, Basil: The Great Mouse Detective and this offering. 

Ducktales: The Movie isn't by any means amazing, or great; the Genie in this film is also no match for Robin Williams's version in Aladdin and it is a bit rough around the edges, but it is still a pretty good romp in places and a pleasant effort all-round. Though it is a bit of shame the creators couldn't recreate some of that magic of the show. The film is really more geared towards fans who are already familiar with the show's premise and its characters. 

It may not warrant repeated viewings unless you are a massive fan of the cartoon series, but if you really loved Duck Tales, this is definitely worth getting.


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