The mighty Warner Bros. have been in the animation business for decades. So what's been keeping them until now from going mano a mano with Disney in the feature-length animation world?Complacency, I guess. Warner pretty much dominated the cartoon short film industry at its peak, when it was common for theatres to show one or two Looney Tunes productions before a film started. Once they arrived on television, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and the others were introduced to a whole new generation of fans. From the sixties on, Warner Bros. has been the undisputed king of the after-school UHF-channel cartoon hour. With all those profits rolling in from royalties and such, WB probably didn't need to bother with full-length cartoon movies anymore. They don't make much money anyway, right?
Whoops, they DO make lots of moolah. I guess, then, that Disney's mega-money-making The Lion King and Aladdin got WB's attention. And now, their first non-Looney-Tunes full-length animated feature in years has landed in theatres. While not on a par with Disney's best animes, Quest for Camelot is an ambitious effort, one that proves the WB can rumble with the Big Mouse in that area.
The setting is medieval England, in the mythical realm of Camelot. King Arthur's most prized possession, his Excalibur sword, has been abducted by Lord Ruber and his evil clan. Getting mixed up in all of this is Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig), a young lady from suburban Camelot, whose father was a knight that got killed by Lord Ruber (Gary Oldman). Kayley sets out on a mission to reclaim Excalibur for the king, with the help of blind nomad Garrett (Cary Elwes), and Devon/Cornwall, a two-headed dragon hilariously vocalized by Eric Idle and Don Rickles.
All the trappings of your typical modern Disney movie-toon are here... wacky sidekicks, tepid musical numbers, neat visual effects. If the WB is REALLY serious about competing full-on with Disney, however, they're gonna need to improve on the animation itself, which seems slightly choppy compared to Disney's higher frame-per-second ratio.Aside from those technicalities, this is a fairly enjoyable film. Here's hoping the WB moves on to bigger and better animated stuff.