Review – Rock Dog (2016)

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rock-dog-591016e23a137Welcome to Kid’s Week: Day 2. There were actually a good number of kids films that came out last year, but I haven’t exactly heard of them all. One of them was Rock Dog, which I only heard about through a random YouTube video…and, apparently, kids like it. Now, kids are easily impressed, so was this a bonafide kids film that was actually good or something to help parents distract their kids with? Let’s take a look and find out.

When a radio falls from the sky into the hands of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff, he leaves home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, setting into motion a series of completely unexpected events. (IMDb)

Kids like animated films and they tend to really like music in those animated films as well, which naturally makes this a movie they’d probably be interested in, but I’m not so sure it’s a flick that’ll stick with you long after you finish it, though. It’s a cute tale about following your heart, and if you follow your heart, you’ll be able to do anything which is a great message, but I doubt it really had enough to last as memorable as it probably wanted to be.

I think it could’ve been better for one major reason – it was clearly a trial run for some new production companies like Dream Factory Group, Eracme Entertainment, Huayi Tencent Entertainment Company, and Mandoo Pictures all have Rock Dog listed as their only film, and every production company can’t be expected to be brilliant right out of the gates, and this really isn’t a perfect film. However, I’ve seen so much worse, too. Honestly, the film did an okay job for the most part, but I did ultimately find it forgettable.

That’s just my first impressions, though. Let’s go ahead and break down Rock Dog to find out where it did and did not work out. Let’s interpret the stars.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 7/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 2|Importance – 1|Chemistry – 2

As far as the people category is concerned, I think Rock Dog did a good job with casting its characters, as they were all recognizable voices that actually had some decent chemistry with one another, but as far as things sticking out go, that’s about it. The acting was so-so, as this is a kids film, the characters aren’t nearly as memorable as the voices are. It tries to have different and diverse characters, but they sort of leave your short-term memory not long after you watch the film. Finally, there isn’t a lot of importance going on that adds to the plot, because the plot itself is incredibly weak. I’ll explain more in the next category.

WRITING SCORE – 5/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 0|Story – 1|Originality – 2|Interesting – 1

So, what was so bad about the writing? Well, it sometimes feels like it’s all over the place, and that’s mostly because of the foundation of the story about the sheepdog trying to protect his land from the wolves beyond the hills; that’s fine on its own, but it’s abandoned for 90% of the film before they return to it, and at that point, it felt more like a subtraction to the plot than an addition.  It was merely there to provide the kids with an antagonist, as most kids films insist on having them. Though, that’s why it ended up being convoluted. Nothing about the dialogue was memorable, the story had some nice messages about following your heart, but that could’ve been better focused on if they didn’t try so hard with the wolves story. And while I really don’t consider this to be ultimately interesting, I will at least call it original.

BTS SCORE – 8/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2

As with most animated films, we will probably get a high score. The visuals are usually impressive, it’s usually as-advertised, and at least sometimes there’s an element of music that’s memorable. In the case of Rock Dog, you have a plot that revolves around music, so of course, music gets full points here. The only thing that doesn’t stick out is the directing or editing, which is also pretty typical for animated films. So, there ya go!

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 1|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 1

We actually have a weird narrative structure for this movie. The introduction does a fine job introducing us with what’s going on in the world in general, as well as what’s going on in the main character’s heart. He has a passion for music, great. The inciting incident is when he leaves home to try to become a rock star. There’s not really a lot of important obstacles, though. I suppose there are the wolves always planning to attack the village, and I suppose there is the music teacher avoiding the main character, but none of them seem super important enough to get full points. The climax was actually a very good culmination of everything, but there’s really not much of a falling action. You don’t get a crystal clear idea of where their stories go on from there.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 2/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 1|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 0

As you can see, I wasn’t very entertained by the film. You can tell pretty quickly that this is a film made more for kids than entire families. Do I consider it rewatchable? In some ways, I do. I feel like I could easily watch it again with my kid for his sake, but I’m not gonna bother myself. Do I think it’s a fun movie? Well, in some parts, it is. I wished it had different songs, it has maybe one or two songs that they repeat a ton of times. The song’s fine, but I don’t need to hear it all the time, right? It’s the last song in the movie, and then the credits begin and there’s the song again. It’s a little over-the-top. I had no impulse to buy it, own it, or talk about it, and it never really sucked me in.

TOTAL SPECIAL – 30/50
Kids Week – 10|Family – 0|Music – 5|Comedy – 5|Halfway Decent – 10

Now for the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the flick. This is kid’s week, so how well does this work out as a kids film? I think it is colorful, there’s some fun music and action, and a heartwarming message that all works pretty perfect for a kid, so full points there. How well does it work with the whole family? Not so well. I think, for the most part, anyone who watches it who is not a child will be bored. How was the music in it? Not bad, but there wasn’t enough of it. There were too many repetitions of the same song. How was the comedy? I think it sometimes worked, but for the most part, it was weak. Now, was it halfway decent? I believe it got what it went after, so it was certainly halfway decent.

TOTAL – 60/100

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