The Primevals (2023)

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The Primevals (2023). 1h 31m

“In 1978, the film magazine Cinefantastique ran a cover story on an upcoming SF movie, The Primevals, then in preproduction. The Primevals, an ambitious effort on a modest budget, was intended as a showcase for stop-motion animation.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eI was in college at the time, and as an animation fan I was pretty excited about seeing this movie. As it turned out, I had to wait just a little longer than expected. Forty-six years, to be exact. It never occurred to me that Iu0026#39;d be nearly eligible for Social Security before The Primevals finally came out.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eYou see, the initial effort to make the movie fizzled. It was revived in 1994, when the live action and some of the effects were shot. Then the studio behind the project went bankrupt, and the movie, still in post-production, was shelved. It remained in limbo for decades until producer Charles Band and effects expert Chris Endicott worked out a plan to finish it. By that time, the filmu0026#39;s guiding light, animator-writer-director David Allen, was long gone, having died of cancer in 1999.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWith a new crew of animators, newly repaired or entirely refashioned models, and digital composites instead of back projection, The Primevals finally completed its remaining effects shots (or all the essential ones, anyway; the plot was slightly streamlined as a cost-cutting measure).u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAs of June, 2024, the movie has been released to streaming services. I watched it last night. As I expected, it often betrays its humble origins, with uneven performances and an overall u0026quot;1980s TVu0026quot; quality, which is especially noticeable in the overbright and rather flat lighting. Nevertheless, given the budget and the technology, itu0026#39;s an impressive piece of work – and obviously a labor of love for the creators. Allen and his colleagues made a real effort to elevate the stop-motion genre, eschewing dinosaurs and mythological creatures in favor of a more complex scenario involving alien contact and directed evolution. They also worked hard to integrate the stop-motion elements into the story in a natural way, rather than using them as standalone set pieces, as was too often the case.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe irony is that after all this time, The Primevals can no longer serve its intended purpose as proof of the viability of hand-crafted animation effects in a digital world. That ship has sailed. Instead, the movie will likely go down as the last live-action feature film to use stop-motion creatures in a big way. Itu0026#39;s probably not the legacy Dave Allen wanted, but it does assure him of a small place in movie history. And itu0026#39;s a great gift for stop-motion fans like me.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eKudos to Endicott, Band, and their associates for making The Primevals a reality – finally!”


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