‘Primal’ is Genndy Tartakovsky’s Raging and Devastating Magnum Opus

/Film | 10/22/2019 | Caroline Cao
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Blink and miss one frame of detailed animation and you miss the entire world. At least, that’s the case when watching the masterful animation and razor-blade precision of Genndy Tartakovsky and his team.

Echoing the flat, sharp-lined, dimensional aesthetic of its spiritual predecessor Samurai Jack, elements like whiplash, stillness, noise, and quiet are vital to the first five episodes of Primal, Tartakovsky’s latest limited series for Adult Swim. Tartakovsky pushes the envelope for cinematic televised animation through zero dialogue, wildlife ambiance, the grandeur and smallness of gestures, and stillness to convey action and introspection. With the rolling trum-trum-trum of Tyler Bates’ and Joanne Higginbottom’s music, Aaron LaPlante‘s growls, shrieks, grunts for a leading character with no words, the thrashy and crunching sound design by Joel Valentine, and Scott Willis’s sharp and flushed art direction, everything is woven into a painstaking presentation.

Premise - Concept - Contrasts - Ghastly - Graceful

The premise is so comically ludicrous that its concept contrasts with the ghastly (and graceful) tonal execution made possible by animation: a caveman teams up with a T-Rex. The premiere, “Spear and Fang,” hurls the viewer into a prehistoric dog-eat-dog realm where man and dinosaurs patrol the earth. After snout-tipped Tyrannosaurs devour his loved ones, the caveman called “Spear” – this identifier cued by the episode title – witnesses his cave family’s same murderers devour the hatchlings of another T-Rex, our “Fang.” Spear and Fang enter a partnership, hunt for prey, and confront the unknown of the prehistoric jungle.

The show never exhausts itself of finding little idiosyncrasies: the caveman’s squared countenance creasing into apish rage with gradualism or immediacy, the limbs of emaciated cavemen flopping bonelessly, or a community of mammoths swaying their heads and trunks. The details concerning eyes are existentially hypnotic, such as the extreme close-ups of the human or bestial pupils that dilate, shrink, go bloodshot, reflect...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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