Animate This! My Favorite 3-D Animated Movies
1205 5.7 6.425. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
Okay, I'll admit, the story was boring, & the people looked stiff despite the motion capture technology.
But still, at the time of it's release, the visuals were really something to behold. For me, this was a major stepping stone that would eventually lead to some of the most high tech images we are seeing not just on movies screens today, but also to the crossing over of video-game technology.
841 7.4 7.824. Waking Life (2001)
Philosophical musings accompanied with expressionistic graphics of computer-generated "paint", overlayed on top of life-action.
And if that description is hard to understand, then let me instead say that Waking Life is definitely not a kid's film.
Or for those who watch films exclusively so that they can turn their brains off.
A unique movie-enjoying experience when approached with the right frame of mind.
2830 6.6 7.223. Cars (2006)
To be honest, for me, the story in Cars really isn't the strongest I've seen in these type of movies, the characters, while a worthy effort, aren't the most memorable, and just the very concept of a universe of cars "running" around by their own "ignition" and with the ability to talk doesn't lend itself very well as a consistent idea in believability, no matter how much suspension I try to apply into my sense of belief.
However, I'm still including this film onto this list of favorites on the basis that the visuals on this thing are pretty damn insane.
The reflecting light off of the hulls of the shiny race-cars is eyecatchingly reflective, the realism in may of the backgrounds shots are incredibly affecting, the just the sheer amount of detail in everything is amazing (consistency in the color-schemes keep it from getting too distracting like in Speed Racer).
After watching Cars, it truly boggles the mind of where computer graphics will be in twenty, or even in just ten years from now.
The Mighty Celestial's rating:
1233 6.8 7.122. 9 (2009)
9 is a sci-fi movie that takes the high tech of it's visuals & combines them with the kind of original character designs that I always believed could be utilized more often with the whole CGI technology that is currently available at filmmakers' mouse-maneuvering fingertips.
However, the story, while not bad, still is not matching with the level of creativity of the look of this movie.
While I found this a great sci-fi flick to look at, at the same time, with it's lack of character developement & overblandness of it's plot premise, to some viewers, it can also come off as pretty forgettable.
It's place on this list it based soley on it's style over substance.
The Mighty Celestial's rating:
2286 6 6.621. Antz (1998)
With the release of Antz and A Bug's Life, 1998 was the year of the computer generated insect genre. And the subject of lil' multi-limbed critters isn't the only thing the two movies shared. Both releases have been critically rated pretty much the same by both film critics and audiences alike (although, A Bug's Life did take in more in terms of the box offiice, but not so much that it would've considered a total squash).
And just like Bug's, Antz takes the idea of the macrocosm of the insect universe & transforms it into a cute, wonderful world of innocent anthropomorhic fun that was sure to entertain the elementary-level audience for which this animated adventure is targeted towards.
And with the inclusion of some Woody Allen-like mannerisms into the mix, the older fans of scintillian invertebrates were also found swarming towards the cinema.
1208 6.2 6.620. Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
A tribute to all those 50's black & white sci-fi horrors flicks, but now in cool 3-D-like computer graphics. And in full color.
The graphics are absolutely top-notch, but some of the sheen has been lost due to the fact that they're also something that I'm sure viewers are pretty much starting to become accustomed to by now. And teen-agers today, let alone the more targeted little kid audience, will barely, if at all, get any of the references made to the Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman, the Creature Of The Black Lagoon & the like.
Now don't get me wrong. I think that MvA comes off with enough of the high quality that we expect from this type of picture, but to some movie-goers, it may feel like it came out a fews years too late.
1072 6.5 6.819. A Christmas Carol (2009)
I've always had a soft spot for any film adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic. It's an affection that began with me as a kid with the old 1938 black & white version, which played every year on our family TV set.
So when Robert Zemeckis' 09 take on the series came along, I had my heart set on not enjoying this flick.
But after I watched it,
I found the energy of the cool angle- shots & sense of frenetic movements really made this quite an enjoyable ride.
One of the things that always frustrated me with animation, 3D or not, was it's limited use of camera angles.
Zemeckis took good advantage of the range of possibilities that come with animation as far as where to put the "camera', & IMO, used it as quite of an effective storytelling tool.
The number of holiday animated movies & special have increased so much lately, it gets real easy to become desensitized during the Holiday Season to Yuletide based entertainment. So, even this probably isn't the last version of Scrooge's tale that we'll see, it was kinda cool for me to be able to watch one that sparked some real movie-watching excitement.
Plus, the fact that this one was more in line with the original book adaptation, made me appreciate this updated effort even more. For my money, it gave the story a more darker edge & a fear factor that may not be suitable for younger audiences, but adds an extra bit of spice for the more mature & educated viewer. Y'know....
1357 7.2 7.218. Brave (2012)
As far as a Pixar picture, this is definitely one of the best looking with the level of detail & realism of the graphics, especially in keeping with being their latest release.
the story, whilst solid-enough to keep the kiddies entertained & maybe even kill a couple of hours for an adult viewer,
overall it doesn't stand up to level of the many of Pixar's previous efforts.
So even though this probably won't go down as a groundbreaking computer-animated history, the Brave's ability to at follow through in it's tradition of eyepopping graphics is what has me including it on this list.
6603 7.5 8.317. Toy Story (1995)
The first computer movie that showed how sophisticated graphics can be integrated into a really top quality & solid story.
Toy Story took the third dimension of the still burgeoning technology and upped the ante in what was possible when it came to motioning pictures, with the end result being a technical achievement in cinematic entertainment. It's an animated feature that was a hit both behind and in front of the silver screen with a story whose "out-standing" visuals matched it's plot in emphasizing the vibrant warmth & color that was starting to become more & more "faded" in the tired 2-D animated family films that movie producers had seemed to be tiredly cranking out at the time.
3886 6.7 7.216. A Bug's Life (1998)
For it's time, A Bug's Life, was the next step in the advancing technology of 3D animation.
The medium made good use of the physical aspects that make up the distinctions of the insect world to create the individual personalities of the main characters.
As with Cars, this was a movie that was beginning to show the extent of what computer graphics could do within the visual dimensions of the genre.
529 7 7.315. The Croods (2013)
Here's a caveman clan that put the dysfunction in the whole idea of dysfunctional family before being a dysfunctional family became vogue. Basically because they were very first dysfunctional family.
And sure, maybe compared the today's definition of what makes families totally coo-coo, the Croods make come up as kinda lightweight.
But, amidst the heavy influx of big blockbuster 3D animations that have crowded the market these days, this prehistoric household's quest for a peaceful house to hold is one that easily reminds us of why we like these flicks so much. A concrete combination of clandestine comedy, character chemistry and computer oomph, this jurassic (somewhat) journey demonstrates the hi-tech norm of what has become a sign of these times.
But at the end of the day, there's no denying that the best part of watching this film is the fact at the time when primordial mammals known as homo-sapiens were still adjusting to walking with their spines erect, the dynamics of this family structure were just starting to evolve into something that was homeward bound to healthy and thus were still considered quite crude.
4353 7.2 7.914. Toy Story 2 (1999)
The first Toy Story not only introduced film goers to the artificially 3D generated world of Pixar, but also set the standard for the merging of quality storyline with sophisticated computer graphics, not to mention with big box office numbers.
The sequel not only managed to continue this tricky balancing trick, but, according to who you talk to, maybe even surpassed it.
1184 6.6 713. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
With movies like Up, 9, Wonder Woman, Monsters Vs Aliens, Mary & Max, A Christmas Carol, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Secret Of Kells and Coraline, 2009 proved to be one of the richest years for animated features to come along in a long time. And not just in quantity, but also both in quality and in diversity.
And to add the already massive mix of motion capture merriment is a motion picture menu of mammoth-sized meatballs.
Cloudy With A Chance is a film that doesn't try to compete with the more sophisticated computer "animatronics" of Disney or Pixar. Instead, it goes for a more distinctive approach of the 3D hijinx of it's plot.For example, notice how it primary protagonist Flint Lockwood move his body about not in the super-realistic manner that livens the mega-budgeted competition, but instead relies on a more slapsticky kind of propulsion that we used see in classics cartoons like Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry.
That, along with the enthusiastic effort put into scripting the fun-instilled premise help to give this food filled forecast a very sunny disposition.
1932 7.4 7.712. Despicable Me (2010)
So what's the best way to make a world-feared supervillain to realize the error of his dastardly ways?
Add three insanely cute little orphaned girls to his horde-sized family of yellow miniaturized minions in a plot that despite being about as formulaic as it gets, still manages to pull the proper amount of heart-strings.
I usually don't fall for animated flicks that wear their saccharin-saturated cuteness om their sleeves,
but after a few minutes of sitting thru Despicable Me, there was something about the genuineness of it's story's intent that Gru on me.
7373 7.6 8.211. Finding Nemo (2003)
As good as the story was in this Finding Nemo (and a it was a story I did like) the world of the undersea looked just so beautiful in this flick, that it felt like this Nemo's story could've used more of an extra punch, just to meet the same high level of quality in the graphics.
And if it's seems like I'm being picky with this film, it's only because I think that while it's a solid feel-good family-fare that was very good, it's one that had the potential to have been great.
3789 8.1 8.310. Up (2009)
A cranky old man & an annoying little kid team up with a talking dog & a flightless giant mother bird named "Kevin",
to embark on an semi-Indiana Jones type of adventure.
Colorful, but not overwhelming (like Cars or Speed Racer),
touching, but not over-sentimental,
exciting, but not at the cost of the story.
Another score for the people over at Pixar.
255 7 7.19. Arthur Christmas (2011)
These days, while it may take a village to make sure that no child gets left behind, at Santa's Village, all they need are three generations of Clauses.
A pretty cool animated holiday flick from Aardman studios that reveals the truth of how all the old skool magic & new updated machinations mesh together up at the North Pole and it all comes into play in order to ensure that the one night that the entire world depends on Team: Santa, all goes on without a hitch.
2976 8.1 8.48. Toy Story 3 (2010)
2928 7 7.67. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
It seems like these days, every season, an animated movie comes out displaying the next level of computer-generated visuals. At the time of this posting, it's this movie & Wall-E. While on one end, this film comes with all the standard plot devices that usually accompany the story of these animated features, Kung Fu Panda has enough of it's own style to stand away on it's own. I don't think that the story was told as successfully as many of it's predecessors, but the next level of the "anthropormorphic" facial expressions & the characteristics of the movements achieved in this film seem to make up for it.
3759 7.6 86. Ratatouille (2007)
128 7 7.25. Appleseed Ex Machina (2007)
So far, the most updated amazing computer animation in any animated feature.
Simply put, the computer-generated visuals in this film truly have to be seen in order to be believed.
However, even though the story is solid, as the sci-fi epic that Appleseed's visuals aspire to be, it does lack some originality in it's plotline. It is for this reason, combined with the indistinguisnness of the faces (as is usually common for most 3-D anime) that prevented this film from being ranked higher on this list, despite the fact that the graphics are, so far, some of the most favorite that my eyes have ever laid upon.
That said, there wasn't a frame in this movie where I just wasn't completely stunned with awe. The technical details & intricate designs in Ex Machina are some of the most striking ever to be generated on film.
Iron-Man's armor looks like it was created by Fisher-Price compared to the "hardwear" that these guys are sporting.
A true marvel to behold.
1164 6.4 6.74. Monster House (2006)
Even tho the animation in this film doesn't have the chance to get as creative as other comp.-animated movies of this generation & that focus on non-human subjects, this movie does very well with what it has. The facial expressions are choice quality & the movements during the action sequences are both smooth & dynamic. While there have been many animated films that have come along that look "better",for me, Monster House is one of the rare ones that have the whole package. For what it is, the story is well done, the characters are engaging & the action scenes are very high in the area of thrill. And the script does not insult the intelligence of the viewer, despite being based on a child-based fantasy genre.
MH flows with the same roller-coaster ride that was felt with some of those high quality Spielberg-ish action flicks of the 80's.
2079 7.9 8.23. How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
For any one out there owning a dragon, I'm sure that I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to have and maintain such a cantankerous beast. With their ferocious appetites, their bulky over-sized wings and fiery temper, one wonders if owning one is really worth all the trouble.
Well, all you mythological giant-reptile owners, fear not. If you've ever wondered just you'll ever be able to train your dragon,
this is the movie for you.
After watching this computer generated Dreamworks production, you'll be able to take all the appropriate steps and measures that will allow any wyvern-wielder to enjoy all the affectionate, incendiary and home protecting benefits that come from owning such a demagogic and ponderous pet.
4368 8.1 8.52. WALL·E (2008)
While not so surprising in that I (we?) expected the details in the graphics of this film to be as detailed & realistic as they were, it's still quite stunning to behold.
WALL-E is a futuristic story that involves themes of loneliness, environmentalism, technological over-dependence & the effects of idleness on the soul of humanity when it is stripped away from the natural strife of life.
And even though these are all themes that are ones we've seen many times before, it's still quite surprising how often & consistantly filmmakers are able to intergrate the amazing graphics into the quality of the storytelling in a manner that seems fresh & keeps the messages from feeling too cliche. At the rate that these types of highly sophisticated computer animated flicks are being released, it's remarkble that the ratio has been so much more good than bad.
6042 7.2 81. The Incredibles (2004)
One of the best voice castings for the lead roles I've seen (or is it heard?) & it has a great story, full of charm, wit & family chemistry. I always thought that Hollywood never seem to be able to put out 100% in any feature dealing with superheroes, but they really did with this one. The effects are incredibly cool, the over-all visuals are stunning & the characters are all drawn with an equally high level of quality & dynamicism (.... is that really a word?). Added with the "Jack Jack Attack" story on the DVD, & I know that it will probably be a long time before the family "I's" get dethroned from #1 on my list.
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