The Top 70+ Animated Features
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The Thief and the Cobbler (1993)
"The world which we see is an outward and visible dream, of an inward and invisible reality."
Wow. Of all the animated movies I’ve seen, this one just blew me away. Not the crappy versions with the songs, the Recobbled Cut. The animation is just... IT’S CGI! Just kidding, it’s all done with pencils. The film is also really inventive, the dialogue is brilliant (especially from Vincent Price’s performance as the villain. VINCENT PRICE!) and it’s even better than Aladdin! The main villain may not have performed any acts of violence or had a lot of screen time, but screw that!
I feel real sorry for the creators, who spent more than 26 years making it but torn apart by Warner Bros. when Aladdin (like this film, inspired by The Thief of Baghdad) was released. It then had to be butchered by Majestic Films, and later Harvey Scissorhands, who added tons of unfunny, unnecessary adlibbing. This is why people hate him! So if you haven’t seen the real thing, do it right now. I plead you to watch the Recobbled cut on YouTube right now! You won’t be disappointed.
KEY SCENE: The Thief’s incredible journey through the battle machine.
Toy Story (1995)
"I am who?" - Tima
So you’re probably wondering. Is Max out of his mind? Does he really think this film that carries a bland plot, bland characters and a jarring combination of CGI and anime is that good? Better than Akira? Yes! Rintaro’s vision of Osamu Tezuka’s vision of Metropolis kicks ass! Does it top Spirited Away? No. But am I that crazy for putting this so high? Not at all.
This is either a love-or-not-like film, but alongside James Cameron, Roger Ebert and plenty of anime fans, I thought this movie was amazing. Not just because of the visuals, but it was heartfelt, touching and powerful, and carried a great choice of jazz-style music to give it that retro feel.
The story may be familiar, not only borrowing from both the Lang and Tezuka Metropolises but films like Citizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove, Artificial Intelligence and Blade Runner, but this is no Equilibrium-ish schlock; I consider it to be an anime tribute to great cinema. I strongly recommend this underrated masterpiece, even if you might think it’s overrated.
KEY SCENE: I Can’t Stop Loving You...
The Illusionist (2010)
"Magicians do not exist"
3D. CGI characters. Dialogue overload. Dubbing overload. Close-ups. Immature humour. Why need them? The Illusionist (2010) is fine as it is. Based on Jaques Tati's 64 year old script, this film is an unexpected marvel. The characters develop a sense of pathos as the film progresses, the animation has so much detail put into it, the comedy harkens back to that of the past, the many shots of Edinburgh shout pure nostalgia, and in every shot, there's more than one thing going on, so that means the audience will have to keep an eye out. Why need close-ups when you can easily pay attention to what's going on? Kinda like an animated Inception.
The name "The Illusionist" also says a lot; there are many surprises and eye-catching magic you will notice, such as the shadow of the turning pages of a book resembling a bird. It's so inspired! Also, keep an eye-out for a couple of references to The Triplets of Belleville. This movie also proves again that you don't need an awful lot of dialogue to make an animated film entertaining. Hear that, Harvey Weinstein? The Illusionist, co-produced in Britain, got released there early, lucky for me. But boasting aside, if this ever screens at a film festival in your country, go there. Please.
KEY SCENE: Anything involving illusions that the main character isn't responsible for.
Mary and Max (2009)
"Max hoped Mary would write again. He'd always wanted a friend. A friend that wasn't invisible, a pet or rubber figurine."
There have been plenty of movies about Asperger’s syndrome or autism. Rain Man, The Aviator, Marathon, Mozart and the Whale, Ben X, Autism: The Musical, Adam, Where the Wild Things Are (jk), My Name is Khan, you name it. But this is by far the best of them all.
Mary and Max is wonderful. The stop-motion is so fluid, there is a lot of heart and it has a guy with Asperger’s syndrome. Named Max. Even though I have autism and not Asperger’s, what a relation! You must try and get to watch this film in the best way possible, but I think you might be wondering, how did I watch it if I come from Britain and it is going to have an official UK release in late October? Eh heh heh heh heh…
The King and the Mockingbird (1980)
"The world exists! The Sun is shining! And there are birds!" - The blind man
This movie’s production history was quite long – it began in 1948 and got released by someone as a 63-minute film in France and the US as The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep, based off on a Hans Christian Anderson story, or The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird, which is peculiar because he is just the comic relief of the film. This lead to the production coming to a halt. I watched Mr. Wonderbird, and I’m not really sure what to think of it.
Luckily, unlike The Thief and the Cobbler and The Overcoat, it was completely finished as an 87-minute film named Le roi et l’oiseau in 1980, with new footage, a more dramatic depth and a more powerful climax. The animation is superb for a French film – while the likes of Folimage can create unique styles of animation for their films, this animation is Richard Williams meets classic Disney. The plot is also interesting – it’s something that can make Night at the Museum cry. While Mr. Wonderbird just flies, The King and the Mockingbird soars.
KEY SCENE: The climax.
"That movie has warped my fragile little mind." – Eric Cartman
I wasn’t that much into overloads of cussing until I watched the South Park movie. Oh, the hilarity that it is! Possibly the best TV show adaptation ever made, this movie has it all – gore, foulmouthing, children smoking, angel nudity, singing Satan, racism and possibly the most ludicrous satire of Saddam Hussein since Hot Shots: Part Deux. If you can handle such dirt and if you like South Park (even if you are one of those disturbingly young fangirls), check this out!
KEY SCENE: When Kenny shows himself. And he is voiced by Mike Judge!
Let me begin by saying that I have never watched an episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya before. I have only seen clips. But when I saw this movie, I didn't need any further introduction. You'll know perfectly who these characters are in the first 10 minutes. I also had no idea that Haruhi Suzumiya would be like any other anime - very surreal. In fact, the most surreal and entertaining time travel mystery I have seen this year since Source Code. It evolves from It's a Wonderful Life to the same movie meeting The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and throughout the whole tensity of the plot, it keeps you guessing - is it a dream, or is it just anime?
"Great. Now I'm the bad guy." - Mother Gothel
I never thought that Disney would top The Princess and the Frog with CGI, even with Mr. Lasseter in charge, but I must say that Tangled caught me by surprise when I went to see it at a special IMAX screening. The songs aren't perfect, but they don't need to be - Tangled is too damn fun for me to give it any lower than 10/10!
The 3D is also well-used, most notably when the lanterns are raised. But may I not forget to mention the characters, which are the most charming since a real Pixar film. The four main characters featured on the poster are lovable, with Flynn Rider's cocky lines and Maximus' undeniable hilarity whenever he is angry. The Ruffians are also a joy, but there is an old, perverted midget who is possibly the funniest minor character I've seen in 2010.
This movie is most likely going to be too overblown for some people, and some princess haters are going to prefer the not-as-witty-but-still-hilarious Megamind, but even if that's your choice, I don't care. Even if this doesn't top Toy Story 3 and The Illusionist, it's still the third best animated film I've seen of the beginning of the new decade. It just wouldn't have been as good if Glenn Keane's older concept was still intact.
Summer Wars (2009)
"It’s not right to do whatever you want just because it’s the internet!" – Kenji’s Animal Crossing esque OZ avatar
This is a rare film I saw at an anime festival that was surprisingly a lot of fun. It’s an alternative to the first Digimon movie “Our War Game”, which Mamoru Hosoda ironically also directed, that’s like a satire of the online hackers who cause damage to virtual worlds such as Habbo, Club Penguin, Maple Story or Animal Crossing, only in this film the virtual world of OZ (that’s right, OZ) is real. Weird, yes, but is that something to take seriously? Anime is weird! Deal with it! If you don’t like anime just because it’s too weird then watch something like Rock-a-Doodle! Now that’s a brain-rape you will never forget! Summer Wars is an awesome film.
KEY SCENE: The duel between Natsuki's avatar and the Love Machine.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
"That was pure wild animal craziness." – Mr. Fox
Despite being overlooked and taken too seriously by the British for its “Americanization”, and being quite a shocking flop at the US box office, Fantastic Mr. Fox has been critically acclaimed by the non-British, and as a British person myself I’m not surprised. It definitely lives up to its title! And I gotta tell you, at least Clooney’s fox didn’t let out a huge burp in the film. 0_o That wouldn’t have made it so good.
This re-imagining of the Roald Dahl story is an unexpected delight. The stop-motion is perfectly retro, the humour is intelligent, the original music is definitely original, the cast is brilliant and it’s just a whole lot of fun. If you haven’t seen it now, rent it and buy if you liked it!
KEY SCENE: The final battle with Rat. It’s just epic.
"Here in the Mojave Desert animals have had millions of years to adapt to the harsh environment. But the lizard? He's going to die." - Ambrose
Nickelodeon charmed critics (but not quite the other people) with Rugrats in Paris and The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and also made people chuckle with Jimmy Neutron. The fans of SpongeBob SquarePants adored his movie. But there were other animated movies that didn't bode well, like the other Rugrats movies, Hey Arnold and obviously Barnyard. The Last Airbender was so bad that it won the Worst Picture Razzie over Vampires Suck. Gore Verbinski started off well on the first Pirates of the Carribean, but the level of goodness went down in the trilogy. And now we've got Rango, from Gore Verbinski and Nickelodeon, and they seem to have outdone themselves here.
Ths story is excellent - something that can only be found in Disney, Pixar and the positive side of DreamWorks. It has fart jokes in the form of Blazing Saddles - something that is usually done unnessicarily. It joins Sucker Punch and Hop in the survival against potential 3D. It takes a strong and suitable cast instead of using big celebrity names for the fun of it. It uses pop culture references wisely - it makes sure the characters stay true to their own culture. (It has the most entertaining Apocalypse Now reference I've seen in a while.) And what's more, it contains what hardly ever appears in computer animated films these days - characters that aren't cute, eyes that aren't plastic, the world 'hell', alcohol, tobacco, bouncing breasts, and most of all, guns. I would love to see Nickelodeon make a TV show out of this one.
This is more adult animation than kiddy animation - it's not the kind of movie were a wolf keeps making butt jokes or a gnome dresses up like Borat. This is a movie with a lot of inspiration for its western themes. So much inspirations they even added a couple of caricatures of the biggest influences. There is no real motion capture - they filmed actors with props and costumes and re-animated them without being entirely accurate to their movements. Eat your heart out, Robert Zemeckis. It's about time Industrial Light and Magic made a fully animated film and someone made a western that's not as looney as Drip-Along Daffy, Tumbleweeds or the opening scene in Toy Story 3 - with stunning animation, snazzy character designs, quirky humour and one of the most beautiful character depression scenes I've seen in an animated film, it's Pixar gone wrong, and I absolutely love it!
KEY SCENE: Every moment the burrowing owls show up.
Pom Poko (1994)
"They used their balls as weapons in a brave kamikaze attack."
Transforming raccoons in the form of cartoon fat furs that turn even cartoonier when punished or excited that shape-shift and use their scrotums (if male) to bust even smaller balls in a non-sexual manner? Is that the best Isao Takahata can come up with? Well, I'm thoroughly pleased. Sure it's not as good as Only Yesterday or Grave of the Fireflies, but Pom Poko is the Paprika of Studio Ghibli's career. Super-weird, yet ultimately creative!
It's also thought-provoking, since the raccoons have to deal with the loss of their home because the humans like the screw up the environment. This is one of those animated environmentalist films where a unique tribe has to defend their home and interact with the people that are destroying it. I can't wait for the next person to mention "Avatar" when they read this. Overall, Pom Poko is a fun film that is a recommendation for hardcore anime fans, as long as they like to trip (raccoon) balls. And look out for a few Ghibli cameos!
KEY SCENE: The parade. Your creative mind will be jealous.
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
"Look at her, my little warrior." – Yasunari Tsukishima
Some of the teenage girls I’ve seen on such sites as DeviantART are whinebags. In the fashion of thinking they’re fat when they’re just skinny, they think some of their work is junk, when from everyone else’s eyes it’s amazing. Hell, I can’t even draw anime-style humans very well! And that’s where Whisper of the Heart comes in.
In a world where Olivia Newton-John doesn’t exist, the main character of this film thinks her song is poorly written, but everyone loves it. She later gets her imagination of talent from fantasies about Baron, a mini statue in an antique shop. This is just the sub-plot, but the film is beautiful, and very thought-provoking. So may this be a lesson to you all!
KEY SCENE: Pictured above.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
"You're crazy! I like that." – Ruffnut to Hiccup
By far the best thing DreamWorks has ever animated, this loose adaptation of How to Train Your Dragon is one of the biggest surprises of great animation ever. I didn't think it would be perfect at first, one reason being that Hiccup was making the DreamWorks face on the poster, but when I saw it, WOW! We might have seen the personalities of the characters many times before, but it has wonderful animation, strong scripting, good comedy and a pretty cute dragon. Who would've known it to be their highest appreciated film on Rotten Tomatoes, with a score of 98%? I'm so glad it did get it.
THIS MOVIE NEEDS TO BE SEEN IN 3D, AND 3D ONLY. While most 3D animated films have lame pop-out effects or provide more visual beauty, the 3D of this film thrilled me more than Avatar. I actually felt like I was on a dragon! The trailer for Despicable Me shows a 3D sequence on a rollercoaster, but I don't think that's enough. Pixar is also putting 3D on their films for God knows what reason. May this be a lesson to all you animators out there – make your 3D as good as this film, otherwise it'd be a waste of money! When the 3D televisions get released, I'll be hoping for an experience as superb as when I was in the cinema.
KEY SCENE: When Toothless takes Hiccup and Astrid for a ride.
At first, I thought this film would be good, but not perfect. The trailers did make me laugh. There was also a stupid advert for Orange that got worse every time it played in front of any film, with re-used footage from the film and no new animation, just mediocre lip-synching. I sat down and saw the film in digital 2D, expecting fun but not perfection. The charm of it then raised the rating up a notch, and I was enjoying it even more. But as the film went on, I thought to myself, 'Oh my God. This is Blue Sky's best movie yet!'
It's not Rango, and it's not even aiming to be. It's thoroughly worthy of its newfound G rating in the US, unlike Gnomeo and Juliet for obvious reasons. There are some DreamWorks-y jokes, but the rest is Disney-ish charm. Some of the characters may have been used before, but every single one of them, minor or major, are enjoyable in their own rights. There's fun songs that wouldn't make you cringe, but laugh or dance. There are parts of songs that sound like rapping, but whenever it comes up it's either fun or downright hilarious, which differs from other rap jokes in modern family films. It's especially nice to hear will.i.am singing without having to autotune himself. The voice actors fit surprisingly well, the colour of such places as Brazil is captured perfectly and not only is the message about believing in yourself, but it's also about saving species, finding a home for children hired for crime, and especially being aware of animal domination in such places as Rio. Remember - the director of this film is Brazilian, so he's had experience.
While Chris Meledandri's busy doing charming CGI films and less-than-charming Alvin and the Chipmunks cash-ins, Blue Sky has even more potential than before. This may be the movie that killed off Pixar's Newt, but now I know what Newt would've been like - a whole lot of fun. Also, hey George Lopez - stick to better roles instead of just having to voice Grouchy Smurf making jokes about puking!
KEY SCENE: Nigel's song. It makes him one of the funniest villains outside of Disney.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
"There is no way I'm kissing a frog and eating a bug in the same day." – Tiana as a frog
Walt Disney Animation Studios' return to 2D animation is a joy to behold. Even if it has a few scenes that aren't what Disney would've done in the past, it removes involvement of the tween/Buddies crap and keeps all of Disney's past charm; the magic, the great animation, the songs, and yes, even the reused animation. It may just be another build up to Disney princess/out-of-character merchandise, but you still gotta love Disney's first feature-length respect to the other race.
KEY SCENE: Dig a Little Deeper!
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Best read from the bottom of page 2 to the top of page 1. A list of my favourite animated films. I'm still working on more reviews for the list. And if you're going to tell me what's too low and what bad choices are made, just remember - it's not your list!
**Please note that this is an old list that I haven't bothered to change in a while. But I did decide to bring The Iron Giant up a notch.**
**Please note that this is an old list that I haven't bothered to change in a while. But I did decide to bring The Iron Giant up a notch.**
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