I absolutely adore animated movies. What sets them apart for me is the fact that writers and animators can transport their stories in any world imaginable without consideration for the complexity of set designs or the viability of filming in remote locations. They can also come up with the most outlandish characters and have them accomplish the most unbelievable exploits in the most exotic settings.
However, this distinction is narrowing since the advent of CGI. This technology is allowing the melding of actors with computer generated creations so lifelike that we (almost) forget they aren’t real. One only has to compare the creations of Ray Harryhausen in such cinematic fares as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts to the big screen rendition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy to conclude that today’s filmmakers now have at their disposal the means to achieve anything there imagination dreams up.
Of course, we shouldn’t make the mistake of concluding that a film is good just because it looks great. At it’s core, a motion picture must have captivating characters involved in an engaging plot (this is a truism for any story regardless of the medium in which it is presented). Without these essential elements, the movie going experience will be akin to eating a Twinkie : great tasting but ultimately void of any substance.
Which brings me to my Top 5 Animated Movies. Staying with my food metaphor, I would qualify them as gourmet meals fit for a king.
5. Finding Nemo The Odd Couple meets Taken. You’ll notice I have quite a few movies from Pixar on my list. This is no coincidence. The people who run it have always put the story first and then let their imagination flow to create exquisite worlds and great personages (can you tell I’m using my Thesaurus?). As Dory would say : “Just keep watching, just keep watching…”
4. Toy Story The good folks at Pixar have made two outstanding sequels in this franchise. This seems to be a trend with them. I hope that doesn’t mean they have stopped developing original ideas just to make a quick buck. Their movies are still entertaining and I understand that this is a business, but I don’t think I will be rushing out to purchase Cars II for my collection anytime soon.
3. The Iron Giant It’s every child’s fantasy come true : having your very own giant robot! The director, Mr. Brad Bird, has kept the basic premise of Ted Hughes’ classic novel (a giant robot falls to Earth) and have transported us in small town U.S.A at the peak of the Cold War. The relationship between the iron behemoth and Hogarth is pure magic (better than Elliott and E.T….blasphemy!).
2. The Incredibles The Fantastic Four meets James Bond. Another home run for Pixar. I swear I’m not getting any commissions from them whenever I mention one of their titles. What can I say : Mr. Pixar, you make good cookies…I mean movies. By the way, this one is also directed by Brad Bird. This guy is a genius. I can’t wait to see what he does on Mission Impossible 4.
1. Beauty and the Beast I’m not that much into musical numbers, especially when the songs are just fillers. But in this case, they really advance the plot. Plus, they are just plain amazing. Having said that, I prefer the theatrical version to the director’s cut. The latter has an added tune that, to my mind, is kind of redundant. But I digress. Let Lumière and Cogsworth invite you to be their guest. You won’t regret it.