Films of the Decade: Animation

Friday, February 19, 2010

Top Five Animated Films

5. Fantastic Mr Fox

After the disastrous Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson redeemed himself with Fantastic Mr Fox. Sure it features his usual themes of familial strife, but it’s also very funny and visually inventive. The scene at the beginning where the foxes creep through a farm by limboing under window frames is a good example of the film’s light, airy tone.

4. Wall-E

The first half of Wall-E is amazing. We get to see a little robot dutifully clean the planet Earth. There’s no other life around except for Wall-E’s pet roach. That’s until Eve turns up. While we get to see the robots fall in love, the film is out of this world – there’s hardly any dialogue and the film feels incredibly fresh and new. However, when the humans turn up and the ecological subtext kicks in, the film loses some of its spell. The quality of the film never deteriorates seriously, but it’s a little disappointing in light of the amazing beginning. Wall-E could have been a masterpiece.

3. Monsters Inc.

Pixar produced loads of great films this last decade but Monsters Inc. is a personal favourite. It’s sweet, it’s funny and it’s clever. It also has a beautiful final image that always leaves a silly smile on my face. It isn’t as action packed as The Incredibles and the animation isn’t as good as Finding Nemo, but it has a lot more heart. Plus Boo is one of the few child characters that makes me grin rather than wretch.

2. Beowulf

Ray Winstone gets a Sean Bean makeover and a tailed Angelina Jolie gets to lure horny men to their doom. Beowulf is a surprisingly good film. And I say surprisingly because of Robert Zemeckis’ first foray into animation: The Polar Express. That film, while having some great visuals, was kind of a creepy experience. The dead eyes took a lot of getting used to. But this type of material much better suits this type of animation. Blood flows, limbs get ripped off and the hero decides to disrobe so that he can fight a monster while strutting around butt naked. Beowulf is loads and loads of fun. Plus it shows that pussy will lead every straight man to his doom.

1. Up

The opening sequence is more of a choker than anything else in animation (much more so than the beginning of Bambi). We get to see a married couple and we’re a witness to their dreams and hope for the future. None of them come true but they nevertheless stay true to one another. And then the wife dies, leaving our hero bereft and lonely. It’s a beautifully sad sequence and immediately has you rooting for the hero, who decides to escape his dreary existence and chase the dreams that he and his wife had. What follows is a wonderfully funny and entertaining film. Squirrel-obsessed dogs and dogs with malfunctioning voice collars. This film has it all.

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