Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Animation Onslaught: 12 Movies You Might Have Missed

A couple of weeks ago I asked the members of my blogs Facebook group for any thoughts on how I'm doing so far. I asked what they liked, disliked, and what they would like to see. Now due to the overwhelming response I couldn't actually respond to everybody, (well, actually, I only had two people comment, so I could have responded, but I am kinda lazy and it has been a busy week with Easter and all) but here are my top two requests. The first was my friend "Bear"* who wanted more movie suggestions, and the second was my friend "Conal"** who wanted me to do a thing on animated movies, sort of like the top 20 list I did for best movies of all time, (taking advantage of this synergistic self promotion opportunity, here are the links to that list 20-17 16-13 12-9 8-5 and 4-1  ). So, I kinda decided to combine both of them in a way, I thought I would give some suggestions for some cool animated movies that Disney and Pixar had nothing to do with***, and that maybe not everyone has heard about and then you can decide for yourselves if you want to see any of them. I have divided them up into four categories, to make it easier on my brain, (and lets be honest, anytime I can help my brain out in any way I am all for it). So, buckle up buttercup****, cause its going to be an animated ride.

Kids Animated Movies

Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron
Spirit is a movie that on the surface may seem like tons of other movies. It has an animal as the main protagonist, and is about the struggle for freedom. Where Spirit differs though is that it is actually set in proper historical context with the "civilizing"***** of the american west, (most animated movies don't even try to do this, and usually those that do fail to really get it right, only succeeding on a moderate level, American Tale, I am looking at you here, especially with your sequel) and for once the film makers decided to not make the animals speak in funny voices, always going for
 cheap laughs. Spirit, does not talk throughout the movie, why would he, Horses don't actually talk, (well, unless they are called Ed and work on a TV show, but that is neither here nor there) but viewers do get to hear what he is thinking, with MATT DAMON****** providing the voice for his inner monolog no less, and it makes for a nice change. The other thing Spirit does is really get across the feeling of movement and freedom that a pack of wild horses would have had, running where they chose to and not relying on man for anything. These things make Spirit an animated movie like no other, and because the mouse company didn't make it, you might have missed it, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest

When Avatar came out in 2009, some people raved to me about how original it was, and when that happened I always had the same two response, the first was "You obviously have never seen Fern Gully" and the second was, "Wow, James Cameron is so creative, he took animals that we have and placed extra appendages on them, and then made them different colors, the man is clearly a genius".
Told ya so!
 So, with that, here is some info to help you understand. Fern Gully came out in the 90's and like most non Disney movies, it did ok, but never achieved huge success, which is a pity, cause it is actually a decent movie. Like I said, Avatar is basically Fern Gully, on steroids, with guns, and mechs, and swearing, but when you look at its core story, Fern Gully sits there, smiling and waving at James Cameron, laughing at him for thinking he is original, (even the internet knows Avatar is a rip off of Fern Gully, when I typed Fern Gully poster into Google, some of the posters that came up on the first page were Avatar posters). So, if you liked Avatar, give Fern Gully a chance, it even has a good performance from Robin Williams as a disturbed bat that escaped from a lab that was performing medical experiments on him, and how can you not like that.

Quest For Camelot
This movie has got pretty much everything you could want in a Sword and Sorcery kids movie, lets run down the list. Mean evil villain, check. Brave girl savior, check. A blind kick but warrior, check. A two headed singing dragon, double check, (ha ha, see what I did there, I said check for all the other ones, but when it came to the two headed dragon I said "Double Check", cause it has two heads, so, I said check twice because it has double the heads. You know, two heads, double check. Well, it seemed funny to me anyway, stop judging me). Yep, this movie has it all, it even has a love story thrown in there for good measure, so check it out, I am sure you will be doubly happy you did, (ha ha, the double thing again, I referenced my self in my own post, aren't I smart, and funny, oh, and don't forget good looking. Ok, I'll stop now).

Science Fiction & Fantasy Animated Movies

Titan A.E.
So, whats that you say? There haven't been a whole lot of good animated space movies, (Treasure Planet, I am looking at you here). Well, you are right, but there is at least one good one, and that movie is Titan A.E. (here is a writing question for you all, how the heck do you put a period after a period, I was going to stop this sentence after Titan A.E., but it just looks weird with a period and another period right afterwards, maybe it is just me, I am kinda new to the whole writing thing and all). So Titan A.E. is the story of
Drew Berrymore even looks good animated, and asian?
 earth being destroyed cause aliens were starting to think we humans were too awesome, they were green with envy, (well, actually they were blue, and made of pure energy, but saying they were blue with envy just makes it sound like they were having a down day) so they blew up our planet, (wow, I never noticed that before, they are blue, and the blew up our planet, maybe they were just depressed after all). Now a bunch of people escaped and one of which is a guy named Cale, (voiced by MATT DAMON******) whose dad was the maker of a famous ship called the Titan, which the aliens want and so do the humans cause it can do some awesome planet making stuff. So from there you have adventure, gun battles, cool aliens, and a pretty cool ice field get away scene all set to rock music. How awesome is that, well, its pretty awesome, and thats all I have to say about that.

Howl's Moving Castle
So Howl's Moving Castle is the only real anime movie on this list, (that is mainly cause if I was going to talk about cool non Disney animated movies and not limit the anime stuff, I would be here all week, cause let me put it this way, the Japanese know how to make some pretty freaking awesome cartoons) but I am kinda putting it up there for all of its brethren, cause if you like this, then you will probably like the others too. So, Howl's Moving Castle is a story about a wizard and a girl, both trying to do the right thing while fighting against a lot of people doing the opposite. It is set in present day yet has a lot of magical aspects to the characters and the plot, and of course, the moving castle. Now, before anyone
 jumps down my throat about this being a Disney movie, lets get one thing straight, it is not a Disney movie, (now Disney did release it on DVD to a North American market, but they were not responsible for making it, they just recognized a good product and decided to buy the rights to slap their name on it. So although you will see Disney's name at the top of the DVD, it is not a Disney movie.) Now a word of warning, if you have never seen an anime movie, they are not like straight forward American style cartoons, they use a lot of symbolism and myth based storytelling, and the visuals are usually pretty incredible, but also different than anything you might have seen before. But, assuming you are game, if you watch this or any other Miyazaki film, (Miyazaki if you don't know is one of the greatest directors in the world, animated or otherwise) you are in for a treat.

The Amazing Screw On Head
From the creator of Hellboy, The Amazing Screw On Head is a film like no other. It is funny, quirky, weird and interesting, all at the same time. It has an incredibly original premise, awesome voice work, and a style that is literally all its own. In fact, the only bad thing about it is that it is only half an hour long, but in that half an hour it is pretty much great, plus it has Abraham Lincoln, how cool is that.

Superhero Animated Movies

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is one of the big three DC comics characters, and although they have yet to be able to make a live action movie, they did do an incredible animated one, so that is ok with me. So this movie tells the origin story of how Wonder Woman came to be. It has incredible action, nice animation and voice work from the my favorite actor, Nathan "I Am Super Cool And Funny And Was The Captain Of Serenity" Fillion who is just great as Steve Trevor. All in all I think this should be a great template for a live action movie, but if that never happens I can live with what has been made here, and more then anything else ever put on film, this shows what a "bad" woman Wonder Woman really is.

Green Lantern: First Flight
Who's super hyped for the live action Green Lantern movie coming out with Ryan "I Am Too Cool To Be Mad At Just Cause I Am Super Good Looking" Reynolds. I am, well, hold on to your animated socks, cause there is an awesome animated movie already out that should fuel your drive to see the new one even more. Green Lantern: First Flight is basically the story of how Hal Jordan comes to get the ring and what happens to him after being the first human to ever be chosen. It looks great, has nice voice work and basically rocks in every way. So, do you want an animated preview of this summers green blockbuster, check this out, you won't be disappointed.

Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme
I will be truthful, I am totally a DC guy at heart, (for those of you who have no clue what I just said, there are two main comic book companies, DC and Marvel, and although people might read comics from both, they always end up picking a side as to which is better, and although I like Marvel comics, I fall firmly on the DC side of the great divide) and DC has been kicking Marvels butt big time in the animated movie department for a long time, but the one glimmer of hope that has come out of Marvel in the last couple of years has been the Doctor Strange animated movie. This movie has a well told story, solid voice work and decent action. So, although it is not as good as any of the DC animated movies, it is a good movie and is definitely worth a watch.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm
This was DC's first entrance into the animated movie scene with a movie that actually was released in theaters and it changed the landscape for animated superhero movies. Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm is a big, majestically scored, (I am referring to the music used incase anyone thought I was talking about Batman playing hockey or something) and incredibly dark. At the time people couldn't believe at how heavy in tone it was, but that was a conscious decision made to move super heroes from being just stupid kids things into a new audience, adults. This is a movie made by adults for adults and teens, and it started a trend, even though it took a while to catch on, and is a must see for any Batman and/or animation fan.

Mature Animated Movies

Resident Evil: Degradation
Ok, I will start by saying, that if you have never seen anything Resident Evil, then this movie is not the place to start, but, if you have played Resident Evil 4 as much as I have, then you will want to see this movie. Degradation is a great looking movie that kinda makes sense and kinda doesn't but that is ok, because the action and animation totally make up for any plot problems that anyone could have. I will also say, this movie is not for the squeamish, so word to my friend "Snowflake"*******, you probably shouldn't watch this, cause you may make it through the movie, but if we start discussing all the gory details you will probably pass out. All that said, Resident Evil: Degradation is a movie that does what it set out to do, if you love the franchise, you will love this, pass on it if you don't, it's that simple.

Turok: Son Of Stone
Last on my list is Turok: Son Of Stone, which is a movie that is based on a comic that I remember seeing as a kid. Turok is a normal guy, who loves his momma, and Jesus too, (wait a minute, that's lyrics to a Tom Petty song, sorry about that, but come to think of it, Turok does do some free falling in the middle of the movie, so I guess it all ties together). Anyway, Turok belongs to a tribe of Indians that gets raided by a rival tribe, and while chasing the attackers stumbles into a forgotten world where there be dinosaurs. From there he spends the rest of the movie surviving, meeting the locals and going against the rival tribe leader that has enslaved some ape guys who think he is cool. Now again, this movie is not for everybody. It is bloody, very bloody, (not Kill Bill Anime style bloody, but bloody just the same) and has a fair amount of violence, but it is a well told story and stands alone for its plot and tone in non anime movies, so if that sounds like your cup of blood, I mean tea, then check it out.

Well that is it, if you check any of these out let me know what you think, and if I missed anything that you think is awesome and kinda flys under the radar, let me know, if I get enough I will do a follow up post and give you some cool Jesus Was A Browncoat So I Aim To Misbehave credit, which you can use at our web store******** to buy brown t-shirts with Jesus giving a thumbs up on them. Until next time, stay animated in life and in life, yeah, I said it twice, thats just the way I roll.

*Bear's real name is actually Josh, but I changed it cause I already knew a Josh, plus he is pretty awesome, and is kinda like a big teddy bear, so it all makes sense to me.
**Conal is a super amazing Screamo friend of mine that for some reason is very emotionally attached to my beard, pity I shaved it yesterday.
***I have nothing against Disney or Pixar, its just everybody knows their movies, so me telling you to watch them is kinda pointless.
****This is what I say to my kids when I pick them up from school at the kiss and ride, so I thought it might fit here to, not that you are my kids or anything like that, anyway, moving on.
*****Yeah, right, the white men were the real savages, and I am a white guy, so I can say that and not feel a bit bad about it.
*******Snowflakes real name is actually Jon, but how awesome is his nickname, and this time I had nothing to do with it, he already had it before I met him.
********A Web store for my blog doesn't not exist, but how cool would it be if it did.

Just kidding Conal, the beard is safe.


  1. kekeke,so happy you mentioned howl's moving castle - such an awesome movie! Same with Titan A.E., so many people havent even heard of them.

  2. Loving the blog Peter!!! If I may make a suggestion to this segment, it would be The road to Eldorado. Priceless comedy of adventure!
    Again, great blog, lovin' it.