Films viewed in 2011

Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category

423. The Adventures of TinTin

In Animation on December 22, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Dir. Steven Spielberg

Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

MY TAKE

The Adventures of TinTin: Secret of the Unicorn cleverly transitions our relationship from the classically drawn TinTin to the new motion capture version in the first scene. The approach to not use live action, however, doesn’t fully seem to benefit the film until the last half when the adventure takes on a much larger scale. Steven Spielberg brings just the right energy, innocence and intelligence to the hero without having the film feel like it’s made for kids. The “single take” climactic action sequence through Bagghar is as exciting as anything ever committed to screen. The clues and detective story seem secondary to the spectacle, but the excitement and animation are first-rate.


398. Arthur Christmas

In Animation on November 25, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Dir. Sarah Smith

On Christmas night, Santa’s youngest son looks to use his father’s high-tech operation for an urgent mission.

MY TAKE

Leave it to the Brits behind Wallace and Gromit to out-American the Yanks with the wonderfully inventive holiday comedy Arthur Christmas. In an exciting attempt to explain Santa’s global reach, director Sarah Smith’s film opens with the most macho of premises – that the North Pole is a high tech headquarters ran with military precision by an elite team of commando elves. But with one present left behind, the mission is incomplete, and the fun and metaphors can begin. The voice talent all serve their characters perfectly, the comedy is boisterous but intelligent, and the story has a candy coated centre that’s as sweet as they come.  The animated sequence through Toronto is also particularly fun for us Canadians.

307. Winnie the Pooh

In Animation on October 4, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Dir. Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall

Eyeore has lost his tail, and Winnie the Pooh and his friends hold a contest to get him a new one.

MY TAKE

At 63 minutes, Winnie the Pooh is so short it barely pinches out as a feature film. A few short films before hand shore up the runtime, but the main event is a straight-up adaptation of the classic children’s book that embraces its source material with novel ingenuity.  No less than 10 writers take credit for the playful ways language gaffs best-suited for literary consumption are adapted to the screen in both educational and entertaining ways. I have a soft spot for Pooh and his band of animal misfits, but this is a sweet and irony-free children’s film I think adults can also enjoy.

217. Akira

In Animation on September 2, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Dir. Katsuhiro Ohtomo

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychopath that only two kids can stop.

MY TAKE

I won’t pretend to be an anime fan (unless the old Astro Boy cartoon counts), but Akira has always been on my list of films to see. I probably shouldn’t have waited so long, since the ground it broke has since been tread many times. I like the ambitious set-up and nonconforming characters, but the second act dragged and the ending feels unnecessarily complicated. I also can’t fathom that Hollywood is planning a remake that takes the story out of Tokyo.

194. Rango

In Animation on August 29, 2011 at 1:22 PM

Dir. Gore Verbinski

Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.

MY TAKE

If you appreciate the art of animation, Rango is a must-see. But beyond impeccable visuals, film geeks will revel at the Western genre jokes sprinkled throughout. Johnny Depp, a chameleon himself, impressively re-invents his tone, energy and timing  to develop a funny and unique lead character. Rango just needs a stricter universe so we understand why rodents and reptiles can talk, but birds can’t, and why some objects are re-designed miniatures but others are re-purposed from humans.

186. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

In Animation on August 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Dir. Phil Lord, Chris Miller

An aspiring scientist creates a machine that makes food fall from the sky like rain on his town.

MY TAKE

My initial forecast was way off for this film. I was reluctant to even see it, but found the whole thing deliciously awesome. The rubber looking animation is hilarious, the editing and framing is always energetic and the story works ridiculously well. A dash more social commentary on gluttony in the U.S. would have made the film perfect.

145. Persepolis

In Animation on August 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Dir. Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi

Poignant coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution.

MY TAKE

Marjane is easily one of the most sympathetic and engaging characters I’ve ever seen in an animated film. I loved the way she innocently questions authority, follows her conscience and falls for Western culture, all while bringing insight and levity to the complex Iranian revolution. Extremely well-written and animated, it’s a very mature film that should nevertheless be shown to kids in school.

107. Despicable Me

In Animation on August 14, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Dir. Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds their love is profoundly changing him for the better.

MY TAKE

This movie has a lot of humour and heart, even if a lot of it comes from that googly-eyed-kids trick. I was impressed how well the main actors’ voices truly become new characters though, but I can’t understand why Jemaine Clement was wasted as a squeaky yellow minion.  Overall fun story and groovy title song.

90. Tangled

In Animation on August 11, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Dir. Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower meets a runaway thief and discovers the world for the first time.

MY TAKE

Disney’s 50th animated feature is a glorious return to form. The songs are catchy, the humour is funny, the romance is earned and the princess is a fox. I can now finally stop complaining about wanting back “the good ol’ cell-animation days” of the Magic Kingdom.

77. Megamind

In Animation on August 9, 2011 at 4:38 PM

Dir. Tom McGrath

Diabolical genius Megamind finally conquers the hero Metro Man, his sworn enemy, but Megamind finds his life pointless without a hero to fight.

MY TAKE

Dreamworks might not be as dependable as Pixar, but they do have their moments.  The voice talent is generally well used (except maybe Tina Fey) and the premise lived up to some promise, even if on the surface it feels almost identical to Despicable Me. The rock soundtrack did a little too much of the heavy lifting in the climax though.