Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4 Underrated Animated Films

I never realized I was such a fan of animation until someone asked me recently to name some of my favorite movies and I said "The Emperor's New Groove" and "Spirited Away" and "Lilo and Stitch" and "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc." and then I was all...hey, I guess I really do love big-screen cartoons.

Those are all very well-known films so here are a few you may not have seen or have forgotten about. If so, put them on your queue

1. Meet the Robinsons - based on a novel by William Joyce, it's the story of a boy in an orphanage waiting to be adopted who is whisked to the future where he meets his family. He uses the time machine to go back to the day when his mother leaves him on the doorstep of the orphanage, intending to confront her. This was such a sweet film with some unexpected emotional moments. I think the movie got lost in the shuffle but it's worth a rental.

2. Iron Giant - with the voices of Vin Diesel and Jennifer Aniston and directed by Brad Bird who did the more successful The Incredibles. This was also based on a novel by Ted Hughes (sense a pattern with the best films?) and is the story of a boy who finds an alien who has fallen to earth. The boy teaches him about Superman, another alien who comes to earth and who champions humans. Like Superman, the Giant eventually sacrifices himself to save the boy and his town. I loved this movie when it came out although it was not a commercial success. Bird's later work was more popular but I think this movie has more heart than The Incredibles and the 2-D animation is gorgeous.

3. Kung Fu Panda - an amazing voice cast, rollicking storyline, with terrific action sequences and beautiful animation. I think this film got lost last year when Wall-E came out. As much as I loved Wall-E (it made me cry) I believe this movie has more replay value. The 2-D dream sequences are graphic-novel quality and the camerawork on the 3-D stuff is simply amazing. And yes, the story is incredibly cute with not one scene that lags. Rent it.

4. The Animatrix - a collection of short animated films that take place in world of The Matrix. Each gives us a little more insight into the strange Matrix universe with a different director and different set of characters and with a completely unique style of animation. Beautiful and quirky.