Movies have come along way in the animation department since the days of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Some of the most innovative films in recent years, including those in this year’s Oscar crop, have not only been good animated films but just flat out great films.
In previous years the “Toy Story” franchise crossed over into the Best Picture category and the two front runners for Best Animated Film this year could also qualify, or are at least on the cusp. Both “Wreck It Ralph” and “Brave” were viewed widely by adult audiences and were not “cartoons” when it came to kids fare.
Long are the days when we classified animation by the word “cartoon.” “The Simpsons” and the much earlier “Flintstones” on television took us out of that world into just good programming.
“Wreck It Ralph” starring the voice of John C. Reilly in the lead character role was a surprisingly good film. It had message and above all it had creativity. There truly is nothing new under the sun when it comes to making movies but “Wreck It Ralph” came awful close.
Akin to the original “Tron” where we were taken inside the video game world, Ralph is just one character in an arcade game who breaks out because he’s under appreciated. He is “dissed” so to speak by the other characters and strikes out on his own leaving behind a world which really cannot function without him. His new world functions despite him.
What Ralph goes through as the bad guy turned good guy turned his game’s missing link, is nothing short of amazing. His relationship with a little girl from another game who is also somewhat of a misfit is very touching. It is a film worth seeing even if you are not into the animated cycle.
“Brave” might at first drum up thoughts of Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” (1995) as both are about Scots during medieval times. It really is the tale of a girl and her bow & arrow taking on a beastly curse to save her kingdom. Kelly McDonald (Boardwalk Empire HBO) stars as the voice of Princess Merida. Other big name Scots such as Billy Connolly and Craig Ferguson lend their voices to the project.
“Brave” is remarkable when it comes to the animation itself. Then again so is “ParaNorman,” a film about ghosts and things which go bump in the night. “ParaNorman” is also nominated for Oscar gold. A young boy takes on everything from Zombie’s to ghosts to save his town. It is critically acclaimed and comes from the mind of Sam Fell and Chris Butler with some inspiration from John Hughes.
The other nominees are Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” and Peter Lord’s “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” The latter is from Aardman Studios which won an Academy Award for “Wallace & Gromit; the Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” Burton of course has done so many bizarre films including animation and the studio which produced “Frankenweenie,” Disn
ey is nominated every year and wins most of the time. Laika Studios was nominated last year for the hit film “Coraline” and this year produced “ParaNorman.”
Aaron Read is a professional in the home entertainment industry and contributes regularly to leading websites including cable-tv.com/.