Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Top 20 animated movies: Part 2, #11-15

My Top 20 animated movies (continued)

I promised yesterday that I would reveal the next five movies from my 20 favorite animated titles, so here they are:

15. Watership Down (1978)
Directed by Martin Rosen
Starring the voices of John Hurt, Richard Briers and Ralph Richardson

The first thing you should know is that I love rabbits. That made me curious about Watership Down, so I borrowed the DVD from my local library. Richard Adams’ novel tells the story of a small group of rabbits threatened by a development scheme which could destroy their home. Fiver (Briers), is a young rabbit with a gift; he catches glimpses of the future. He sees imminent danger and encourages the other rabbits to leave, but only a small group listen. Hazel (Hurt) is Fiver’s brother and leads the group as they search for a safer home. They are joined by Bigwig, Silver and Buckthorn. The group faces dangers from other animals, rival warrens and humans, and the quest continually encounters perilous situations. The film is informative for anyone interested in group dynamics as we see how the individuals find their roles in the new order. It also shows the difference between those with strong character and those who are too weak to do anything but follow the established rules. There’s a lot of blood as the rabbits fight for survival, and there is no shortage of death.

I wouldn’t recommend showing this to small children as it could give them nightmares for years to come. It’s suitable for older teens and up though. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of the German Blu-ray and I’ll write a full review after it arrives.

14. Tangled (2010)
Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Starring the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy

Are you tired of seeing Disney films involving princesses and too many songs? I was, and that’s why I resisted the temptation to see Tangled. But after a while, I caved in and gave it a try. It was a pleasant surprise in more ways than one.

It’s the story of what happens when Rapunzel (Moore) and Flynn Rider (Levi) meet. Rapunzel is kept trapped in a tower by an old woman who taps her powers in order to remain young, while Rider is a thief. The two go on an adventure that’s full of discovery and action. You’ll also meet Pascal, a chameleon who has befriended Rapunzel. He doesn’t speak, but his body language is hilarious and he steals a few scenes. Maximus is the other source of humor. He’s a horse who spends his time tracking Rider in an attempt to bring him to justice.

Disney’s 50th animated title is a delight and suitable for people of all ages.

Here’s my full review.

13. Bambi (1942)
Directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand, Graham Heid, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield and Norman Wright
Starring the voices of Hardie Albright, Peter Behn, Stan Alexander and Bobette Audrey

Bambi is a prime example of classic Disney. The main theme of the film is innocence, and it details the early years in the life of a young deer. I saw the film as a child and again recently when it was released on Blu-ray, and found that I had forgotten just how beautiful the story is. Bambi is raised by his mother and befriends various other forest animals such as Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk. We see Bambi learn how to walk and talk, always with the help of his friends. Like any youngster, he’s curious about his surroundings. The film is full of scenes in which he discovers new things and learns how to interact with his environment. The one scar on the film’s beauty is the death of Bambi’s mother. It happens offscreen, but it’s obviously something which could disturb small children. In fact, I know a few adults who won’t watch it because of that event. The remainder of the story is full of charm and we see how Bambi and his friends discover love and choose their mates.

The Blu-ray presentation is outstanding and the film looks great considering it’s almost 70 years old. Bambi gets my vote for the most beautiful story Disney has ever told.

12. Castle in the Sky (1986)
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring the voices of James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin, Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill

Sheeta (Paquin) is a young girl who falls from an airship at the start of the story. She wears a magic crystal which enables her to float safely to the ground. She meets Pazu who is a boy about her age and the two become friends. Friendship is a common theme in Miyazaki’s films and often forms the foundation of the story. The pair are being chased by pirates who want the crystal for themselves. Sheeta learns that knowledge of the crystals was once common and that an entire island was created which floated in the sky. The crystal is thought to have the power to show the location of the legendary island and so they try to establish its whereabouts. The story is full of action and adventure, as well as some surprises along the way. It works because of the sense of friendship between Sheeta and Pazu, and it has plenty of charm.

The film has been released on Blu-ray in Japan, Australia and the UK, so a North American release can’t be very far away. It's a good family film and can be enjoyed by people of any age.

11. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray

Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story is often funny, but also contains serious themes which might be lost on some children. It uses stop motion and tells the tale of Mr. Fox, who has trouble resisting the temptation to steal from the local farmers. He’s not a very good father and can’t be trusted by his wife, but has a certain roguish charm. The film mixes standard animated action with a quirky sense of humor that’s more subtle than that found in most stories. His antics put his family and other animals in danger as the three farmers he robs team up and decide to kill him. The humor is close in style to that used in Bottle Rocket and The Darjeeling Limited, rather than something you would expect to find in an animated film. The story isn’t afraid to show animals being hurt or even dying, so caution should be used if you’re planning to watch it with smaller children.

The Blu-ray presentation looks incredible and the voice acting is strong throughout. There’s no other animated film quite like this one.

Here’s my full review.

For #16-20 on the list, click here

For #6-10 on the list, click here.

For #1-5 on the list, click here.

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