Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Animated Films of 2014 in Brief

A somewhat surprising fact in a year where Pixar didn’t release a film, animation brought us some of the best films of the year. Well, just a little surprise. I think I have mentioned elsewhere that the nature of the animation format often results in better filmmaking. (If not I may have to write that post sometime.)

“Big Hero 6” 

I think this is my favorite of the bunch this year. The story is moving. The robot character is amazing. And, the art—the color palate, the mise-en-scene, the design—is some of the most beautiful seen on film this year.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” 

Once again, we get a visually stunning film. The world in which this story takes place is as magical and original as you get. I don’t know if the books these films are based on are as thematically deep and message oriented, but the films are wonderfully so.

“The Lego Movie” 

I was not as blown away by this film as everybody seems to be. I mostly just don’t like the aesthetic. It leaves me dry. And, the thematic elements—while interesting—were not developed in a compelling way. The idea of creature/creator—or at least subject/storyteller—was superficially handled. Maybe they will explore more of the philosophical-theological elements in the inevitable sequels.

“Mr. Peabody and Sherman” 

This wasn’t quite what I had hoped for considering the source material. That being said, it was pretty good considering they took that original, iconic concept and made a standard, similar-to-every-other-animation-project-going, movie. I liked the humor, the heart, and the art.

“The Penguins of Madagascar” 

This may have been the most straightforwardly comedic animation of the year. And, even though it completely falls apart in the climax, I enjoyed everything leading up to it.

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