Happy Feet (2006)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75% IMDB Rating: 6.5
AMR Rating: Absolutely Worth Watching!

Synopsis: Most penguins sing, but Mumble dances. After being captured and released, he manages to change the world.

Review: Another “be different” film, but wonderful anyway. The plot is intense and draws you in. You cheer Mumble on the whole way, as he leaves his homeland and is captured by us. A bonus is that this film is environmental, and carries a “Save the Penguins” message. You can really feel for the penguins_ hurt, left out. The movie, as many animated movies do, provides great perspective. The little hilarious scenes and adventures come together to form a larger story with many layers_ the romance, the adventure. Yet overall, nothing will stun you. In the end, you watch and realize that Happy Feet is still a film with some obvious lessons.

The icy land, the large scale scenery is beautiful. The angles are also great, as with the seal. You feel like you are with the penguins by the way the film is “shot.” The characters are well-designed. Look at those adorable little penguins! The songs are also well chosen. When I look at each penguin, I can imagine the type of song it would sing.

A beautiful movie with many lessons, Happy Feet is Absolutely Worth Watching!

Background: Miller cites as an initial inspiration for the film an encounter with a grizzled old camera-man, whose father was Frank Hurley of the Shackleton expeditions, during the shooting of Mad Max 2. The movie is the first animated film produced by Kennedy Miller in association with visual effects/design company Animal Logic. Though primarily an animated film, Happy Feet does incorporate motion capture of live action humans in certain scenes. Happy Feet won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, and was nominated for the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature and the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film. (Source)


The Swan Princess (1994)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 44% IMDB Rating: 6.2
AMR Rating: Worth Watching.

Synopsis: When Princess Odette and Prince Derek finally fall in love, they are thwarted by the evil Rothbart, who changes Odette into a swan so that he can try to take over her father’s kingdom.

Review: The plot in this movie is quite entertaining. Odette starts out hating Derek, but they grow on each other when they spend their summers together (the time lapses in “This is my Idea” were funny). Odette can’t just be loved for her beauty, but unfortunately, Derek is shallow and they don’t get married right away. Also, the story isn’t over when Derek sees Odette. Rothbart needs to play a clever trick and sends hag Bridget to the ball as Odette. Then Odette almost dies and there’s an epic fight. Odette’s friends, though sometimes annoying, added much humor. However, this film overall doesn’t really stand out as an animated musical. It’s fun while you watch it, but it isn’t very memorable.

Some songs, like “No Fear,” were a pain to sit through, but some, like “Far Longer Than Forever” were great. The film score and character design were plain. Sometimes, the film is too bright. There are more opportunities for darkness than emphasized in this movie, but then again, a bright, overly happy film doesn’t hurt once in a while.

Though not one of the best animated musical princess films, this does stand high on the list for an interesting plot. The Swan Princess is Worth Watching.

Background: This is based on the ballet “Swan Lake,” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which was composed in 1875–1876. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. The film is directed by a former Disney animation director, Richard Rich. (Sources)

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 43% IMDB Rating: 7.0
AMR Rating: Worth Watching.

Synopsis: Mavis is finally allowed to leave her father Dracula’s hotel. Unfortunately, she falls in love with a human, feared by the monsters, who causes all sorts of trouble at the hotel.

Review: This film gives an interesting perspective. Yeah, we’re afraid of monsters, but who knew that they were afraid of us. But other than that, this movie is only fun and no sustenance. Full of empty excitement, you can be pleased while watching the movie, but afterwards, the film won’t affect you at all. You won’t contemplate the deep meaning and feeling to it, because there really isn’t much. Even the jokes are obvious. I also find the “zing” thing hard to believe. It’s the cliche love-at-first-sight but disguised in a different form. The characters are quite commonplace. However, I have to give it to this movie for being just plain fast-pacedly entertaining. Racing on dining tables? I totally want to do that. The crazy parties, seeing the sunrise from the roof, walking under the row of capes… the scenes are experiences, and I guess you can live them by watching them, at least.

The music, character design, and animation are mediocre_ nothing stands out about them, but they aren’t horrifyingly bad. Yet I did like the “You’re my Zing” song at the end. I thought it was a suitable ending for the film. Otherwise, I have not much to say about the art aspects in this movie.

If you need a fast dose of fun, Hotel Transylvania is the movie to go, so it’s Worth Watching. Yet if you’re looking for something to ponder about, find another movie.

Background: Hotel Transylvania has been in development since 2006, when Anthony Stacchi and David Feiss were set to direct the film. In less than a year, Tartakovsky rewrote the script and reimagined the film to follow the energy, organic-ness and exaggeration of the 2D animation, particularly of the Tex Avery’s cartoons. This movie has been nominated for seven Annie awards, including “Best Animated Feature,” and “Best Animated Feature Film” at the Golden Globes. This film also won a Kid’s Choice Award for Adam Sandler voicing Dracula. (Source)

Toy Story (1995)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100% IMDB Rating: 8.3
AMR Rating: Worth Buying.

Synopsis: Toy cowboy Woody loses favoritism when toy astronaut Buzz Lightyear comes. However, they have to work together after being left at Pizza Planet and taken home by toy-torturing boy, Sid.

Review: Yeah, you’ve probably already heard about the greatness of this movie. Seriously, Rotten Tomatoes gave this 100%. However, it is that fact which sort of causes disappointment. You expect something mind-blowing, but instead you see a sweet classic. A wonderful movie nonetheless, but the impossible ratings give you too much to expect. This film has an air of creativity that a classic has_ there aren’t many movies like it, yet there is something aged about it that makes it comforting. It’s fun, and though not as heartfelt as later Pixar movies, you are pulled into the interesting plot. Though I’ve watched this film many times, each time I get scared when the mutant toys step out. Sid is positively evil. The characters are delved into just enough. You can feel Woody’s jealously and earnestness and Buzz’s cluelessness. When the toys neglect Woody, we feel sad for him because we understand being wronged and alone. Though you never know why Sid is so bad, you never really want to . You can cheer the toys through the whole crazy, clever adventure and appreciate what it’s like to be a toy.

For 1995, the animation is great. You should watch this movie just to view this milestone. Yet the music is wonderful as well. When I think of Toy Story, I think of the song “You Got a Friend in Me.” It fits the film perfectly. After all, the movie is about the developing friendship between Buzz and Woody.

A classic movie that never gets boring, Toy Story is Worth Buying. Often quite funny, people of all ages have and will enjoy this film. Just don’t get your hopes way too high after reading the impeccable critic reviews…

Background: Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-animated film and the first film produced by Pixar. Pixar, who had been producing short animated films to promote their computers, was approached by Disney to produce a computer-animated feature after the success of the short Tin Toy (1988), which is told from the perspective of a toy. The original treatment for Toy Story, drafted by Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter, had little in common with the eventual finished film. (S0urce)

The top-grossing film on its opening weekend, Toy Story went on to earn over $361 million worldwide. Toy Story won eight Annie Awards, including “Best Animated Feature” and four Academy Awards. Toy Story was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, one for “Best Motion Picture—Comedy/Musical”, and one for “Best Original Song—Motion Picture” for Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. The film also won and was nominated for numerous other awards including a Kids’ Choice Award, MTV Movie Award, and a British Academy Film Award, among many others. (Source)

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75% IMDB Rating: 7.4
AMR Rating: Absolutely Worth Watching!

Synopsis: Tintin, young reporter, is on a race to collect three scrolls, find lost treasure, and discover the story of an age-old curse.

Review: This is the classic adventure film: full of action, suspense, traveling, plots, curses, and trances. You will be sucked into the mystery at once as you root Tintin on. The silly police, the murder at Tintin’s doorstep, each plot piece is a touch to love. The film is oftentimes funny too, as when they drive the cart at the end like a ship, when the Captain suddenly comes out of one of his drunk trances, and when the police fail to notice the obvious. The movie is also clever, like using the singer’s high voice to break the bulletproof glass in order to steal the last scroll. Though there isn’t much feeling but the exaggerated revenge, anger, and passion as in a film that’s about reliving a historical curse, this adventure film isn’t supposed to make one cry. It’s supposed to entertain. So all’s wonderful until you reach the end of the movie. What?! After all that, they only get a piece of the gold and don’t find the actual hidden treasure, but rather only get a clue to the undersea wreck? These cliffhangers annoy me. I want results. It’s not like there was going to be a sequel. The movie invites us in, then kicks us out. Grrr…

The colors are perfect. Bright in the desert, when they need to be, and dark in the library, when darkness is required for the mood. The film score is as one should be_ it doesn’t stand out, but it does dispense suspense and excitement when needed. Yet most striking is that the animation is uncannily realistic. For example, Tintin’s face almost has no distortion. I had to check Wikipedia multiple times during the beginning of the movie to make sure it was actually animated.

An inviting movie, The Adventures of Tintin is a great adventure, until the end. Thus, it’s Absolutely Worth Watching!

Background: Spielberg had been an avid fan of The Adventures of Tintin comic books, which he discovered in 1981 when a review compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. Meanwhile, the comics’ creator Hergé, who didn’t like the previous live action film versions and the cartoon, became a fan of Spielberg. A three-year long option to film the comics was finalized in 1984. While Spielberg vacillated on the type of movie, Jackson, a longtime fan of the comics, had used motion capture in The Lord of the Rings and King Kong. He suggested that a live action adaptation would not do justice to the comic books and motion capture was the best way of representing Hergé’s world of Tintin. Finally, in 2011, the film was released by Paramount in North America and Columbia internationally. (Source)

It won the award for Best Animated Feature Film at the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Williams was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. It was nominated for six Saturn Awards, including Best Animated Film,Best Director for Spielberg and Best Music for Williams. As of 2012, it is the highest grossing film of Nickelodeon Movies, at over over $373 million. (Source)

The Prince of Egypt (1998)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 79% IMDB Rating: 6.8
AMR Rating: Absolutely Worth Watching!

Synopsis: Based on the urban legend that the Grand Duchess Anastasia is still alive after the Russian Revolution, Fox Animation Studios provides a family-friendly film that details her adventures in finding her grandmother in Paris foiling the evil sorcerer Rasputin.

Review: Not very funny or emotional for the audience, this film won’t draw you in. You just see Moses feel liberated on the screen, and know that you’re watching a tearjerker moment, but you’re totally aware that the screen is there and your eyes remain dry. However, after watching one would definitely understand Moses and his family better as people (and not just Bible figures), especially with the song “All I Ever Wanted,” and Miriam singing for her brother. This is a great achievement because it piques people’s interest in the Bible. People will want to learn more and research, and it’s great to understand religion, whatever one believes. Yet speaking of songs…

What blows your mind in this film is the art part. This film has great music. I practically loved every song- so much that I even made a music video for “When You Believe.” However, music isn’t all. The scenes are beautiful. As the Moses rides the chariot with his “brother, as the Hebrews cross the Red Sea, I just gaped in awe at the epic music and visuals. The scenes, the angles, the soundtrack and the muted colors complement it all. The art simply ties together so beautifully. Even the characters are designed well; Moses’ chiseled face shows strength.

A passionate depiction of Moses’ journey, The Prince of Egypt is Absolutely Worth Watching!

Background: This is an adaptation of the Book of Exodus. The film was nominated for best Original Musical or Comedy Score and won for Best Original Song at the 1999 Academy Awards for “When You Believe”. The song, co-written by Stephen Schwartz, Hans Zimmer and with additional production by Babyface, was nominated for Best Original Song (in a Motion Picture) at the 1999 Golden Globes, and was also nominated for Outstanding Performance of a Song for a Feature Film at theALMA Awards. (Source)

The film was released in theaters on December 18, 1998, and on home video on September 14, 1999. The film went on to gross $218,613,188 worldwide in theaters, making it the second animated feature not released by Disney to gross over $100 million in the U.S. after Paramount/Nickelodeon’s The Rugrats MovieThe Prince of Egypt became the top grossing non-Disney animated film until 2000 when it was out-grossed by the stop motion film Chicken Run (another DreamWorks film). The film also remained the highest grossing traditionally-animated non-Disney film until 2007, when it was out-grossed by The Simpsons Movie. (Source)

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

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Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74% IMDB Rating: 7.3
AMR Rating: Absolutely Worth Watching!

Synopsis: Jack Frost is invited to the Guardians, an ensemble consisting of Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy. Together they need to defeat Pitch, who is discouraging kids from believing with nightmares.

Review: Holiday movies always encourage you to “believe.” But that observation is beside the point. I just needed to throw it out there. What makes Rise of the Guardians a good movie is its fast-paced double plot. This isn’t just a film about fighting this black creature. It’s about Jack Frost finding himself. Though both separately are cliche, together they provide for an interesting and unique tale. I also love Jack’s backstory of saving his sister. The characters are so likable and awesome (just look at the Sandman with his wooshes of yellow dreamstuff). They have distinct personalities. Santa isn’t an annoying old man, but a person that is hardcore, but warm. And don’t call the Easter Bunny “cute.” I also like how they make the classic stories make sense. The tooth fairy has helpers to help her collect all those teeth. The Easter eggs can move by themselves, because obviously the bunny doesn’t have the time to put them there himself. However, the movement of the film’s plot makes it seem a little too busy. As I recall this movie, I remember random scenes, some fighting here, some joy there, something about the kids’ support (and that was a nice touch_ the powerful Guardians relying on the children at the most crucial moment)… I needed Wikipedia to help me sort out the storyline. Once I had it clear though, it was a breeze. Pun intended.

I love the soundtrack in this film. The music completely matches. I hum “Jamie Believes” all the time. The animation is great, too, especially Pitch. He seems to slither around. The globe slowly going dark is also a nice touch. The textures are wonderful: I feel now that I can touch dreams and nightmares, and Jack Frost’s electric ice brings chills of power to my spine.

Rise of the Guardians may seem a little scattered, but it easily comes together, making a film that is Absolutely Worth Watching! Definitely catch it before summer comes and the movie becomes totally out-of-season.

Background: This is based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood book series and The Man in the Moon short film by Joyce and Reel FX. Due to over-budget production and marketing costs, this marked the first time that the studio had lost money on an animated film since Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. As a result of this combined with other factors, in February of 2013 the studio announced it was laying off 350 employees as part of a company-wide restructuring. The Rome Film Fes­ti­val and Vanity Fair magazine awarded the new Vanity Fair International Award for Cinematic Excellence in November 2012 to Rise of the Guardians. The film also received the Hollywood Ani­ma­tion Award at the 16th Annual Hollywood Film Festival, held on October 22, 2012. It has also been nominated for various other awards. (Source)