Archive for category Animated


Rating: Wait to rent it.                                                                      

Unfortunately for Pixar we have been spoiled by, well, Pixar.  With movies like Up, Toy Story 3 (Or 1 for that matter) and Wall-E the bar for animated features wasn’t just raised but thrust upward into the midst of every other respected genre.  Then in 2011 Pixar made the sequel to Cars, the aptly named Cars 2, and it wasn’t very good.  People freaked.  Did Pixar lose its touch?  Are they out of ideas?  What is wrong with this company?  WHOA! Slow down turbo.  They made one not brilliant movie.  Chill out!  Despite this, Pixar had to respond to the negative thoughts.  They had two options.  Blow our minds, which is quite difficult, or make an all around good, albeit safe, movie.  Brave won’t blow your mind.  It is an all around good movie though, but it just felt a bit “safe” to me.

The setting for this movie, which is beautiful, is in a pre dark ages Scotland.  At least I think this is what they were going for, it never really said specifically.  Either way, the story centers around Merida, the first born of a royal family, and daughter to Lord Fergus and Lady Elinor.  Merida has grown up to be anything but a lady herself, much to the dismay of her mother.  Instead she would rather shoot arrows and go on incredible adventures to daring places.  Her and her mother never seem to see eye to eye.  Once Merida is of age her father puts out an offer to three neighboring clans that their eldest sons may compete for her hand in marriage.  Merida is outraged that she is being forced into this fate, defiles the competition by showing up her suitors, and ends up running off to the woods.  There she meets up with a witch, and requests a spell that will change her mother, and thus change her fate.  The witch complies but I mean come on, she’s a witch.  Merida gets a spell, or more of a curse, that is more than she bargained for.  The rest of the movie follows Merida and her mother as they try to undo the spell and grow in their relationship along the way.  They enlist the help of Merida’s three little brothers.  They are mischievous triplets and offer most of the comedic relief for the movie.  They actually are quite entertaining.  While Merida works with her mother Lord Fergus attempts to quell the other three clans, who are upset at what has happened.  The interactions between Fergus and the other clan leaders are also quite humorous and entertaining.

Overall the story was solid, but like I said it just felt safe.  Instead of a cool new concept I felt like I was watching just an old folk tale turned into a beautifully animated movie.  Also the message of the movie seemed unclear to me.  They were going for “you can always change your fate” which is a solid message.  But it came across more as, “if your mom is being a b**** just curse her and all will work out in the end.”  A couple of the people I saw it with said they got a bit emotional at times, which really surprised me (and I tear up during things like Undercover Boss), but they were quick to inform me that I just didn’t understand because it really was a mother/daughter story.

The movies biggest strengths came from the animation and the voice acting.  Both were done superbly which is to be expected from Pixar.  The attention to detail with regards the animation was flawless.  The voice actors all did a good job adding true dimensions to their respectful characters.  Overall it was good fun, but waiting to see it won’t do anyone any harm.


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How to Train Your Dragon

Rating – See it now.                                                              

I just finished watching How to Train Your Dragon, and wow.  I can safely say the only reason this did not win best animated feature is because Pixar unleashed the masterpiece that was Toy Story 3 the same year.  But in all honesty, this movie wasn’t far behind.  I went into the movie with the knowledge that there were dragons, which would most likely be trained, and that’s about it.  Fortunately, I was in for much more than I expected.

The story takes place on the island of Berk, where a village of Vikings has a pest problem.  Their pests…dragons.    The Vikings are large, muscular, somewhat unintelligent, and have an almost strange affinity for killing dragons.  The more dragons they kill, the more revered they are by the rest of the village.  Our antagonist on the other hand is small, scrawny, smart, and named Hiccup.  To make things worse, Hiccup’s father is the greatest dragon killer there is.  Lets just say Hiccup is a bit of an outcast in the village.

Eventually Hiccup has his chance to kill a dragon and be accepted by his peers.  He realizes, though, that he’s not cut out for killing, and instead is more cut out for training…as the title implies.  You may be reading this and thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen this story done before.  Just remove dragon and insert dog/cat/monster/toy/etc. and you have a dozen other children’s movies.”  While this is true, this movie still stands out amongst the crowd.  I think this can be attributed to the fact that it didn’t just do a familiar story, it did a familiar story as well as that story can be done.  I think one of the smartest choices by the movie creators was to keep the Dragons without voices.  Many recent children’s movies allow every person, animal, creature, and even inanimate objects to talk.  Here this wouldn’t have worked and the creators realized it.  Most people can relate to having a bond with a pet, and this was the case here.  I was generally concerned for what would happen to this boy and his dragon, and as the story continues to unfold it becomes more and more touching.  I loved it.

While the story was fantastic, I also really enjoyed the animation in this film.  Typically I prefer the old school drawing methods to the more modern computer animation, but in this movie they did a terrific job.  The environment was vibrant and real, and the style really contributed to the character’s personalities.  Speaking of the characters, the voice actors also did a fantastic job making the characters come alive.  Jay Baruchel was fantastic as Hiccup.  Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz Plasse, and Kristin Wiig did a good job filling in for a few chuckles here and there, and Greg Ferguson was also entertaining.  I don’t want to leave out Gerard Butler, who was also great as Hiccup’s father.

Overall this is one of the best animated movies I have seen in a long time.  I think it is definitely DreamWorks’ strongest offering.  The animation was great, the voice acting strong, and the story utterly fantastic.  I don’t think the movie slowed down for the entire 90 minutes, and finished with a rather epic climax for a children’s movie.  I would highly recommend that anyone see this film.


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