November 24, 2013 •
My tweet-length reviews of over one hundred and fifty animated films.
- ⇒ I need to watch again (it has been too long) or for the first time.
Didn't like or want to pretend never happened. Don't waste your time.
- Worth watching once. (No formatting on title.)
- I like and have rewatched or will rewatch any time.
- A few of these (☆'d) will save the human race from an alien invasion when they see what a subset of humanity is capable of. (☆'s are only given out after a few years and I see that the movie holds up as the best of the best.)
Pixar Animation Studios Features
- ☆ Toy Story, 1995. Groundbreaking on so many levels. Holds up better than you might think. Darker than you remember.
- A Bug's Life, 1998. Easy to forget how good this film is.
- Toy Story 2, 1999. Defines the transition from high school to college for me. Sequels should not be this good.
- ☆ Monsters Inc., 2001. (Nominated, Academy Award, Best Animated Film.) Pixar cares as much as Sulley scares.
- Finding Nemo, 2003. (Winner, Academy Award, Best Animated Film.) Pixar just keeps winning.
- ☆ The Incredibles, 2004. (Winner, Academy Award, Best Animated Film.) "The bad guys are out to ruin their marriage." Pixar, but PG? Special.
- Cars, 2006. (Nominated, Academy Award, Best Animated Film.) First disappointing Pixar film for me. Entertaining but forgettable. Mater is obviously the best part. And Carsland at Disney California Adventure.
- ☆ Ratatouille, 2007. (Winner, Academy Award, Best Animated Film.) I am proud to have been an intern on this.
- Wall-E, 2008. (Critically acclaimed. Won Oscar.) Pixar + Sci-Fi = I want Mo.
- Up, 2009. (Pete Docter of Monsters Inc. directs. Won two Oscars and nominated for best picture.) Keeps the streak going. Yes, first ten minutes should get a best Animated Short Film Oscar.
- Toy Story 3, 2010. (Lee Unkrich directing. Won two oscars, including Best Animated Picture.) Pretty great for a #3.
- Cars 2, 2011. Brad Lewis directing. A lot better than I thought it would be. "Emotional" moments seemed a bit contrived, but comedy and action were really fun. And Mater is the best.
- Brave, 2012. Really fun.
- Monsters University, 2013. Not ground breaking but a solid and fun movie.
Good Dinosaur, 2014. Phenomenal landscape visuals, fun bits, but uneven tone and mixed bag (too obvious for adults, too dark for children). Watch The Croods instead.
- ☆ Inside Out, 2015. If you did not shed a tear then you are dead inside.
- Finding Dory, 2016. Sequels should not be this good.
- ⇒ Cars 3, summer 2017. If it is great I will be surprised.
- ☆ Coco, Nov. 2017. The gorgeous visuals nearly distracted me from the perfect storytelling and wonderful music. Finally a musical where every song the characters sing has an organic explanation in the story.
- ⇒ The Incredibles 2, Nov. 2018. If it is not great I will be surprised.
- ⇒ Gigantic, 2018. Intriguing.
- ⇒ Toy Story 4, 2019. Prove me wrong again Pixar, for the third time, about sequels being a bad idea.
- André and Wally B, 1985.
- Luxo, Jr., 1986. (Toy Story 2 DVD, 2 pack)
- Red's Dream, 1987.
- Tin Toy, 1988. (Toy Story DVD, 2 pack) Uncanny baby, uncanny valley.
- Knick Knack, 1989. (Finding Nemo DVD)
- ☆ Geri's Game, 1997. (A Bug's Life DVD) You see why they tapped Jan Pinkava to create Ratatouille.
- For the Birds, 2000. (Monster's Inc DVD)
- Mike's New Car, 2003. (Monster's Inc DVD)
- Boundin', 2004. (Incredibles DVD) I love Bud Lucky.
- Jack Jack Attack, 2005. (Incredibles DVD)
- One Man Band, Anisy 2005, Theaters 2006. In theaters with Cars.
- Lifted, 2007 (Ratatouille DVD)
- Your Friend the Rat, 2007 (Ratatouille DVD). I love this one. It is so quirky and strange (and factual).
- Presto, 2008. Way too funny.
- Burn-E, 2008. (Wall-E DVD)
- Partly Cloud. 2009.
- Dug's Special Mission, 2009 (Up DVD).
- ☆ Day & Night, 2010. Teddy Newton at his usual best. Precisely why Pixar makes short films.
- La Luna, 2011. Miyazaki would be proud.
- The Blue Umbrella, 2013. Gorgeous visually, but story is too similar to Disney Short Paperman.
- Lava, 2014. Cute but like a baby version of Moana.
- ⇒ Sanjay's Super Team, 2015.
- Piper, 2016. Real birds are this unbelievably amazing and this unbelievably cute.
- ⇒ Lou, 2017. ????
Walt Disney Shorts
- ☆ Paperman, 2012. Won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
- ⇒ Glago's Guest, 2008. Why have I not seen this?
- There are a a bazillion more
Walt Disney's Full-Length Animated Feature Films
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.
- Pinocchio, 1940. Unsurpassed animation, except maybe Sleeping Beauty.
- Fantasia, 1940. Parts are great, some not so great.
- Dumbo, 1941.
- Bambi, 1942.
Saludos Amigos, 1943. The Three Caballeros, 1945. Make Mine Music, 1946. Fun and Fancy Free, 1947. I say this with a slap. Melody Time, 1948.
- The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad, 1949.
- Cinderella, 1950.
- Alice In Wonderland, 1951.
- Peter Pan, 1953.
- Lady And The Tramp, 1955.
- ☆ Sleeping Beauty, 1959. Best Disney animated scene ever, Scene 8 (where Aurora and Phillip "meet"). They spent so much time and money and energy on this film and it really shows. It is rich and layered and gorgeous. Ages legendarily well.
- 101 Dalmations, 1961. Truly incredible, peak animation, great villain, great music.
- The Sword And The Stone, 1963. Fun, but sort of bland. Whoa what, whoa? (x8)
- The Jungle Book, 1967. Great songs. (Bear Necessities, and Wanna Be Like You.)
- The Aristocats, 1970. Shockingly good.
- Robin Hood, 1973. (Forgettable songs except Oo-de-la-li.)
- The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, 1977. A classic for a lot of reasons.
The Rescuers, 1977. Too dark. The Fox And The Hound, 1981. Kind of bland. Watch Bambi instead. The Black Cauldron, 1985.The book is better. The Great Mouse Detective, 1986. Detect any CGI? Oliver & Company, 1988. Disney hits its low point (and too many annoying characters; also, it's boring)
- The Little Mermaid, 1989. Fortunate soul.
- The Rescuers Down Under, 1990. It's fine, but forgettable. Nice visually.
- ☆ Beauty And The Beast, 1991. Something there. In spades.
- Aladdin, 1992. Ages magically in spite of all the 90's jokes.
- The Lion King, 1994.
- Pocahontas, 1995. OK but not great.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996. Impressive attempt to go somewhere darker, but too weak in comedy and story to hold up that kind of story.
- Hercules, 1997. Not marvelous but pretty fun. Better than you might think.
- Mulan, 1998. Some pretty good songs. (Donny Osmond really is that charming in person.)
- Fantasia 2000 was released nationwide on January 1, 2000, starting a 4-month IMAX exclusive showing:
- Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Ludwig van Beethoven
- Pines of Rome, Ottorino Respighi (Flying Whales)
- Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin
- Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102, Dmitri Shostakovich (Soldier)
- Carnival of the Animals, Camille Saint-Sans (Flamingos + Yo-Yo)
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Paul Dukas (recycled from 1940).
- Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar (Noah's Ark with Donald and Daisy)
- Firebird Suite - 1919 Version, Igor Stravinsky
- The Emperor's New Groove, December 10, 2000. David Spade gets put in his place. Works better than you might think. (Kronk!)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire, June 15, 2001. Ambitious idea, failed execution (too many distracting characters?)
- Lilo & Stitch, June 16, 2005. Strangely great.
- ⇒ Treasure Planet, November 27, 2005.
- ⇒ Brother Bear, November 7, 2003. (Phil Collins songs)
- ⇒ Home On The Range, March 21, 2004.
- ⇒ Chicken Little, November, 2005.
- Meet the Robinsons, 2007. Better than I thought it would be. Messy middle, good ending.
Look at this streak Disney has been on:
- Bolt, 2007. Awesome premise, great execution.
- The Princess and the Frog, 2009. So good! Visit New Orleans and you will see how familiar it feels.
- Tangled, 2010.
- Winnie the Pooh, 2011. It was OK but forgettable.
- Wreck-It Ralph, 2012. Pretty great. Of course I am the target audience for this film ("retro" arcade games in my youth).
- Frozen, 2013. I think the parts of this movie are phenomenal, even if the whole is less than the sum of the parts. Plus ☆ Olaf. But you do not need my review of it because statistically you have already seen it since it has saturated our culture. Certainly not a bad movie but it could have been better and it could have held up better.
- Big Hero 6, 2014. Makes me happy that they are willing to go to these sorts of places.
- Zootopia, Mar, 2016. Pretty advanced storytelling for a movie ostensibly about talking animals.
- Moana, Nov, 2016. Distractingly gorgeous and a top-notch story and songs.
Future Disney Animation
- ⇒ Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, 2018. I will probably like it, but it could be terrible. ...
- ⇒ Frozen 2, 2019. All over again with the sequels and trying to prove that they are not just cynical cash grabs by the studios. We shall see.
- ⇒ Castle in the Sky, 1986.
- My Neighbor Totoro, 1988. I remember this being good if a bit gloomy and slow.
- ⇒ Kiki's Delivery Service, 1989.
- ⇒ Porco Russo, 1992.
- ⇒ Whisper of the Heart, 1995.
- Princess Mononoke, 1997. Brain-smashing and not kid-friendly but proof that animation can go beyond and tell any kind of story.
- Spirited Away, 2001. I remember this being interesting and weird but fun.
- ⇒ Howl's Moving Castle, 2004. Need to see!
- ⇒ Ponyo, 2008.
- ⇒ Arrietty, 2010.
- ⇒ From Up on Poppy Hill, 2011.
- ⇒ The Wind Rises, 2013.
Other non-Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli
- ⇒ Grave of the Fireflies, 1988.
- ⇒ Only Yesterday, 1991. (100% fresh on RT! Wow!)
- ⇒ Ocean Waves, 1993.
- ⇒ Pom Poko, 1994.
- ⇒ My Neighbors the Yamadas, 1999.
- ⇒ The Cat Returns, 2002.
Tales from Earthsea, 2006. Critics panned this.
- ⇒ The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, 2013.
- ⇒ When Marnie Was There, 2014. Oscar-nominated. I want to see this.
- Wallace and Gromit: Three Amazing Adventures. (Not a feature film but well worth your time. If you do not laugh you are dead inside.)
- Chicken Run, 2000. Still holds up. The chickens are revolting!
- Flushed Away, 2006. Better than I thought it would be.
- Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, 2005. I just have a hunch. Really funny.
- Arthur Christmas, 2011. Solid movie, over the top, but works.
- The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! 2012. I remember liking this even if it was a bit choppy. Entertaining.
- ☆ Shaun the Sheep Movie, 2015. Making a movie this good with almost no dialog is absolutely brilliant. Animation at its best, and cute too!
- ⇒ Early Man, 2018. I really want to see this even if it is as stupid as it looks because I love Aardman humor.
Antz, 1998. Strangely liked by critics. Too dark and not funny enough. Does not hold up. Watch A Bug's Life instead.
- Prince of Egypt, 1998. You will when you believe.
- ⇒ Road to El Dorado, 2000.
- Joseph: King of Dreams, 2000. I think I saw this but I've already forgotten about it.
- Shrek, 2001. Doesn't age as well as Aladdin, but still pretty great story.
- Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, 2002. Actually quite good, loved the 2D / 3D blend.
- ⇒ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, 2003.
- Shrek 2, 2004. Entertaining but kind of forgettable.
Shark Tale, 2004. Poor as I thought it would be.
- Madagascar, 2005. A lot better than I thought it would be. Most of the time, Over-the-Top Craziness backfires but here it somehow works.
- Over the Hedge, 2006. Fun enough.
Shrek the Third, 2007. Would that the quality of the story reach the quality of the production itself. Bee Movie, 2007. Wait is this the real bee movie? (If you skip, you are not missing anything.)
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, 2008. Homage or parody of Lion King? Pretty good as sequels go.
- Kung Fu Panda, 2008. Fun movie. Where did DreamWorks find their secret recipe?
- Monsters vs. Aliens, 2009. Better than I thought it would be. Great homage to classic 50s sci-fi B movies. Charming. BOB now my third favorite character in DWA.
- ☆ How to Train Your Dragon, 2010. A Pixar-level achievement (better than Cars by a lot). Notice the lack of pop music sound track. This will age (has aged) beautifully.
- Shrek Forever After, 2010. Best Shrek sequel by far. Very rewatchable. Watch Shrek again to catch the interplay of the story lines. Yes, Capra is rolling over in his grave.
- Megamind, 2010. Fun movie, and really beautiful. Minion is now my second favorite DreamWorks character after Toothless.
- Kung Fu Panda 2, 2011. Incredibly gorgeous. Baby Po is adorable.
- Puss in Boots, 2011. Loved it. He's so much better in his own movie than in the Shrek movies. Cloud scene one of the best sets in all of animation. Great villain -- no spoilers!
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, 2012. Funny and ridiculous but the movie makers know it.
- Rise of the Guardians, 2012. Riveting and beautiful. A little choppy story-wise and the belief premise is a staid trope but strong visuals help a lot.
- The Croods, 2013. Gorgeous and fun. A little linear, but entertaining and very creative environments and creatures.
- Turbo, 2013. A little too predictable. Had some good moments, but a little uneven.
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman, 2014. I wanted to like this more than I did, but time-travel movies are really hard to do well. Great setup and I love Sherman. (I would adopt him.)
- How to Train Your Dragon 2, 2014. Really intense and pretty powerful, as family fare goes. We love this franchise, books especially!
Home, 2015. I wanted to like it but it just fell apart. It was choppy and off-putting and just not well put together. Visually fun, but that's about it.
- Kung Fu Panda 3, 2016. Devastatingly gorgeous, and cute pandas are not exactly hard on the eyes.
- Trolls, 2016. It exceed my expectations, which were low going into it. I really liked the unconventional and trippy aspects and found the characters strangely unrepulsive.
- ⇒ Boss Baby, 2017. Have not seen, and do not want to see. Since when did DreamWorks venture into political satire of a sitting president?
- ⇒ Little Foot. I really like the premise and I really want to see.
- ⇒⇒ Shadows. (2-D cell animation + 3-D = Walt Disney himself would be proud. Plagued by delays but I really want to see this!)
- ⇒ Mumbai Musical. Probably will be awesome.
- ⇒ Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves. Could be good, could be a mess.
- ⇒ B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations. Could be amazing.
- ⇒ Madagascar 4: again with the too many sequels.
- ⇒ Shrek 5. Ugg. Yes, there is such a thing as too many sequels. (I'm looking at you, Toy Story 4 and Cars 3.)
- ⇒ The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. Intriguing... ?
- ⇒ Alma
- ⇒ Flawed Dogs. Berkeley Breathed and he has bad breath. I don't know how this will work and not be too dark.
- ⇒ Hot Stuff
- ⇒ Blue-footed Booby film.
- ⇒ Voltron. Oh yeah.
- Despicable Me, 2010. Certainly worth watching once and almost worth watching twice.
Hop, 2011. Still have not seen but I have a desire to keep it that way. Gives critics of animation ammunition in their (only semi-legit) war on irreverent talking animals and fart jokes in the "genre".
- Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Mostly unmemorable but I don't think it was any more horrible than you would expect. Preachy and cartoony and all that.
- Despicable Me 2, 2013. Remember it being pretty nuts but fun.
- Minions, 2015. Almost worth seeing once. Underdeveloped, over-broad story (hard to follow and disjoint in places). The main characters are lovable but the villain is not believable and not even that odious, just obnoxious.
- The Secret Life of Pets, 2016. Surprisingly good. Gidget for the win.
- Sing, 2016. Entertaining but obnoxious as you might expect. Tori Kelly and her shy character almost redeem the movie.
- ⇒ Despicable Me 3, 2017. Still need to see this, but not expecting a lot. You know me and cynical-studio-driven sequels. (I'm not cynical; the studios are for not investing in new and risky properties.)
Future Illunmination Projects
- Dr. Seuss' The Grinch. OK, so will this create material for Universal Studios Theme Parks? or will it be as good as the original material?
- The Secret Life of Pets 2, 2019. Looking forward to this, but it needs to be a new story.
- Minions 2. Again with the milking of the franchise. Prove me wrong, Illumination.
- Sing 2. Prove me wrong. Not expecting much from this installment. ...
- Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. Unlikely to be great without a real reason to make this story.
- Despciable Me 4. Again with the sequels. Unlikely to be Toy Story 2 or Toy Story 3 level.
I love stop motion.
- ⇒ (Short) Moongirl, 2005.
- Coraline, 2009. Fabulous visually. A bit GooseBumps/cheeseball/kid-horror but right up my alley.
- ParaNorman, 2012. Laika hits their stride.
- ⇒ Corpse Bride, 2005. (= Contract Work, + Tim Burton). I will probably like this... ?
- The Boxtrolls, 2014. I am aware of the flaws but I loved the design and the tone. It worked for me.
- ☆ Kubo and the Two Strings, 2016. Exactly why animation exists. Great music, great style, great story, great action, great comedy, great casting.
Many of their films are critically acclaimed, and deserved to do better financially.
- The Secret of Kells, 2009. Uses the medium of 2-D animation in ways you would not expect. The real-life Book of Kells really is that amazing looking, too.
- ⇒ Santa's Apprentice, 2010.
- ⇒ Moon Man, 2012.
- Song of the Sea, 2015. Great story, great story telling. Magical.
- ⇒ (Future:) The Breadwinner, 2017. Probably will be amazing if not at least interesting.
They have ⇒ five short films I should see.
Paramount Pictures / Nickelodeon
- Rango. Pretty fun, in spite of Johny Depp.
- ⇒ Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, 2001. Oscar-nominated, so does that make it worth seeing?
Warner Brothers Animation
- Lego Movie. On paper, should not be this good. But it was great, in fact.
- ⇒ Lego Batman. I really want to see this.
- ☆ The Nightmare Before Christmas. Best Danny Elfman music ever. Crazy and creepy and dark and weird but I love it.
- ⇒ James and the Giant Peach. Need to see again. I love Burton and Dahl but is it any good? I don't remember.
- Frankenweenie, 2012. Interesting on a plane flight, not groundbreaking but entertaining if you like Tim Burton.
Brad Bird & Company
- Iron Giant, 1999. You see why Pixar picked up Brad Bird and his gang of miscreants. Highly underrated movie.
Warner Animation Group
- Storks, 2016. I enjoyed it but it was a little to cliche. Worth watching at least once.
Fox Animation Studios
- Anastasia, 1997. Actually kind of good, if a little plodding and dark and aping its Disney influences.
- ⇒ Titan A.E, 2000. Interesting premise, probably forgettable. Need to see.
- ⇒ The Simpsons Movie, 2007. I am a self-professed Simpsons buff but as you will know has long been passé to criticize the longevity of this franchise. However, no-one I know has told me I am missing anything by skipping this movie and I am not surprised. (It peaked around season 8 or 9 but you knew that.)
Fox Animation co-productions
- Fantastic Mr. Fox. So Wes Anderson. Some will not like it but it worked for me. I think animation needs more weird, semi-adult stories like this to gain more respect as a medium.
- ⇒ The Book of Life, 2014. I hear it is not great but I want to see it to compare it to the unforgettable Coco (Pixar 2017).
Blue Sky Studios
- ⇒ Ice Age, 2002. Haven't seen. Am I missing anything?
- ⇒ Robots, 2005. Am I missing anything?
Ice Age: The Meltdown, 2006. Ditto.
- ⇒ Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! 2008. Ditto.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, 2009. Ditto.
- Rio, 2011. Great music, great movie.
Ice Age: Continental Drift, 2012.Missing anything by skipping? Poor CGI movies casting their gloom over the whole medium.
- ⇒ Epic, 2013. Actually I do want to see this.
- Rio 2, 2014. We enjoyed it but we are partial to cute birds.
- ⇒ The Peanuts Movie, 2015. Well with reviews like this, maybe it is worth watching.
Ice Age: Collision Course. Uggh. Stop diluting the medium of computer animation and justifying the adults' eye-rolling, sem-legit dismissal of this schlock. How do these execs sleep at night? (Oh, right, on giant pillows of money.)
- ⇒ Ferdinand, 2017. Perhaps actually worth seeing even if the premise is a book with like ten pages.
- The Triplets of Belleville, 2003. Creepy, near-wordless story telling. Amazing. Well worth watching at least once.
- ⇒ The Illusionist (2010 film). Oscar-nominated.
Sony Pictures Animation
- ⇒ Open Season, 2006.
- ⇒ Surf's Up, 2007.
- ⇒ Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 2009. Critics think it wasn't terrible. Perhaps worth watching. I loved the book.
The Smurfs, 2011. Is it good or bad when an attempt to license an existing franchise falls on its face because of poor story writing?
- Arthur Christmas, 2011. Based on Sony's track record, I would give the credit to Aardman (see above). Great movie.
- The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 2012. Also good, also Aardman.
Hotel Transylvania, 2012. At least they attempted to make a new franchise. The problem is the public paid to see it, instead of voting with their wallets for the better stuff. (See: this entire list, anything in bold.)
The Smurfs 2. Because the critics didn't get through the first time. Sigh. I really feel like an old man now. Harumph.
- ⇒ Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, 2013. Enough with the sequels.
- ⇒ Hotel Transylvania 2, 2015. Ditto. Stop supporting poor movies.
- ⇒ Goosebumps, 2015. Uggh.
Smurfs: The Lost Village, 2017. Hard to be worse than the previous installment (but still bad).
The Emoji Movie, 2017. Critics thought this was as bad as the premise made it sound. Cynical cash grab attempt, indeed. Single digits on Rotten Tomatoes. Quite an accomplishment.
The Star, 2017. Let's commericalize Christmas! That's not cynical at all! (cf. Arthur Christmas.)
Sony Animation Shorts
- ⇒ The Chubbchubbs! Won Oscar for best animated short.
- ⇒ My Life as a Courgette (a Zucchini), 2007. Oscar-nominated.
- ⇒ Persepolis, 2007. Again, telling a story in animation as a medium and not a supposed "genre". I think I want to see this.
- ⇒ A Cat in Paris, 2010. Oscar-nominated.
- ⇒ Ernest & Celestine, 2012. Oscar-nominated.
- ⇒ Boy and the World, 2013, by Brazlian Alê Abreu. Very little dialog, Oscar-nominated. I really want to see this.
- ⇒ Anomalisa, 2015. Stop motion. First R-rated Animated Feature to be Nominated.
- ⇒ The Red Turtle, 2016.