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Angry Birds (2016)
A Return to The Golden Age of Animation
Animation is a bigger industry then it has ever been in the past, shattering records and setting new standards, but a lot of them feel like live action films that have been dressed up in GCI clothing. It's a good step toward making animation a serious medium, but there was a time when animation had its own comedic style that just wouldn't work in live action.
Enter the Angry Birds movie. Based on the popular smartphone game, Angry Birds hearkens back to the golden age of animation, especially the Road Runner cartoons. The action is energetic and the comedic delivery is always on time. There are also a lot of "Blink and you'll miss them" sight gags, as well as some subtle adult humor (which the golden age was also known for). There isn't one joke that feels out of place, and every character has some humorous quirk that works to the film's advantage (like Red being a cynical pessimist and Chuck being hyperactive). These characters are brought to life by an all-star cast who clearly took their roles very seriously, and it shows. My favorite is probably Peter Dinklage as the Mighty Eagle, who the movie portrays as an egotistical superhero-type character who is well past his prime.
The animation itself is beautifully rendered, looking practically photo-realistic while still being exaggerated and cartoonish. The birds are more anthropomorphic than they were in the game, having arms and legs and living on a tropical island. The same can be said for the pigs, who have also been given more human-like features and personalities. The environments are more realistic than cartoonish, but they still have some exaggerated elements that complement the film's tone and characters.
If you're looking for a dramatic and thought-provoking animated film, then you won't find it here (I recommend Zootopia in that case), but if you want to experience the wacky and energetic style that the golden age was known for, then I recommend the Angry Birds movie.
A Buddy Cop Film With A Lot of Heart
The buddy cop genre. It's seen a lot of unique takes over the years, but this is certainly one of the most memorable. Our main characters are a police bunny named Judy Hopps (played by Jenifer Goodwin) and a con artist fox named Nick Wilde (played by Jason Bateman). Judy has a tough and no-nonsense attitude while Nick is more careless and manipulative, so these two characters play off each other perfectly. The rest of the casting is perfect. I can't think of a single role that was miscast (I especially love Idris Elba as the police commissioner).
The story goes that Judy used to live in a rural town, where she dreams of moving to the metropolin city of Zootopia to become a police officer. The problem is that no one, not even the commissioner, takes a rabbit seriously as a cop. She is given the duty of meter maid and eventually encounters Nick, who later becomes an important source of information during a mysterious kidnapping plot. Although the film has many humorous moments, it also has some very emotional ones, especially during flashbacks. The stuggles that both these characters have to put up with feels very genuine and realistic, much like the problems that we have today with race, religion, and sexuality.
The only thing I thought could have used more work was the writing. It's not bad, and there are some memorable lines, but some jokes fall flat (like the Godfather spoof). Thankfully there are a lot more that work than those that don't. The action scenes are a lot of fun very creative, and the film itself is animated beautifully.
Do I recommend this film? The short answer is yes. The long answer is that it depends on what you're looking for. If you want a fun little buddy cop film with a few tear-jerking moments, then you'll love Zootopia.
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
As close to perfection as an animated film can get
Don Bluth left Disney to start work on this masterpiece, and I'm glad he did because this film deserves to be celebrated and persevered. Don't be fooled by it's animated format: this is quite a heavy film for kids and is better enjoyed by adults who can understand the situation that the main character is going through.
Mrs. Brisby is a field mouse who is looking after a gravely ill child, but her life takes unexpected turn when she must move her home, which would risk the life of her son. Desperate for help, she stumbles upon a world that amazes her, and the residents speak highly of her deceased husband. What follows is political drama, an aging prophet, and Brisby's faith in her children put to the ultimate test. Her emotions are not only genuine, but very easy to relate too. The supporting cast is full of personality and their relationships with each other are what make this film work. Combine this with truly brilliant animation and you have a fantastic film!