When it comes to animated films, 2011 wasn't really the best year for it. Don't get me wrong. It was a good year, but it wasn't as grand as the previous year, where there was Toy Story 3, Tangled, Despicable Me, and many more great animated films. 2011, however, has more its share of great animated films and bad animated films! Now, this video won't be exactly like my other Top 10s. It will be more like my AniMat's Reviews, where it's more analytical than funny, and I won't be in front of the camera that often. I'm AniMat, and this is the Top 5 Best and Worst Animated Films of 2011!
5. Puss in Boots: From the same director that brought us the demise of Shrek comes the most surprising animated film of the year! I would have never guessed that Puss in Boots would offer us something that's a little more different than Shrek, like focusing more on the action and adventure element than the comedy, great use of animation from the chase scenes to the dance numbers to the better-looking design on the humans, and some characters that are very interesting and emotionally complex, like Puss himself and Humpty Dumpty. An extra thing that I admire is how they connect to the Shrek universe. I'm not saying that it would reference the past films, but they would often add some fairy tale elements across the environment. However, there are a few flaws that come with it, like there are some plot elements that they took from other films, most of the humor is pretty stale, and the characters that aren't interesting are just easily forgettable. But it didn't stop me from enjoying the film. The Shrek franchise may be down and out, but Puss proved us that he can be strong on his own.
4. Arthur Christmas: At first, you might be disappointed that Aardman isn't doing their classic claymation on this one, but with the help of Sony Pictures Animation, it really shines as an awesome Christmas film. N-n-no, scratch that. An original awesome Christmas film! The story of Arthur Christmas asks, "What if Santa would forget one present during his annual worldwide delivery?" It may not seem interesting at first, but it turns out to be one hell of a ride, hilarious, and sometimes it would touch your heart. The characters, including Arthur and Grandsanta are just highly lovable, and they would get better and better as the movie progresses. But the true highlights to me are the sleigh scenes! They would fly around from buildings to icebergs to the aurora borealis in a way that's just so magical. And it's exactly how you'd thing when Santa flies his sleigh! But with all that said, the character design is a problem for me. I feel like the tiny eyes and the big nose on everyone just doesn't work, especially on the elves, and a few characters can get on your nerves. And...really...really?! But aside from that. If you ever need a boost of Christmas spirit, then this is the perfect film for you!
3. Rango: What happens when you make the most famous special effect wizards make an animated film? You make something that makes you want them to do more! All set in a Western style, Rango brings us a great plot about the search of the town's currency, which is water, and the very creative animation with very unique action scenes and some of the greatest character designs to be put on film. It's not the usual cute animal design we'd normally see, oh, no-no-no. These characters are like diseased roadkill dressed like cowboys, and it is just hilarious. Not to mention that some of the characters do have some good qualities to them. The problem I have with this film, though, is that Rango is a little too Johnny Depp-style quirky for my taste, and there is that predictable subplot about Rango telling everyone he's a big-shot, but he's really not. Luckily, they don't really focus on that aspect here. But with the animation and other characters, it's so far the best Western animated film of all times!
2. Kung Fu Panda 2: We all knew how awesome the first Kung Fu Panda was, but DreamWorks have probably outdone themselves with the sequel. Kung Fu Panda 2 offers an amazing story about the threat of the end of kung fu with the invention of the cannon, and the origins of Po. They explained it in a way that's not only epic and funny, but it also has a good amount of dark in it. Also, I love what they did with the characters. We can still recognize them, but as the movie progresses, we discover a new side to some of them. Same goes to the new ones, like Lord Shen, who is, in my eyes, the best DreamWorks villain yet! But the best aspect in this is the animation. We all know that there's a lot of creative kung fu scenes in here, but they also incorporated 2D animation to show Po's flashbacks and some Chinese shadow puppetry in the beginning of the movie. Heck, this movie is so good that I put it on my Top 10 Best Animated Sequels as high as the Number Two spot! Which is actually a really big coincidence, now that I think about it. Anyways, the only flaw there is in this, though, is that there are a few moments where it's exactly like in the first movie, like Po meeting legendary kung fu masters, for example. For a while, I thought there is no way any other film can top that, until I saw the Number One Best Animated Film of 2011, which is...
1. The Adventures of Tintin: There's great, there's amazing, and then there's Tintin! Made by two of Hollywood's greatest filmmakers, The Adventures of Tintin has a solving-the-mystery plot that brings you in once it starts, the greatest motion-capture animation I have ever seen, and unforgettable characters. Also, it has some of the most intense action scenes that I've seen all year, even more than Kung Fu Panda 2, both in quantity and settings, from a pirate battle to a motorcycle chase scene in Morocco. I remember reading some of the Herge comics when I was a kid, and from what I remember, it seems to be really faithful to the comics. In fact, the character designs seem to match perfectly to the original designs while making them look like a real person! Also, sometimes the animation is so good that I thought the movie was in live action, something that I've never experienced in an animated film before! The only bad things about it is that the plot may seem to resemble too much like Indiana Jones, and some of the humor may be hit-and-miss. But that's just considered nitpicking just talking about it. I don't know what else to say other than "Go watch it while you still can!" It's a film that no movie fan of any kind should miss!
Now before we move onto the Worst List, I'd like to have an honorable mention:
The Lion King in 3D: During the time when it was out on October, I always knew in the back of my head that this is just a marketing plan to sell more of their Blu-rays than the movie. And personally, I'm not a big fan of 3D. I always thought that they should stay in theme park rides. But I didn't care about that. All I cared about is that The Lion King is back in theaters and as an animation fan, how can I not miss it? And also, yes, I got the Blu-ray for by birthday. Anyways, back to the movie. Well, what can I say that hasn't been said? It's an animated classic! The story is fantastic, the animation is one of Disney's hand-drawn greatest, the characters are so lovable and strong, and the songs are unforgettable. Heck, if it weren't for the fact that it was released in 1994, I would have definitely put it onto the Top 5 List! As for the 3D, well...it's surprisingly effective. We can really see the depth of the scenes in the movie. The ones that really work are during the musical numbers like "Circle of Life" and "Be Prepared." Apparently, the movie did so well during its release that now there's going to be more classic Disney animated films turning to 3D on the way like Beauty and the Beast, which, by the time you're watching this, is already out or it's been done, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and The Little Mermaid'. I'm really glad that I saw this, and I can't wait to see more!
5. Gnomeo and Juliet: I just want to let you guys know that this isn't really a bad film. If you want to watch it, you can give it a try, it wouldn't hurt, but it's just that comparing to films like Rio and Winnie the Pooh, it seems a little subpar. The biggest flaw I find is that there's nothing really original about this film, and because of it, it doesn't feel fresh. Okay, yes, there are garden gnomes, but they use them like in Toy Story like when humans would come, they would become inanimate. Yes, it's a Romeo and Juliet adaption, but it's explained in a way that it's too simple. Yes, the soundtrack is good, but that's because it's nothing but Elton John songs that has nothing to do with the movie! And being an executive producer doesn't count. But, like I said, it's not really bad. There are some good qualities to this film, like the animation is nice, sometimes it can be clever, and the main characters are enjoyable and witty. The rest, however, like rest of the other characters, the humor, and more are mostly a hit-and-miss. Again, it's not terrible, but it doesn't offer as much comparing to others.
4. Cars 2: It's really sad that this is first time I'm making a countdown video like this, and Pixar ends up being on the worst list. The problems with Cars 2 are that the story is nothing but a very generic spy story that we have heard of plenty of times. But now it's starring everyone's "favorite" tow truck, Mater. And also, there are characters that are way too undedeveloped. They don't give us time to know the new ones a little more or know something new about the old ones, they just turn out to be mostly, one-dimensional. But the biggest flaw it has is the target audience: kids, and kids only. Normally, that wouldn't be a big problem if it were someone like Blue Sky, and this movie does have a special place in John Lasseter's heart. But come on! This is Pixar! The most acclaimed animation studio in the world! You can't go directly from this, (footage from Toy Story 3 is shown) to this! (footage cuts back to Cars 2). But, on the other hand, at least the animation does look great. Like I said, this is Pixar. Comparing to the first film, well...if you like the first one, then you'll like this too, But personally, I find that there isn't as much of the charm and heartwarming moments from the original. As a film by itself, it's a kid's movie that's meh. But as a Pixar film, it's a huge disappointment.
3. Happy Feet Two: I was hoping for this film to be like an improved version of the original with even more spectacular dance scenes. This is not what happened. Not only that they took out the dancing scenes, which is what makes the first one good, but they also gave us a plot that they took from other animated films, even from the first Happy Feet, and make it less interesting! They also turned the characters into a group of generics, adding in even more generic characters, and bombarding us with filler that has no point to the story and often times would go unfinished! The biggest example of that is the one with the two sexually-confused krill that take almost half of the movie! It's either they are a horribly-failed attempt to make the next Scrat from Ice Age, or the writers are just too tired of writing about Mumble the worrying dad and the three kids. The only thing that's good about it is the animation. Sometimes, it can look really nice and it can take us for a ride, but without those dancing scenes, it's just...what's the point? It pretty much results to the most disappointing animated film of 2011.
2. Mars Needs Moms: What was, at one point, the demise of Imagemovers Digital, now apparently resurrected by Robert Zemekis and Universal, Mars Needs Moms is like Tintin, but done horribly wrong. First off, there's a story that's far too short to stretch into a 90-minute film and would reuse plot elements up to the point it would get really repetitive. Also, they would often try to really force an emotion out, making some scenes too dark than it's supposed to. They even have characters that don't have time to know them thus making them one-dimension by either being a major jerk, or a major idiot, and then... there's the animation. Where do I begin with this? I will say the background animation is nice, but the character design... Oh my dude, the character design. The Martians would've looked good, if
1. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil What is this? Seriously, what is this? There was a time... when Hoodwinked... was good! Or at least bearable to watch, but this...everything just went terribly wrong! The story, (if you can call it that) is a bad buddy cop film plagued with bad pop culture references and running gags that aren't funny the first time! The animation is an improvement over the first film, but all they did was replace a PS1 engine with a PS2 engine. But what they did to the characters is possibly unforgiving. Remember the characters when they were smart and funny? HOPE YOU SAID GOODBYE TO THEM BECAUSE THAT'S LONG GONE! Some are either reduced to only do a running gag or a pop culture reference, or horribly butchered down to something stupid that's just painful to watch. As for the characters, SAME THING! But either as... or even more stupid! As of now, months after watching this, I still can't look at the film without remembering the pain & anger it gave me while watching. Even the first one, which I really liked by the way, I'm having trouble seeing that too! I love being an animation reviewer, but sometimes crap like this comes in to remind me that it's not as glamorous as it sounds.