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Animation

Wreck-It Ralph Review

Wreck-It Ralph Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Though Disney owns Pixar, the two animation studios work autonomously, and the latter has simply dominated the former over the last decade or so. Wreck-It Ralph—Disney’s latest—represents a giant, candy-colored momentum swing back toward Mickey Mouse and company. Disney still isn’t winning the battle; Pixar’s track record is just too strong. But […]

ParaNorman Review

ParaNorman Review

RATING: (3 STARS) In what’s looking like a banner year for animated films, ParaNorman is without question the sweetest we’ve seen so far. The film’s acceptance themes are anything but subtle, but its story is clever, its animation is crisp, and its characters are really charming. A double feature with Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie would make […]

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Review

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Review

RATING: (3 STARS) You don’t need to be an anime connoisseur to appreciate Mamoru Hosoda’s 2006 film Toki o kakeru shôjo (or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). Driven by a dense but consistently intriguing narrative, the film—like many other time-travel tales—touches on issues related to fate vs. free will and selfishness vs. sacrifice. Is […]

Brave Review

Brave Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Good-natured and well-crafted, Brave is everything a family film should be. Unfortunately, Pixar’s nearly flawless track record has saddled its twelfth feature film with expectations it’s unable to live up to. Its rich, character-filled animation and big heart unfortunately don’t distract enough from the film’s over-reliance on broad comedy, nor its disappointingly […]

Kung Fu Panda 2 Review

Kung Fu Panda 2 Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Kung Fu Panda 2, like so many other animated sequels (and sequels in general, really), is brought down by questions about its necessity. When money is the only compelling reason to make a film, it seems anathema to come up with a concept that doesn’t feel somewhat unworthy. It’s what plagued Cars […]

Cars 2 Review

Cars 2 Review

RATING: (2 STARS) I know I’m not the first disappointed reviewer to make this statement, but I have no choice: With Cars 2, Pixar has finally made a stinker. I take no joy out of writing these words. I, like many, counted on the beloved animation studio to churn out an exceptional film every year. […]

Winnie the Pooh Review

Winnie the Pooh Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Winnie the Pooh is a delightful trip down memory lane. It’s brief (running only an hour) and it goes down very smoothly, despite being geared squarely toward children and not doing anything out of the ordinary. The film reminds you that not every adventure needs to be outrageous and fantastical. Sometimes, all […]

TOP 10: Non-Pixar Animated Films of the Decade

TOP 10: Non-Pixar Animated Films of the Decade

I finally caught up with Rango this weekend and thought it was swell—a really funny, engaging family movie and a successful throwback to the westerns of old. I started thinking where it would rank on my list of favorite animated films in recent memory and realized that list has been totally monopolized by Pixar. So […]

Rango Review

Rango Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) The best comparison I can come up with for Gore Verbinski’s Rango is last year’s Kick-Ass. While the two share little in common thematically, they both succeed on multiple fronts. They are great genre films—Rango, a western; Kick-Ass, a superhero movie—while simultaneously sending up that same genre. Fans of westerns will love […]

The Illusionist (2010) Review

The Illusionist (2010) Review

RATING: (3 STARS) The Illusionist is an odd little film that doesn’t do much but is charming enough to get away with it. The film is Sylvain Chomet’s follow-up to The Triplets of Bellville, and anyone who’s remotely familiar with that film won’t be surprised to hear that this features some unique animation. Even more […]

Tangled Review

Tangled Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Tangled, like The Princess and the Frog in 2009, is a send-back to the Disney animation of old. It looks modern, but it has films like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King at its heart. It’s not as good as those films—few animated movies are—but it’s a worthwhile adventure. It might […]

How to Train Your Dragon Review

How to Train Your Dragon Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) For the most part, I find Dreamworks animation quite underwhelming. Maybe the tendency to compare their films to Pixar’s far-superior efforts clouds my objectivity, but other than the first Shrek and, to a lesser extent, Kung Fu Panda, I can’t even say I enjoy their films. It’s hard to say whether How […]

The Princess and the Frog Review

The Princess and the Frog Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) I’m not sure how this delightful film slipped through the cracks until now, but The Princess and the Frog (like Fantastic Mr. Fox the same year) is proof that Pixar isn’t the only studio that can turn out high-quality animated films that work for both children and adults (granted this is a […]

9 Review

9 Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) 9, not to be confused with Nine, the Rob Marshall musical which also came out in 2009, is another in a long line of post-apocalyptic films from the past few years. Two things separate it from films like Children of Men, The Road, and The Book of Eli. The first is obvious—9 […]

Up Review

Up Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Up is without a doubt one of Pixar’s best films. The film’s first scene is one of the most sublime cinematic moments I’ve ever experienced. And while the rest of the film doesn’t quite measure up to that level of greatness, it’s still a rousing adventure, complete with all the humor and […]

Despicable Me Review

Despicable Me Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Despicable Me is what I would consider a great animated film—if only Pixar didn’t exist. It’s fun and heartwarming, but the Pixar magic isn’t quite there. The arc is completely predictable, and the laughs are fewer and far between than any Pixar film. I think the bar for animation has been set […]

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