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Here's the animation section where you can read reviews of all sorts of animated films.

Alice In Wonderland (1951)

 

With the voices of: Kathryn Beaumont, Sterling Holloway, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn

When this animated Disney gem came out, it was a bit sidelined by Cinderella and Peter Pan, which both came out pretty much around that time. But, for me, Alice in Wonderland is much better than both of them. Alice is a little spoilt and curious, one day, she sees a white rabbit walking by and saying that he’s late. Obviously, she follows him but falls upon a strange, psychedelic and surreal wonderland in which nonsense and utter madness reign. There, still following the rabbit, she meets colourful and unhinged characters. The Cheshire cat, for example, is a hilarious creation: he appears and disappears randomly, he comes up with the most random questions and answers thinkable, he sings, he’s cheeky and brings poor Alice into more and more trouble. The Queen, who keeps screaming “off with your head!!!” constantly, is completely insane and very funny. Arguably though, it’s The Mad Hatter (not the Batman villain) who steals the show: with his pal The March Heir, they invite Alice to an UN-birthday tea party but it soon become clear that they’re both raving lunatics who make no sense whatsoever. The film contains an amazing score and some beautiful songs as well as some visually impressive animation and colours. For me, it’s definitely the most imaginative Disney film ever made and one of the funniest. That film may be old but it’s still pretty hilarious and is entertaining from start to finish. It’s not only extremely funny but its also moving and creepy at times (the Walrus and the Carpenter). The very end may be a bit sudden but when an animated film is this good, it doesn’t matter at all. Alice in Wonderland is definitely the best adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s children’s book to date and is, without a doubt, one of Cablo Gula’s favourite animated films ever. An underrated animated masterpiece.

 

Overall: *****/5   

The Little Mermaid (1989)

With the voices of: Jody Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Samuel E. Wright

This enchanting animated gem from Disney can be seen as the young girls’ Aladdin. Both films strangely seem to have the same basic structure, and they’re both brilliant. The Little Mermaid follows 16 year-old red-headed mermaid Ariel: she’s headstrong and dreams of one day going to the surface to live in the world of humans, who are seen as "barbarians" by Triton, the king of the mermen’s and Ariel’s father. When she saves a man, Prince Eric, from drowning, she instantly falls in love with him and when Triton learns about this, he obviously goes nuts! Ursula, the sea-witch (an evil glamorous octopus), learns this and finds it is the perfect opportunity to make a deal with Ariel and manipulate her in order to get to Triton. Ursula gives her legs in exchange for her voice and tells her that if she doesn’t get the kiss of true love from Eric in 3 days, she will remain a mermaid and belong to her forever! What a screwy plan, huh? Anyway, Ariel accepts and she becomes human. Then, with the help of her friends: Jamaican composer crab Sebastian, loveable plump fish Flounder and a goofy seagull, she’s going to try and kiss her Prince before the end of the 3rd day. The whole thing contains some excellent, unforgettable songs: Under The Sea, Part of Your World and Kiss the Girl. Even though visually it’s not quite as stunning as, say, Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin, it’s still brilliantly animated and charming. Ursula is definitely one of the best Disney villains ever: a sort of mix between Cruella Devil and Jafar, and she can be quite terrifying and creepy. Sebastian steals the show and Ariel is arguably the prettiest female Disney character there was. It takes a man to admit he really likes The Little Mermaid…ok fine…I admit it.

Overall: ****1/2 /5

           Beauty and the Beast (1991)

 

With the voices of: Robby Benson, Paige O'Hara, Richard White, Jerry Orbach

        

This is the famous story of a handsome Prince who, because he rejected an old woman who asked for shelter in exchange for a single rose, is turned into a horrible beast: he can only become human when he falls in love with someone who loves him back. But if he fails to do that before the last petal of the enchanted rose falls, he will remain a beast for eternity alone in his gloomy castle. Beautiful Belle lives in a little French Provencal village and longs for adventures etc…When her father, an eccentric inventor, gets lost in the woods and stumbles upon the Beast’s castle, where he hoped to find refuge, he is captured and locked in the donjon by the Beast. Belle goes to the castle in order to find him and when she does, she agrees to take her father’s place and stay in the castle forever. This animated Disney film was surprisingly nominated for a Best Picture Oscar: a first for an animated film. Even today, the film looks awesome: the animation is great and the twisting and twirling “camera” works perfectly. The songs are good, especially “Be Our Guest” (an Oscar-winning song actually) even though they aren’t all memorable. It is one of Disney’s last truly magical film (Aladdin being the last one) and contains some of the imaginative greatness that was in Alice in Wonderland, for example. The talking furniture is very inventive and Lumiere, the chandelier, is great fun. Gaston, a  pretentious and obnoxious tough guy who wants to marry Belle no matter what, is an energetic villain but isn’t quite as evil as Jafar (Aladdin),  (Lion King) or Ursula (Little Mermaid) for example, who are all quite scary. The message the film lets through has been used countless times: beauty is on the inside. But it’s all done so well, that’s not a problem. Overall, it’s magical, visually stunning and very enjoyable. It may not be quite as inspired as Aladdin or The Lion King, but it’s still one of Disney’s very best.

 

Overall: ****1/2 /5

 

Aladdin (1992)

 

With the voices of: Robin Williams,  Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman

 

With this animated masterpiece, Disney took on the 1001 Nights’ Tales and adapted the famous story of Aladdin. Aladdin is a young and poor thief who “lives” in the Arabian town of Agrabah with his loyal cheeky little monkey Abu. One day, he meets a beautiful girl unaware that she’s Princess Jasmine, daughter of the Sultan, who was running away from home. Meanwhile, the evil scheming vizir Jafar (and his cranky parrot Iago), who managed to open an enormous secret cave containing a treasure and a lamp, learns that Aladdin is the only one who can get into the cave. In disguise, Jafar lures Aladdin to the cave and tells him that he’ll reward him with riches if he goes inside and brings him the lamp. Inside the cave, Abu touches something he shouldn’t have and there’s a cave-in. Jafar is left fuming as Aladdin, Abu, a magic carpet, and the lamp are left stuck inside the cave. You know the rest: Aladdin rubs the lamp, an exuberant blue genie flows out and explains that he can grant him 3 wishes. The genie is a hilarious creation voiced by an excellent Robin Williams on top form. The film is visually stunning: the action sequences are incredibly thrilling and nail-biting thanks to some computer animated backgrounds and some perfect animation. As for the songs, what can I say? Every song is toe-tappingly good and memorable, from the beautifully dark “Arabian Nights” song at the beginning (which still gives me goose bumps) to the Oscar-winning “I Can Show You The World” and the grandiose “Prince Ali”. Jafar is one of the best Disney villains and is equally spooky and funny. Some scenes in Aladdin are just beautifully imaginative and magical. It has to be said that the whole thing is also very funny: the genie provides some hilarious one-liners and is the source of most of the laughs, but so is Iago the grumpy parrot who always complains. Overall, it’s one of Disney’s best animated films (certainly the most entertaining Disney film) and is Cablo Gula’s personal favourite. Just brilliant.

 

Overall: *****/5

 

Antz (1998)

 

With the voices of: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Danny Glover

 

 

Some years ago, there was a CGI animation battle: Antz versus A Bug’s Life. For some reason, A Bug’s Life was a bigger success, sure it had a good villain voiced by Kevin Spacey but when compared to Antz, it’s simply a vastly inferior film, in every way. I guess Antz is probably more appealing to teenagers and adults whereas A Bug’s Life is basically kiddy stuff. Woody Allen does the voice of Zee, a worker ant which we first see talking to its “shrink” about how he is having trouble fitting in with that whole Communist-ish way of life. One night, at a bar, he meets … (Stone), not knowing she is none other than the Princess of the colony (out for a rare evening of dancing) and he falls head-over-heels in love with her. Trouble is, he’s just a worker and it’s not very likely he will ever see her again. So, he switches places with his strong soldier friend (Stallone) in order to get a chance to talk to her or at least see her again during the army parade. Little does he know that the army is in fact going off to war in a suicide mission against the superior and considerably larger termites. So poor Zee finds himself on the battlefield in what is probably one of the darkest scenes I’ve seen in an animated film. Miraculously, he is the only survivor and comes back a hero. Meanwhile, the shady General (Hackman) is planning to flood the entire colony and kill the queen in the process. After a misunderstanding, Zee soon finds himself kidnapping the Princess and going through the garbage chute to land on the outside world where a mythical utopia is believed to exist: Insectopia. But is there really such a thing or where these simply the ravings of a drunk lunatic? Antz is animated to perfection and has a very very cool voice cast. Woody Allen is at his best and funniest and the few references to Manhattan are obviously a delight for older viewers and Allen fans. This is most definitely not A Bug’s Life, don’t expect blue plastic-looking goody-goody insects or friendly love bugs, instead, brace yourself for an epic war between ants and termites and, of course, some neurotic ants. Antz is also, it must be said, very funny, thanks to the excellent script and the spotless interpretations from the voice cast. Overall, Antz is an adult-friendly, impressive creation: the animation is terrific, the story is gripping, the whole thing is witty, clever, and great fun. An underrated CGI animated masterpiece.

 

Overall: *****/5 

 

 
Finding Nemo (2003)
 
With the voices of: Albert Brooks, Helen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe                                

Martin is a clownfish who has been overly protective of his young son Nemo ever since his wife and unborn children were killed (in other words: eaten). One day, Nemo is carelessly captured by a human diver. Martin is devastated but he is determined to find his son. With the help of extremely forgetful fish Dory, he will have to make his way across the ocean in order to...well...find Nemo! A visually stunning film, you can actually feel the waves (well almost)! It is also very funny and is a triumph for Pixar and 3D Animation. Cablo Gula's heart belongs, however, to Spirited Away whose imagination surpasses Finding Nemos. Overall, this is an excellent film that everyone will enjoy, especially kids!
 
Overall: ****/5
 

The Incredibles (2004)

 

With the voices of: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee and Brad Bird

 

Directed by Brad Bird, who has been part of “The Simpsons” team for years, The Incredibles is the brand new animation from Pixar, who brought us the Toy Story films and, more recently, Finding Nemo. This time, we leave the enchanting underwater world of Nemo for the kick-ass world of superheroes. After all superheroes have been put out of business,  forced to have normal lives and contain their powers, Mr Incredible, a superhero with extreme strength hangs his super-suit forever and settles down with his very flexible wife Helen (aka Elastigirl). They have 3 kids with powers of their own (speed, invisibility), they live in the suburbs as a normal family and Bob (Mr Incredible) goes to work at a dead-end job. When Bob receives a mysterious call for help and he is sent to remote island to take care of some destructive machines, their new lives are about to change dramatically. These days it seems that every year Dreamworks and Pixar battle for the best animated film of the year.The Incredibles may not be as funny as Shrek 2 but it’s just as impressive and entertaining. The first half of the film ressembles a sitcom as we see the super-family trying to “fit in” and after that there are some truly breathtaking action scenes. The whole thing is also very funny thanks to Brad Bird’s “Simpsons” humour we all know and love. The only problems the film has are the fact that there are no “new” super powers and some cool (wink wink) characters are unfortunately sidelined. Having said that, The Incredibles is great from beginning till end and is fun for all the family.

 

Overall: ****/5

 The Polar Express (2004)

With the voices of: Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks

 Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, The Frighteners), this is a Christmas film animated in a CGI-Gollum style and stars Tom Hanks in about 6 different roles! This is the story of a young boy who doubts of Santa's existence on Christmas Eve and is woken up by a huge steam train which has to bring him along with a bunch of other confused kids to the North Pole. The film starts off brilliantly, the first scenes look mind-blowingly real and stylish, the train ride is very exciting and fun and there are some excellent moments such as the Forrest Gump-like flying ticket scene. Unfortunately, when the train stops, so does the action and consequently, it all gets very schmaltzy and syrupy when they all get to the North Pole (as well as predictable). The kids and just about all the other characters look creepy but the animation is still very impressive nevertheless. Great for kids, maybe not for adults.

Overall: ***/5

Team America: World Police (2005)

 

With the voices of: Trey Parker and Matt Stone

 

 

From the makers of South Park comes a political spoof with puppets. Team America is a counter-terrorism unit sent to sent to keep the world safe. But there’s a problem: they suck! In the movie we see them destroying the Eiffel Tower and The Pyramids by mistake! When one of their teammates dies during a mission in Paris they search for a replacement to help them bring down the still-at-large terrorists. With the help of Broadway actor Gary Johnsson’s acting skills ( obviously a Tom Cruise caricature) they will try to stop the evil Korean dictator in his plots for world-domination. Predictably the whole thing is very rude, very dumb and, at times, very funny. As a Top Gun/ Thunderbirds spoof it works very well and there are even some good Matrix spoof scenes. The songs are all great especially “The Montage” one and the “Pearl Harbor Sucked” one. Sadly, as a political satire, it doesn’t work, even though there are some funny jokes from time to time. The Korean dictator (who suspiciously sounds like Cartman) is nowhere near as funny as Saddam in the South Park Movie and there’s a strong lack of George W. Bush whom we don’t even see at all. What we do see a lot of, however, are celebrities (with voices imitated “badly”) but there are too many targets and consequently the only funny and original ones are Matt Damon and Michael Moore. It’s definitely not as funny or as good as South Park or Baseketball but it’s nevertheless very funny at times. I would recommend you to wait to see it on DVD because seeing puppets on a bit screen feels a bit dumb! Overall, it’s probably the dumbest film of 2004 and sadly, not the funniest but still good fun.

 

Overall: ***/5  

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