Thoughts on Animated Movies

My relationship with animated movies has been fairly odd over the years, and it was only recently that I started sorting out my feelings toward the genre. I watched a lot of movies as a kid, but I remember early on thinking that animated movies were childish. I don’t think this was helped by my parents dislike for them; my mom enjoys horror movies and thrillers, while my dad rarely watches whole movies, so to them a lot of the animated movies I watched as a kid seemed obnoxious and shallow. They both share a dislike of musicals as well, which they were largely successful in passing down to me (La La Land is about my only exception), leading me to stay away from a lot of animated Disney musicals. In the end, I had a bias against animated movies, which I gradually realized and have since overcome. So now I want to talk about some of my favorites, point out what makes them such great works of art, and reveal why the animated genre is a lot more complex than it seems.

CoralineThe movie that made me first question my relationship with animated movies was Coraline. It’s a stop motion animated horror movie released in 2009 that is way too scary for children, contrary to the intended audience of the film. It has somewhat of an infamous reputation for scaring children to death and being overly creepy and disturbing, which is what originally piqued my interest. While I was watching it, I was stunned by how imaginative and off putting it was; it seriously brought some of my nightmares and fears to life. I don’t want to get into the weeds about the plot, so I’ll just say that the feeling of “not everything is what it seems” is so strong and heavily conveyed through every aspect of the movie that it’s almost scary in itself. The art style perfectly complements the disturbing atmosphere of Coraline’s world, and the story is a great blend of subtle messages and morals. Overall, it really opened my eyes to the imaginative possibilities of animation, outside of traditional princes and princesses that are so common in the genre, while also displaying the morals that define a lot of animated movies aimed at children.

 

Image result for treasure planet

Another one of my favorite animated movies is Treasure Planet, which I used to watch over and over again as a child. A year or two ago I remembered the movie and had the strongest urge to re-watch it; there was something so memorable and captivating about it’s story and style. While watching it, I realized that nothing had changed: the characters are incredible, the story is great (it’s based on Treasure Island), and the entire world that it’s set in is fantastical and endless. The character development alone is one of the best examples of writing that I have ever seen; nobody is truly good or evil, unlike most heroes and villains in other children’s movies, and each character is fully fleshed out and absolutely amazing. I also think the science fiction element of the movie draws me in too, featuring portals and literal “space ships” with pirates and cyborgs that make the entire world fascinating. I would have to say that this is my all-time favorite animated movie for those reasons, along with how well it holds up to the test of time. Although the actual art style isn’t as impressive or as unique as Coraline, and the atmosphere isn’t as defined, it perfectly encapsulates the appeal of animated movies beyond the audience of children. It is an all around work of art, and a testament to the unique power of animated movies to create incredible worlds and meaningful stories.

Reconciling Nostalgia and Change

There has been a lot of upset in popular culture recently due to drastic changes in media that a lot of people are nostalgic about. Currently the millennial generation is starting to experience this, specifically referring to the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Spongebob Squarepants movie, Scooby Doo movie, and Pokemon games. Personally having been born in 2000, I grew up with these characters and franchises and they found a unique place in my heart and childhood. As time has gone on I’ve grown out of those interests, but I can still appreciate them for their quality and the importance they had on influencing me as a person. Even now I will testify that the first 4 generations of Pokemon games are timeless, and that the classic Scooby Doo movies are iconic due to their quality animation and plots. However, growing up means moving on, and as a result I haven’t kept up to date with a majority of the developments in those franchises. My attitude is simply this: I enjoyed them when I was young, and now it’s the younger generation’s turn to enjoy them, and I can’t blame the companies that have to change to fit this new demographic. However, I’ve recently given this change a lot of thought, and have come to a few conclusion about what it means for my nostalgia.

1st gen pokemon starters
1st Generation Pokemon
8th Generation Pokemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new 8th generation Pokemon games that came out earlier this month are especially interesting to me in exploring this question of reconciling change and nostalgia. Before it was released, it was announced that there would be no more National Pokedex, a staple in all of the previous games that allowed you to “catch them all”, the slogan of the entire franchise. The reason for its removal: they didn’t want to make models for all of the Pokemon. Obviously fans were disappointed and rightfully upset; like me, they had grown up playing these games and were used to this important feature of the game. Personally, I haven’t even played a Pokemon game since the 4th generation, and I’ve been a critic of the direction of the series for awhile.

Usually I criticize the declining creativity in creating new Pokemon; they have worse names, concepts, designs, and generally look more and more cartoonish and childish. People might rebuke me and argue that the original Pokemon were even less creative, specifically noting Rattata, a Pokemon that is essentially just a rat. However, I’m quick to point out that at least those designs were consistent and developed a believable and interesting world; compare the 1st generation Pokemon to the 8th generation Pokemon and you wouldn’t recognize them as both being from the same game. The reason for this is obvious to me, and it is simply that the series has aimed to cater to younger and younger children, not to the original fans like me who have grown out of playing the games. This trend is apparent in almost every other franchise that I remember from my childhood. I’ve come to the conclusion that change is inevitable, but I still don’t agree with how these companies tamper with my nostalgia. I wish the new media didn’t reflect so poorly on the franchises as a whole; it’s frankly embarrassing that something I hold in such high nostalgic regard is now ridiculous and childish. All I can really do is ignore the changes and focus on the original art that I fell in love with.

I think a lot of people from any generation can relate to these feelings; almost all franchises that endure undergo changes that break away from the original. A great example of this is the Star Wars movie franchise, which has been added on to drastically, more than 30 years after the original movies came out. It is not uncommon for those who saw the originals when they were young to be nostalgic for them and resent the new direction of the franchise. Many people boycott the new movies, or become harsh critics of them in a way that can ruin it for the younger generation that the new movies are targeted at. Personally, I think it’s unfair that those nostalgic people try to ruin it for everyone else, and that’s why I try to stay out of the debates over my favorite franchises changing. In the end, I’m just happy that I got to experience the golden age of entertainment in my childhood, and I’ll always appreciate the originals and my memories of them.

Endgame

On April 26th the last movie of the Avengers franchise will be released.  This movie has been highly anticipated since the shocking end to the last Avengers movie, and fans cannot wait to see who will be left standing at the end of Avengers: Endgame.

While this is the last Avengers movie, it is not the last Marvel superhero movie.  There are other Marvel movies already being cued up with everyone’s favorite characters from the Marvel Universe.  One movie that has been talked about for some time now, and that has been confirmed is coming out in 2020 is “Black Widow”.  Black Widow first made her appearance in Avengers and has been in other Marvel movies but has not had a solo film. Fans will be excited to get to know more about her and her backstory.  Another film set to release is the Black Panther sequel. The first film broke many records and was nominated for an oscar for best film. The sequel has been highly anticipated since the release of the first movie.  Two more sequels are also already confirmed to be coming out in the coming years: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and a Doctor Strange Sequel. Both of these movies joined the franchise later and made their first group appearance in the previous Avengers movie.

Not only are there many movies still in the works to continue to build on the Marvel Universe, but there are also TV shows that are being made.  A confirmed show that is being made is “Falcon and Winter Soldier”, as well as “Hawkeye”. These two shows in particular, similar to the Black Widow movie, will be the first solo project for these Avenger members.

While the group movies of the Avengers will be over soon, over the past several years every movie seems to feature at least two or three Avengers.  This means that as the Marvel Universe moves forward we will most likely still see the characters that we have fallen in love with since 2010. While Thor doesn’t have his own movie or TV show, there is a good chance that he will make at least one appearance in at least one of these sequels and Television shows.

Live Action Disney Movies

There has been a new trend over the past couple of years in the Disney movies that have been released.  Live action Disney movies started with the live action Cinderella and are still continuing now. There are three that are being advertised right now: Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King.

The trend started with Cinderella.  The movie was almost an exact replica of the animated version.  They had tweaked a couple of things and made the movie as beautiful as possible.  This movie was beautiful to watch, and gave you the same magic as the animated version.  Beauty and the Beast was similar to Cinderella in the fact that it was very similar to the animated version.  Both movies included the most popular songs and followed the plot very closely.

For some of the movies Disney has changed the formula a little bit.  The live action version of the Jungle Book was very different from the animated version.  In the live action they only include the most popular songs and they add more to the movie to make it more cohesive and have more substance.  The live action Jungle Book improved upon the original animated version of the movie. The movie Maleficent also didn’t just recreate a past movie.  But this is because there was no Maleficent movie before this one. This entire live action movie was based off of Maleficent’s part in Sleeping Beauty.

The new Disney live action movies are coming out throughout the rest of this year.  Based on the trailers for the movies, we cannot tell if they movies will follow the plot lines to a T like they had for Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.  I think that The Lion King and Aladdin will follow the original’s plot very closely but Dumbo might stray from it a little more. Dumbo might not follow the movie exactly because the original is not as popular with children now.  The animated version of Dumbo was also a little darker than most Disney movies are now, so I think that it might have a more happy and positive tone than the original.

2019 Oscars

The beginning of the year is known in Hollywood as the award season.  Where is seems like every week there is a new award show on TV. The most popular being the Emmys, Tony’s, Grammy’s, and the Oscars.  Each of these four popular award shows are based on a different category of entertainment: Television, Broadway, Music, and Movies. There is more than one award show for each category, these are just the most popular and seen as the most prestigious.

The Oscars seems to be the biggest award show out of the four, with movie stars coming from all over just to be at movies biggest night.  The Oscars gives awards for a large variety of categories from movie scores, to costumes, to the more common categories like best actress and actor.  Most people only seem to know about the “bigger” categories because those are the only ones broadcasted on television. Most of the other awards are done beforehand and are not shown.

The Oscars also has awards for different types of films.  There is the biggest award of the night, “Best Feature”, and there are also best animated film, best short, and best documentary just to name some examples.  

Generally the public has not seen the majority of the films nominated for Oscars, but it seems that this has changed a little in recent years.  For example “Black Panther” and “A Star is Born” are both nominated for best picture. “Black Panther” was one of the most successful movies of 2018.  Most people still have not seen the best documentaries or the best shorts nominations. However, the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor is playing all of the Oscar nominated best shorts and best documentaries.  This can give people a chance to go and see them before the Oscars, and it gives the opportunity to see something that most people would not have the chance to see otherwise.