Through moving illustrations and computer-generated images, animators create movie magic that stirs the heart and soul. Animation surpasses the limits of live action film and offers an integral function in galvanizing a child’s imagination. Here are some of the most creative and innovative animated movies of recent memory.
A tale of anthropomorphic automotives, Pixar’s “Cars” tells the story of rookie racer Lightning McQueen and his efforts to travel to California to win a tiebreaker race. When McQueen takes an unintentional detour into the antiquated town of Radiator Springs, his chance to win the gold cup seems to have disappeared in a puff of exhaust fumes. Fortunately for the determined race car, he meets an eclectic crew of vehicles to help him arrive at his destination. The film is an animated love letter to cars and features animated equivalents to the Plymouth Superbird, Hudson Hornet and Porsche 911 Carrera among others. The race cars of the Piston Cup are all equipped with new Goodyear tires, or “Lightyear” tires as they’re called in the film.
Centuries into the future, Earth has been transformed into a planetary landfill. Robots, like WALL-E, are left to sort out the worldwide mess, while humanity becomes morbidly obese after flocking to space. WALL-E is soon joined by EVE who is searching for sparse signs of vegetation, and a story of robotic romance ensues. For two lead mechanical characters that communicate wordlessly, they are both astonishingly relatable and human-like. This animated film is no mere children’s movie, but an undeniable science-fiction masterpiece displaying the dangers of rampant consumerism, over reliance on technology and environmental apathy.
Everyone’s favorite Scottish ogre challenged animation powerhouse Disney with the release of “Shrek” in 2001. When Shrek’s swamp home is overrun by fairytale creatures, the not-so-jolly green giant and a garrulous donkey must stop the lord who is responsible for their displacement. The film successfully parodies fairy tale classics, and places Shrek in the unlikely shoes of a charming hero archetype to save the beautiful princess—who coincidentally plans to marry the villainous lord.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson brilliantly adapts Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book into a stop-motion spectacle. Unable to control his larcenous nature, the dashing Mr. Fox brews up a plan to rob the nefarious farming trio of Boggis, Bunce and Bean which places his fellow animal kingdom in peril. The comic caper features impressive animation, an A-list cast of voice actors and is steeped in Anderson’s characteristic charm and quirkiness.
“Toy Story” is the film that launched CGI-animated movies and placed Pixar firmly on the map. You should know the story by now: a group of toys inconspicuously live out their lives under their child owner Andy’s nose. Cowboy Woody’s status as “number one toy” is threatened when space-age action figure, Buzz Lightyear, arrives at Andy’s birthday. When a sadistic toy torturing neighbor jeopardizes Andy’s toys, Buzz and Woody must overcome their rivalry and live to be played another day.
This guest post was written by Tiffany Smith.
Tiffany is a writer, editor and artist from San Franscisco.