New animated films big at box office

Posted May 3, 2013


Animation refers to the recording of any image that goes through changes over time to portray the illusion of motion.

Animation has certainly come a long way since its debut in the early 1900s, as the techniques and technology used by animators to bring characters and stories to life are constantly improving. There are currently three primary types of animation; traditional, stop-motion, and computer, with computer-animation taking a prominent lead, most notably in the sphere of cinema.

“The Croods”

“The Croods”

With the likes of “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “Shrek,” and “Wall-E” raking in millions at the box office, and becoming instant classics with people of all age groups — this rapidly evolving genre has proved to successfully engage viewers and illicit any of the wide array of human emotions, rightfully earning its place among the big guys — most recently by gaining its own dedicated category at the 74th Academy Awards just 11 years ago.

Though computer animation has given new life to virtual characters and magical places, the key to its success, as with any film, is an engaging story. Suspense, humor, and villains are a must. As well as developed characters and impressive cinematography.

Though much more freedom is allotted in post-production in choosing the perspectives that viewers will see, the best animated films tend to imitate traditional camera angles and movements, as to not give away too much or threaten the seamless realism of a great film experience.

The last couple of months have been movie-buff heaven as the holiday season delivered many long-anticipated films. Among the highest rated — three animated pictures, all of which ultimately hit No. 1 at the box offices. With DVD/Blu-Rays for “Rise of the Guardians” and “Wreck it Ralph” just released into the market and only a couple of weeks left in theaters for the newest hit “The Croods”— which film will be claiming your Friday night? If you ask me— make it a movie night for three weeks in a row. Beginning with “The Croods” — in 3D.

“The Croods” is a tale of a teen girl and her natural desire to explore the (pre-historic) world she lives in, and the resulting angst that it causes her father, who wants to keep the family safe in a cave — literally — and warns his children that curiosity and exploration are threats to their survival and should be avoided at all costs.

But when the world around them is falling apart and their only chance to make it out alive is to follow the ‘new,’ the family must venture out of their cave, and discover a new land beyond their horizons. A film by DreamWorks — a giant in the animation industry — the film is visually ambitious, and absolutely stunning.

"Wreck It Ralph"

“Wreck It Ralph”

The imagery is a visual extravaganza in every frame with fluorescent candy-colors and fantastical landscapes as animals and cave-people swoop around majestically.

A must-see in theaters as the first-rate 3-D quality is absolutely necessary to really appreciate the depth and true-to-life scale of their world of wonder. The story itself is full of feel-good laughs and adventure, however, in DreamWorks style, still manages to throw in an educational twist as it develops around the significance of continental drift.

Next on your animated must-see movie marathon — “Wreck it Ralph” — coming in at a very close second. This one, just released on DVD last month,  is a product of the wonderful world of Disney, and as such, is already being considered a serious contender for the title of best animated film of the year. It’s a clever and creative concept about a video-game bad guy who lives in an arcade and sneaks out of his game and into other game universes where he can realize his much-desired heroic destiny.

The characters are very well developed;  each with their own unique and charming personalities. From its opening scene in ‘Bad Anon’ – a support group for digital villains, to its Game Central Station setting (a city populated by hundreds of classic characters traveling from game to game), this is another spectacular world created with the sort of detail and originality that you’ll never want to leave.

The final and perhaps least enchanting of the animated films— “Rise of the Guardians”—was also immensely successful yet, in my opinion, fails to reach the same emotional and aesthetic heights as its competition. “Rise of the Guardians” starts off with the introduction to Jack Frost, who has no recollection of where or why he exists. Meanwhile, the viewer is introduced to the guardians, who are widely recognized holiday figures such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

When the children of the world are threatened by the Boogy Man, Jack Frost is chosen to become a guardian and save the day from fear and evil.  Although “Rise of the Guardians” posses a unique story, it never quite grasps the full attention of the viewer and seems to fall short of what DreamWorks was aiming for. With lots of adventure and intricate battle scenes, the action is spectacular but tends to become repetitive. Intended to be a story of self-discovery, much like “Wreck-it-Ralph,” the characters want to inspire but seem to fall short due to eclectic visual designs and personalities.

The characters, though familiar, seem obscure and somewhat foreign, mostly due to voice actors that fail to fully convey their characters’ persona. However, though the plot development isn’t quite as polished as the other animated examples, “Rise of the Guardians” is nevertheless visually stunning and worth watching.

  • The Croods
  • In theaters until May 24
  • DreamWorks
  • 98 minutes
  • Wreck it Ralph
  • Now Available in DVD/Blu-ray
  • Disney
  • 120 minutes
  • Rise of the Guardians
  • Available in DVD/Blu-ray
  • DreamWorks
  • 97 minutes