Stevennix2001's Top Ten Under Rated Animated Films
Although I try to like all genres of film equally, I have to admit that a part of me has always enjoyed watching many cartoons over the years. Some ranging from the various styles of Japanese anime to even some America's more simplistic style of today. Heck, I even love some of the more artsy animated films like "Illusionist" and "Triplets of Bellville" quite a great deal. In fact, there's very few animated features that I can recall truly hating, as most of them have always been entertaining on some basic level. Plus, it's hard to really criticize a cartoon film, when most of them aren't made to be taken seriously; hence why I never understood why such internet celebrities like the Nostalgia Critic could bash a film like "Pokemon: The First Movie."
Sure, it's not a great film by any means, and he does have a valid point about how royally hypocritical that the movie preaches anti-violence message; even though the franchise is built around violence itself. However, he also jumps to way too many conclusions about the film, as he even admits to doing to no research on the anime itself. Therefore, he failed to mention that the movie was never geared towards most audiences, and it was only intended for the fans of the anime exclusively; which would explain why some non fans of the anime would perceive there being plot holes in the film, but in reality, many of the plot holes are explained in the actual series.
Another thing I could never understand is why some film critics would bash a movie like Pixar's "Cars" or "Cars 2", on the basis that it's allegedly not logical for a world of vehicles to exist as sentient beings without humans. Fair assessment, but my biggest question is what do you honestly expect from a cartoon? If you're demanding realism from a cartoon, then you might as well condemn all of them when you stop to think about it. After all, if I really wanted to be a pompous jerk, then I could slander a film like "Toy Story 3" simply because it's scientifically impossible for a toy to function as a sentient being. Plus, how can the world of "Kung Fu Panda" exist? If you're going to slander "Cars 2" off the basis that it's not realistically feasible, then you might as well say that "Kung Fu Panda 2" is a giant piece of s*** too. After all, animals can't talk, and lack thumbs, so how can Po's duck of a father cook noodles? Hmm...? Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here is that it's hard to slander a cartoon movie, as many of them aren't designed to be taken seriously; which is why it's extremely rare that I'll ever find myself resenting an animated movie. Sure, I might find some that are mediocre, but I'll still somehow find at least SOMETHING to like about it nonetheless.
Anyway, I've taken it upon myself to construct my top ten under rated animated movies of all time. Take in mind, this is NOT my all time favorite animated movie list, as not all these films would make the cut. However, this is a list of some of my favorite animated movies that rarely ever get mentioned these days. Therefore, I hope you all enjoy reading, as I count down my top ten under rated animated movies of all time.
10. Prince of Egypt
Although this film did receive quite a bit of hype upon it's initial release, it seems it's rarely ever mentioned these days if at all. Hell, most of today's children probably don't even know it exist, due to it's lack of current exposure. I think in a lot of ways it's because it preaches a pro religious message; which puts off a lot of people. Ever since George W. Bush administration, people seemed to have formed various stereotypes around people that are religious to the point that it's become very controversially perverse to even mention it in today's society. Not saying this wasn't the case before, but it seems like it to me upon various observations.
Plus, from my time observing people on hubpages forums, I can definitely see that religion has become a bit of a controversial topic to even discuss; let alone in movies. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me that this film gets over looked in recent days. However, if you were to judge this film purely on it's own merit, then many would come to realize that it's not that bad of a story at all. If anything, I would argue this is arguably one of the deepest animated stories ever told that was aimed for families and kids. Unlike most kid and family animated features, this movie doesn't feel the need to talk down to it's audience.
No, this one focuses on telling a coherent, yet believable story. A story that focuses on the internal conflicts of the characters like Moses being forced to rebel against his brother Ramuses, in order to free the slaves from Egypt. Indeed, it's a very deep potent story, while keeping the pro-religious message on a subtle level, to where it never comes off as overly preachy like other movies; such as "Superman Returns" and "Season of the Witch."
Yes, I'm aware that "Superman" is deemed the so called "Jesus Christ" of superheroes, but in order for it to work...it has to be...SUBTLE...not overly pretentious where you see Superman falling from the damn sky while doing his trademark "Jesus" pose like he's being crucified on the freaking cross. Yeah, we get that Superman is the Jesus of superheroes, but you have to be subtle about that reference. Otherwise, it comes off as campy, and kind of forced in a lot of ways. Sure, Christopher Reeves' Superman had a pro-religious theme too (especially with the beginning involving Jor-El being played by Marlon Brando), but it was a helluva a lot more subtle about the freaking reference, to where it never came off as preachy to the audience. Meaning, you ain't going to see Christopher Reeves strike a Jesus Christ crucifixtion pose; as you might as well slap a freaking robe on him, and start calling him Jesus if you're going to make it that freaking obvious. Seriously, how many times do you have to hammer that s*** in? Anyway, I do apologize for that short rant there, as that movie really gets to me sometimes on how much they ruined that character. Anyway, moving on...
However, that's not the case in the "Prince of Egypt." Yes, there's a pro-religious theme to it, but it never overshadows the characters themselves, as the movie's main focus is them; which is where the focus of the film should be. Plus, it always helps when you have great voice actors like Val Kilmer that are able to lend their voices to these characters. Granted, the movie isn't quite as deep about Moses as "The Ten Commandments", but it's a cartoon aimed for kids; whereas Charleton Heston's film was aimed at adults, so there's hardly any comparison.
In the end, I think the movie is definitely one of the most under rated animated features out there. Granted, I can understand how some people wouldn't like this movie, and that's fine. However, if you're willing to look past the film's pro-religious message, then you might find yourself engrossed in one of the most well told children's films of all time.
9. A Cat in Paris
Although this film came out fairly recently, it still deserves recognition, as it seems like hardly anyone talks about it; even after being nominated for "Best Animated Feature" at this year's Oscars.
Not only does "A Cat in Paris" feature some of the most interesting artwork that you'll ever find in an animated movie, but it also has a unique story that can easily entice most audiences.
The film essentially follows a cat, who lives a double life in Paris, France. By day, he belongs to a little six year old girl, who happens to be the daughter of a police officer. By night, he partners with a notorious thief with a heart of gold. From here, an elaborate crime mystery unfolds that hooks audiences from the beginning to end; while never letting you go. It's truly a great animated movie to watch, and it's currently one of my favorites.
8. Cats Don't Dance
Although this film has a fairly bad reputation among most audiences, it's really not as bad as many might think. The story is fairly generic in that it involves some small town cat that moves to Hollywood, with hopes to make it into show business. He falls in love with a girl, and somehow finds himself in an adventure to make it in Hollywood, but finds that animals are persecuted against. Indeed, if you've seen a lot of movies in your life, then nothing in this animated feature will remotely surprise you. However, what makes this film unique is not only some of the references, and twists, to many of Hollywood's golden years, but it also features "Looney Tune" slapstick type humor that's been sorely absent in many of Warner Bros. earlier attempts to make it in animated features. Sure, "Space Jam" came awfully close, but "Cats Don't Dance" played on that style of humor to perfection.
For those that remember the old slapstick, and sometimes satirical, humor of the old "Looney Tune" cartoons, then this film definitely features a lot of that here. In fact, I always get a few good laughs whenever I see this movie, and I love the villain most of all. She's reminiscent of a young Shirley Temple in public, but behind closed doors, she becomes a twisted diabolical brat that'll stop at nothing to get what she wants. Indeed, it's very funny to watch, as I always love the irony of her character.
Plus, as I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of references to many classic movies that many movie buffs might be familiar with. Sure, "Cats Don't Dance" may not get the hype it deserves, but a lot of that sadly had to do with Warner Bros. poor marketing efforts...a real shame too...
7. Chico & Rita
Arguably the greatest animated love story ever told. Although it's probably too early to say whether or not this film should be deemed under rated, as I'm sure it's recent Oscar nomination will get it some publicity. However, the sad reality is that the film suffered from it's limited exposure, which makes it a rather obscure film at best. Plus, I'm sure like "Secret of Kells", this film will soon be forgotten by the masses soon; which is a real shame considering how great the story is.
I know I already reviewed this film fairly recently, so I won't go into too much detail about it. However, I will say that the story revolves around a young couple that share an on again, and off again, type of relationship throughout the movie. And what transpires from there, we end up seeing arguably one of the most touching love stories ever conceived. If you haven't seen this epic masterpiece, then I'd definitely check it out soon.
6. The Secret of Kells
Ever since this film was released, it doesn't even seem to get lot of attention these days among most cartoon fans. Maybe it's because of it's lack of exposure to the public, or poor advertising for it. Or, it could be a bit of both. Whatever the case may be, the one thing that's indisputable is that this film is definitely one of the most under rated animated features out there.
Not only is the animation in this movie simply breathtaking in it's elaborate simplicity, but the story is surprisingly very engaging as well. Featuring various references to religion and Irish folklore, as "The Secret of Kells" is definitely one of the most unique animated films out there.
5. The Iron Giant
Although Warner Bros. did create some great animated features, it's a shame they never quite grasped how to promote them properly; outside of "Space Jam" of course. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with "The Iron Giant." Sure, the concept of the movie may seem like a rip off from Spielberg's "E.T." to some people, but to be fair, the film was based on a novel called "The Iron Man" by Ted Hughes, so I think one could say that it's kind of the other way around. Granted, there's obviously differences between "E.T." and "The Iron Giant", but the concept of a young boy befriending an alien is still basically the same in both movies.
Anyway, "The Iron Giant" is one of those rare movies that does a wonderful job meshing the CGI animation with traditional 2-D animation. Most movies that incorporate both tend to look a bit tacky, and the CGI tends to look very unnatural within the 2-D environment. However, "The Iron Giant" seems to pull it off with relative ease.
Plus, the simple concept of the boy becoming friends with an alien being is very heartfelt to say the least. Another thing that I loved about the movie is that it preaches how life is all about choices, and how we can be whoever we choose to be, and not what others tell us that we should be. It's a very deep message that I'm sure any parent would want their kids to learn, as it's definitely portrayed well in this movie.
4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
For some reason, this movie rarely gets any legitimate respect as a superhero film. Sure, many movie buffs will often give credit to another animated superhero movie like "The Incredibles", but when it comes to this particular film, it seems most people dismiss it as a cartoon. If that's the case, why not say the same thing about "The Incredibles?" Isn't it also a cartoon? Sadly, people will often say..."It doesn't count, but if you're going to include that as a great superhero film..then you can include 'Under the Red Hood' as well." However, what those same dismissive people fail to realize that whether they like it or not, "Under the Red Hood" was not released in theaters, so their argument to compare this movie to that one is automatically moot. No, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" does count as a superhero movie because it not only chronicles a superhero, but it was released in theaters initially just like "The Incredibles." Therefore, it counts whether you want to believe that or not.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier with "The Iron Giant", Warner Bros. doesn't seem to do that great of a job marketing their animated features; hence the dilemma with this one. I know I too was guilty of dismissing this film out of my top ten superhero films, in my hub called "Superheroes Assemble: Ultimate Showdown, but that was only because the show this film was based on set the bar too damn high.
As I mentioned in my notable section of superhero films that didn't make the cut, it's that whenever it comes to TV shows being adapted into movies, I always expect the films to be bigger than the show itself to justify an adaption on the big screen. What I mean by that is fairly simple. If you look back at the old "Star Trek" episodes with Shatner, they weren't able to do much on a limited TV budget. However, when the series got to the big screen, they were given a larger budget to work with; hence allowing for stories to be told that couldn't be done on the original TV series, which gave the movies a larger than the show kind of feel to justify the movies.
Another example is "The Simpsons Movie." In that film, it showed America's favorite animated family not only travel all over the world, but the atmosphere of the movie itself gave premise of the story a larger than life feel to it that it wouldn't feel right to tell the same story in a three part episode. Therefore, when it comes to TV adaptations, I expect them to be bigger than the shows they're based on.
Granted, "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" is a very well told story, and offers arguably one of the deepest plots out there for a superhero film. Plus, you have to appreciate the film noir aspect that this movie plays upon, as it was the first to introduce it into the superhero genre of movies. Heck, I even found the voice acting of this film to be top notch as expected. Unfortunately, this was also part of the problem with this movie. Granted, these were highlights of the film, but you could easily say the exact same praises towards the regular episodes of "Batman: The Animated Series"; which isn't a bad thing towards the film, but it's more of a send up to how freaking high the show set it's own standard. Meaning, that "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" could've easily been told in a three part episode of the animated series it was based on.
However, that's not to say this is a bad movie by any means, as it's definitely one of the best superhero films out there, as it's a helluva a lot better than half the superhero films that have come out within the past few years.
Arguably one of the greatest superhero films ever made, but it's also one of the most under rated. Although anime has become a lot more popular over the years, it does seem sad that none of the anime movies have ever reached outside cult popularity status into mainstream status. I know some people might be asking what's the difference. Well, it's very simple. Cult status popularity is that a particular show/movie/comic/etc will only appeal to a select group of people.
Whereas mainstream popularity means that the product will appeal to people outside it's target audience, and possibly everybody. Take a film like "Spider-Man" for instance. Not only does that film appeal to some of the comic book fans of the series, but it also appeals to non comic book fans as well. In fact, I bumped into a lot of people that NEVER read the original Spider-Man comics that claimed they loved the movies. Another example of this is the infamous line from the "Empire Strikes Back" where Darth Vader says, "Luke, I am your father." To this day, even people who have never even seen the damn movie know where that line came from; hence "Empire Strikes Back" appeals to mainstream popularity. Yes, people that have never seen the "Empire Strikes Back" exist, as I used to date a girl that hated science fiction movies to the point that she never saw any of the "Star Wars" films at all. Having said that, even she knew about that damn line, so that only proves my point further.
Now, if you were to say Piccolo's the infamous line from the "Dragonball Z" series where he says, "Special Beam Cannon!" You say that line, and only anime fans will know even remotely what you're freaking talking about. This is what I mean by the difference between cult popularity and mainstream popularity. As great as anime is, it's never reached mainstream popularity status; regardless of what many die hard fans say. Sure, "Pokemon" has come pretty damn close to achieving that mainstream status, but since the first movie was designed only to appeal to die hard established fans of the series, then it never even got close.
Don't get me wrong, I love anime a lot, and I consider the art of Japanese anime vastly superior to western forms of animation in a lot of ways. However, we need to be honest with ourselves if we're going to analyze this whole thing objectively.
The point is that because anime has never achieved mainstream popularity, "Astroboy" has gone under the radar for most people; which is rather sad because it's truly a great CGI anime film. The movie is based on the iconic "Astroboy", who was one of Japan's original anime characters. Although the movie is predictable, and falls into various cliches, I thought it was very well done. It not only pays great homage to the original anime series, but it also manages to tell a great character driven story arc. Invoking elements of "Pinocchio" meshed into that style of superhero anime format that flows perfectly. Plus, I have to admit that this film features arguably some of the best voice acting you'll ever find in a movie.
2. The Secret of Nimh
"The Secret of Nimh" is arguably one of the deepest, and possibly scariest children's films ever told....and I wouldn't want it any other way. First of all, the animation to this film is simply beautiful. Everything from the character designs to the lush detailed backgrounds is simply amazing. I also loved how well developed each character is in this movie, and how each has their own unique personality to add to the story itself.
Not only does the film contain a great character driven story arc, but it carries many underlining themes that most of us can heavily relate to. I would go into more detail about this, but part of the joy about this movie is knowing as little as possible going into it; hence I would highly encourage anyone to check it out if you haven't already.
1. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Although the original film, "Ghost in the Shell", has become one of the biggest anime movies of all time, it seems rather sad that hardly anyone ever talks about it's sequel; even among most die hard fans of the franchise. Sure, they'll go on for hours about how great the original anime film was, and talk about the great innovative story telling of the spin off anime series, "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex." Plus, we shouldn't forget about the original manga either, as most die hard fans revel in those too. Yet, I rarely ever see most fans talk about this movie in particular....but why is that?
It's not because it's a bad film, as it definitely carried the same deep innovative story telling, where it invokes many controversial questions about humanity, and the definition of a soul within a cybernetic universe. I won't go over this film too much, as I already mentioned most of my points in my review of this movie. However, I will say this. Not only did the movie have a deep story driven plot, but it also invoked elements of film noir; while showcasing more of the Major's right hand man, Batou, in the lead role. In fact, I would dare say that in terms of story value, "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" is every bit an animation masterpiece as the original.
Unfortunately, "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" gets tragically over shadowed a lot by it's prequel; similar to how "Terminator" is constantly overshadowed by it's sequel, even though the second movie basically rips off the first one's premise to a certain extent. Plus, this movie doesn't really feature the famous Major Motoko Kusanagi, who's become sort of an anime sex symbol over the years, due to how she dresses throughout the series. Plus, you have that whole forbidden aspect about her, as she literally has no female parts, since her entire body is cybernetic. Meaning, that even if you were a cartoon character existing in her world, then you'd never be able to have sex with her. I'm not saying all guys/girls are perverts like that, but I'm merely stating a fact about the character.
The point is that she's not in the sequel...well most of it anyway. She does come back for a cameo, but she hardly looks like the same anime character that loves to dress promiscuously all the time. I would divulge more into that, but I don't want to spoil it for those that haven't seen the movie. The point is that without her, it seems like the fan interest of the sequel isn't that high; which is rather sad if you ask me. I guess it's true what they say...sex sells these days....
However, if you're a die hard fan of the series, manga, or original film, then I would still highly recommend checking it out. Sure, it doesn't feature Major Kusanagi, but it's still a great story that's full of mystery, action, suspense, and a touch of film noir that'll stick with you long after it ends. If anything, I would dare say it should have not only been nominated for "Best Animated Feature" in the 2005 Oscars, but it should have won too. Yes, I'm well aware that films like "Shark Tale", "The Incredibles" and "Shrek 2" were nominated during that year, but none of them can hold a candle to this movie's deep innovative story.