Usually when I talk about animated movies on this blog, I focus on those made by Disney’s and Pixar’s animation studios. There’s definitely a reason for that – both Disney and Pixar have produced some of the greatest animated films ever made – but other companies have also come out with some excellent ones, several of which I love. Some of them are not as well know as they should be, so I want to share them with you.
(In no particular order.)
// The Little Prince (2015) //
I hardly understood a thing about the book and that goes for this film as well. The themes are understated and subtle, so much so that I’m sure they went over the heads of little kids everywhere. A hauntingly beautiful film with an almost dreamlike quality to it at times and a beautiful score (the ‘Trapped Stars’ scene makes me cry simply because of how moving the soundtrack is). And Jeff Bridges turns in an exemplary voice performance as the Aviator.
// How to Train Your Dragon (2010) //
My brother, Noah, insists that the second movie is better than this one, but I can’t decide. HTTYD1 started it all and Hiccup and Toothless’ friendship is more at the forefront here and the ‘Forbidden Friendship’ scene and the bit where Hiccup takes Astrid dragon riding…those scenes cannot be beat in terms of beauty and emotion. There’s nothing in the second film to equal them.
// How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) //
I read somewhere that the composer for HTTYD2 said he wanted to show that the musical themes from the first film had matured in the five years that had passed (well, four years in The Real World) and I think that idea goes beyond the soundtrack. The characters have matured, of course, and HTTYD2 is a more serious, sometimes darker film in general (compared to the first one). I dig it.
// Anastasia (1997) //
The only issue I have with ‘Anastasia’ is the film’s villain, Rasputin. He’s creepy, demonic, and just plain annoying, as there’s plenty of drama and tension in the movie without his occasional presence. But other than his unfortunate inclusion, ‘Anastasia’ brims with life and love, not unlike the film’s heroine, and the songs are splendid (to say the least). I haven’t yet given the Broadway soundtrack a try, but that’s on my to-do list. The film is lush and beautiful and utterly charming.
// The Adventures of Tintin (2011) //
This is a very obscure animated film, right up there with ‘The Little Prince’ in terms of how many people know about it, and I think that’s a shame. The animation is stunning, the voice acting is good, the humor is great (honestly, I love quoting the best lines), and John Williams’ score is so much fun. ❤
// The Prince of Egypt (1998) //
While some people might say that this movie took too many liberties with the book of Exodus, I’d have to disagree and say that it merely took creative license in fleshing out a lot of events that were either never mentioned or quickly brushed over in the biblical account. Again, the songs are gold. I especially find ‘The Plagues’ both effective and emotional. Moses is given good characterization, as is pretty much everyone else. And ‘Prince of Egypt’s portrayal of God (in the burning bush scene) is the most respectful and powerful I’ve seen in any movie, ever.
// The Croods (2013) //
This is one of the very, very few movies that makes my brother, Noah, cry (or at least tear up). It’s on par with Pixar when it comes to emotionalness, in my opinio, because just thinking about it can give me a lump in my throat (similar to ‘Saving Mr. Banks’). Not that ‘The Croods’ is particularly sad or anything – it’s actually very funny for the most part and the characters are great and the animation is gorgeous (that scene in the treetops, though! Eep trying to catch the last bit of sunlight! Grug riding the sun!). But there’s those two scenes (SPOILERS AHEAD), first where Grug sends them all off into the ‘mysterious beyond’ and then when he draws on the cave wall, and it gives me ALL. THE. FEELS.
// The LEGO Movie (2014) //
I have seen this movie a billion times, but I still love it. I think it’s genius, the way they take all the cliches and instead of turning them around, they actually embrace them for real and make them almost new again. Plus, you can’t beat the voice cast.
// The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) //
‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ touched my heart, surprisingly, and set me on the path that would end with BatBale and Chris Nolan awesomeness, so I have a lot to thank it for. Sure, it’s not as deep as ‘The LEGO Movie’ (and everyone says “‘The LEGO Movie’ was deep?”…yes, yes, it was) but it has a certain flavor to it and actually made me like Robin (*looks up at LEGO minifigure of Robin I have on my super-special shelf of favorites*), which is a Superman-worthy feat in and of itself. So, yes. I love it. I just hope ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ will be as good.
// Megamind (2010) //
Heroes are great, but villains truly do get all the good lines. My favorite thing about ‘Megamind’ (besides, of course, the quotablity of it) is the storyline. There are good, admirable characters throughout, but the plot holds my attention more than the people (for once). It’s rather brilliant, the story. (More spoilers…) How Megamind is a total villain at first and then he gradually turns into the hero as Hal/Titan becomes more and more evil and twisted. It’s cool and the character changes are very believable.
// Epic (2013) //
To tell the truth, I don’t love this one as much as I used to (because I’ve seen it way too many times and it doesn’t hold up under a dozen viewings) but I couldn’t leave it out. It’s a very eco-friendly film, but the characters are so good that I don’t much mind. MK, Nod, Ronin, Queen Tara, Mandrake…great characters all. (And Colin Farrell’s Irish accent is, y’know, *heart eyes*.)
// Kung Fu Panda (2008) //
Perhaps ‘Kung Fu Panda’ wouldn’t have made the list a year ago. I still don’t like Po. But after watching all three films (and being pleasantly surprised with the quality of the third one) the KFP franchise is one of my favorites. Not terribly high on the list, but there anyway. Shifu is a big part of that; I think of him as the emotional core of the first film (not so much the other two, but he’s still awesome in both) and his story is the one that interests me the most. Not Po, but him and Tai Lung. Also, even if you hate the movie, the music is still WOW. (Always a big thing with me no matter what film I’m watching.)
Do you spot any favorites on this list? What are some of your favorite non-Disney/Pixar animated movies?