Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Animated Movie List Part 2... or not. Instead, SUPERMAN!

Part of the problem with trying to write while at the shop is that sometimes those pesky customers come in and demand to give me money. (And really, who am I to deny them?)

It's been almost a week since I wrote about Yahoo's stupid movie list and, amazingly, I find that I just can't get the anger to rise like it was last week. Some fine suggestions were made in the comments and there are still several films that I would like to comment on but ultimately, or at least for today, I just find the subject not to my liking. Perhaps I will revisit it again soon but for now I will leave it be. Please feel free to continue to leave comments about films you think are worthy additions to a "best of" list.

New comics came in today and there was one in particular I would like to comment on.

Action Comics #866 - This is the start of yet another revamp of the Brainiac character. (Really? Again? Can't we pick a retcon and just leave it be?) But that's not what I want to comment on.

The artist on the book is Gary Frank. I generally don't care for his art. I don't hate it but there is something about his style that always makes me think, "Meh." Lately his art has looked, to me, like a cross between Frank Quietly and Paul Gulacy. That's not a pretty picture, so to speak. And the first few pages of this issue are typical Frank. Nothing great, nothing horrible. Just meh. But then, on page 13, he draws Clark Kent doing something that just made me smile. Not a "That's funny" smile but a "Thank you. You just made my day" smile. A joyous smile. A smile that makes me remember how good it feels to feel good. What was it that Mr. Frank drew that made me feel this way you ask?

He drew Clark Kent pushing his glasses up with his index finger.


I know. That doesn't sound very exciting. Or funny. Or important. Or uplifting. It doesn't sound like anything, does it? And yet, it was all those things because in that one moment, in the way that he drew it, he made the DC Comics Clark Kent into the Christopher Reeves Clark Kent. It wasn't that he drew his Clark Kent to look like Christopher Reeves. But at that point in the reading it was feeling like he was trying to evoke Reeves without actually doing his likeness.

Some who read this won't make a distinction between the the comic book Superman and the Christopher Reeves Superman but for a great many people Christopher Reeves IS Clark Kent/Superman. It was his portrayal of the character that turned so many of us into fans of not just Superman but into comic book fans. I can easily say that seeing Superman: The Movie for the first time was just as important to me as seeing Star Wars for the first time. Looking at Superman: The Movie today it is easy to forget how amazing it was to see Superman fly. And that's all we wanted from that movie! Hell, that was the whole ad campaign! "You will believe a man can fly." Ah, simpler times.

So I'm reading the book and that little nod to Christopher Reeves comes up and I get all warm and fuzzy and I'm smiling like an idiot when, two pages later, Mr. Frank makes me into a kid again. I mean, I feel JUST LIKE a little kid again. I wish I could describe the feeling. I was almost teary eyed because it felt SO FUCKING GOOD! There he is, in a full page panel. Christopher Reeves as Superman. Gary Frank has captured him magnificently.

And suddenly, just like that, I'm a Gary Frank fan.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yahoo users are Morons!

Yahoo just announced it's 30 top rated animated movies as voted by it's users. Really? Over The Hedge? One of the best animated films ever? The Simpsons Movie? Horton Hears a Fucking Who?!? These are the best that Yahoo users could come up with? Here is the list:

30. Bambi
29. Jungle Book
28. Sleeping Beauty
27. Over The Hedge
26. The Simpsons Movie
25. Ice Age 2
24. Ice Age
23. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
22. Howl's Moving Castle
21. Mulan
20. Peter Pan
19. Horton Hears A Who
18. Lady And The Tramp
17. The Nightmare Before Christmas
16. Princess Mononoke
15. Cinderella
14. The Little Mermaid
13. Enchanted
12. Shrek 2
11. Cars
10. Monsters Inc.
9. Spirited Away
8. Aladdin
7. Beauty And The Beast
6. Toy Story
5. Ratatouille
4. Shrek
3. The Incredibles
2. The Lion King
1. Finding Nemo

I'm not even going to go off on the actual ranking of the films. Suffice to say, I'm not impressed. (Finding Nemo is better than Toy Story by 5 spots? Maybe. The Incredibles is better than Toy Story? WTF?)

I realize that movies are subjective and that one persons favorite may not be another persons. However, I also realize that when you make a list of the best "animated" films a prerequisite should be that the movie BE ANIMATED! Including a movie like Enchanted, with it's whole 10 minutes of animation, and not including The Iron Giant (Easily a top ten best animated film EVER) makes your list instantly laughable. Besides, if you are going to go with the animation/live action hybrid, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the better movie by far.

Shrek 2 and Ice Age 2 rate in the top 25 but the superior Toy Story 2 doesn't even make the list at all?

According to Yahoo users, Ice Age 2 is better than Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Horton Hears A Who is superior to Akira and put down that copy of Fantasia you were thinking of renting 'cause it's no Over The Hedge.

Please don't get me wrong. I thought Ice Age 2 was a decent movie. I've watched it a few times. There are moment in Over The Hedge that I laughed out loud. I'm not trying to demean those movies but they also do not rate mention in a list of the best animated films ever made. Oh, I'm sorry. This isn't a list of the 30 best animated films of all time. It's a list of the 30 top rated animated films by Yahoo users. Well. This just shows what complete morons must be using Yahoo.

I can't say that I've seen Horton Hears A Who yet but I feel confident in saying there is NO WAY that it's a better or more enjoyable movie than Bambi, Peter Pan or Snow White, all of which were rated lower than Horton. And don't think that I'm some Disney purist guy either. Mulan, Lady and the Tramp and Cars don't deserve to be on this list either. There have been better and/or more enjoyable films from Disney in recent years than those. Lilo and Stitch comes to mind.

I mean, if were gonna rate a film purely on it's enjoyment level and not on it's technical and/or historical merits then The Land Before Time should be on the list. No, it isn't a great movie but tell me it isn't more fun to watch than Howl's Moving Castle. You can't. Where is Wallace and Gromit? Or even Chicken Run for that matter.

So, instead of complaining too much about the list, (I know. Too late), I've made my own. My criteria for the list is also a bit different as I have included direct to DVD/Video releases. My basis for inclusion were 1.) Enjoyment level 2.) Production Value and 3.) Historical value. They are also in no particular order. Just 30 great animated films. I won't have time to list them all today but I will unveil a few each day. Or maybe I'll do all the rest tomorrow. Who knows. :)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - Even if this were not the first major studio full length animated feature it would have made the list. Beautiful animation, a strong story and wonderful music make this a must have for any DVD collection.

Lilo and Stitch - It's funny. Had the film not been set in Hawaii but instead in, say, Detroit and been colored in a non-pastel pallet, this would have been Disney's first, (and probably only), goth film for the whole family. Lilo is Lenore growing up in Hawaii. She's odd and just a little bit damaged but still so very real. Add to the mix the total anti establishment hero Stitch and you have an animated film that is sweet, sad, funny and uplifting without being schmaltzy or calculating. Easily Disney's best non-Pixar film of the past decade.

The Nightmare Before Christmas - Like I really need to justify this one. 15 years later and there is still nothing like it.

Monsters Inc - Disney/Pixars second "buddy movie". In many ways I like this movie better than Toy Story. It's more flat out funny even if Toy Story has a bigger emotional punch. However, the ending to Monsters Inc is just perfect. I still tear up every time I watch it.

Toy Story - The movie that killed traditional animation. For that, we should hate it but it's SO good that we just can't. A perfect voice cast makes this one still watchable even if the CG animation is starting to show some wear. Still, even from a purely historical context, this is the movie that showed the rest of the world that CG was the future and hand drawn animated features were to be a thing of the past.

The Lion King - Again, this one really speaks for itself. Or rather, sings for itself. The movie isn't really the greatest one to watch but, oh!, those songs. Just try and not hum Hakuna Matata for the rest of the day.

The Iron Giant - So full of great characterization that you almost forget these are just drawings on paper. And isn't that what great animation is all about? Anybody who doesn't laugh out loud at the squirrel scene or shed a tear at the end is just not human.

There's my first seven. More tomorrow.