Frozen

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2013 Part 3 (Finale)

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Now it’s time to look at the final 11 films from 2013, and be done with this underwhelming year of movies!

11. Colorful

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Before making one of my favorite films of 2016, Miss Hokusai, Keiichi Hara made this animated feature, Colorful. This film is about a soul that gets a second chance at life by being brought back into the body of a young boy who committed suicide. It is up to the soul to find out who he is before six months are up. For the first half of the film, I was not enjoying it. I thought the character designs were ho-hum, the lead character was a giant jerk, it was sort of boring to sit through, and the lead’s voice actor was really annoying. I was sitting there wondering why it was so popular at festivals, and why so many people were gushing over it like it was the most important animated film of all time. When I got to the second half, it finally started to get good, and show why this film was made and its purpose. I loved the scenes between the lead and the father, the lead with the odd friend, and the more atmospheric and quiet moments. When the lead was actually putting his head into the game as to why he was chosen to be brought back, he becomes much more interesting as a character. It has a lot of great moments, but sitting through half a film of mean-spirited characters to get to a really good second half was difficult. I’ll go more into detail at a later date with this film, but I can definitely say that in the end, it was worth checking out.

10. Approved for Adoption

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This is one of the few animated films from 2013 that I would wholly consider unique. Approved for Adoption is an animated/live action documentary about the life of Korean-Belgium comic artist known as Jung. It is about his life when he was adopted by a Belgium family when he was a kid during the Korean War. It’s mixed with beautiful CGI-animated sequences, home-movie footage, and archival footage from that period in time. You can technically call this cheating, since it isn’t purely animated, but in my opinion, it’s animated enough to count. It deserves to exist more so than half the movies on this list. It’s a touching story of Jung’s life as he grows up with his adopted family, and finds his identity in the world. I do have some complaints, like the CGI animation is at times clunky, kid Jung is a punk, and the mother is unlikable as the film goes on. I wasn’t expecting rainbows and lollipops, in fact, it’s probably best that the film doesn’t sugarcoat the actual person’s life, but still. It’s definitely a film that’s not going to appeal to everyone, but it’s a touching story that deserves your attention.

9. Frozen

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I’ll be frank, the reason why this film is in this spot is because Disney milked it to death, and it ruined the charm for me. It’s still a great movie, with likable characters, great dialogue, funny comedy, touching moments, and is overall a fantastic film, but Disney couldn’t let this film be. They squeezed so much cash from this cow that it started to bring out the hipster effect, to where the film got too popular and people started to backlash against it. It does have its faults, like the troll song in the third act, the villain, and the unique fact that this is the first Disney film to be about two sisters and one becomes a queen, but they stay separated for a majority of the film. The ending is also pretty weak, but it’s still great, due to how touching the final moment is and how good the acting was. I still love this movie, but I think a few elements could be better.

8. From Up on Poppy Hill

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I know there is a bit of a split on whether people like this movie or not, but with the exception of the ending, I really enjoyed the story of two kids in a post-World War 2 setting. It really reminds me of the corny, but ultimately charming, Whisper of the Heart. It’s a very laid-back film that has some really great moments between characters, and a rather intriguing mystery on whether the two leads are actually related. Unfortunately, the ending just abruptly happens, and it ends on a whimper. It’s a shame, since the film was directed by Goro Miyazaki and was written by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s still a solid movie, but I wish the ending was better.

7. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

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There is very little surprise as to why this is one of the best reviewed DC-animated films. It’s a well-executed mature film about a “what if” situation focusing on The Flash, and shows the results of one change to the timeline, and how one thing just dominoes into a much different future. The mystery was good, the history changes were intriguing. It was interesting to see some of the dramatic changes, like how Bruce Wayne is killed, and his parents become Batman and The Joker separately, and how essentially, the cataclysmic event of the film was partly started by one of DC’s punching bags, Aquaman. Yeah, I have a few problems that revolve around that, but in the end, that was the one problem I had with this film. It always seems like the writers for the animated stuff had more fun writing for The Flash than any other character. This is one of the few DC animated films that I have seen that I would highly recommend watching on Netflix, or buying a copy if you are curious.

 6. The Painting

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This is essentially Inception with paintings. It is the story of people who live inside paintings that go and search for their creator. This is one of my favorite European-animated films of this decade. I just love the focus, and sincere emotions, and chemistry the characters have for one another. I love the sequences where they jump to and from different paintings that lead them into different worlds and min-sets of said worlds. I adore the great colorful art style that definitely makes this CGI film stand above and beyond a majority of the competition in terms of how good CGi from overseas can look. I do wish there were some sequences explained more, but I can live with that.

5. Wrinkles

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Here is possibly the saddest film on the list. Wrinkles is a film from Spain that follows the life of a retired banker who is slowly going through the states of Alzheimer, voiced by Martin Sheen, as he is moved into a retirement home and becomes roomates/friends with  another old man, voiced by the late George Coe. The story is very mature, and is very much about the relationship between Sheen and Coe’s characters, and how they affect one another. It’s touching, sad, visually fun, humorous, charming, and that last scene. I cried during that last sequence because the words said are so tragic, yet touching. It does have a groaner joke here and there, and I can totally understand if this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I can highly recommend Wrinkles for anyone looking for a mature animated film that isn’t a stoner comedy.

4: A Letter to Momo

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Once you know this was directed by the same guy who did Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, it makes for an interesting contrast between that dark political thriller and this mature, but more light-hearted film. I have reviewed this film as well, as it’s a wonderful slice-of-life drama dealing with the loss of a loved one, and moving on. It has great characters, wonderful comedic animation, and has yet another Ghibli-style mood and atmosphere with how laidback a good chunk of the film is. There are some moments that somewhat annoy me, but they never bothered me enough to ruin the experience. The best characters were very much the three spirits that follow our female lead around. They worked well off each other, were hilarious, and were likable characters by the end of it all. It can be a very odd movie, but I highly recommend checking out A Letter to Momo if you are looking for a good Studio Ghibli-style movie.

3: Ernest & Celestine

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This was the film that got me into loving everything that GKids does, so it should be no surprise that I put it this high on the list. I already did a review of this movie since it was my very first animated film review, but the story of a mouse and bear becoming close friends in a world where that isn’t allowed, won my heart over, and was the film I think should have won Best Animated Feature, but I digress on that. The beautiful watercolor art direction, with some great animation and good timeless physical comedy, combined with some great chemistry among the characters, makes this one of the most appealing animated films to watch and is easily the first one I would recommend watching if you want to get into the GKids library of animated films.

2. The Wind Rises

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This is definitely one of the more controversial animated films of the past few years. The Wind Rises is a romanticized/fictional biographical story of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the kamikaze fighter jets. I can definitely understand the raised brows and concerns, but since this is Hayao Miyazaki, they don’t approve or praise what Jiro did. More of the focus is Jiro’s passion of making planes. He even regrets and hates that his beautiful planes and designs were used for such a hateful incident. The rest of the movie is about his journey and life as a plane designer. It has everything you love about Ghibli films with its atmosphere, likable characters, quiet moments, and the whimsy. The voice cast is also fantastic, with Joseph Gordon Levitt doing an amazing job as Jiro. Sure, the love interest played by Emily Blunt might not be in the movie a lot, but she and Jiro, while not having too much time on screen, are adorable. I just loved this movie, and if this was actually Miyazaki’s final film, I would have been happy. It might be long, but The Wind Rises is a fantastic movie.

1. Wolf Children

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Surprise of the century that a Japanese animated film could do a better job at a Pixar/Disney film than Disney and Pixar in 2013! Seriously though, Mamoru Hosoda’s Wolf Children is my favorite movie from this year. The story of a widow taking care of her half-human half-wolf kids is right up there with Spirited Away in terms of the best Japanese animated films of all time. It does everything right, in terms of an animated movie. It has likable/endearing characters, a well-paced story, subtle mystical elements that never feel distracting, complex themes of how kids can grow up differently, kid characters who are actually good, top-notch animation, and a fantastic musical score. It’s what you look for in a movie and it’s just a perfect animated film. If you felt like 2013 was bad in terms of animation, I dare you to say that after watching Wolf Children.

The Negatives: Frozen


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Welcome to The Negatives. This is where we look at the critically acclaimed films from Disney, Dreamworks, and Pixar, and, well, point out their problems.

For In Defense Of, we looked at one of Disney’s biggest failures with The Black Cauldron, and I found some positive elements of the film. This time, let’s take a look at one of Disney’s biggest moneymakers of all time, Frozen. Now, even though we are about to look at the negative aspects of the film, I do want to say that I really do like this movie. Not as much as everyone else, but I still loved watching it. It brought a certain spark of Disney love back into me after my being so cynical about the company for years. However, over time, I have thought more critically about the film, and while I love Frozen, it really does have some flaws. Let’s get started!

 

The villain was weak!

Now, to be fair, I started off with this negative opinion, since in some ways, the villain, Hans, voiced by Santino Fontana, does work. Hans could represent the consequence of Anna being too outwardly social and trusting due to being inside a castle for so many years. It’s the reason why you shouldn’t be super-social and trusting of everyone, since some people out there are willing to hurt you and do things you don’t want to do. However, I think everyone could have seen this plot twist coming from the very beginning of the film. About 20 minutes into the movie, you hear Han’s father mentioning his plans for taking over the kingdom that Anna and Elsa rule. It’s not very original, and I feel like they didn’t really need a villain, since the main focus of the film is on the relationship between Anna and Elsa.

 

The Rock Troll song in the final third

You know how the song from the gargoyles was really distracting in Hunchback of Notre Dame? It was during a point in the story where the stakes were high and at that point, you were enthralled with the drama. Too bad that gargoyle song just ruins the entire mood and didn’t need to be in the film. That is how I felt about the song from the Rock Trolls in the final third of the film. This is after Anna was slowly freezing over. The male lead took her to see the Rock Trolls to try and cure her. Sadly, this leads into a song that really didn’t need to be in the film. It’s like “Hey! Anna is dying! Can you stop singing for a freaking minute, and try and save her?!” Granted, in the end, they couldn’t do anything to cure her, but they could have said that before breaking out into a song that ruins the mood and heartbreak of seeing one of the film’s main characters dying! At least Olaf’s song was amazing since he was so blissfully unaware of his fate if the sun hit him. Not to mention it was probably made to take a jab at annoying side characters.

 

Not really based on the source material

So, this film is very loosely based off the classic story, The Snow Queen. Why base Frozen off The Snow Queen story, when you barely do anything with the original story? Why not actually make a dark fantasy film? Dark fantasy films can work like The Dark Crystal. It is rather tiring that Disney, while they have been making good movies these past few years, will not do straight-up adaptations. It would be so nice for them to not think of how marketable this can be, or how many toys they can sell. Heck, that piece of CGI garbage The Snow Queen film at least hit elements of the original story more than Frozen, and I think Frozen is the better movie! They can at least say not “based on” and instead say “very loosely based on”.

 

Being overly marketed and commercialized ruined its charm!

When Frozen came out, it was a huge hit, and it was like, “Finally! Disney is back on track with good movies!” Not that they didn’t hit gold with the films leading up to Frozen, but still. Sadly, after Disney saw how hugely successful the film was, they tainted it with commercial tie-ins, putting the film back in theaters multiple times, and it resulted in all that charm and good graces that Disney got back, being now gone. It was overplayed, hyped-up to be the Citizen Kane of Disney films, and it was way too much. I really enjoyed it the first time I saw it, but that love shrunk slightly because of business. I know Disney is a company, and at the end of the day, it is all about making that bottom dollar, but at the same time, they should know when too much is, well, too much.

Like I have said many times, I do like this movie. Would I put it in my top 5? No. What about top 10? Well, maybe. I am glad it did well, and I am curious to see how they would do a sequel. I don’t think they should, but that’s just me. Well, next time we will be going back to In Defense Of, and I think it’s time to poke at Dreamworks. However, we might have to go a long way from Home to find something positive. Thanks for reading!