It’s peculiar to think that a director such as Wes Anderson would decide to direct a stop-motion family film based on a book by Roald Dahl, but nevertheless it did happen. It is less surprising to an extent given his admittedly limited work using stop-motion in his films, such as “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” but this time he goes full steam ahead. I remember watching “Fantastic Mr. Fox when it came out and I distinctly recall snorting in superiority when I watched the adverts on TV, back when I was 12 I didn’t give a rat’s ass about who Wes Anderson was but needless to say after the movie I found myself intrigued.
Its been said time and time again with regards to what a “good” animated film is, the idea that a truly good animation should not only keep the kids quite for an hour and half but also keep the adults engaged as well. I don’t think every movie necessarily needs to cater to everybody, movies for children alone are totally fine. Movies like “The Iron Giant” however are special because they involve older and younger audiences perhaps equally. How can kids not appreciate a story where a normal kid befriends a friendly alien robot? How can adults not appreciate a great story with stellar visuals laden with relevant historical context? “The Iron Giant” is engaging and utterly rewarding.
The difference between Western animation and Japanese animation, or “anime”, is very stark and instantly recognisable. Both parties tend to exaggerate their characters physically and often emotionally. Anime itself tends to delve heavily into melodrama for which it frequently draws criticism for, and “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” does sometimes dip into this melodramatic tone. Admittedly I haven’t seen very much anime at all — this is actually my third anime film — and I’m happy to say that my recent branch from Western animation has been pleasant and unique. “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” is a gorgeous and visually rich film, that deserves your attention.
As far as I’m concerned, last year wasn’t a particularly good year for animation. “Frozen” – a film I don’t dispute the quality of – somehow managed to beat Studio Ghibli’s “The Wind Rises” for the Academy award for Best Animated Feature Film. Whilst, even more inexplicably, “The Croods” and almost sacrilegiously “Despicable Me 2” were also considered for the award. The Academy Awards were six months ago now, and with the release of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” also comes a certain feeling of security, and also confidence. The film will no doubt be nominated for an Academy Award and has a very good chance of winning the award outright, and I’m happy that another of the five slots for nominations will be definitely filled with something actually worth considering, and there is still time left for more.