Animation in Movies: Reaching Beyond a Younger Audience

by Theo Sloan


April 14, 2020

Animation is a hugely popular medium of storytelling. Countless animated movies get released every year, and they generally rake in massive amounts of money. For example, last year both Pixar’s Toy Story 4 and Disney’s Frozen 2 made over a billion dollars, and the year before, The Incredibles 2 and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse were released, making, respectively, over a billion dollars and almost 400 million. Despite their commercial success, animated movies are often dismissed by film critics and, to a greater extent, the general public, as “silly kids’ stuff.” While there are certainly some animated movies that do deserve that dismissal such as the Cars series and Trolls, there are also many animated movies that simply warrant more praise than they receive. To recognize some animated movies that rise above the label of “kids’ movies,” I will review Klaus, an amazing and somewhat recent film that deserves praise, a collection of spectacular superhero movies, and Coco, a stunning movie that allows the viewer to dive deep into Mexican culture and contains a strong message that will resonate with any audience.

Klaus is an original Netflix animated movie that details the origin story of Santa Claus. While this concept has certainly been adapted into many animated movies over the years, this particular version of the story is unique, for it is told from the perspective of a lazy, spoiled mailman who is sent to a distant country to establish a post office. The story is rather simple, but it services the movie perfectly. Klaus is beautifully animated, extremely well written, and contains great acting. The movie manages to draw rich emotions out of a simple, charming Santa Claus story. If you have a younger sibling, or you want something to very pleasantly kill a few hours of your incredibly long day in quarantine, Klaus is the movie for you. I implore you to check it out, and I’ll give it a very solid 9/10.

With comic-book movies becoming more popular by the day and Marvel’s having delayed their next movie, Black Widow, against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, I thought I would shed some light on three fantastic animated superhero movies that truly stand out in an over-crowded medium: The Incredibles, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Megamind. I’ll start with The Incredibles because it is the one that most people have probably heard of. The Incredibles is Brad Bird’s take on the comic-book genre. It was released by Pixar in 2004 and since then has become an animated classic. This movie features well-written characters, amazing character-driven conflicts, great voice-acting from the cast, heart-pounding action, and a gleefully evil villain in Syndrome. The Incredibles also features stunning animation, especially considering it was released in 2004. This movie has a lot of humor aimed specifically at an older audience, which is fairly rare in the animated medium. The Incredibles is great, and if you somehow haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend that you check it out. In fact, if you’ve already seen it, go back to it again. I promise that it will be even better this time around. I’ll rate it a 9/10.

Another great animated film is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This movie is truly unique. It is the first movie to ever focus on Miles Morales, who holds the title of Spider-Man in the Marvel comics, and it has an unique style of animation that has never been seen before. It is animated to look like a comic-book, which is accomplished with sneaky practices such as playing around with the frame rate of the movie. You’ll only notice the changes if you look out for them, but they give the movie a perfect comic-book feel. Besides the animation, this movie somehow manages to unite six different versions of Spider-Man, have a star-studded cast, incorporate heart-pounding, visually stunning action sequences, contain an amazing villain, and still pull off a great story. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse even achieves a perfect balance between drama and comedy. It’s an all around incredible experience. I’ll give it a rare 9.5/10, and I highly recommend that you check it out if you haven’t already. 

The 2010 movie Megamind is supremely underrated. It does an amazing job of incorporating adult themes, such as some mild references to sexual harassment, while also being a funny, clever inversion of a superhero movie told from the villain’s perspective. Megamind came out during the same year as Despicable Me and has some superficial similarities to it, but I find Megamind to be a much more mature movie than Despicable Me. I give it a very solid 8/10, and I recommend that you watch it if you haven’t yet done so.

The greatest animated movie of all time is, in my opinion, Coco. It offers a deep, rich exploration into Mexican culture, especially concerning Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Coco was released in 2017 and is Pixar’s first movie to focus on music. It is a spectacular movie. The music is naturally woven into the story but is also relevant to its exploration of Mexican culture. Coco has a great message about family and passion. It invokes emotion from the viewer. The animation is also jaw-droppingly amazing, and might be the best animation in any Pixar movie. Unlike Megamind, I have many thoughts on this movie, but I don’t want to spoil anything, even something minor, so I’ll end by saying that this movie is a 10/10. I highly recommend that you check Coco out. 

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