By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Plenty of computer animated films have graced 2014 around the world. From Asterix: The Land of the Gods to Postman Pat and even Tinkerbell & The Legend of the Never Beast, not everything will make the grade of being wildly successful. Some of these titles were direct-to-video releases and others saw a limited distribution. But when fans of this new cartoon animation medium are going to be picky, they will find certain animations will properly tug at the heart-strings and others will appeal to an all-ages crowd. There’s even a few that some will miss because it never made a North American Release until now. From an international perspective, presented are the top five films that are notable in no particular order:
Big Hero 6
Although this Disney adaptation is a radical departure from Marvel Comic’s original publication, the changes are well worth it in a story about a boy and a robot. Essentially, it’s a redo of The Iron Giant with plenty of Disney family bonding influence tossed in. With Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) losing most of his family due to unfortunate circumstances, just maybe he will learn how to be a hero in the end when he discovers that he is not alone. There’ll always be someone to love here, and that’s with the friends that he makes in his transition to adulthood and responsibilities.
Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
This surreal steampunk animation is a gem of a French made Brother’s Grimm style fairytale. With Jack re-animated through the magic of a simple cuckoo-clock, he has to keep his emotions in check and never become too wound-up. That is, he can never get angry or fall in love. The latter is tough to do for this youth; for the first girl he meets, it sends his heart a-fluttering. This romance is not without a darkness to it, which makes this movie a flattering watch for literary enthusiasts. As a bonus, this narrative is based on a concept music album, Mécanique du cœur by Mathias Malzieu of the band Dionysos.
Space Pirate Captain Harlock
Technically, this film was released in 2013 but this cinematically gorgeous film can be mentioned when premiere screenings elsewhere in the world crossed over into 2014. Also, this film was nominated for the 2014 year for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
The photo-realism is to be commended and the characterchures really does not feel out-of-place in a film that charts Yama’s (Haruma Miura) course towards a destiny that he does not expect. Originally, he was to simply infiltrate Captain Harlock’s ship, the Arcadia, and put a stop to his activities. Little does he know that what this mysterious rogue represents will impress him more as he goes along with their supposedly mad schemes.
In some ways, this movie is a worthy spiritual successor to the lamented Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The themes and concepts are worthy of the SquareSoft’s level of storytelling, but the execution was just off at times, especially when the producers were more intent to create more of a wow factor than focus on its characters. Despite this flaw, this film is certainly worth a look.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Unlike some lesser made products under this franchise, How to Train Your Dragon is a very enjoyable series about Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), a young man learning how to take responsibility for his mistakes. In this second film’s case, it’s to embrace a destiny that he’s not even prepared for and discover that there are greater forces at work who can trouble the lonely village known as Berk. Not only is this movie an achievement in storytelling but also its CGI is a marvel to behold. Very rarely will a sequel be superior to it’s predecessor.
To watch Hiccup transition into being a young man meant the technical team had to create new software to take advantage of the latest advancements in computer rendering technology to simulate how luminous skin can be and to reveal how prismatic ice can reflect light. The most enduring aspect is in how the characters have grown since last movie, television series notwithstanding.
The LEGO Movie
The LEGO Movie is not necessarily awesome. It’s an entertainingly damn great LEGO nerd’s wet fantasy come true in trying to pick out easter eggs galore. Although this film can be seen by some as one huge TV commercial sporting every single product this company made, there’s more to this movie than just that.
The best part of this film is when it suddenly does an about-face to give viewers a kicker in its epilogue to show how important imagination and freedom of choice can be. That morality tale is what defines this film more than the plot about Emmett (Chris Pratt), an ordinary LEGO mini figure, prophesied to save the lego-verse from an evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell).
One thought on “The Vintage Tempest’s Top Five CGI Films of 2014”
I did really enjoy both The Lego Movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (I’ve not yet managed to see Space Pirate Captain Harlock or Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart), but man, Big Hero 6 stole my heart. In fact, it’s possibly my favourite film to be released in 2014, animated or otherwise.