Animated

[4.0] The Darling children — Wendy, Michael, and John — take a magical trip to Neverland with a hero only children can see or believe in: Peter Pan. Once there, they meet Pan’s Lost Boys, visit the mermaids, pow-wow with the Indians, and have a couple of entanglements with the dastardly Captain Hook. Peter Pan is not one of my favorite Disney animated ‘classics’. I …

[6.5] This American/Japanese animated venture would be the first feature-length movie journey into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Produced by Rankin/Bass (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Last Unicorn) and animated by the studio that would later become Studio Ghibli, The Hobbit is a brisk 77-minute adaptation that features many folksy songs and a notable voice cast led by John Huston as Gandalf. While it may be …

[6.5] Martin Rosen brings to life Richard Adams’ novel about a group of rabbits who leave their burrows and face a series of deadly hardships in search of a new home. Watership Down is one of the more serious animated films geared toward children. Under its episodic adventure narrative, it’s really a meditation on the ever-present risk and inevitability of death. Not all of the …

[8.5] Bob Hoskins stars as a 1940s Hollywood detective who is reluctantly pulled into a murder investigation in which the prime suspect is a cartoon rabbit. Can he overcome his hatred of ‘toons’ and prove Roger Rabbit’s innocence? Or will the real culprit get away with much more than murder? Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Romancing the Stone) directs this hybrid blend of animation …

[6.5] New York teenager Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and begins developing powers just like Spider-Man. He meets the real Spider-Man (Chris Pine) during an encounter with a villain named Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), who is using a giant machine to mess with the space-time continuum. Spider-Man gives Miles an order to destroy the machine just before he’s killed by Kingpin. …

[6.0] Writer/director Dean DeBlois wraps up the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy with a mostly satisfying finale. In this third film, young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his comrades discover a second, rare Night Fury dragon — and it’s a female. Hiccup’s dragon Toothless naturally falls in love with the new Fury, but when a nasty dragon-napper sets his targets on the two lovers, …

[6.0] From a technical and artistic point of view, this may be the finest animated film ever made. But it’s also dull. I dislike how the three floating fat ladies (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather) steal the show, while the prince and princess are given all the personality of tree stumps. Fortunately, artistry goes a long way. Sleeping Beauty is Disney’s most exquisite work. I love …

[6.5] Producer Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) wrangled together animation companies from around the world to assemble Heavy Metal, a string of six animated shorts based on the popular adult fantasy magazine. The stories are tied together by a loose framing device involving an ominous green orb that destroys everything it encounters. My personal favorite sequences are “B-17”, which depicts a zombie attack aboard a WWII bomber …

[7.0] The world’s first animated feature film holds up pretty well, even if feminism has rendered its heroine somewhat outdated. Snow White herself is a little annoying, not only because she sits around waiting for her “prince to come”, but also because Adriana Caselotti’s voice is so darned squeaky. But I enjoy the darker aspects of the film, including Snow White’s fear-induced flight through the …

[6.0] Disney Animation puts a science-fiction twist on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story. The mix of 2D and 3D animation is interesting, especially when you stop to marvel at an animator’s mastery of perspective when 2D characters are seen running through 3D environments while the ‘camera’ moves all around them. The overall design of Treasure Planet is incoherent, though — you never see two of …

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