Laika has the ability to conjure up magic and unique premises that you can’t find anywhere else, and it’s why I think they’re bringing so much to the animation medium. While “The Box Trolls” isn’t their best title, it surely is a meaningful and heartfelt work of art that works as an entertaining allegory about the class structure and the idea of the dream of wealth and whether or not it can ever live up to our fantasies. Is there such a thing as too much? And it is really as ideal as we think?
In 1988, Tim Burton introduced us to a foul-mouthed freelance “bio-exorcist” ghost, simply named Beetlejuice (or, to those sticklers out there, Betelgeuse). Like most entities of his ilk, chanting his name three times would give him power, allowing him to interact with the real world and perform hauntings and create monsters. Michael Keaton took on the guise of the demonic anti-hero with a penchant for perversion and trickery and director Tim Burton created a bonafide horror icon for the 90s. In 1989, the love for Beetlejuice had hit its high and Burton cemented himself as a master of Goth tales with Batman and Edward Scissorhands soon after.
When I was a kid whenever councils or committees tried to encourage kids to read, they always invented some kind of mascot, and for me it was Cap’n O. G. Readmore. Every Saturday morning after the cartoons, he’d show up to remind kids to read, and explain how much fun reading was. “The Pagemaster” has good intentions but deep down it feels disingenuous and an awful lot like a glorified Saturday Morning special turned in to a big feature. At barely eighty minutes in length, it’s a mediocre, dreary, occasionally boring film that you can’t help but feel like it could have been shown as a TV movie.
“Avatar” was and is one of the most interesting animated epics on television in years. With an industry looking to bring nothing but disposable cartoons and lame comedy even years after its end, it’s rare that we were able to sit and watch animated epics. “Avatar” was engaging, beautiful, and often very emotional. As a person who fancies himself an animation aficionado, it’s rare to find excellent storytelling in the medium anymore beyond movies, and “Avatar” proved me wrong in many instances as a simple children’s fantasy series.
It’s shocking that “Manifest” lives on to see a second season, as the series is thick in mystery and mythos and it might drive fans nuts if it ends without some answers. I’m not usually a fan of series like “Manifest” that practice the tradition of an ensemble of characters uncovering a mystery that connects them a la “Lost,” but “Manifest” is a pretty good science fiction drama all things considered. I don’t know if the show is going to dip in to science fiction or religious realms soon, but the series digs in to some unique material with a prologue that is pretty damn compelling.
Over twenty five years later, “Aladdin” is still one of the best animated films of the Disney golden age of the late eighties and nineties. Whether it’s on the big screen or the small screen, Jon Musker and Ron Clements’ adaptation of the original series of fantasy tales is engaging, and fun, but also excels in its simplicity and accessibility. Aladdin is also one of the most underrated Disney heroes in their staple, it’s a shame he doesn’t get mentioned too often.
It’s surprising how much “RoboCop” has managed to stay relevant in this day and age. Despite being a science fiction classic with excellent biblical overtones, Hollywood has sought out to re-invent the series time and time again. After the passable remake years ago, RoboCop proved he still had some pop culture momentum with his baffling appearance in a KFC commercial (even with original star Peter Weller in the costume). After the ballyhoo with the reboot failing to gain steam yet again a few weeks ago, I felt like re-visiting “RoboCop: The Animated Series.” The 80s was a time where pretty much nothing was off limits and studios spent an odd amount of resources trying to tailor adult properties to kids.
With Disney remaking their remakes of classic fairy tales and adventure novels, stories like “The Jungle Book” are all the rage these days. For folks that want to branch out from the Disney umbrella and check out what other companies have adapted these classic stories, Mill Creek Entertainment releases a collection of animated adaptations of legendary adventures and fantasies. It’s especially good if you’re looking to save a few bucks while expanding your animated horizons beyond the House of Mouse.