bee movie (2007)
According to all known laws of animation, there is no way that Bee Movie should be able to exist. Its plot is too bizarre to get its audience to take it seriously. However, Bee Movie, surely does exist, because Jerry Seinfeld doesn't care what humans think is impossible. Our postmodern masterpiece starts when Barry B. Benson, a literal bee, takes a day off from his bee-life, venturing out into the human world where he meets Vanessa, a New York florist with whom he starts an unlikely friendship. They use their combined legal knowledge to sue the human race, cease honey production and destroy the natural world. Bee Movie serves as a warning to the audience about the disastrous consequences of not respecting our environment, especially in an age where global warming is threatening the extinction of the Bee race. The audience today has chosen instead to ignore this message and use the script to create some of the most iconic memes we have today. Popular formats such as, “Bee movie trailer but every "bee" is repeated by how many times “bee” was said before it” have seen us through some of our most unnecessary periods of procrastination, and for that, this movie will forever be a gem.
Neo yokio (2017 - present)
Created by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, and produced by Japanese anime studios Production I.G. and Studio Deen, Neo Yokio is a Netflix Original which is, in fact, truly original. The show revolves around Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith), a young socialite who, with the help of his robotic butler, Charles (Jude Law), tries to balance his job as a demon-slaying ‘Magistocrat’ with his quest to become the titular city’s most eligible bachelor. In his travels across the titular city (a kind of retro-futurist, New York/Tokyo hybrid), Kaz inevitably comes into contact with a myriad of eccentric characters, from his stern aunt Agatha (Susan Sarandon) to his arch-nemesis: the hilariously flamboyant Arcangelo (Jason Schwartzman). Further vocal cameos from the likes of Richard Ayoade, Stephen Fry, and Steve Buscemi ensure that Neo Yokio boasts the kind of eclectic voice-cast which would make Wes Anderson spit out his Darjeeling tea with whimsical envy. Despite this obvious star-power, the show has gone predominantly unnoticed since its release in 2017, seemingly struggling to find an audience in the streaming service’s behemoth of a library. Those who seek it out, however, will find a clever slice of anti-capitalist satire which creates a beguiling world of anime references and millennial observations; one worth watching for Law and Schwartzman’s impeccable vocalisation alone.
the little prince (2015)
I am not familiar with the novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that inspired this film. I had no expectations of The Little Prince, it just seemed like a simple animated movie on Netflix. It was something easy to watch. I was not expecting to experience such joy and sadness from watching The Little Prince.
The film begins with an unnamed girl and her mother who move into a new neighbourhood where the mother presents a life plan for her daughter so that she can be as successful and skilled as possible; so she can be as essential as possible. The girl then, by chance, strikes up a friendship with their neighbour, an eccentric elderly aviator who begins to tell her the story of The Little Prince who he met when he crash-landed in the Sahara Desert.
The cast is also stacked with a number of movie stars like Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Albert Brooks, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro to name but a few.
The Little Prince employs both computer animation (in the girl’s reality) and stop-motion animation (in the stories of The Prince). These switches in style are effective, not only because they are both well realised on their own, but because it aids the pace of the film. You never grow tired of either style because the pace doesn’t allow you time to. It’s also quite pretty.
The sentiment of this film is simple: never forget the joy and imagination you have as a child, and life beyond those years won’t be dull or boring.
The castle of cagliostro (1979)
The most eye-catching detail about Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro is its director, Hayao Miyazaki. From this name-drop, one may expect a pensive film exploring the beauty of the natural world and a quiet life, given his Ghibli-era films such as Spirited Away. For his first feature film, however, Miyazaki traded these qualities for all the bombastic fun of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Our protagonist, Arsène Lupin III is a charming and noble thief, travelling to the European state of Cagliostro on a get-rich-quick scheme. Shenanigans are afoot in Cagliostro, however, so the plot balloons into a Spielbergian adventure, with car chases, inventive action scenes, an evil Count and even a princess bride. This is accented with Miyazaki’s trademark off-beat direction, including a bizarrely prominent autogyro featured throughout the film and a strikingly animated clocktower fight scene. Lupin, is a joy to watch, his physics-defying escapades and thefts of identity, all exquisitely animated and excellently voice acted by David Hayter, keep the viewer hooked, making him, for me, Miyazaki’s most engaging protagonist.
The animation of the film is another highlight. The characters move with kinetic vigour and flair, thanks to Miyazaki’s expert use of traditional animation techniques, and their expressive designs allow an impressive degree of personality to shine through. All this is complemented with a gorgeous Franco-Belgian flavoured art style, utilised perfectly to portray an idealised vision of Germanic Europe as viewed from afar: rendered in vibrant traditional brushstrokes rather than the digital renders of today’s animated fare.
Despite its differences from Miyazaki’s later films, the Castle of Cagliostro retains the director’s emotional earnestness, keen eye for detail and bountiful creativity, delivering an engaging Princess Bride-style adventure and a recommended watch for anyone who enjoys animated films, or the concept of fun itself.