Appreciating Animation

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Animated films are always a great source of entertainment that provides a myriad of choices in telling a story through a visual medium. However, it seems that many of the newer animation films out there don’t get the credit they deserve because they are being squeezed out by animation heavyweights like Disney/Pixar, Illumination and DreamWorks. One example of this is the 2008 MGM animated film, Igor.

In a semi-modernized twist on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this movie centers on a hunchback lab assistant named Igor, played by John Cusack, who dreams of being an evil scientist. However, because he was born with a hunch on his back, he is stuck being a mistreated lab assistant to the worst evil scientist, Dr. Glickenstein, played by John Cleese. But, when Glickenstein’s latest invention goes awry and kills him, Igor gets his chance to enter his invention under the guise of it being Glickenstein’s. His invention is a monster that can win big at the “Evil Science Fair”.

However, the monster’s evil bone isn’t activated when she is brought to life and names herself Eva, after mispronouncing the word “evil”. Igor attempts to brainwash her but when the channel on her brainwash is changed to lessons in acting, he comes up with a new plan to make her evil, while the two accidentally fall in love in the process. A side plot to this movie is that the King of Malaria, the fictional country where the movie is set, lied to the citizens about mysterious storm clouds that have loomed over Malaria for ages in an attempt to make them evil.

This movie is one of the most underrated animated films and has taken a license on a story that would have never been realized. It should have received at least one award for its unique animation style and storytelling, but it went mostly unheard of. Another way to see how centered animation is would be based on who wins the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Last year it went to Coco, which was a joke compared to its competition. Other movies in the running for that category were; The Boss Baby from DreamWorks, The Breadwinner, Illumination’s Ferdinand, and Loving Vincent.

For those wondering, the obvious winner should have been “Loving Vincent” because it was the first film to be animated by using oil paintings in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. Not only does the style of animation make this film Oscar bait, but the story really does capture the viewer’s attention. The story of getting the final letter of artist Vincent van Gogh to his brother keeps viewers captivated by wondering what is the importance of this letter. This film was acclaimed for this and should have gotten some Academy Award based recognition for it.

However, when Coco won it was a huge slap in the face because for once there seemed to be a chance that Disney wouldn’t win that award. Years earlier, the Disney/Pixar film “Inside Out” won the award, beating out the emotionally thrilling Studio Ghibli film, “When Marnie Was There”, something that has brought a tear to the eyes of most people that see it.

Not many animated films seem to get the credit they so richly deserve but this hasn’t stopped them from winning. It has been a while since I have seen a Disney or Disney/Pixar movie that was worthy of an Oscar. The last one to me was the 2009 film, Up starring Ed Asner. Movies that have good stories should be recognized for their achievements but should remain, nominees, when faced with greater competition.

At the 2019 Oscars, I would like to see something that deserves to win do just that. While most people are probably rooting for “The Incredibles 2” or “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, I’m holding out for a hero. In this case the underdog, “Isle of Dogs” by Wes Anderson or any foreign animated films. Though Isle of Dogs is not an achievement in animation, it shows just how great the story-telling abilities of animators can be better than “The Incredibles 2” would. If “Isle of Dogs” doesn’t take home gold, I’ll hold out on the hope that Disney doesn’t win.

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