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Watch it!: Feeling Animated? I Sure am!

Hey Everybody, Rick here with yet another edition of Watch It! This edition, I will be talking about some animated movies that definitely deserve a look.  The four mediums will all be covered with a movie representative of that medium, be it CG, Hand Drawn, Motion Captured, or Stop Motion.  Note: I am not mentioning any Pixar movies unless they are to draw comparison because they are already a standard setter for the world of animation and the movies in this edition of Watch It for the most part may or may not have been overlooked for whatever reason.

I believe this has been the first time that a biblical story was done in this manner.  Dreamworks Animation's first traditionally animated movie out the gate was a take on the story of Moses.  It has an excellent voice cast including Val Kilmer as Moses, Ralph Feinnes as Ramses among many others.  The animation has a distinctly Disney quality to it and the reason being that many top Disney animators were lured over to Dreamworks by animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg.  The resulting movie made Dreamworks a force to be reckoned with early on.  The animation is absolutely beautiful and the story is excellent, giving the characters of Moses and Ramses a development that they just didn't have in the Bible for whatever reason.  The songs are really well done also.  The story of Moses has obviously been captured on screen.  The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston being the most famous of them, but Prince of Egypt is one version that captures the power and beauty of the story in a way that a live action movie just is not capable of doing.  The plagues are represented in a way that they are absolutely stunning.  The one with the Angel of Death killing the firstborn Egyptians is both incredible and frightening.  While yes, this is an animated movie, this might be a little too intense for kids but regardless of that, it is a truly excellent movie.

Once upon a time, there was no Wallace and Gromit.  The world was souless and without humor.  Then a gift from the heavens and animation director Nick Park appeared in the form of Wallace and Gromit.  The man and dog duo had been in three short films that have all been critically acclaimed.  Then, it was seen fit that we get what is easily my absolute favorite animated movie of all time, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this movie.  It is absolutely flawless and filled with some of the funniest gags that one could ever be privy to in any kind of movie anywhere.  The animation is for lack of a better word, perfect.  It is entirely animated through stop motion and the artistry and craftmanship shows in every single frame of this movie.  I won't get into story specifics because there are some painfully funny gags throughout that are best discovered rather than described.  I absolutely love this movie and I will continue to sing its praises to the world until everyone has seen it because it truly is that great.  Highest possible recommendation! 

The hard part of adaptation sometimes is exactly how to adapt something that has almost no narrative or even any characters to latch onto.  The book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is fun enough but it doesn't really have any characters to latch onto like the movie does, and it definitely does not have what is easily one of the funniest characters ever put on screen with Steve the monkey played by none other than Neil Patrick Harris.  The film version of Cloudy features the brilliant Bill Hader as Flint Lockwood, an aspiring inventor who creates a machine that can make food out of water.  Joining him in this incredibly funny movie are Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell, James Caan, Andy Samberg, and Mr. T.  That alone makes this movie worth watching.  The humor is great because it makes for a refreshing thing where the humor is not based on something topical,  but rather, it comes out of the situations presented in the movie. And then there's the aforementioned Steve the Monkey voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.  Last year brought is two movies where we hear the thoughts of animals.  The first one was Up with the brilliant character of Dug the dog.  Steve however is a whole other thing.  While Dug could speak in complete coherent sentences, Steve tell you exactly what he is thinking in single word sentences.  Brilliant, and extremely funny.  Highly recommended for all ages.     

MONSTER HOUSE (Motion Capture)
Motion Capture animation is a strange beast.  The films Polar Express and Beowulf, while beautifully animated, received many complaints because of the fact that the characters looked like they had what was referred to as "dead eyes."  Monster House has no issue of dead eyes for one express reason.  The characters are not designed to look realistic.  Yes, they are animated via motion capture, but they are fanciful characters in that they look more like cartoon characters.  Anyway, the movie. Monster House is filled with plenty of thrills and chills to make this movie incredibly fun and funny.  It has a definite Goonies vibe to it and there is a slow but deliberate build to seeing the house in it's fullest evil glory.   It has some genuine jump scares as well as some great moments of humor. The characters are really well written and it was clear the actors had a fun time doing the movie. The stuff with the house is brilliantly done and you get to see the distinct parts of the house become the monster which I loved. The dialogue is very funny and clever. The characters are so well written that you are convinced that you know some of these characters in some way, shape or form.  There are some scary moments but these moments are handled in ways that the characters just either laugh off the danger or crack a funny line. Definitely not a movie for kids under six though.

That's it for this edition of Watch it!  Next edition I think I'll share some guilty pleasures!

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