Hello, Spongey here
Well, here we are . We’re finally at the end of our crazy project. After 2015, I started reviewing the major releases as they come out so thus this is our stopping point, It feels weird to be finally almost done.
Almost as weird as it is to be so close to the present. I remember reviewing some of these when they were relevant! Anyway, this year again has old favorites coming back while Disney bows out so Pixar can have two tries.
It’s an interesting year in terms of what came to bat, so we’ll see how it turned out. Awards wise, the Oscars nominated Inside Out, Anomolisa, The Boy and the World , Shaun the Sheep Movie and When Marnie was there. One of the more varied groups at least, and of course Inside Out won.
The Golden Globes nominated Inside Out, Anomolisa, Good Dinosaur, The Peanuts Movie and Shaun which is a less varied group but still solid. Inside Out still won. The Annies…had the exact same group as the Globes and the same winner. Huh, that was easy.
With all that said, how does this year stack up? Will it be a good one to end on? Let’s see.
This, is Ranking the Animated Films of 2015
Barbie in Princess Power: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/barbie-month-princess-power/
Hell & Back: Adult Stop motion film that looks pretty bad.
Looney Tunes Rabbit’s Run: DTV Looney Tunes thing that I heard is fine.
Equestria Girls Friendship Games: I did a VLOG on this but it sucks so short version is that it’s not as good as Rainbow Rocks but still pretty solid.
The Nutcracker Sweet: I watched this back in 2017 hoping to review it since it’s from the same director as Fantastic 4orce but it just turned out to be super boring. Yawn.
Regular Show the Movie: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/regular-show-the-movie/
Tinkerbell and The Legend of the Neverbeast: https://spongey444.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/tinker-bell-and-the-legend-of-the-neverbeast/
Top Cat Begins: Prequel to a Mexican Top Cat movie that totally didn’t get a limited US Release I forgot about.
Now for the movies, for the last time.
Huevos: Little Roosters Egg-cellent-Adventure:
…So you might be wondering what the hell is this. And…that is an excellent question. This is a Mexican animated film that indeed got a decent theatrical release. But despite being covered by Midnight Screenings, no one else I follow that covers animated films has talked about this movie.
It’s…something. So much something that…it’s gonna be the next scene by scene review. Sorry, but I just had too much to say for a sort section. I’d be going off on random tangents that wouldn’t gel with my overall coverage.
But I’ll give you the short version: It’s a typical underdog story that gets so bogged down in weird-ness and dumb jokes that it fails to develop the characters into people worth caring about, including the lead.
The jokes are mostly just dumb and odd, and the plot gets weirdly complicated at times. The animation is decent for the budget though, as is the acting despite a clearly somewhat butchered dub.
The odd thing is the American Theatrical Release was Subbed which I have to respect. Sadly, I saw the dub which wasn’t the worst but had the hallmarks of bad dubs, like random pop culture references.
When I do the review, I’ll do further research but for now I just know this is a weak movie that was just a random mix of elements. (The research I did for this section sent me down an interesting rabbit hole that will interesting to discuss in the review). Not the worst thing ever but I couldn’t justify putting it higher.
I’ll explain myself more in the review cuz there’s a fair bit to say but for now, just know it’s quite the odd, if slightly respectable, failure.
No surprise here. I still give this movie credit for at least being ambitious (and very well animated) but it’s also still a mess with weak covers and a really weak romance.
I haven’t really thought of it much since my review so it’s not one I hate but it is an odd mess. I suppose it’ll find an audience but like people, I found it messy and a bit annoying. Nothing terrible but nothing that good either.
It gets credit for ambition but not too much else. Meh.
2014 was hard for Dreamworks, as their movies were starting to lose money. As a result, this was their only offering for this year and it needed to be a hit so they could stay afloat. So it’s sad that despite basically help save them, this movie is one of their weaker efforts.
The thing about this movie is that unlike most Dreamworks movies, this is aimed squarely at kids. The story, characters and overall tone is more kiddie than usual for them and there’s not much for adults.
It’s based on a kids book so that may have had something to do with it but either way the movie is clearly made only for kids. But since there exists movies like this that are still good, I still feel okay judging it for the most part.
It’s certainly harmless for kids and has its heart in the right place, but it’s still not very good. It hits every beat you expect from a movie like this as these mismatched leads learn to get along.
Ooh is a screw-up everyone has to learnt to like since everyone makes mistakes (he just happens to make a ton, including accidentally leading their enemy to them) and Tip is the human who needs to find her Mom as she got taken by the Boov along with the other humans.
Neither are that deep and the former is a bit annoying thanks to his broken English that gets old very fast. I don’t hate him or anything but I didn’t exactly warm up to him either. Tip is better but not fleshed out much and Rihnina’s stiff performance didn’t really help much.
Their antics are mostly childish with the humor being pretty lame. The twist with the Gorg can be seen coming a mile away and the villain gets lame jokes and doesn’t really make an impact. Despite driving home for the morals which are really hammered in.
And what was the point of casting Brian Steppanek if he’s not even gonna speak English?! I did kind of enjoy Matt Jones aka Gunther from Kick Buttowski though.
The concept of these aliens invading and this girl having to find her Mom is a good one and I wish they focused more on that instead of all the kiddie antics that hog the screentime.
That said, the animation is of course well done with some creative designs and plenty of pretty colors. It’s at least appealing to look at most of them. And there’s a few funny moments and even a few nice ones.
There’s nothing in here that’s bad for kids and I’ll gladly take it over Shark Tale. However, it pretty much caters only to those kids and most adults will find this rather trite and annoying.
It’s not the worst but it did get on my nerves at times and felt longer than it was despite being rather short. I’m glad it did so well but I wish it was better. Dreamworks is better than this so it is a tad sad to see a movie like that which feels so…dumbed down at times.
The Netflix series is supposed to be much better but until I see that, my only experience with this world is rather…meh.
And here’s the other side to that battle. This is one of those movies I can see people liking more or less than me given it’s nature, but as always I put it right in the middle. Sort of, it’s actually on the lower end of average for me.
It’s only really saved by a few funny moments like that villain family that needs a spin off movie right now. But as I went into detail on, it just doesn’t do a good job of showing me that these guys deserved a full movie.
I could forgive the lack of substance if I found it funny, but it didn’t quite do it for me. It’s not bad but still easily the weakest fully animated Illumination movie. I’m sticking with Penguins, sorry.
Hotel Transylvania 2:
I’ve reviewed the other two so I guess it’s time to go over the middle chapter. I talked about it when I reviewed the 3rd one so this is gonna be short.
This is my least favorite of the trilogy as the story is weaker due to feeling more like 2 TV Episodes stitched together. After a strong first half, the 2nd half isn’t quite as good with less laughs and a weak rushed ending.
And as cool as the climax is, it’s pretty arbitrary and I don’t like how they had Dennis indeed get his fans. It gives Drac what we wants, and it makes his whole “I don’t care what he is” bit ring a tad hollow.
But despite that,it’s still enjoyable. The animation is of course even better here with great expressions and solid timing that leads to some good laughs. I actually like Mavis a bit more here as she deals with being a parent and figuring out which side Dennis should fall on.
There’s still some decent heart and Genndy still brings a lot to it, even though he had less control this time. Thankfully, it’s not too obvious despite Sandler being a writer on this one. That’s pretty amazing in itself, to be honest.
So despite some weak writing near the end, this still proves to be a solid sequel that keeps the solid animation and comedy intact. It’s the one I’m the least likely to re-watch as the other two balance the story and humor a bit better but this was still was fun to re-visit.
Not a great sequel, but still a fun time for me.
The Good Dinosaur:
This was the first year Pixar had two films while one was highly acclaimed and made a bunch of money, this was sadly one of their “okay’ ones. But it also was their first true flop which was a pretty big deal, even if they made up for it with their next one.
This is of course of their simply Good ones, but like all of those it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s a solid movie with some great moments that doesn’t quite rise above “solid” despite those moments. I do think it is a solid movie and honestly a bit better than some give it credit for.
I see the flaws we’ll get into but I have to wonder why some flat out crap on it. At worst it can be seen as kinda generic but nothing painful or even that boring. But anyway, this movie has an interesting concept that is mostly just to serve the story it wants t tell rather than really exploring that idea.
That’s the big thing that turns everyone off but once you realize that it won’t go deep into the whole “Asteroid missing the Dinos” thing, you’ll hopefully get more into it. There’s some oddities like the whole Western bive that may be distracting but it generally works with the whole thing they’re going for.
This is mostly a coming of age story as Arlo has to learn to overcome his fear after a storm kills his father (in a brutal scene but also a weird edit). While Arlo is far from Pixar’s strongest lead due to being a tad too simple, his story does kind of work as we see him get past these challenges.
This movie can be pretty brutal to him sometimes and they do a good job showing how dangerous this land is. I enjoy some of the side characters (especially Steve Zahn) and there are some striking moments. The boy and his dog story with Spot can clash at times but other times it adds to Arlo’s journey nicely.
This even has some of the strongest emotional moments of the weaker Pixar film, like the final scene with Spot. Oh and the backgrounds are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever seen in a Pixar movie, just wow. .That said, I agree that the characters look too cartoon-y and it does clash quite a bit.
Its biggest flaw is that it can struggle to juggle some of these elements, and the general story is fairly cliche so some beats are fairly predictable. There are some dull spots, or times where I wish it fleshed out an element more instead of this sometimes odd hodge podge.
But I do think it mostly keeps a solid focus on Arlo’s journey as he overcomes his fear and all that. It’s slightly messy but a bit more focused than some say. It mostly knows what it wants to do, it just throws in some elements that can feel out of place.
While plenty of animated movies go through production troubles, this case really shows and I wonder how it would have been if it stayed on track. But despite that, it’s a solid adventure with some standout moments, decent characters and lovely animation. Oh and the music is great too.
The story isn’t the strongest and I see where it can be disappointing, but overall it’s a fine movie to watch. …But I agree there’s no reason for it to be called The Good Dinosaur. It does reflect the movie, as it is indeed good, at least.
The SpongeBob Movie Sponge out of Water:
I’ve covered this one a fair bit, so I can skip past it. The script is far from the strongest but as fan it’s still a pretty fun time with good humor and all that. It doesn’t match the first one at all but it makes a few minor improvements where it needs to at least.
Not an all time favorite but still fun. And yes, I’m interested in the 3rd one despite the odd set up. But even it sucks, at least we have have two good SpongeBob movies to enjoy.
Shaun the Sheep Movie:
This is going to be super sort as I don’t have much to say about this one. Aardman brings Shaun to the big screen with a simple but fun little movie.
They refreshingly use no real dialogue so the visuals can tell the story and jokes for them. That also means the movie is short which is good as it could have outstayed it’s welcome. It drags a bit at times already so it’s good that it ends before it can tiring.
This is just a fun movie as the sheep get into antics after the farmer loses his memory. The farmer’s deal gets a subplot that nicely break things up and is pretty funny in its own right. There’s nothing at all complicated but the story is well told with fun escalation and even some nice moments.
It does exactly what it sets out to do and is just pretty funny. I’m more partial to dialogue humor so thus I like other comedies more but this is up there for Aardman as it’s pretty enjoyable.
And…yeah, that’s about all there is to it. It know what it wants to be and is pretty fun to watch. And it does all this without real dialogue which is respectable. Look, this doesn’t give me much to work with and those who like it more would be able to say it more.
It’s simply a fun time and there’s not too much wrong with it. There’s s a sequel involving aliens coming out later this year so hopefully that will be just as enjoyable.
…Yeah, I’m out, it’s just good.
Boy and the World:
Here’s a Brazilian film that got an Oscar nomination. I had no idea what to expect going in and it ended being quite the experience. It’s a fairly short (less than 80 minutes without credits) movie that runs on atmosphere and has very little dialogue.
The thing that sticks out about right away is the animation which combines drawings and digital animation to create a style that changes quite a bit but in a good way that keeps you mesmerized. It’s hard to describe but it’s a 10 on a visual level alone.
Story wise, it’s mostly simple as a boy’s father has to live for work and eventually he runs away only to end up in a weird world that he gets caught up in. The way they focus on the animation and atmosphere keeps it afloat as the boy goes on trying to find his way back somehow.
Then near the end it gets a bit more complicated as things happen that throw off what you thought was more clear cut. It’s not super complicated per say but it does get a bit more abstract and my stupid brain still had to use Wikipedia to keep up.
Granted, it becomes pretty clear at the very end so I would have picked up eventually. I’m making it sound more complicated than it really is, I’m just stupid. I was still into it as it was all pretty engaging and the visuals alone kept me intrigued.
It has some solid emotion and is a highly enjoyable journey. Some will declare it a master work because of how it conveys the themes it gets into while some like me will just simply enjoy despite some confusing parts.
Either way, it’s a very unique movie for those who want something different that may resonate with them a fair bit. It’s hard to say anything too deep as it is best go in blind due to the things it throws it you
But just know it’s very interesting, visually incredibly and quite the enjoyable and emotional journey, even if some it can be hard to keep up with. It even drags a bit, which tells me it could have worked better as a short.
But as a film, it’s still really good. It’s on Netflix so those who have it can freely check it out if you wish.
When Marnie was There:
The director of Areiety gives us Ghibli’s most recent film as of this writing. I knew basically nothing going into this one so it ended up being a pretty pleasant surprise.
I will say that off the bat that much like Song of the Sea, the first Act or so is just simply good as there’s not too much going. It’s generally nice and is needed to allow us time to breathe before we get into the big emotional stuff, but it can be slow and make the film feel longer than it is.
And while we’re on the flaws, it’s a bit pointless to cast John C Riley as someone if he’s not gonna do do much. But anyway, this is a really nice movie. It seems like a basic friendship story between Anna and this mysterious girl named…well look at the title.
But as it goes on but wee see it goes a bit deeper than that. The friendship is really nice and we see how troubled their lives are. Anna is rather awkward and is forced to live with some relatives on top of some other stuff they go into later. And I dont really wanna say much about Marnie as part of “fun” so to speak is finding out more about this mysterious girl.
It’s a bit of a mystery in a way as we find out more about her. The big twist really ends up telling quite the emotional and interesting story that kept me engaged. The final twist does end up make me look back on a previous scene in…a weird way that I wanna joke about but ya know, spoilers and all that.
It’s a really nice movie that is also quite interesting with twists that make the story more interesting than it seems. The animation is on point as you’d expect and the dub is decent, if nothing amazing.
(Anna is voiced by Halie Steinfeld who did certainly get a bit better after this. Also Marnie is Netflix Sabrina, neat)
It starts out slow but when it gets going, it’s an emotional and engaging ride that far more interesting than the set up suggests with a great friendship at the center. Where it falls on your ranking depends on who you are, but I’d put it fairly high as far as their works go.
No matter how you rank it, it’s still a highly enjoyable and nice watch. Didn’t know what to expect and I go a really solid surprise out of it.
I was unsure where to rank one but the more I thought about, the more I figured this deserved to be higher than Marnie. Given the kind of movie it is, it had an easy time getting me to really liking it.
This was an uphill battle as it is basically a stop motion Cinephille movie and those don’t always sit well for me. But against all odds, it really worked for me.
I haven’t seen Charlie Kaufman’s other film he directed but I have seen some of the ones he wrote, and between the previous two I was into Eternal Sunshine more than Adaptation and this was much closer to the former.
It’s about a man who is at a hotel to do a speech at a convention and is dealing with how he abruptly left an old flame years ago. He bumps into a woman named Lisa he falls for. It sounds simple but it’s the details that make this really interesting.
See, every character besides Micheal and Lisa are voiced by the same actor (Tom Noonan) and also have the same face. Yes, this includes the female ones and the kids.While some slight comedy that comes from this, it’s basically there to show how everyone is just becoming the same in his mind. (And he does a good job too, making certain dramatic moments work despite the voice clearly being off)
See, this movie is great at taking things that sounds quite …well pretentious and makes them pretty engaging. The way it’s directed and the way the story plays out makes the themes resonate quite well and the story generally works on a surface level as well as a deeper one.
So it’s not like the story only works as a metaphor, it is a solid simple story and the themes add a lot without being too try hard. I actually had an easier time following this than Boy & the World which I was not expecting.
It’s another movie where I don’t wanna give away too much as it’s interesting to see how things end up playing out. It’s ultimately more complicated than it seems and I did find myself thinking a bit more about it than I usually do with these sorts of movies.
That’s not to say this is dumber than most smart movies cuz I understood it or anything like this, the stars just aligned this time. The stop motion is pretty good with the puppets being pretty expressive and well done, especially given the budget.
The direction sells all this, and I have to shout out co-director Duke Johnson who previously worked on Moral Orel, which certainly shows. It has some of the dull spots I expect from these kind of movies and the part where Lisa says people don’t tend to fall for her proves Hollywood Homely is even a thing even in Indie Movies.
But aside from things like that, this was a very engaging movie that explores the story well with interesting themes, along with good animation and some great direction. It’s a case where I get why others rate it even more highly but I still really liked as it is
The Peanuts Movie:
This movie is basically a miracle.It’s one of those times we assumed it’d be a corporate cash grab full of bad jokes that disgraces the source materiel. But just like Paddingon before it, it ended up being both respectful and really good.
You can tell they really wanted to get this right and that the Shulz’ made sure they got it right. Really, the only problem is that it can get a bit vignette-y and play a bit like a greatest his collection. And even then most of the scenes do add up to a greater purpose and I’d say only a couple bits feel like hey’re thrown in cuz you remember it from the specials.
Although as fun as the red baron scenes are on their own, they can break up a pace a bit too much, like the ones near the end.
It generally doesn’t break new grounds for Peanuts but what it doss is still quite strong. they got the mood just right, from the use of 2D animation at some points to Christophe Beck’s excellent score. They use all the characters well and the child actors are all on point.
The animation is of course amazing with how it translates this world to CGI wile still having a @D look to it. Blue Sky was breaking CGi boundaries before it was cool. There’s a lot of little details in the animation to enjoy.
The movie is just generally fun and highly enjoyable but really makes it great for me is what they do with Charlie Brown himself. They show off how much of a screw up he can be but always show him getting back up again, even if he does doubt himself at times.
Some of the scenes that seem pointless end up showing how he helps others or is a good person. Some of this is to impress the Little Red Haired Girl (voiced by the sister from Dog with a Blog) who ends up giving us the big moral that helps make some of the previous scenes more important.
There’s something Charlie Brown finds out that most movies would have him find out early on and then make a liar revealed plotline out of it. I don’t hate those plots like some do and it could have worked but they actually have him find it out later and then right away he tells everyone the truth. Even when he’s at the top of the world, he’s too much of a nice guy to keep secrets.
And the screw up stuff plus the sad scenes prevent him from getting too perfect o latch on to. That gives the movie an inspiring message about picking yourself back up and how just being a good person will pay of in the long run. It’s what makes this a great movie instead of a pretty good one.
So yeah, I like the happy ending. The way it’s written makes it work and it’s not like Peanuts was ultra depressing anyway. It would be odd for a family film like this to have a downer ending.
It’s not the highest great ever but the way it captures the Peanuts style plus the way they write the message makes this a pretty strong film and easily my favorite from Blue Sky. Like Charlie Brown himself, it’s not perfect but it’s still able to do some great things.
(And it even makes a Meghan Trainor song work okay. That’s even more amazing)
And my totally predictable choice for favorite animated film of 2015 is…
Yeah, no surprise here. It’s the movie that made people love Pixar again and everyone praised to high heaven. This one has been analyzed a fair bit and I agree with all the praise so hopefully I can keep this short.
Unlike Good Dinosaur, I did a First Impressions Journal when it came out and I was interested to see how well it would hold up. It holds up quite well. It’s easy to get sucked up in the hype when a film this good comes around a studio that had been simply solid films for the past few years but it honestly is that good.
I’ll admit this did make me notice that formula Pixar likes using (character in a pretty good place ends on a road trip of sorts of someone with a clashing personality) and as such it can be easy to tell where certain elements are going especially the moral which they make a tad too obvious at times.
But that’s my only real complaint. This is one of those movies that ends up packing in a lot into an 86 minute (without credits although even those are great) runtime and takes you on a fun and emotional journey.
It uses a concept we’ve seen before and really goes all out with it, with many scenes doing some fun things with it from that whole weird abstract scene to the amazing scene of Fear riffing the bad dream movie.
I agree with pretty much everything people say about this one. All the voice acting is on point, every charecter is enjoyable in some way, the humor is great and of course the animation is as top notch as ever. The design of this brain world is very creative and it contrasts nicely with the outside world.
And yeah, the moral is super important, as obvious as it is. Every emotion is important including sadness and bottling all that up to fake being happy is not healthy. They showcase this very well and it leads to a pretty tear jerking ending.
Also, Bing Bong is the best. He’s funny without being annoying and he ends up being really important when he could have been useless throwaway. More movies could use characters like him.
It’s a brilliant idea executed really well with plenty of creativity and a well written story that has an important message. A few clumsy moments in the setup and a well worn formula isn’t enough to distract from how great this movie is in pretty much every aspect.
Even a few years later, this still holds up as a great Pixar film and not just a good one with too much hype. I’d see why someone would think that but you can put me with those who still love. I’d put it quite why on my ranking, along with Up.
That Pete Doctor sure is good, eh? But yeah, it holds up and Pixar is finally back to topping these lists as they made my favorite animated film of 2015.
And those were the animated films of 2015. Overall, this year was simply solid. An average 2015 animated film is the definition of fine, it seems. They would get the job done and too much more, but the best ones managed to go one step beyond what I expected of them.
Likewise, the less than good ones managed to sink lower than I thought they might, which kinda sucks. But the ones that stand tall did surprise me on some level. The Indie movie made me think, Marnie had some interesting twists, Pixar’s gem holds up and Blue Sky made something I personally called great.
2015 was a fine year for animation with a few reaching solid heights and the weakest ones were thankfully not too terrible compared to the worst of the last few years. 2015 wasn’t one of the really strong years like 2009 or anything but it wasn’t 2013 or 2005 either. It got the job done and still managed to have some really good surprises as well.
Perfectly balanced and a solid year to end this project on. Man, it feels to wrap this project up as it feels like I’ve been doing for both awhile and not that long. I’m glad I took more time for these later on and still manged to finish sooner rather than later.
This was a daunting project at times but it as overall a lot of fun. I got to re-visit some films I hadn’t seen in awhile and finally some I had been sitting on for awhile. I wasn’t always sure which Indies to cover and when but hopefully I got most of the more interesting ones.
I mostly kept to the heavy hitters. I’m sorry if I skipped some you may have wanted me to cover, I hope to check out a few of those. I know I should have covered From Up on Poppy Hill since it got a decent release. Whoops. (Go ahead and request certain skipped foreign/indie ones incase I forget to check out some)
At least I got all the major wide releases, that’s the important part. I’m pretty proud myself for finishing this thing, but don’t expect anymore long term projects like this for awhile. Expect less stuff like this, and more things like the MCU posts as those are far easier to deal with.
And they don’t cut into other projects. This pretty much wraps it up for my journey through animated films. I’m still doing general reviews for all upcoming ones, in case you’re wondering. No point in stopping that.
That’s all I got for this project.
(But wait, you might recall I never ranked the 2016 ones in the Sing review like I did with the other final reviews of 2017 and 2018. So let’s fix that, with direct to video films in italics:
A Frozen Christmas
Norm of the North
The Wild Life
Ice Age 5
Rachet and Clank
The Secret Life of Pets
Equestria Girls Legend of Everfree
April and the Extraordinary World
The Little Prince
Kung Fu Panda 3
Kubo and the Two Strings. (Yep, I decided I like this easily a bit more now) (Now bye for real. Wait, this started with open parenthesis so shouldn’t this end with the closed one?)