OPINION: Top 5 Warner Bros. Theatrically Released Animated Movies
When most people think about animated films, Disney, Pixar and Dreamwork’s products are usually the ones that first come to mind, and that's completely warranted. Warner Bros. on the other end has created tons of animated content in the direct-to-video department, but less so theatrically. That looks like it's changing with the ongoing Lego Movie series and the upcoming Smallfoot movie this year. Despite not having a vast selection of theatrically released animated films, Warner Bros. does have some really great ones. These are my top 5:
Honorable Mention: Quest for Camelot (1998) – dir. Frederik Du Chau
Despite the mixed-reception, I genuinely adore this film. It’s got a fun Arthurian adventure, a good sense of humor, and a memorable soundtrack. Most people probably haven’t seen or heard of it, but to me, it is an underrated gem.
5. Storks (2016) – dir. Nicolas Stoller and Doug Sweetland
Storks came out with not much attention, but I honestly believe it to be one of the most underappreciated animated movies in a while. It’s by far one of the funniest. The film has the charming premise of actualizing the myth of storks delivering babies to families. Years after the storks’ baby delivering service shuts down, Junior (a stork) and Tulip (a human) team up to deliver one last baby to their designated family. The movie’s heartwarming, entertaining and genuinely hilarious. The entire voice acting cast was perfect, but Katie Crown, who voices Tulip, definitely is a stand-out with wonderful comedic timing. The movie had a decent reception, but personally, I think it's criminally overlooked.
4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) – dir. Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm
Set in the Batman: The Animated Series universe, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a great character-driven adventure that wonderfully captures the tragic and heroic essence of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The story follows Batman dealing with heartbreak while trying to stop a masked vigilante who is killing Gotham’s crime bosses. The compelling crime-drama storyline is bolstered by the narrative’s non-linear structure, which keeps the film engaging and provides meaningful insight into the characters and plot. Just like the animated tv series, this film is entertaining with no shortage of action but appropriately takes its titular character seriously.
3. The Iron Giant (1999) – dir. Brad Bird
Before The Incredibles, Brad Bird made another sublime animated feature, one that underperformed at the box office but was critically lauded. Set during the Cold War, The Iron Giant is a timeless tale about the friendship between young Hogarth and the giant robot he finds crash landed from space. While Hogarth sees the Giant as a companion, the US government sees the robot as a threat. The main theme of choice is handled with care, as the Giant ends up showing more humanity than many of the human characters. The story effectively plays on America’s Cold War paranoia, while boasting wonderful characters, visuals, and earnestness. How can you not love the Giant mimicking Superman?
2. The Lego Batman Movie (2017) – dir. Chris McKay
The Lego Batman Movie is a wildly fun take on one of the most beloved fictional characters. The movie is even more self-aware than its predecessor and is able to both poke fun at and embrace Batman (and other DC characters) from various iterations. The story is charming too, as we follow a loner Batman taking on a slew of villains led by The Joker, all while discovering the importance of teamwork and friendship. All the characters are endearing and the interactions between Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Alfred are a joy to watch. The movie is an adrenaline rush of impressive Lego visuals, pop culture references galore, and hilarious quick-witted humour. It’s an incredibly entertaining experience that never loses its heart.
1. The Lego Movie (2014) – dir. Phil Lord and Chris Miller
No one would have ever imagined a movie about Lego figures would be an ingenious, hilarious and charming as The Lego Movie turned out to be. The story focuses on the outside-the-box and overly enthusiastic Emmet (joined by several companions) on a quest to stop Lord Business from gluing everything into his idea of a perfect, but unchanging, world. The animation superbly captures the movements of Lego pieces, and boasts creative builds and detailed Lego worlds. The cheeky humour caters to kids and adults alike, while the kinetic-paced story is not only clever but has a surprising amount of depth. The Lego Movie’s vast amount of allusions and Easter eggs only add to the immensely fun viewing experience.