Animation’s Summer Magic

By Sonya Rehman

This year, three freshly baked cartoons – popped right out of the oven of animation – come as a breath of fresh air to the world of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI).
And what’s interesting to note is that over the past couple of years, 3-D animated features have risen in popularity to a rather considerable degree.
From ‘Toy Story’, ‘Shrek’ (all parts), ‘Monsters, Inc’, ‘Bee Movie’ and many others; CGI woven around absorbing, ‘out there’ and original plots, keeps the box-offices and cinema houses – the world over – in a continuous tizzy.

But coming back to 2008’s recently-released yummies, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (now running in local cinema houses), ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’ – each animated film, carries with it a compelling storyline and a star-studded cast of well-known Hollywood actors who’ve lent their voices to each cartoon’s characters.

Starring Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Jackie Chan (and many others), ‘Kung Fu Panda’ bases itself upon a stirring (and motivating) notion that; ‘nothing is impossible’.
And in Po’s case (Kung Fu Panda’s earnest, chubby protagonist) learning kung fu isn’t rocket science. The story is a wonderfully absorbing one, with adorably witty humour and fantastic (and at times, funny) fight sequences – this animated flick is a must-see for everyone out there; whether child or adult.
And considering it grossed over twenty million dollars right on its opening day – and sixty million on its opening weekend – sure speaks louder than words.

‘Kung Fu Panda’, a ‘DreamWorks’ production, beyond doubt is one of those fuzzy, feel-good productions that manages to jump onto your lap and snuggle into your belly while giving you tiny panda hugs in quick succession.

Quite like ‘Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’, whose plot revolves around a big-hearted (and klutzy) elephant (called Horton) who discovers an entire world on a single speck of dandelion!
Now if that isn’t ‘originality’ vis-à-vis a plot, one wonders what is!
With Jim Carrey and Steve Carrell lending their voices for the animated production’s two lead roles, adamant Horton’s maxim: “A person’s a person, no matter how small”, and
“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent”, sets itself as the story’s main premise; in addition to friendship, trust and faith.

Developed and produced by the same company (‘Blue Sky Studios’) that made ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Robots’, ‘Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’ will tickle your funny bone like no other.

On the other hand, Pixar and Disney’s ‘Wall-E’, released just last month (on the 27th of June), takes upon a rather somber and somewhat fascinating brand of mellowed humour.
This is because more than eighty percent of the animated film does not encompass a script as such – as it heavily concentrates on visuals (primarily) which manages to convey more than a script would have.
Infact, I’d go so far as to state that this particular animated flick’s charm would have surely waned and been diluted if it had eloquent little robots running around the screen.
But coming back to the plot – yes, ‘Wall-E’ is all about robots and then some.
But no ordinary, smarty-pants robots mind you, rather, robots that are full of soul, with personalities that are emotive and with a pinch of realism.

And this is perhaps what separates ‘Wall-E’ from other animated films – its characters which rely on body language, and Wall-E’s almost uncanny resemblance (of spirit and physical make-up) to E.T.
Based in the future where a mammoth corporation has sort of ‘taken over the world’ and made a pretty darn good mess of it; given the abundance of waste and pollution which results in mankind abandoning earth for a life in space (sounds pretty probable huh?) , ‘Wall-E’ orbits around two robots amidst a journey of adventure and self-discovery.

And based on its box-office ratings? ‘Wall-E’ has managed to knock both ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’ out of the ring, smarting, pink and yelping for their mommas.

But it’s a matter of choice really – and I suppose by the end of the day, it truly depends on what rocks a viewer’s boat, therefore comparing each animated film against each other would be pointless.
But allow me to state just this; that each comes with a message, a mood and a disposition of its own…all original, yet quite unlike the other in many wonderful ways.

The Friday Times

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