Worst to Best Animated Films of 2019 Part 3


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Welcome back! Now, it’s time to get into the films that I enjoyed! This is the long part as we count down from 27 to 11! If you have yet to see the first two parts, make sure to use the tags in this editorial to get to Part 1 and Part 2. Now then, let’s keep counting down!

27. Son of the White Mare


While this is a film from a few decades ago, it was never fully or officially released in the states until last year and will be coming out on Blu-ray this year. That’s a bloody shame, because this movie is awesome. The visuals are striking; the storytelling is straight-forward, but really, you watch this movie to see the amazing visual experience that it offers. Otherwise, it’s a simple fairy-tale-style story that relies way more on its abstract visuals to comment on certain topics. However, sometimes, you want to sit back and take in a film that offers outstanding visuals and enjoy the ride! I can’t wait until more people see Son of the White Mare.

26. This Magnificent Cake


I honestly contemplated whether I would include this film on the list. Not because it doesn’t count as one, but I just find it odd that a 45-minute or as it’s called, a mid-length feature, is a film. Still, outside of that personal opinion, this is a very poignant and very dark piece about colonialism in the Congo. It obviously could have used a longer running time for everything to be a bit more impactful, and the ending fizzles out into abstract weirdness that is symbolic and meaningful, but it’s still one of the most unique experiences you can find in animation. I can understand why Barry Jenkins loved this film.

25. Abominable 


It’s always a gamble nowadays on whether a DreamWorks release will be good or not, and that’s a shame because when they release something like Abominable, it shows why people still support them. Sure, it might not have the strongest characters or the beefiest story, but Jill Culton and her team were able to still bring a solid story with some gorgeous visuals to life with a way more interesting villain and tone that you don’t see a whole lot from the studio. I still have my issues with this studio, but Abominable shows that they still have a better sense of talent and storytelling than most animation studios.

24. Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans


While I’m not a huge hater on the current iteration of the teen superhero team, I’m starting to get a little tired of it all now. It’s still a delightfully funny experience, the action is decent, and they were able to make the chemistry between the two different versions of the characters work. It’s always funny to see the same voice actor play two different versions of the same character. This iteration of the franchise might be losing its steam now, but if you enjoyed 2018’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, then you will find a lot to enjoy in this one.

23. Aya of Yop City 


Produced by the director of 2013’s The Rabbi’s Cat, and directed by the creator of the comic series it’s based on, Aya of Yop City is easily one of the hidden gems of foreign animation. Not only is it one of the few animated films I have encountered that star an all African cast of characters, but isn’t about any of the major turmoils that are set in that country in a manipulative way. It’s more of a slice-of-life story, as Aya and her family and friends go through the challenges of relationships, love, jobs, and life. It can be surprisingly funny, endearing, and has a great visual look. It’s a shame that it wasn’t released until this year. Sadly, the story flounders in the end, and Aya herself is not the most interesting character, but people should still really check out this film. Just be ready to experience a film that doesn’t have a traditional story.

22. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines


It’s rather sad that we finally got a second animated feature after 10 years, but the wait was worth it. The drama between Wonder Woman and one of the villains was compelling, the action was stellar, and it was nice to see a superhero film with a mostly female-lead cast. It’s also a bummer that there are a few moments where you can tell a guy directed the film, and the final act falls into generic action fare, but for a direct-to-video DC animated film, I enjoyed this one!

21. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World


It might be the weakest of the three DreamWorks Dragon films, and it 100% shows that DreamWorks doesn’t know how to handle its side characters, but it’s still a pretty stellar finale with downright stupidly good-looking animation, fantastic scenes with Hiccup and Toothless, and it shows how to somewhat properly cap off an incredible franchise.

20. I Lost My Body


This shouldn’t be a big shock. Yes, I was not as huge of a fan as everyone else in the world with this multi-festival winning film. I didn’t think the film balanced out both stories well, I found the humans to be the biggest issue with the film, and I felt like other films should have been nominated. With all that said, this is easily one of 2019’s most unique films. It’s ethereal and mesmerizing watching the sequences with the hand and how the story unfolds. It also has a unique visual style that no other film in 2019 can copy. While I do not have the same love and support of it, I still found the experience to be enthralling from beginning to end.

19. Batman versus TMNT


It seems like that my love for the DC animated films that go direct-to-video always leans to the non-Action 52-style storyline going on right now. I adored the art direction, the action was thrilling, and due to the two properties getting combined into one movie, the story goes bonkers with some sequences. It’s 2019’s Batman Ninja, and I am all here for it.

18. Frozen II


The first film was lightning in a bottle, and Frozen II was going to have to go through some hurdles to overcome the giant challenge of trying to be as good or better than the first film. To a degree, I do like Frozen II better. I like the songs better, I like the tone, I like the commentary, and the film still does show why Anna and Elsa are great. It’s also a film that feels like the last act got changed due to probably being too dark. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what exactly happened with the third act that rubbed me and others the wrong way, and how Sven got the short end of the stick in terms of plots, but despite the rough spots, I still enjoyed my time with Frozen II.

17. Spies in Disguise


It’s rather refreshing to sit here and type out the fact that I absolutely loved a Blue Sky Studios film. Seriously, outside of The Peanuts Movie and to an extent Robots and FerdinandSpies in Disguise feels like Blue Sky’s most cohesive film. The animation, the lighting, the designs, the characters, and the themes it tackles with how it handles aggressive and defensive tactics in spy work is rather ambitious for a film from a studio that has a mixed reputation. It doesn’t do it perfectly, and certain casting choices are distracting/bad, but overall, I would absolutely watch Spies in Disguise again in the future.

16. Mai Mai Miracle


Don’t worry, this is the last of the “we didn’t get this movie until now” films on the list. Honestly, it is shocking that it took until 2019 to get one of the more charming animated features from Japan. It’s very much a film in the same vein as My Neighbor Totoro or the director’s recent work, In This Corner of the World. The story is about two girls from different financial classes enjoying and exploring the countryside post-World-War II. It has the same kind of problem as with the other films listed, where it seems like they had to have some kind of conflict, but if you love films like My Neighbor Totoro, you will love Mai Mai Miracle.

15. Okko’s Inn


Technically, I saw this film two years ago at Animation is Film, and I still stand by my opinion that it is easily one of 2019’s hidden gems to check out. It’s a delightfully low-key coming-of-age drama that despite having a more simplistic art style, was able to really invest you into Okko’s trials of losing her parents. It also has some set pieces that are a wonder to the eye to see unfold with the power of animation.

14. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas


I perfectly get why people would absolutely be on the fence with this one. It’s another one of those teen dramas that has one of the teens with a deadly disease and, yeah, sometimes it milks it a bit too much, and the film is a touch too long, and the designs aren’t all that memorable. However, In terms of these types of films, it’s easily one of the best versions of it. The animation is great, the characters have actual chemistry, and I was able to be fully sucked into the drama and romance. Your reception to this film will vary, but one thing we can all agree on is that this film costs way too much to purchase, Aniplex! Lower the blu-ray’s price!

13. Penguin Highway


For a first time directing gig, Penguin Highway is a smart and creative coming-of-age story about a boy going through puberty and wondering about the world around him. Granted, I don’t know if your journey through growing up included a random infestation of penguins, but still. It overstays its welcome a tiny bit, and I can understand people having an issue with the boy’s fixation on an older woman character, but other than that, I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to check out Studio Colorido’s future projects.

12. The LEGO Movie 2


It’s truly a shame WB decided to burn through too much of the LEGO IP and it’s understandable as to why this film underperformed. I think it deserved to do better because it’s still a fantastic film with a great theme of boy vs girl mentalities, toxic masculinity, and identity. It’s still lighting quick with its wit, highly enjoyable comedy, and the characters are still strong, and I would argue are better than the first film. It might not have that lightning in a bottle hype the first film got, but overall, this film deserved to have done better.

11. Toy Story 4


While I disagree with its Oscar win for Best Animated Feature due to it being the safest bet of the films nominated, and it runs into the DreamWorks situation of not being able to do anything with its side characters that aren’t the new ones, Toy Story 4 is still a stellar film in probably the most consistently high-quality franchise in animation. It might be an epilogue for Woody’s story, and Buzz gets short-changed, but the story is still strong, the characters are likable, the jokes are funny, and it still has a lot of that Pixar love that people adore about the studio.

Thanks for reading the editorial/list! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

The Other Side of Animation: The Rabbi’s Cat Review

(If you would like to see more of my work, go to camseyeview.biz and if you would like to, consider supporting my Patreon on patreon.com/camseyeview. Enjoy the review!)

Among the animated films I was going to review on The Other Side of Animation, I think The Rabbi’s Cat was one I was most curious about. Out of all the films GKIDS distribute, this one stands out for many reasons. The Rabbi’s Cat was directed by Joann Sfar, the director behind Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, The Rabbi’s Cat was released back in 2011 to positive reviews. The big reason this film stands out though is because when it was brought over here in the states. It’s a film that is drenched in heavy conversations revolving around religion, and it’s one of the few films that GKIDs has helped distribute that has no English casting. It’s all in subtitles. It’s also a rather weird and unique film. I mean, it’s unique in the sense of the themes that are tackled in an animated film. So, is this film a gem? Or should you scoop it out of the litter box and throw it away? Let’s find out!

The story takes place during the 1920s in Algeria, and revolves around a rabbi, voiced by Maurice Bènichou, and his cat. After walking home one day, his cat, in an honestly clever way, gains the ability to talk after eating a parrot. The cat is voiced by François Morel, and ends up being rather cynical about religion and some of the themes revolving around it. However, at the same time, he worries that he isn’t a full Jew, but is curious about Judaism, and wants his own bar mitzvah. Outside of that main plot, the story also revolves around the interaction between the rabbi and a Russian Jew, and a journey to find the origin of black Jews in Africa.

As you can tell, the story has a lot of little plots that fill the 90-minute runtime. Maybe it’s because each of the plots is based around individual books that this film is based on. It also results in a film that doesn’t have a traditional three act structure. This is both good and bad, but let’s talk about the good. Due to the story not having a strict flowing narrative, it gains the ability to go at its own pace and have the characters shoot the breeze and talk about the ins and out of Judaism. I wouldn’t say it’s a full-on educational film, and definitely nothing on the level of those terrible Veggie Tale shows, but I think seeing the insight of the characters and their opinions on Judaism is interesting. I don’t mind films that are of mostly shooting the breeze/waxing philosophical conversations, but you have to make them interesting, or else it feels pretentious and time wasting. Luckily, for me at least, I enjoyed hearing the individual characters talk to one another. It was a film where I could lay back, enjoy the visuals, and hear interesting characters talk to one another. Seeing the struggles, the nerves, the happy moments, the shocking moments, and the funny moments are enjoyable.

The animation and designs are huge elements that make this film pop. The lining is thin, and it has a very doodle-style look to everyone. The entire look of the film reminds me of something from artists that I know about, like Sam Hurt. The animation is still very expressive and result in giving individuals a lot of personality. I even like the design behind one of the main female characters, the rabbi’s daughter, who is voiced by Hafsia Herzi. She has a voluptuous design, but nothing like Jessica Rabbit or the male pandering women of anime. She is rather beautiful in that regard. She isn’t some stereotypical-looking girl. She actually has a curvy body that is probably more realistic in terms of how actual curvy women look in real life. I don’t mean to make a big deal about this one character, but it’s refreshing that it isn’t some sexualized design or some typical Disney design. I also think having the film be in its original language was a good idea. I don’t think having an English cast would make much sense in terms of some of the story elements, like how the Russian Jew is not understandable to the rabbi and his cohorts. Plus, I think finding actors for this film would have been very tricky. Sometimes, just a good translation with subtitles is good enough. I’m also glad this film is not one-sided with the topics of religion. It has multiple opinions on the subject, and I never felt like it leaned toward one side or another. However, that could just be me, since I am not fully educated on such topics.

With that being said, I do think the no “three act structure” narrative is part of the film’s problems. The film has little focus, and has multiple stories happening at once, from the rabbi’s test, the discovery of the Russian Jew, to the origin of African Jews. It’s nice for the film to take its time and have interesting characters, but maybe having one big plot would have been better than multiple little plots. I also found some sudden scenes of violence were not really needed. In the film, you meet a rather drunk and volatile character who ends up killing someone, right before he himself is killed when they are in Africa. It comes out of nowhere, and it feels out of place. I also found the ending to be odd and disappointing all at once. Later in the journey into Africa, only the young Russian male, his new wife, and the cat actually find the original birthplace of African Judaism. The artstyle definitely changes in an obvious way to look more like a Farside comic than what we have been seeing for the majority of the film. The ending journey just feels underwhelming, since not everyone got to the location, and we never see them make it back to Algeria. This is like how The Sopranos and Lost had really weak endings. they had huge things building up, but the punchline or end result was less than stellar. Why does the Russian guy not tell the rabbi that they found the birthplace of Judaism? Why not show them? Why was the cat suddenly so interested in his bar mitzvah when for a good chunk of the film never brought it up? Why can’t we see what happens to them when they get back? Do they get back to Algeria?

Even with my problem with the ending and some pacing, I really like this movie. Instead of following a stereotypical route or formula, the film tried something different, and for the most part, it succeeded. It might be odd, and I can understand if some people can’t get into this film due to the themes, but it’s something different. The Blu-ray combo pack will probably run you at $25. For a film that is rather original, it’s definitely worth that price. I wish I could say it was on Netflix, but apparently they thought they needed space to put the five sequels to Alpha and Omega on there. Well, I know I am in October, and it’s under contractual obligation that I must review something spooky or horror related. How about the scariest thing of all? An Adam Sandler film that is actually good! Next time, we look at Hotel Transylvania! Thank you for reading and see you next time!

Rating: Go See it!