Friday brings us the release of Pixar’s Wall-E, and what better way to celebrate than a top five countdown? In the short history of computer-generated imagery, there have been some great feature length films, and it’s only fitting that we pay homage to the best of the best.
So here you have it, ladies and gents: my top five CGI films of all time.
5.) Kung Fu Panda (Dreamworks, 2008)
In what may be a terribly premature inclusion, I’m tipping my hat to Jack Black and the creators of Kung Fu Panda. When posters and previews for this movie first started springing up, I was ready to christen it this year’s Napoleon Dynamite. However, after giving in to the buzz and heading to theaters to see the flick myself, I won’t hesitate to spread the word: Kung Fu Panda is the real deal.
This film boasts some of the most exciting and well-imagined “action” sequences I’ve seen in a long time. Rather than fighting over the spotlight, the all-star cast members avoid stepping on one another’s toes and still manage to produce colorful, memorable characters. There’s humor and poignancy galore in Kung Fu Panda. All that remains to see is whether or not it will stand the test of time.
4.) Monster House (Sony Pictures Imageworks, 2006)
Hugely underrated, Monster House takes the number four slot for its impressive visual effects and bold originality. The film boasts an ambitious plot, especially for an animated feature. Curmudgeonly Mr. Nebbercracker, voiced by Steve Buscemi, is genuinely creepy, and as the story progresses, the true nature of his haunted past is revealed to be much more disturbing than one would think. In fact, Monster House nearly earned a PG-13 rating for its overall creepiness. Ultimately, it’s a movie that stray’s away from conventional animation story lines, delving into more in depth analyses of several very intriguing characters.
3.) Monsters, Inc. (Pixar, 2001)
Ladies and gents, welcome to Monstropolis, home of corporate espionage, bitter rivalries, and a host of lively characters.
These things alone could be enough to earn Monsters, Inc. a spot in the top five, but what really seals the deal is the movie’s climax: a one-of-a-kind chase scene through a surreal, roller coaster-ish maze of bedroom doors in the Monsters, Inc. power plant. The rest of the movie features similarly grandiose ideas. John Goodman and Billy Crystal are an animated on screen dream team, and conniving, eight legged CEO Mr. Waternoose is the perfect villain. Of course, there’s also that cute little girl, as well as a wholesome overarching message: laughter really is the best medicine.
2.) Toy Story (Pixar, 1995)
Toy Story marks several firsts for the film industry: the first release from Pixar, the first (only?) good movie role taken by Tim Allen, and most importantly, the first feature length film made entirely with computer-generated images. Indeed, Woody and Buzz are the Adam and Eve to all other CGI personalities, and even thirteen years later, Toy Story continues to win the hearts of every person who possesses one. Out of the toy chest and into the real world, these toys rock, plain and simple. From hapless Rex the dinosaur to surly Mr. Potato Head, each of these playthings has a distinct, endearing personality, and when disaster strikes, the cohorts unite to form the greatest toy team that the world has seen to date.
1.) The Incredibles (Pixar, 2004)
Incredible is one word that describes this flick, but it’s definitely not the only. Brilliant, thrilling, humorous, relevant, and touching also come to mind. The Incredibles is the story of the aptly named Par family, who come across as down to Earth, average people with believable human qualities and flaws despite their superhuman status. Mrs. Incredible, for example, examines her hips in the mirror with no small amount of dismay, while Mr. Incredible sports a belly that would earn him a spot on any men’s softball team. The fast paced action is complimented nicely by a continuous strengthening of the family’s bond and the message that average people can certainly do great things.
Did I mention the music, which is incredible in and of itself? Composer Michael Giacchino revives the jazzy, big band sound of sixties era spy flicks, creating a score that actually contributes immensely to the movie’s overall quality.