Old Review: Brave Little Toaster

Brave Little Toaster poster.jpgWhen humans aren’t watching, the inanimate objects come to life, this is the case in a little holiday cabin in the countryside, where five kitchen appliances live to clean and tidy up the cabin in the hopes that they would be able to meet their master, a young boy who they’ve never seen in almost six years. These appliances include a Radio, a lamp, an electric blanket, a vacuum cleaner named Kirby, and a Toaster. When they discover that the cabin is being sold, most lose hope and think the master is abandoning them. All except Toaster, who decides that they shall travel through the countryside and into the city where they’ll meet the master themselves. Their journey won’t be easy, but it’s up to the brave little Toaster and his four friends to find the master before all hopes are lost.

In 1982, Disney acquired the rights to the original novel, which went into print two years earlier, and went to animators John Lasseter and Thomas L. Wilhite to make an animated feature based on it. After experimenting with the concept in a test film earlier, Lasseter wanted to make it with 2D characters in a 3D environment, however a dispute over the film’s budget caused the idea to be rejected by Disney’s Executives and Lasseter to be fired from the company. The project was moved to Hyperion Pictures, with Jerry Rees set to direct the picture as well as write the screenplay along with Joe Ranft. Interestingly, two scenes were animated were intended to be cut due to their scary nature and references towards suicide, but were left in the final film.

The animation is simplistic and effective, particularly on the main characters. The character designers clearly put some thought into how each of the appliances’ facial expressions work. All the human characters on the other hand don’t look as good, most look really cartoony and are designed either really round or scrawny. There are some creative moments, especially with the lighting and the atmosphere, such as scenes with lightning and water, but most of it feels very dated. There are some odd design choices, like some of the facial designs on the “cutting edge” appliances, one of the set of antagonists in this film, but they aren’t in the film for long. Since the main characters are the best animated in the film, it’s a good sign that they are the best to look at, and their designs makes it easy to see what emotions they’re going through.

The soundtrack is smooth and well-orchestrated, but unlike most Disney style musical scores during the time, this one has more of a dark tone, which was an intentional choice made by composer David Newman and done very effectively. Having a hint of serious, dark or dramatic tones definitely emphasize the emotions going on through the scenes, and really makes you take the scenes seriously when danger occurs, and it’s really good to listen to. The songs however aren’t as impressive, although I wouldn’t say they are all bad. In fact, out of the four songs, all written by Van Dyke Parks, three of them are good for the film, and two of those I would say are worth listening on their own merit, but all of them have this one problem; the music is cool and for some is quite catchy, and the lyrics are well written and fit with the setting and points of the film, but they don’t really fit together, either because they don’t match entirely or the singers have bad rhythm and range. The best song would be Worthless, sung by cars in a disposal yard about to be crushed, each one recalling their problems or their moments which lead to their demise, the message it brings is really well placed and the song itself is really catchy. The worst song has to be Cutting Edge, sung by high end appliances, jealous of the master’s love of main characters and sing about how brilliant they are and how advanced they are. This song has cool moments in the backing, but not even a rewrite would save this song, as the lyrics are dated and sound like a long appliance commercial for nothing, and it has no redeeming value.

The voice acting is good for the most part, the actors of the five main characters work really well off each other and have a good amount of personality to make them likable and impressionable, especially Jon Lovitz as the Radio and Tim Stack as Lampy, both comedians who have really funny moments and are really entertaining. They even got a decent child voice actor for Blanky, the mostly unknown Timothy Day, who plays the innocence and charm of a young child without sounding or acting irritating. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect cast since most of the supporting casts don’t really give much of a performance out of single tone characters, and the main cast is a bit weak when it comes to emotions, they try but barely do they succeed.

If there is one really interesting, yet not really surprising point about the story, and I ended up watching the film more than once to make sure I didn’t mistake myself, the plot is essentially the Toy Story trilogy, mainly the latter two but there are elements of the first story, the messages and ideas they produce are similar, even the concept of the Brave Little Toaster’s climax is similar to Toy Story 3’s climax. Since some of the staff went onto Pixar, and in particular Joe Ranft wrote both films, you can say Brave Little Toaster is a predecessor to Toy Story, and that the latter was an improvement, being lengthened to three films so the characters can be better developed and the story can be better paced to improve the suspense and drama.

Does that make Brave Little Toaster worse in comparison? Not really, since the Brave Little Toaster did take some more risks with more dark moments and a more serious attitude, the characters are just as likeable as those in Toy Story in their own way, and since there’s less, there are easier to follow as a whole. The antagonists are probably the only problem in this film, in the amount of time there are three sets of antagonists, and they don’t have much time to be developed to an understanding level before being ousted for the next set, by the end I didn’t really care about who, what or why the antagonists are the way they are, even if they do show legitimate signs of threats.

It’s amazing why this Disney release is so overlooked, it has the light-hearted nature and passion of the children’s animated feature but it has the message and the tone of a mature work, but keeps it controlled so the film avoids becoming uncomfortable or silly. I would recommend it to any fan of Disney animations, and fans of Toy Story for look at what an early style of the story would be like, but what I can certainly say is that you won’t look away from this one.

The Brave Little Toaster is available from Walt Disney Pictures, since the film’s main popularity was through video release, it’s pretty easy to find, particularly in America. The original novel by Thomas Disch was originally published by Doubleday but it’s out of print, and some people treat it as a collector’s item. Its sequel, The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (no, really) was also published by Doubleday, and was later adapted into a direct-to-DVD sequel by Walt Disney. A second direct-to-DVD sequel titled Brave Little Toaster Goes to the Rescue, which takes place in between the first two films, is also available from Disney.

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Old Review: Fox and the Hound

The Fox and the Hound.jpgIn the 1960s rural side of America, a fox has just become victim to another hunting incident. Witnessing the horrifying moment, an owl known as Big Mama finds that the fox had left her cub behind. Not being able to take care of the cub herself, she uses the help of her other bird friends Dinky and Boomer to allow local Dairy Farmer Widow Tweed to take care of it, giving it the name Tod. Meanwhile on the farm next door, a hunter named Almos Slade has brought home a puppy Bloodhound which he names Copper to be brought up as his new hunting dog alongside his current hunting dog, Chief. Both Tod and Copper meet and immediately become good friends, and promise that they would stay friends forever. However, with Almos’ short temper and his reckless behaviour, as well as his hunting interests, makes people worried about Tod’s safety, especially when Copper goes away to be trained as a hunting dog. Now it’s just hope to see if both the Fox and the Hound can keep their promise, even if one of them is supposed to be the hunter and the other hunted.

In 1967, the same year that Daniel Mannix won the Dutton Animal Book award for his novel “The Fox and the Hound”; Walt Disney Animation obtained the film rights for the novel, but didn’t start production until ten years later. The initial story was considered way too dark for children, so a team of eight writers changed the story almost entirely to centre around the friendship between Tod and Copper, instead of Tod’s life as he’s constantly on the run from Copper. While Disney’s Nine Old Men, Disney’s first nine feature film animators starting on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, did the initial development and designs of the film, Disney’s new younger squad did most of the later work, including Glen Keane and Don Bluth, with NOM members Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston becoming animation supervisors and Wolfgang Reitherman being the producer. Unfortunately, conflicts between the old and new generation of animators over the film’s handling, and Don Bluth’s decision to leave with 11 other animators to form his own studio delayed the film’s release, missing the planned 1980 Christmas Season. However, with new animators hired and trained, the film was eventually released July 10th 1981, with a final success eventually granting a theatrical rerelease in 1988.

The animation of Fox and the Hound might be the best from Disney in its pre-Renaissance, but that’s mainly when talking about the animals in the film. What I like about the designs of the animals is that it’s incredibly well balanced, they look realistic and well-proportioned to look and act like real animals, yet they have a simplistic and slightly cartoonish feel. This would take the designs a little out of realism, but the animators did it to a level just about right, they don’t make them too realistic to avoid them looking uncomfortable to look at but didn’t go too basic or out of context to avoid them looking like a childish cartoon animals. If you want to watch this film, I’d like you to spend some time looking at the animal characters without focusing on their faces; you can tell that the animators took the effort of using animal body language and movements to show emotions and reactions, probably too much since there is a scene where Tod and Copper are having a stand-off and both of their expressions look really freaky, but you could tell that they could do that. However there are parts of the animation which look really cheap, the design of Amos Slade looks disproportionate, especially in comparison to the only other human character, Widow Tweed, and whoever animated Chief made him stand out too much with his grey and blurry outline. I still think it’s one of Disney’s best attempts at animal character animations, better than Bambi, but that doesn’t hide how weak the other areas are.

The musical soundtrack is your usual orchestrated scores and because this is Disney, a few songs to boot. While I like orchestrations in animated films like this, it only feels really effective at creating an atmosphere in more dark and tense moments, since the more light hearted stuff seems really shallow. There are three songs in this Disney film, ‘Best of Friends’, ‘Goodbye may seem Forever’ and ‘Appreciate a Lady’, the first and latter are sung by African-American actress and singer Pearl Bailey, and while they are beautifully sung the backing music and the lyrics are weak and the songs barely have any memorability to them, but I have to be fair and say the ‘Goodbye may seem Forever’ sung by Jeanette Nolan, despite it being the most simple song out of the three, the scene that plays with it really emphasises the emotion of this scene and saying goodbye to someone.

What I typically find about Disney animated films is that most of the best part of the cast isn’t the main protagonists, but the supporting cast and the villains, since they mainly drive the entertainment of the film. With the Fox and the Hound it seems to be the other way round, the main protagonists are actually better than the supporting cast. I agree that Pearl Dailey as Big Mama is very likable and memorable as a supporting member, being kind hearted, supportive, and looking out for Tod but the other two birds in this film, a stammering woodpecker named Boomer and a tiny but bossy finch named Dinky, don’t contribute much entertainment outside of being a generic comedy duo performing a single running gag of trying to catch a single caterpillar, and both the voices of Chief by Pat Buttram and the hunter Almos Slade by Jack Albertson is very stereotypical and the latter especially is done way over the top to be taken seriously. However the main protagonists Tod and Copper, played by Mickey Rooney and Kurt Russell, are likeable, Russell does have some good range, I like Mickey Rooney and how he made Tod shy and slightly awkward without being annoying, and even though their younger counterparts lack in range you can’t help but liking them since they were portrayed by young boys that acted like young boys, and even they try and be serious.

If you’ve read my review of Arrietty you should know that the one thing I care the least about when it comes to film adaptations is how faithful a film is to its original story because both are usually very different mediums with different styles of storytelling, film adaptation or not, it should be viewed on its own merit before being judged purely on how much it follows or strays away from the original. That being said I find it a little frustrating when feel like I have to make this point when the most detailed points to make about a film’s story relates to the fact that it was a loose adaptation to an existing story, like with Arrietty, The Black Cauldron, Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea and even this film. This film especially has this problem because even if you read the original novel once before looking at the film, you would hate it, because the closest the film gets to the original plot is entirely in the third act, and yet it’s still incredibly toned down. In fact the only time I would agree with the kind of people who follow the book, is when one of the main characters was clearly meant to die, only to be revealed later as having non-lethal injury, which really bothered me for the rest of the film because it felt like Disney was too afraid of children being upset over a main character death, despite an incredibly minor character being killed off very early in the same film. The only other problem I have is once again, a problem I see in many other animated films, and that’s the love interest, as fifty minutes into the film, Big Mama tries and succeeds in hooking up Tod with a vixen, and it’s played up so much it bothers me since the Vixen, cleverly named Vixie, only contributes some tension and drama in the film’s climax. I like romantic relationships as a side plot or subplot, and if the characters are written well with a good amount of time to build up the relationship, then it’s easier for the viewer to understand and enjoy the moments between the two characters, but when the main focus of your film is establishing a relationship and you throw in a romantic interest very late into the film like it was an afterthought, then you should’ve either established it earlier or made a longer film.

Nevertheless, The Fox and the Hound still has its charm of lovable characters, colourful moments and it’s control and transitions of atmosphere throughout the film, it knows when to take itself seriously and it definitely builds itself up to a tense and action filled third act and climax. It’s story and premise actually reminds me of a more recent film a reviewed some time before, Arashi no Yoru Ni, an anime film about the unlikely friendship between a wolf and a goat. Both films involve a friendship between member’s two sides which despise each other, and that their friendship could mean danger to each other, but Fox and the Hound actually has slightly more complexity because unlike Arashi, the conflict in the Fox and the Hound isn’t because of natural instinct. To explain, the conflict between wolves and goats is mainly due to their natural instincts, since wolves eat animals like goats to survive and therefore goats wouldn’t trust them, in fact if the main protagonists immediately knew who each other were, they wouldn’t have found that they had stuff in common to become friends in the first place. However in the Fox and the Hound, both Tod and Copper aren’t that much different at all, so they both know exactly who each other were and could get along, even Big Mama has a positive attitude of their friendship despite what she knows about them, the only reason that a conflict exists between these two is that Copper is brought up by a hunter and his dog,  who themselves were brought up to believe that hunting certain animals like foxes is fine, a cause which isn’t nature but influenced by peers, which is almost similar to conflicts between difference social groups and races.

I’ve always found it hard to sum up my views to reach an overall judgement for this film, especially considering the time this was shown and what Disney’s aftermath was after it. On one hand, the animation is only strong in one area and not as a whole, the soundtrack overall is half-baked and the film has some flaws along with a weak set of supporting characters. On the other hand, when the animation is good, it’s really good; the film has its heart-warming charms as well as serious and dark moments, and if you really think hard about the overall story, you’ll go really deep.

The Fox and the Hound is available from Walt Disney. The original novel by Daniel Mannix was available from E.P Dutton but I think it’s either out of print or only available in North America because I can’t find any books available other than Disney’s film book adaptations, written by Heather Simon and also available by Walt Disney. A direct to video midquel simply titled Fox and the Hound 2 is also available from Walt Disney and can also be found in combo packs with the original film.

Old Review: The Black Cauldron

Taran is a young boy who dreams of being a great warrior and hero, but achieving that dream isn’t easy when in reality you are an assistant pig-keeper for an enchanter. Taran is sick of this life, especially since there is a war going in the world of Prydain, and the enchanter, Dallben, insists he doesn’t find and make sure he takes care of the pig, named Hen Wen. Dallben later shows Taran the importance of Hen Wen, as it can produce visions of the future, and knows the secret location of the Black Cauldron, a Cauldron created by the gods to seal the most evil magic, and allows the power to resurrect an undefeatable undead army. The visions show that the evil Horned King seeks the Black Cauldron, and knows Hen Wen’s powers, so Dallben tells Taran to take Hen Wen away to the hidden village so he cannot be found. Unfortunately Hen Wen, and later Taran are later captured by the Horned King’s soldiers. Now it is up to Taran, the beautiful Princess Eilonwy, the eccentric Bard Fflam and the loyal furry creature Gurgi, to prevent the Black Cauldron from getting into the wrong hands, as the fate of the entire world depends on this group to avoid the Horned King from bringing on a major terror to the lands.

Even for Disney Standards, The Black Cauldron had a shaky development history. The total production time was 12 years, although Disney acquired the rights to the original novel years before production began, however only five of those years was the actual production. Some of Disney’s oldest animators such as Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston as well as some of the animators that left to form their own companies such as Don Bluth worked on parts of the film, and Tim Burton worked as one of the concept artists. The reason for the lengthy production time mainly was due to both the changes in management at Disney and other, more thorough, productions going on at the same time such as The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound. Since Disney still wanted to maintain their reputation of being a family friendly film production studio, edits had to be made to the film to avoid it getting a PG-13 rating due to its dark and graphic scenes. The film eventually got a suitable edit that was worthy of a PG rating, the first for a Disney animated film, and released it on July 24th 1985, however it bombed at the box office, earning $21 million out of the $25 million production cost.

The animation is hit-and-miss, which I know is an odd opinion to make for the animation of a Disney film but that is literally what the visuals look like on an overall level. There are some really neat effects used to show the magic and fantasy elements of the film, the lighting for its time is brilliant, even in comparison to modern animated films like The Secret of Kells. However in some scenes the animation looks dull and uninspired, some of the character designs are bland and expressions feel limited. The character design of Taran looks like the most generic teenage male protagonist I’ve seen ever in an animated film, and while the Horned King looks dark and sinister; his design is really simple and hard to appreciate since you can’t see much of him over the angles and lighting in the scenes until near the end. It’s watchable, it feels like a dark and engaging experience some of the time, but it isn’t Disney’s best work, pre-renaissance or not.

The music is simple and generic orchestra, which even in a pre-Renaissance Disney film is unusual since there is usually well done musical numbers or highly memorable and creative soundtracks. It’s refreshing to see a Disney film that doesn’t have songs or musical numbers, especially in this one because I believe the film wouldn’t be taken as seriously overall if there were songs in it, but most of the music is kept mainly in the background, and none of it has a memorable feel that other Disney films have. While this maybe a criticism to something Disney normally does great in their original films, music, on the other hand it allows the audience to take the film seriously and focuses on the characters and stories, something that I find most American produced animated films these days fail to do.

The voice acting for the most part is nothing special with a few exceptions. It’s very listenable and most of the actors do a good effort at making these likable characters, and I give credit to the actors good attempts at pronouncing Welsh sounding words and names, however they don’t give a long lasting impression on the viewer. This is with the exception of John Byner as Gurgi and John Hurt as the Horned King, with Byner’s Smeagol-like goblin voice along with his happy personality actually making Gurgi really adorable, while John Hurt makes the Horned King really dark and frightful with such a cold and mystifying voice. One minor issue with the voice casting is that Grant Bardsley sounds like his voice broke partway through the film, as sounds more adult later in the film, and it sounds so sudden that I wouldn’t call it a storytelling effect.

This is a really dark and engaging film, and I think it’s a great attempt by Disney at making a captivating film. There are no musical numbers that break the mood, the comedic moments blend in well with the dark moments and the relationship that occurs between Taran and Princess Eilonwy is made more realistically progressing instead of sporadically romantic. The Horned King is a really underrated villain, since he dark and mysterious, his personality and motives are more subtle and John Hurt really shows how dark this person is. Despite all that, it still bombed at the box office and while Disney still rereleases it as one of their classics, no one really mentions it and Disney doesn’t present it as much as their other classics. Therefore, one question arises, what went wrong? Well two major problems arise with this film, and it’s only going to be a problem depending on who the viewer is. The first one is an obvious one; it’s a loose adaptation on the book. I don’t normally bring up comparisons to a story’s original form because it’s what you expect in an adaptation, it’s a kid’s film, Walt Disney Animation, despite how many dark moments appear in their films, don’t like their films having an adult rating, and you can’t expect several pages of descriptive narrative to fit into an 80 minute film, so it should be treated as its own film. However, people who would’ve read the book would noticed how toned down it is, and what scenes are missing, so it might put them off, as it clearly did for critics at the time. Another problem is that, while I like this film for the stuff explained at the beginning of this paragraph, it causes the film to lack any special charm that is found in several other Disney films. Disney Animated films all have a special formula that makes Disney special, and it only seems to work whenever Disney makes the film. But with Black Cauldron, that formula isn’t there, and the film shows. Most of the characters, despite how charming or fearful they are, they seem dull in comparison to Disney’s other great protagonists and antagonists, and the more sombre or joyous moments feel really underplayed in comparison to other Disney films. It’s these two reasons which make it difficult for the film itself to stand on its own two legs, which is why I feel it failed back then to grab an audience, but now that it’s more accessible it should be possible for it to find its true appraisal.

I believe that if you really want to enjoy this film, you have to be in the right mind and heart. If you expect to find a good old Disney adventure or a faithful adaptation to what is possibly a great fantasy film, you may be disappointed, but if you want a dark and atmospheric fantasy film you might find something to enjoy in this little underground classic.

The Black Cauldron is available from Walt Disney. The original novels by Lloyd Alexander, chronologically titled “The Book of Three”, “The Black Cauldron”, “The Castle of Llyr”, “Taran Wanderer” and “The High King”, collectively titled The Chronicles of Prydain, is available from Henry Holt with a collective box set to be released on October 2011 by Square Fish. A collection of short stories collectively titled The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydrain which are set before the original stories in the same universe and were also written by Lloyd Alexander, are available by Holt, Rhinehart and Winston and Puffin Books.

Review: The Brave Little Toaster

Brave Little Toaster Review

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been long overdue for a review, or an update, or something, I’ve been in University so I’ve been trying to get fully comfortable on campus, and now I am!

So here is a review of a little cult Disney film called The Brave Little Toaster, I know my European readers might have little knowledge of it, I couldn’t find a PAL copy to use to watch this. Check out my review by clicking on the film poster.

Also, I may have a film review segment on the local University radio, so if I’m lucky I might post a clip here of me talking!

Review: The Fox and the Hound

Fox and the Hound PosterFinally back to reviewing comfortably, here is my review of another underrated Disney classic, The Fox and the Hound. A couple of years ago, I knew a friend who would outright defend this film, and all I knew of it was as Walt Disney Animation’s beginning of a downhill in their 80’s animated feature career before their Renaissance era, jokingly called Disney’s “Dark Age”. Finally taking a dive into this film head first, what do I think? Click the poster for the review

EDIT: The link should be fixed now. For some reason WordPress is having issues.

Review: Arrietty

Arrietty, Studio Ghibli’s latest to get translated for an English release. As a big Studio Ghibli fan who has reviewed everyone of their films which has crossed the waters, I wanted to see this as closest to launch day as possible, so on the 30th July I was heading to an anime expo at one of the few cities playing Arrietty at the time, Manchester! Since it was my first time going into the Odeon in Manchester, compare it to the cinemas within my general area, the cinema was MASSIVE with four floors, the first three having a small arcade each, and TWENTY SCREENS! What was also cool was that there was this set up right next to the door where the screen for Arrietty was. On the table was a sheet with a crossword and a map to try while you were bored, and because I’m a fan like that I got one! So was the film as good as I hoped, or was the trip all the way to Manchester a partial waste of time? Click the film poster for the review.

Animated Films and their Sequels

In 1990, Walt Disney Animation produced and released the movie “The Rescuers: Down Under”, a sequel to their 1977 classic simply known as “The Rescuers”. Since it was during the time where Crocodile Dundee made Australia a US craze, the film was mainly set in Australia with reptiles, wallabies, koalas and other Australian animals in an Australian desert setting. While it has a cult following nowadays with many fans claiming it to be much better than the original, back then it had a generally positive view and was able to break profit, although being the least profitable in the Disney Renaissance. It proved the Disney Executives that even the mildly successful hits can have profitable sequels if they brought back the original cast and essentially rewrite the same story and structure with different villains, different settings and some other small elements to create a new story.

This was what probably changed DisneyToon Studios (then known as MovieToon Studios) to change its main direction to direct-to-video sequels, which it will finish doing at the end of 2011 after the change of management to John Lasseter and Ed Catmull.

Now talking about how much I hate animated (if not any) sequels would make me a very redundant film critic because everyone knows what is wrong with sequels. They are usually lazy and unoriginal forms of films and storytelling, they drain out the creativity of the source material, most seem unnecessary and the main purpose behind them is for businesses to take money from us viewers. However, unlike remakes there are several ways of making a good sequel, but for animated movies, it’s rare that film makers actually use these methods, or use them well.

Disney is probably infamous for this, as most of them decide to use a brand new villain, and have new characters replace the ones fans enjoy. All are mainly given negative praise, mainly for their downgraded quality, and their lazy storytelling, however this is mostly by critics and movie goers. From my past memories, unless they really loved the original Disney Classics so much that they couldn’t stand any character changes or plotholes made in their sequels, most people liked at least one or two of the bad Disney sequels, when I was younger, me and my sister enjoyed Lion King II: Simba’s Pride just as much as the original, Lion King 1 1/2 not so much but it proves my point. Sometimes they truely put effort into their direct-to-video sequels line, by bringing back some of the original cast members and making the followup stories as believable as possible, but nowadays people are glad that there won’t be anymore.

Most other major animation companies such as Blue Sky Studios and Dreamworks put much more noticeable effort into their sequels to make them better the original, if not consistant. While in the cases of both Ice Age and Shrek, the quality of the animation, music, acting talent and cinematography has definitely improved in the sequels, the storytelling and atmosphere has not overall. I know that some of the plot elements are well executed in their sequels such as Manny’s life issues in Ice Age and the relationship between Shrek and Fiona in Shrek, most of the problems in these sequels go into my Problems with CGI Films as a whole, but it doesn’t exclude from the fact that they don’t expand on their stories as much as their visuals, or even fully continue on from their past film.

Take for a recent example, Kung Fu Panda 2, the original film was a homage to classic kung fu movies, and outside it’s humour and creative action scenes, it had a main character who progresses overtime to achieve who he always wants to be, it had well developed bad guy and the film’s supporting cast all were likable and had their own personalities, some even having depth to them. However, without spoiling the movie itself, while it’s sequel did have bigger action scenes and more suspense, especially with a bad guy that actually kills people, and it further develops the main protagonist Po to find his true origins, outside its humour, it’s weak and generic.

In honesty, the only Dreamworks film I felt deserved a sequel was Madagascar, because it had a clear open ending. The same goes for Alladin with the Return of Jafar, because the ending of Alladin fits with the story of Return of Jafar. But a Disney sequel is a Disney sequel and the first Madagascar in my opinion wasn’t good enough to warrent the actual sequel or other films any chance of being as good or better.

But what about good sequels? Well it might be debatable but they are rare, especially since their aren’t as many animated sequels as there are film sequels altogether, and people can have a liking to critically or even universally panned sequels if they grew up and enjoyed the original and felt that any changes or irregularities are so miniscule to make a fuss over. Out of the list of sequels, Rescuers Down Under, Patlabor 2 and Pokemon 2000 are a few that are considered as good or better than the original (especially Patlabor 2, the original is really boring in comparison).

The one that should come to anyone’s mind of a good animated sequel is Toy Story, both 2 and 3. However, other than the fact that they are made by Pixar, one of the greatest animation studios in the Western Hemisphere today, I’m not entirely sure why they are good sequels. They barely follow on from they predecessing films and I personally never liked Toy Story 2 as much as people I know, even in comparison to the original Toy Story. It’s probably because they all act as separate films, except with the same characters and almost the same structure, each dealing with different stages of life through toys. Maybe it’s what they should do for their upcoming Monsters Inc and Cars sequels, but let me ask, why is Cars 2 clearly marketed as the comic relief as the main character?

Oh and for anyone wondering why I didn’t mention The Land Before Time, the most infamous example of unnecessary sequels, especially with the fact that it has TWELVE poorly recieved sequels. Well just to go back on growing up with the sequels to liking them…