Friday, June 13, 2014

The List!!!: Five Great Animated Sequels

In The List!!!, I do a list that just reeks of being click-bait, analyzing a particular topic or subject that pertains to something major occurring in pop-culture. This week, in honor of How To Train Your Dragon 2, I take a look at five great animated sequels.

Toy Story 3: You all knew this was coming. And for good reason! Toy Story 3 caps off PIXAR's masterful trilogy with several new characters, unique environments and a third act that reduces all human beings to emotional messes. There's really no film quite like it in history and honestly, it really is one of the few movies I wouldn't hesitate to label one of my favorites of all-time, if only just for the moment when Andy explains just why Woody is so special to him and no, I'm not crying. It's just, uh, dusty in here, that's it. 

Monsters University: An underrated gem that signaled the return of PIXAR after two lackluster films, this prequel tale managed to take a page from Toy Story 3 and tell an unexpectedly mature and resonant story about failure. It's a unique topic for not just a family film but any piece of cinema (in terms of 2013 cinema, the only other films that analyze failure so closely are Frances Ha and Inside llewyn Davis) and manages to make the world of Mike and sully even more engrossing than before. 

Shrek 2: The Shrek series has become something interesting at this point; in the land of the Internet, it's far more well known as a sexually graphic fan fiction than as an actual series of movies. But let's not forget how good those films were, especially this second installment which managed to amp up the laughs (does the movie earn the distinction for most unexpected marijuana joke?) and makes sure the emotional stakes remained as involving as the ones in the first movie. If only the following sequels were this successful....

Kung Fu Panda 2: If any animated sequel was destined to be a cash grab, it should have been this second tale of Po the Panda. But as expected for a Summer family movie, Kung Fu Panda 2 weaved in themes like genocide, identity crisis and a Gary Oldman villain. You know, the usual. As you might have surmised at this point, this awesome adventure was anything but predictable and really made the Kung Fu Panda universe feel like one with really storytelling potential. Plus, the finale contains a truly excellent action set piece that puts the work of Michael Bay to shame in its simplicity and effectiveness.

The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure: Look, I'm not gonna try to sit here and tell you these Land Before Time sequels are truly great slices of cinema that deserve to be analyzed by the likes of Martin Scorsese (however, I will do that for the original Land Before Time), but it is a fun adventure for kids that works on a nostalgic level for those who grew up on Littlefoots adventure. Catchy music and some neat animation make it memorable, but the best part is Rob Paulson and Jeff Bennett voicing Egg-Catcher dinosaurs that not only get the best song in the movie but also some of its funniest lines. 

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