2022 has been an excellent year for animation, where traditional currents, 3D and even the sometimes ignored ‘stop-motion’ have presented remarkable films and even some new classics in the field.
Let’s start with more traditional animation, represented this year by not only beautifully animated films like “My Father’s Dragon” from the Cartoon Saloon – the Irish studio behind hits like “Wolfwalkers” and “The Secret of Kells” – but also the return after a quarter cycle of two of television’s best-known jerks with “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe.”
This wasn’t the only TV show to get a chance to break onto the big screen, with “Bob’s Burgers” debuting its first feature aptly titled “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” in the middle of the year. Likewise, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” got a second chance for the longer format with “Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm.”
but undoubtedly the most interesting film in this category was “Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood”an autobiographical story by director Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) that uses the rotoscoping technique – drawing on a film frame – to take us on a nostalgic journey to the filmmaker’s childhood, where dreams and fantasies mix with the true wonder that was the arrival of man on the moon.
3D animation also had a strong presence this 2022, which was marked by the return of renowned franchises such as “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania”, the repeatedly postponed “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and the erroneously thawed “The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild”. More importantly, the “Shrek” universe got a movie again after a decade, with the surprisingly competent “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” bringing Antonio Banderas’ character back to life in an adventure in search of recovering their nine lives.
Perhaps more interesting were the movies that were not part of a franchise. Thus, among my favorite films of the year was Domee Shi’s “Turning Red”, a sincere and insightful look at puberty at the start of the new millennium that stands out for its agile humor and profound message, touching on usually taboo topics such as menstruation.
And speaking of addressing issues often ignored by the more ‘mainstream’ animation industry, Pixar and Disney finally managed to include LGBT representation in two of their films this year. The first was with the “Toy Story” spin-off “Lightyear”, which after protests within its own studio restored a censored kiss between two of its female characters. In the meantime, The Disney movie “Strange World” made history by having a gay character as one of its protagonistsa milestone for the ‘house of the mouse’ that perfectly embodies the phrase “better late than never”.
Other studios were not far behind with the new IPs, and DreamWorks managed to launch “The Bad Guys” at the beginning of the year, a comedy with anthropomorphic animals that imitates “Ocean Eleven”-style heist movies. Netflix, which in recent years has also opted for animation, released two notable films in this area, with the romantic musical “Entergalactic” and the marine adventure “The Sea Beast.”
On the side of Japanese animation, the year started strong with the arrival in the West from “Belle”a visually and musically stunning film from Mamoru Hosoda (“Summer Wars,” “Wolf Children”) that reframes the classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast” into a modern fable about the healing power of love in our every-day society. more digital.
Surprisingly, this was far from being the best Japanese animated film of the year – and not for lack of quality of Hosoda’s work – as it faced stiff competition. with “Bubble” from Tetsuro Araki (“Attack on Titan”), a dynamic film that revolves around a group of young people practicing ‘parkour’ in a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo where gravity has gone on vacation.
Fans of a more ‘mainstream’ anime also had reasons to be satisfied, since well-known franchises also had their moment in the sun with the release of movies like “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero”the first film in the long-running saga to use primarily computer graphics, as well as the long-awaited release “One Piece Film: Red,” a bold experiment in the saga created by Eiichiro Oda that combines its already traditional action with music.
We cannot fail to mention the latest work by the renowned Makoto Shinkai (“Your Name”, “5 cm per second”) entitled “Suzume no Tojimari”. The filmmaker has always managed to present entertaining romantic stories that use supernatural events as analogies for the bittersweet nature of adolescence, and this new film seems to be no exception, starring a 17-year-old Japanese girl – titular Suzume – who must Close mysterious doors to another world to prevent disasters from happening in your country. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until early 2023 for the movie to hit the west.
One of the most ignored animation categories in recent years had an excellent 2022 curiously driven by Netflix starting with the anthology film “The House”, where directors Emma de Swaef, Marc James Roels, Niki Lindroth von Bahr and Paloma Baeza count three different stories of madness, horror and tragicomedy that revolve around the main house.
Continuing with the gloomy is “Wendell & Wild”, a comedy by the great Henry Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Coraline”) that brings together Jordan Peele – now best known for directing horror classics such as “Us” and ” Nope” – with his frequent collaborator Keegan-Michael Key. Both play a pair of relatively incompetent demon brothers – in the literal sense of the word – who try to convince a 13-year-old girl to bring them into our reality.
Netflix saved the best for last with “Pinocchio,” released in early December. In a year where we had three feature films about the wooden boy, including an ignored Russian version and a competent but unnecessary live-action from Disney, Guillermo del Toro’s film stood out not only for its exquisitely detailed puppets and meticulous animation, but also for bringing new air to the already well-known story. With his already famous penchant for the macabre, the Mexican filmmaker enlists veteran animator Mark Gustafson (“Fantastic Mr. Fox”) to turn Carlo Collodi’s tale into a metaphor for the eternal fight between parental expectations and parental wishes. his children, taking this figure to its most extreme version by including the dictator Benito Mussolini in the film, presented as the ‘father of the nation’ in a sharp criticism of fascism.
You can’t talk about stop-motion animation this year without mentioning two notable projects. The first was the long-awaited arrival in theaters of “Mad God”, a titanic 30-year project by animator Phil Tippett (“Robocop”, “Jurassic Park”) that takes us on one of the most creative (and terrifying) journeys for the underworld. The other movie is equally bizarre, albeit with a comedic bent. It’s “Marcel The Shell With Shoes On”, a ‘mockumentary’ (mockumentary) directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp about a little talking shell whose search for her lost family inadvertently makes her a viral celebrity.
The still small Peruvian industry was not without good news, starting with the Platinum Award won for the animated film “Ainbo, the Amazon Warrior” in March. And although there were no new releases in the national animation category this 2022, in 2023 we will start the year with the release of “A Giant Adventure” on January 12, a new film by Eduardo Schuldt (“Pirates of Callao”) set in ancient Peru and focused on the mysterious Nazca Lines.
It is not the only project on the Peruvian animation horizon, with Tunche Films (“Ainbo”) still working on its long-awaited film “Kayara”, a story about a young woman who dreams of being a chasqui.
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Year 2022: “Turning Red”, “Belle”, “Dragon Ball” and “Pinocchio” stand out in a year where animation shone
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