A Drawing (2018) – Short

A child misses the chance to say goodbye to his dying mother.  Although, he may have a second chance to say goodbye and give her one final gift.

A Drawing was without a doubt the best animated short at the Breckenridge Film Festival.  This touching story is less like an emotional roller coaster and more like an emotional drop tower.  The animation style lacks the flair of color and complexity you would find in a Pixar film, but packs a serious punch.

Sledgehammer (The Abyss of Peleliu) (2018) – Short

I am the harvest of man’s stupidity.

A raw and gripping dive into the horrors and bloodshed that took place during World War II.  Sledgehammer is based on the memoir, With the Old Breed, written by Eugene Sledge.  Baker’s use of archival footage superimposed by animation highlights the carnage and emphasizes the intensity.  Narration from the point of view of Sledge, combined with the intense archival footage, creates a visceral look at the fear and torment soldiers went through during the Pacific Ocean theater.  Imagine, if you can, a condensed version of Apocalypse Now meets a humorless and haunted version of the narrator from A Christmas Story.

WALL·E (2008)

Just needed someone to look after you, that’s all.

Left alone on a planet, a trash compacting robot searches for meaning in an endless loop.  In a sea of meaningless nostalgia, Wall-E fantasizes about companionship and a sense of belonging.  His adventure leads him on a quest for love and to preserve hope that Earth will once again be inhabitable.  Wall-E provides a vision of a post-consumerist world, neglected and void of any responsibility.  It does this through vivid dystopian landscapes and social commentary that, at times, seems closer to reality than fiction.

Zootopia (2016)

It is hard to imagine that a crime thriller about prejudice, corruption, and the viral spreading of misconceptions, is above all else a family-friendly animated adventure comedy.  Zootopia brings a beautifully exotic world to life in a way that we are accustomed to expect from Pixar, not Disney.  For the adults, the film is an overt allegory for intolerance and how fear can be used as a weapon, and for kids it is a story about perseverance and never letting others hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Little Prince, The (2016)

The Little Prince is a creatively reimagined retelling of the original novella, written by Antoine deSaint-Exupéry.  While not a direct adaptation, Osborne still succeeds in capturing the essence of the 1943 tale that is engaging enough for children and thoughtful enough for adults.  The film blends together a modern narrative, in the 3d animation format, and an interspersed recollection of the story “The Little Prince”, in stop motion.