With the release of Kung Fu Panda later this week, we’re heading into the summer animation season. Pixar’s tent-pole film WALL-E is coming out in a month, and we should have plenty of adorable CGI characters this summer to keep us entertained.
All this makes me reflect on some of my favorite computer animated characters over the years. Of course, I could populate a list with the entire cast of Toy Story (or any of the Pixar films, for that matter), so to level the playing field, I’ve given myself these three rules…
1. Only one character per movie (or else, it’d be everyone from The Incredibles)
2. Must be a full-CGI film (see honorable mentions below)
3. Must have been seen in American theaters
10. Jue from The Animatrix
(also Dr. Aki Ross from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within)
Not everyone remembers her, but she’s the hot Asian chick from the short film The Final Flight of the Osiris, which played ahead of Dreamcatcher a few years back. Terrible feature film, but pretty cool short film… and a photo-realistic CGI character we can drool over.
9. Fish Out of Water from Chicken Little
Not one of the most famous Disney CGI films, but a pretty crazy cast of animated characters. The Fish Out of Water may be been out of his environment and unable to speak, but it just goes to show how a little attitude and personality can overcome a loss of words.
8. Rex from Toy Story
(also Woody and Buzz Lightyear)
So many of the toys from Andy’s room were great characters. But it was Rex, the loveable yet decidedly un-ferocious dinosaur, that made me laugh the most.
7. Mater from Cars
All Larry the Cable Guy haters aside, this character is what gave Cars most of its personality. Who’d have thunk that Larry would have his best acting performance in a Disney film?
6. Grendle’s Mother from Beowulf
Okay, like Jue from The Animatrix, this entry is for eye candy purposes only. The greatest thing about a naked CGI Angelina Jolie is that the computer can fix all of her flaws.
5. Edna Mole from The Incredibles
(also Jack Jack and Frozone)
So many characters in The Incredibles are great, but it’s Edna Mole, the weird little lady who tailors the family’s uniforms, that stole the show. And, she was voiced by director Brad Bird himself.
4. Puss in Boots from Shrek 2
I’ll admit that I have no love for Shrek 3, but Antonio Banderas voicing the spunky cat in the first sequel was one of the best things about this movie.
3. Dory from Finding Nemo
(also the Sharks and The Tank Gang)
Like many of the other Pixar films on this list, it’s hard to pick a favorite from Finding Nemo. But the adorable character of Dory, perfectly voiced by talk show star Ellen Degeneres, was the heart and soul of this picture. She’s funny. She’s vulnerable. And she speaks whale.
2. The Penguins from Madagascar
(also King Julian)
Borat’s alter ego Sasha Baron Cohen stole the scene as the weird lemur king, but it was the jail-breaking penguins that stole the whole show. They may even be responsible for the resulting penguin-boom in films that came later.
1. Scrat from Ice Age
Pixar may be the king of computer animated film, but it is the quirky prehistoric saber-toothed squirrel Scrat from the Ice Age flicks that is easily the most memorable. He is the anchor of all the films and the star of his own short films. Isn’t about time for his own series?
Yeah, yeah. I know I said part of the rules were that the choices had to have appeared in an actual animated movie. But considering the amount of special effects in the following series, it’s arguable that these were animated films with an occassional real actor blue-screened in.
Okay, I’m rationalizing, but who can forget these two…
Gollum from Lord of the Rings
Yoda from Star Wars: Episdoes II and III