I recently watch the new 2019 Lion King live-action remake. Obviously, it’s not actually live-action in the literal sense, but it might as well have been. The images were hyper-realistic and honestly beautiful. And while I enjoyed the movie, I couldn’t help but miss the fantastic whimsy of traditional animation. Animation is fun cause there are almost no rules, and in that way has a life of its own. With animation your mind can break free of the limitations of reality (not that talking lions and organized monarchical animal societies have a strong basis in reality).
It’s fun to relive some of these childhood classics in a new way, but nowadays everything is a sequel or a live-action remake, and fatigue is settling-in, and it doesn’t help that some of these movies are just bad. But even with amazingly good one like Toy Story 4, I am still yearning for something fresh.
At one point in painting, realism was the epitome of artistic skill, but eventually fatigue set in, giving rise to more abstract art (at least that’s my understanding, I take one art history class and all of a sudden I think I’m an expert, so art people please put me in my place). It was fresh, unlikely anything anyone was doing at the time. Now in cinema, particularly in animation, we are at a point where realism seems to be the primary objective, not just visually but thematically as well. Toys are having existential crises, evil sorceresses are battling for custody, etc. Sure relatability and sympathetic situations in stories aren’t new ideas, but now I feel like they are more thinly veiled than ever. Disney et al. will continue to milk their dead cow, and chances people will continue to lap it up straight from the teet, but just like in other forms of art, people are getting tired, and a storm’s a brewin’. An animation renaissance is coming, and it will be spectacular.