Unveiling the Animated Wonders: Top Picks from Netflix's Vault

When it comes to fantasy tales, an animated wonderland, where the colours are bright and the stories are endless, there is one streaming hub not to be missed: Netflix. Among its exclusive titles – not including Disney’s fantasy titles – is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Super Mario Bros. Movie as well as a crop of excellent titles from DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, and Universal/Illumination. As if that were not enough, there are also Netflix originals, among which is the current hit Ultraman: Rising, as well as favourites such as The Lego Movie and Flushed Away that have found a permanent place at many households this month.


In his latest film, Ultraman: Rising, the eponymous hero of Japan’s popular tokusatsu television series embarks on a wholly different plotline from the ones we’ve seen before: as Ultraman, he fights giant monsters, but in this incarnation, he’s raising one. He has to care for a baby monster. Fatherhood is part of the very fabric of the awesome world.


Into the Spider-Verse was directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the brains behind the equally fantastic The Lego Movie – a story created out of a single brick and its friends. It is not just an homage to the LEGO sets in the real world but the creative impulse itself, as Emmet Brickowski – the bland, ordinary ‘special’ chosen one – and an assortment of misfits go on a quest to save their Lego universe.


Flushed Away is Aardman’s bold shift from stop-motion animation to computer-generated imagery (CGI), a rip-roaring ride starring an uptight pet rat named Roddy St James who falls, with a splash, into the underground world of the sewer. Amid the high jinks, identity and community (a hallmark of Aardman films) are once again the inspiration, as well as the plot.

THE CHARM OF CLASSICS: Shrek (2001) and Beyond

Shrek (2001) marked a turning point for DreamWorks Animation, whose tradition of irreverent humour and sweet tale of a solitary ogre became one of the biggest franchise film series of all time. Other notable DreamWorks storylines such as the bravery and resilience of the wild horses in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), or the classic Animal Kingdom story in The Land Before Time (1988) highlight the enduring qualities and virtue of classic animation storytelling.

RENAISSANCE OF ANIMATION: Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (2023)

Animation stops time Perhaps that’s why Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (2023) can continue where its predecessor Chicken Run (2000) left off with such ease after a gap of 23 years. We continue where we left off with the theme of escape and survival, but with a different cast of characters and circumstances. Given the sophisticated quality of animation techniques today, it would seem that they could never lose their original luster.

NEW WAVES: Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (2023) and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022)

Fresh stories like Rubyn Gillman, Teenage Kraken, where a person forms her identity by believing she’s a kraken, and the endearing Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a talking shell with a big heart, continue to expand and shape the animation catalogue.

EMBRACING DIVERSE TALES: Orion and the Dark (2024) to Minions (2015)

The Book of Dust’s Orion and the Dark, about childhood fears, and the Minions films’ mishaps are just a few of the many animated stories available on Netflix, each title contributing to an eclectic, diverse world of characters and narrative possibilities that also serves as a space for animated stories about the lives of women, girls and non-binary people. From the magical realism of Philip Pullman’s The Magician’s Elephant to the magical realism of Nimona’s high-stakes adventure, Netflix reminds us that we have only scratched the surface of what animated stories are capable of.


At the centre of innumerable animated masterworks has been the monster: the creature who can be not just the antagonist of a story, but an opponent whose defeat is not required for the story’s resolution. Indeed, this is often the final stage in the protagonist’s journey: in Ultraman: Rising (2012), the literal baby monster he raises is a monster metaphorising the journey of the adolescent; while in Orion and the Dark (2020), the figurative monsters of fear and miscomprehension are actual beasts of that sort. In Netflix’s animated monsterscape, the monster spawns in every conceivable direction. In the shadow of the giant centipede’s jaws, we see the human face, and sense humanity’s own ambivalence toward its own native monsters. This tends to suggest that the monster is indispensable – not just to animation, but to storytelling as a whole.

From softly profound stories to epic saga of bravery and discovery, this swarm of animated riches that Netflix has produced can be seen as animation’s new hub, still shining on screens worldwide – telling stories of monsters and heroes alike.

Jun 14, 2024
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