December 23, 2009 — In our last update before the holidays, Animated Views wishes a very Merry Christmas to you all, plus we review the highs and lows of the past twelve months’ animated movies and home entertainment releases!

After the excitement of the site’s revamp in the past couple of months, we’re about to take a break for a week or so here at Animated Views, and before we go, it’s that time of year again when we look back over the last year to present our review of 2009. But first, some recent catch-ups to some other great content that you may have missed, starting with a pair of reviews for current family fare:

Shorts on Blu-ray Disc – Randall looks at the latest from Troublemaker Studios, the mini-studio founded by Robert Rodriquez that has seen the director turn his hand to everything from dark, ultra-adult entertainment like From Dusk Till Dawn and Sin City to light, colorful and flashy CGI flicks as the Spy Kids trilogy and The Adventures Of Shark Boy And Lava Girl. New to disc, Shorts is one from the latter’s mindset, being a “solid kids’ film, with plenty of imagination and adventure” as Rand reports.

The Princess And The Frog – on the theatrical screen the big animated release of the moment is Disney’s return to traditional animation, but is the film the knockout it needed to be? Not according to James, who places it more among the late 1990s standard of Disney Classics than the Renaissance of the films released earlier in that decade. As he says in our review of the year, “strip away the historic aspects (Disney’s first black princess, first musical in a decade, and first traditionally animated film in five years) and what’s left is just a good film”.

Whatever the pros and cons of the movie, it’s good to see Princess And The Frog doing so well at the box-office, even if the behemoth that is Avatar is doing as predicted and blowing everything else out of the way. Despite the advances in motion-capture (dubbed, quite fittingly, “e-motion-capture” by director James Cameron) of that action blockbuster, it’s reassuring to see an “old-school” animated musical holding its own, and hopefully it will withstand the onslaught of the return of Alvin this weekend.

Part of what sets Princess apart at the movies is that hand-drawn medium, and Jeremie has been speaking to one of the best proponents of that art, The Princess And The Frog‘s Supervising Animator Mark Henn. Known for his many characters over the years, this is the first of an excellent five-part exploration of Mark’s career, which we’ll be updating each fortnight, so stay tooned for those!

There will also be a few other bits and bobs that will turn up over the holiday break too, but in the meantime we’ll leave you with our just posted top ten list of the year’s DVDs and Blu-rays, plus some other titles worthy of mention from the good, the bad and the downright ugly, and James’ pick of the top three animated movies of the year.

Yep, it’s The Best Of 2009: This Time It’s Personal!, our annual recap of what was released this year. As always, you’ll find links to our full reviews, and don’t forget that clicking through and buying any of the titles from our Amazon links helps go towards supporting the site.

Which leaves me with little more to say other than that we hope you’re on Santa’s good list, and to enjoy a truly memorable Christmas, from all of us to all of you! — Ben, James, Rand and the entire Animated Views team!