62 Best Releases From the Genre Animation

The Spool Staff

1- Title (Year) for Movies or 2- Title Season X for TV shows

Kids deserve better than yet another dull, going-through-the-motions misfire. The animation world was recently startled by Warner Bros.' announcement that they planned to shelve their recently completed feature Coyote vs Acme for a quick tax write-off, rather than spend money to release it. Not to be outdone, Disney Studios offers up Wish, an animated feature that is the kind of artistic misfire that deserves to be hidden away and never spoken about again. This is a creation so alternately bewildering and banal that it's implausible that at no point during the entire creative process did anyone point out the seemingly obvious fact that virtually none of it works on even the most basic levels. Continue Reading →

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

The ScienceSaru-produced animated series rebuilds rather than retells Bryan Lee O'Malley's beloved comic. Late in the final volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's 2004-2010 comic series Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour), once the action's done and the hateful Gideon Graves has been slain, protagonists Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers take a moment to process everything. Defeating Gideon meant facing not only the vicious misogynist swordsman but also their respective character flaws (It's telling that one of Scott's key moments is his realizing just how alike he and Gideon are, and by gaining that understanding, he affirms that, yeah, Gideon has so got to die). Continue Reading →


The Trolls movies continue to indulge in their best and worst impulses in a third installment. The poster for this past summer's R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings had a reasonably clever tagline to explain the strained dynamic between the film's two leads. Against an image of Jennifer Lawrence squeezing Andrew Barth Feldman's cheeks, a single word is placed on top of each person's face: "Pretty" and "Awkward." Nothing revolutionary in design, but it gets the job done. Best of all, that tagline also makes for an apt descriptor for Trolls Band Together. Continue Reading →

Miraculous - le film

When I was around thirteen, two classmates, Christina and Taylor (their real names, it’s not like they’re going to read this), played a prank on me that resulted in my eating dog food. In retrospect, it could have been worse: nobody else saw it happen, and for whatever reason they kept it to themselves. But when I think about my teenage years (and I try not to much at this point in my life, other than at a superficial pop culture level), my mind often goes to that moment. Continue Reading →

Inspector Sun y la maldición de la viuda negra

I love detective stories. Tales of how, as Sara Gran would say, "truth lives in the ether." Explorations of people and places and how they shape each other. The journey down the streets towards a hidden truth. Dennis Lehane's Darkness, Take My Hand, is my favorite book. Rian Johnson's Brick and Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone are movies I think the world of, never mind all-timers like Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. And, of course, the immortal Who Framed Roger Rabbit? from Robert Zemeckis. Any time there's a new detective film, whether it be an affably bleak comedy or an action-driven character study, it's a treat. Continue Reading →


Both the main characters in Michel Franco’s Memory are struggling to deal with the echoes of their past. Sylvia (Jessica Chastain), a recovering alcoholic and single mother to 13-year-old Anna (Brooke Timber), desperately wants to forget the unspoken traumas of her childhood. Saul (Peter Saarsgard), on the other hand, can’t grab a hold of his past. He’s powerless as early-onset dementia slowly but inevitably steals it from him. After their high school reunion, he wordlessly follows her home and spends the night standing outside her building. In turn, she visits him at the house he shares with his brother (Josh Charles) and niece (Elsie Fisher). Then she takes him for a walk and accuses him of participating in a rape that she endured at the age of 12, a crime that he has no memory of committing.  Continue Reading →

Fantastic Animation Festival


In addition to new releases, Fantastic Fest also presented a selection of largely forgotten oddities from the past. This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →

M-line Memory Vol.13 - 新垣里沙 バースデーイベント~ 25th Birthday party! ちょっと早いけ

Friedkin’s second film is a bruising affair that finds the fledgling director wielding style to produce maximum psychological damage. In the early days of his career, William Friedkin found himself playing second banana to his collaborators. For instance, one of his earliest biggest TV directing gigs was on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Then, when he made the leap to feature narrative films, his debut was in service of Cher and Sonny Bono’s cult of personality.  Continue Reading →

Cade: The Tortured Crossing

Say what you will about independent film auteur Neil Breen: he has a vision. All of his movies have a common theme, in which a man with superhuman abilities (played by Neil Breen) directs those abilities toward vanquishing evil corporate and government entities. Many people die in the process, but in Breen’s vision it’s all in the name of world peace. What he’s trying to say isn’t all that hard to figure out: he thinks the world would be better off without corrupt CEOs and pass-the-buck lawmakers (and hey, I don’t disagree).  Continue Reading →

Strange Planet

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Despite their hue, not all TMNT films deserved to be greenlit. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984. Now almost 40 years later, what started as a comic book has inspired seven movies, five television series, and countless amounts of merchandise. This week the four ninja tortoises return in a new animated incarnation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Considering I’ve been a fan of the Turtles since six years old, this seems like the perfect time to put an official rating on four decades of movies. Some are gnarly, some tubular, and there’s always a whole lot of cowabunga.   Continue Reading →

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

For characters who started in part as an affectionate homage to and goof on the character-defining Frank Miller-written Daredevil comics, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are remarkably flexible. This is true in-universe: being bendy is a package deal with being a master of ninjitsu. But I'm talking more about the sheer variety of Ninja Turtle projects.  Continue Reading →

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

One of the things I enjoy most about the moviegoing experience is coming out of a film feeling as if I've actually learned something that I didn't know before, or had not even occurred to me in the first place. That's exactly the feeling that I got while watching Sam Pollard’s The League, a documentary about the history of Negro baseball leagues in America. Going in, I suppose I knew the basics about the subject and could name such key figures as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, but Pollard, who previously directed MLK/FBI, and executive producer Questlove delve much deeper, and the results are indeed fascinating. Continue Reading →

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken

It’s not easy being a teenager. It’s especially not easy being a teenager like the titular protagonist of Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. As that title would suggest, Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is a Kraken living in a seaside town with her family. Her parents and younger brother seem to have no trouble assimilating to the broader world, while Ruby struggles. All she wants is to blend in as a normal human-- albeit one with blue skin and no spine. However, to be an average teen, she’ll likely have to break some of her mom’s strict rules, namely, never going near the ocean.  Continue Reading →


Over the years, Pixar has enlisted a variety of creatures to populate their wholesome stories of love and acceptance. There have been toys, monsters, cars, disembodied souls, and even the occasional human. In their new film Elemental, the characters are personifications of the four elements. It’s a choice that may leave you asking, “Have they run out of ideas at this point?”  Continue Reading →

Les souvenirs de Mamette

This review is part of our coverage of the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. Continue Reading →

It's so, so wonderful that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse loves comics. Not just their characters (though it does) or the superhero genre (though it does)—the medium of comics itself. Comics are an infinitely flexible form. They can engage in dialogue with popular works in other mediums! They can use space to shape their readers' perception of time! They can use form and illustration style to capture the difference between perception and reality! Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is, amongst other things, a celebration of comics and their possibilities. It is glorious. Continue Reading →


Mulligan may be an animated comedy about a ragtag group of survivors of an alien attack on Earth. However, Hardcore 30 Rock fans will quickly discover Netflix’s new animated series feels pretty familiar to the early-aughts sitcom. First, there’s the fast-paced comedic timing, a signature of producers Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, and Sam Means. Next, both series feature the infectious, bouncy music of Jeff Richmond. Finally, both got off to a bit of a rough start. Still, just like hang gliding over an apocalyptic alien attack, Mulligan’s an amusing, wild journey that rewards viewers who hang on for the ride.     Continue Reading →

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Short Circuit Experimental Films

This year's first program of Chicago Critics Film Festival shorts focus on the dark side of family, community & living with mental illness. The films in the first program of shorts at this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival all concern those mythic American values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And they do this in both content and form. Though these films never exceed twenty minutes, they are unbounded examples of the human imagination. Continue Reading →


Like the Oracle said to Neo, "Everything that has a beginning has an end." But "ending" is not synonymous with "annihilation." Whether it's a literal, physical remnant (say, an amusement park that remains standing even years after being shut down) or patterns that folks continue out of habit or the hopes of feeling something (think Yūsuke Kafuku continuing to rehearse for Uncle Vanya with his late wife's recording years after her death in Drive My Car—whose co-lead Tōko Miura was a key contributor to the soundtrack of Makoto Shinkai's last film, Weathering With You). Continue Reading →

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

It’s been almost 40 years since that little plumber in the red hat jumped into a warp pipe and into our hearts. Super Mario Bros., released for the original Nintendo system in the US in 1985, is still the perfect video game. It’s simple (you just got to jump around), it has iconic music, and its colorful world is hypnotic even with all those cute creatures trying to kill you. Continue Reading →