Animating Joss: A Look at the Pre-Vampire films of a Master


There are two really fantastic animated films, not counting Toy Story, that Joss Whedon worked on. Like most of Whedon’s work, up until this past summer, the “mainstream” media either didn’t care, or didn’t like the films. Both films, though, have cult followings, and it’s worth noting that they’re quite in the vein of Whedon films – albeit in different ways than the vampire stories we’re more used to.

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Atlantis: The Lost Empire is one of those Disney films that people like to try to forget – or at least Disney likes to forget. It didn’t get a lot of critical acclaim, but it might be one of the best Disney films ever. I’m not even joking. I’d put it in my top ten Disney films for sure, with a solid number six. It’s just that good.

That being said, Joss Whedon’s involvement in the film as we know it now is limited to the treatment. He did say, though, that he didn’t see “a shred” of his contribution in the final production. Which really makes me want to see the film Joss would have made. Because love it as I do now, I bet it would have been fantastically amazing. Who knows, it might have even gotten the mass media acclaim an ambitious story of this nature deserved.

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Titan A.E. might be one of my favorite animated films that seriously got no love, and probably still doesn’t. It has a cult following, but a lot of things do. Overall, I don’t think it’s well received. Sure, Joss wasn’t a big fan of the version of Titan A.E. that was released in the same way he didn’t care for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alien Resurrection, however I still think it’s a good film. It’s underrated, if nothing else. Perhaps it’s just that the ideas are fantastic, but the execution wasn’t great. I don’t think that’s true, though.

Like it or not, Titian A.E. is still fantastic – no matter what Joss says. Although, like Atlantis: The Lost Empire, I bet it was even better before. But a personal favorite, in the form of Supernatural executive producer and writer Ben Edlund, was also part of the three person screenwriting team that brought this film to life.

These two animated films are fantastic, and you should check them out, but don’t look at them as Joss Whedon’s work – at least not the same way you look at Dollhouse or Firefly. I mean you wouldn’t really look at the film version of Buffy the Vampire as an actual example of the Joss Whedon we know now, either. It’s the same principle. Yes, Joss Whedon worked on them. Yes they’re good. But they’re not really “Joss Whedon” in feel or execution. Enjoy them nonetheless.

Emily Frances Maesar

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