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#241 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:16 PM

"So there you go" has less syllables and is therefore pithier than "So there are differences of opinion on this matter, and the point I'm trying to underscore here is that your reaction to the latest W&G ('too redundant', 'typical frantic finale', etc.) happens to match the reaction of some/many/whatever people to the latest Pixar, so such reactions obviously can't be dismissed out of hand, unless you wish to dismiss your own reaction to the latest W&G out of hand, too."

"So there you go" certainly wasn't meant to imply any sort of "final answer", unless I suppose one wants to say that "There is no final answer!" is the final answer.

#242 SDG

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 12:39 PM

I don't think Jeff is trying to "dismiss" anything out of hand, Peter.

OTOH, Jeff, your point-by-point response to Sicinski doesn't always sound like you're saying "I know this is his response, but mine was different," and that does sort of invite Peter's cross-examination (his Sicinski's advocate, as it were).

If we're going to subject negative reviews to point-by-point responses, then positive reviews and responses are fair game too.

#243 mrmando

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 01:03 PM

I have to agree with Bowen on Meaning of Life. Hands down the worst Python film. Revolting and sick, with no point to make that's worth what you have to sit through. And I say this as a devoted Python fan. Watch the Gilliam short at the beginning and then take the DVD out of your player.

Oh yeah, this is a thread about Up. Haven't seen it yet. But every artist goes through the motions at some points. The motions themselves can still be interesting. I wrote an entry in my blog about seeing Clarence Gatemouth Brown perform; he was in his late 60s at the time, I'd guess, and seemed content to play his current record note for note instead of taking any chances. But, y'know, there aren't many guitarists who could play a Gatemouth record note for note. If he were a classical guitarist, that's exactly what his audience would expect to hear.

#244 SDG

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 01:39 PM

FWIW, I don't find "going through the motions" a helpful way to describe Up even in the Exciting Final Act.

From Russell making like Harry Potter on a leaf-blower with balloons to the aerial rendezvous of Carl's house and Muntz's dirigible … from the creaking standoff of two old men with bad backs brandishing weapons they can't swing to Carl's inspired use of his dentures as a projectile rather than masticatory weapon … from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen to the continued inventive use of that garden hose (e.g., Dug cranking the handle to "dock" the house and the dirigible) … and finally to the startling abandonment of the house at the brink of escape … Up's Exciting Final Act is chock-full of things that I've either never seen before, or at most rarely if ever seen done so inventively.

As for the rest of the film ... I've seen talking dogs before, but never talking dogs like this. I've seen cute animated sidekicks, but nothing outside a Miyazaki with a personality approaching Kevin.

In general, Up strikes me as arguably Pixar's most audacious film (only Wall-E competes). Audacity alone doesn't make a film great, but it opens the door to a lot of good will, and when it works well it earns gratitude as well as admiration.

(In passing, I am pleased to be a part of any conversation that gives me an excuse to say "masticatory." Thank you.)

#245 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 01:47 PM

SDG wrote:
: . . . from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen . . .

FWIW, that shot already seemed kind of been-there-done-that to me when it appeared in the trailer.

#246 SDG

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 02:22 PM

QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Jun 11 2009, 02:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
: . . . from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen . . .

FWIW, that shot already seemed kind of been-there-done-that to me when it appeared in the trailer.

That's the one shot that caused me to add "or at most rarely if ever seen done so inventively." But beyond your response to the trailer, where exactly have you Been There and Done That?

#247 morgan1098

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 03:41 PM

QUOTE (SDG @ Jun 11 2009, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Peter T Chattaway @ Jun 11 2009, 02:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
: . . . from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen . . .

FWIW, that shot already seemed kind of been-there-done-that to me when it appeared in the trailer.

That's the one shot that caused me to add "or at most rarely if ever seen done so inventively." But beyond your response to the trailer, where exactly have you Been There and Done That?


That shot is amazing. It's not like it's photo-realistic animation, but watching it gave me the almost freaky impression that I was watching an actual human rather than a CGI character. The eyes are just perfect.

#248 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 04:30 PM

Because Cars has been mentioned several times in this thread, I thought I'd post a user review from someone who didn't like Up that was posted on a group blog I write for from time to time.

http://www.rabbitroom.com/?p=2655

QUOTE
Wow. A movie should not get this much positive review without a cranky critic entering his 2 cents. I did NOT like UP. Maybe it was the mood I was in, but the artsyness and sentimentality didn’t do it for me. I wanted an interesting and/or funny story and a clear message. I couldn’t really figure out what this movie was trying to tell me.

“Life’s an adventure?”
“Life’s an adventure even when you’re old?”

Neither of these are particularly novel.

I guess I’m still waiting to have that same choked up feeling I got when Lightning McQueen put on the brakes to help King across the finish line. That’s something I’ll let my son watch again and again if he gets the message that the last shall be first and it’s better to seek the lower seat. I don’t see any reason to watch UP again (3D or otherwise). Sorry folks!


#249 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 09:15 PM

SDG wrote:
: But beyond your response to the trailer, where exactly have you Been There and Done That?

Can't think of a specific example, right now. But a bad guy yelling "Where are they!" and then suddenly having his nemesis pass by right in front of his eyes, in an awkward or embarrassing manner, just makes me say, a la Luke Skywalker, "There's something familiar about this place, it feels like..." And then Yoda interrupts me before I can say anything specific. (And then the revisionist prequels come out and reveal that I was never at Dagobah in the first place anyway, so that feeling of familiarity was just an illusion.)

#250 Foolish Knight

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 03:28 PM

QUOTE
I wanted an interesting and/or funny story and a clear message. I couldn’t really figure out what this movie was trying to tell me.

“Life’s an adventure?”
“Life’s an adventure even when you’re old?”

Neither of these are particularly novel.


A point of confusion here:

I don't really understand this fascination for new ("novel") messages. I know it's kind of a given these days (or maybe it's always been this way; I'm not sure) to want something "new." But I've never really quite got ahold of what people mean when they say this. (Any input here would be most welcome!)

Specifically when it comes to "messages" (a word that kind of gets my quills up anyway), aren't we looking more for the Truth than any kind of "new" message?

I think of the Daniel Amos song, Ribbons and Bows:

"And there may not ever be
anything here new to say,
but I'm fond of finding words
that say it in a different way."

What do you think, friends? Am I way off here?

#251 Harris-Stone

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 11:31 PM

Maybe someone somewhere already said this...I don't have time to read through the whole thread! But did anyone else seen any thematic similarities with Capra's It's a Wonderful Life? Karl (is his name spelled with a "K"?) seemed sort of George Bailyish to me -- frustrated with unfufilled dreams but faithful to his loves and life. But what really got me going this way was Russell's dialogue about how "Wild" the jungle was. The film seemed to have an undercurrent of looming destruction and disaster. From Muntz's homicidal dementia, to the blood on the construction worker's head after Karl attacks him, to even the way the dog waiter ate Russell's hot dog, it seemed like death and wild chaos were never too far away, and that only love kept them at bay. In It's a Wonderful Life there is the scene in the bank with crow, and the run on the bank, George wanting to kill himself and much more, that I believe conveys the same kind of fear.

The only thing in the film that really bothered me was the quick leap to Paradise Falls. As one who lives in between, in Mexico, that's one seriously long trip. I know we are dealing with a kind of fantasy here, but still, it seemed to me to violate the other rules the film set up for itself...that this was happening in a world very, very close to ours. The sound you are about to hear is the crash of my formerly suspended disbelief falling through the floor.


[

Edited by Harris-Stone, 13 June 2009 - 11:32 PM.


#252 Harris-Stone

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 11:48 PM

QUOTE (Foolish Knight @ Jun 13 2009, 03:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE
I wanted an interesting and/or funny story and a clear message. I couldn't really figure out what this movie was trying to tell me.

"Life's an adventure?"
"Life's an adventure even when you're old?"

Neither of these are particularly novel.


A point of confusion here:

I don't really understand this fascination for new ("novel") messages. I know it's kind of a given these days (or maybe it's always been this way; I'm not sure) to want something "new." But I've never really quite got ahold of what people mean when they say this. (Any input here would be most welcome!)

Specifically when it comes to "messages" (a word that kind of gets my quills up anyway), aren't we looking more for the Truth than any kind of "new" message?



Speaking only for myself, I become concerned when a film is expected to have a clear message. That's not good art, even if its a commercial films intended for kids. Kids aren't stupid. They live in the same difficult world we do and maybe, because they have less power, their world is even more difficult than ours. In that sense, films need to reflect some of this complexity back, even when they are fairy tales, or they run the risk of being irrelevant and untrue. If a film is going to move us, we need to recognize something TRUE, something which resonates with our own life and experience in it.

Some kind of novelty on the other hand is one aspect of good art. When something is different, it helps us pay attention, it delights and surprises us. When we've seen it before -- the same tired revenge film for example -- the characters and everything else in the film is diminished. In a way, life itself is full of novelty. If we don't reflect that in our stories, we aren't paying very good attention.

What made UP a very satisfying film experience to me is the way Karl discovers what his own life had really been about all along, what had always made it meaningful. He grew up. I think that's something a lot of people can relate to. HINT: It's not adventure. smile.gif

Just my 2 cents...

#253 N.K. Carter

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 01:08 AM

Generally: I loved it, thought it was very much in keeping with the way Pixar vigorously infuses narrative formulas with visual and thematic creativity and quietly pushes the boundaries of what's possible for an American animated film. I am more sympathetic here than with Wall-E to criticisms that its second half is a bit deflated -- there were points, if I'm honest with myself, where I felt the conventions creaking into place, and I did roll my eyes at the dogs flying biplanes, though I loved the dogs overall -- but it's not something that diminishes my love. That said, I don't have much to add to the debate of whether Pixar is fully awesome or merely awesome, so on to a couple things I noticed that haven't been discussed:

1. Do we ever hear Carl say anything to Ellie before she dies? The silent montage precludes much of that, but his utter silence in their meet cute -- and it is that -- means he really never does get a word in edgewise. Which is interesting and surely intentional, given just how much he talks to her after she's dead. When you get down to it, as adorable and touching as their relationship is, Ellie is clearly the driving force. She's the one that does the kissing, she's the one with the dreams that Carl has to fulfill, it's her adventure house they end up buying. In fact, everything that I remember Carl initiating, the discussion about children, the plane tickets, and maybe -- I don't remember who initiates it -- the change jar, leads only to disappointment and heartbreak. Which is an incredible burden for him to bear as a character, and it's no wonder he's so utterly devoted to finally getting that house to Paradise Falls. It's such a potent mixture of motivating factors: loyalty, servitude, stubbornness, and this deep need to finally succeed at something. Which makes the final words Ellie leaves him so important; he must have thought all this time he was failing at every major step to be as good to her as she was to him, and she's saying that seeming failure was actually success.

2. It strikes me that, given how much the house represents Ellie and taking into account the image of the house above the falls -- whether it's literal or not -- this is actually a burial quest. That's not what Carl means for it to be, but that's what it becomes. Or maybe that is what Carl intends it to be, and he originally intends to be buried metaphorically right alongside Ellie. It's not as if he can have meant to live much of a life in Paradise Falls. That's not a genre I'm terribly familiar with; I didn't see The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which is the most recent manifestation I can think of. But it seems like that sort of story would be a relevant touchstone.

I look forward to seeing it again, probably in 2-D this time. The 3-D was interesting, I'd much rather have the full color palette, especially for this film, where every detail looks to have been exquisitely color-scripted. I did get to see both trailers, though -- Toy Story 3 and The Princess and the Frog -- since I was at El Capitan, Disney's own L.A. theater, and it was nice to hear the audience oooh and aaah over The Princess and the Frog.

Edited by N.K. Carter, 14 June 2009 - 01:35 AM.


#254 M. Leary

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 03:29 PM

QUOTE (N.K. Carter @ Jun 14 2009, 03:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I look forward to seeing it again, probably in 2-D this time. The 3-D was interesting, I'd much rather have the full color palette, especially for this film, where every detail looks to have been exquisitely color-scripted.


Yeah, I feel like I really missed out with the 3-D in terms of detail, movement, and hue. Then there were a few times that I dropped the glasses and enjoyed the wash of different tones for a while. Otherwise, am I the only one that felt I was being prepped in the first scene? I sit in the theater with these glasses on thinking in terms of spectacle, and lo and behold, here is a flat black and white newsreel from an age when the movie theater was still largely a spectacle. It pans back into 3-D as if a torch is being passed. Then the boy snaps the goggles into place over his glasses just as I had done a few minutes previously. A charming nod to history if intentional (at least to us bespectacled spectators).

But I had a hard time connecting with this one other than in the two photo album scenes. Then the flying dogs did me in. I need to go back through the rest of their films, but they seem to have a habit of phenomenal introductions that lead to interesting, but more conventional storylines with gratifying twists of plot or reference.

I know the villian was mean and all. Couldn't they have scripted him as falling back into the house and then gently to the earth in a wasteland somewhere? Living out a nightmare version of the previous owners' dream? His death came out of nowhere.

QUOTE (N.K. Carter @ Jun 14 2009, 03:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
2. It strikes me that, given how much the house represents Ellie and taking into account the image of the house above the falls -- whether it's literal or not -- this is actually a burial quest. That's not what Carl means for it to be, but that's what it becomes. Or maybe that is what Carl intends it to be, and he originally intends to be buried metaphorically right alongside Ellie. It's not as if he can have meant to live much of a life in Paradise Falls. That's not a genre I'm terribly familiar with; I didn't see The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which is the most recent manifestation I can think of. But it seems like that sort of story would be a relevant touchstone.


Yeah, there is a great sadness to this film that the script seems careful to avoid. But I wish it would have gone there, dug into those emotions, and worked its way out on Carl's terms.

Edited by MLeary, 14 June 2009 - 03:34 PM.


#255 SDG

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 07:43 AM

QUOTE (Harris-Stone @ Jun 14 2009, 12:48 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What made UP a very satisfying film experience to me is the way Karl discovers what his own life had really been about all along, what had always made it meaningful. He grew up. I think that's something a lot of people can relate to. HINT: It's not adventure. smile.gif

"Adventure" is part of it, but the movie is fundamentally about grief, letting go and life going on. There's adventure in that, but you're right, that's not exactly the point.

QUOTE (N.K. Carter @ Jun 14 2009, 02:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Generally: I loved it, thought it was very much in keeping with the way Pixar vigorously infuses narrative formulas with visual and thematic creativity and quietly pushes the boundaries of what's possible for an American animated film. I am more sympathetic here than with Wall-E to criticisms that its second half is a bit deflated -- there were points, if I'm honest with myself, where I felt the conventions creaking into place, and I did roll my eyes at the dogs flying biplanes, though I loved the dogs overall -- but it's not something that diminishes my love.
QUOTE (MLeary @ Jun 14 2009, 04:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Then the flying dogs did me in.

The dogs, like Kevin, are a Rubicon. You either accept them or you don't, and I have no problem with anyone not accepting them.

QUOTE (N.K. Carter @ Jun 14 2009, 02:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Do we ever hear Carl say anything to Ellie before she dies? The silent montage precludes much of that, but his utter silence in their meet cute -- and it is that -- means he really never does get a word in edgewise. Which is interesting and surely intentional, given just how much he talks to her after she's dead. When you get down to it, as adorable and touching as their relationship is, Ellie is clearly the driving force. She's the one that does the kissing, she's the one with the dreams that Carl has to fulfill, it's her adventure house they end up buying. In fact, everything that I remember Carl initiating, the discussion about children, the plane tickets, and maybe -- I don't remember who initiates it -- the change jar, leads only to disappointment and heartbreak. Which is an incredible burden for him to bear as a character, and it's no wonder he's so utterly devoted to finally getting that house to Paradise Falls. It's such a potent mixture of motivating factors: loyalty, servitude, stubbornness, and this deep need to finally succeed at something. Which makes the final words Ellie leaves him so important; he must have thought all this time he was failing at every major step to be as good to her as she was to him, and she's saying that seeming failure was actually success.

Very, very good analysis (and yeah, the change jar is Carl's idea).

QUOTE (MLeary @ Jun 14 2009, 04:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Otherwise, am I the only one that felt I was being prepped in the first scene? I sit in the theater with these glasses on thinking in terms of spectacle, and lo and behold, here is a flat black and white newsreel from an age when the movie theater was still largely a spectacle. It pans back into 3-D as if a torch is being passed. Then the boy snaps the goggles into place over his glasses just as I had done a few minutes previously. A charming nod to history if intentional (at least to us bespectacled spectators).

Yeah, I had a similar response here.

QUOTE
I need to go back through the rest of their films, but they seem to have a habit of phenomenal introductions that lead to interesting, but more conventional storylines with gratifying twists of plot or reference.

Whatever it is that separates the latter acts of Wall-E and Up from their magnificent openings, I can't see labeling it conventionality. If anything, I think the latter acts of Wall-E and Up could be considered less conventional and more audacious than the opening acts.

QUOTE
I know the villian was mean and all. Couldn't they have scripted him as falling back into the house and then gently to the earth in a wasteland somewhere? Living out a nightmare version of the previous owners' dream? His death came out of nowhere.

Yeah, I wondered this too. But there's a problem with that proposal:


QUOTE (MLeary @ Jun 14 2009, 04:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (N.K. Carter @ Jun 14 2009, 03:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
2. It strikes me that, given how much the house represents Ellie and taking into account the image of the house above the falls -- whether it's literal or not -- this is actually a burial quest. That's not what Carl means for it to be, but that's what it becomes. Or maybe that is what Carl intends it to be, and he originally intends to be buried metaphorically right alongside Ellie. It's not as if he can have meant to live much of a life in Paradise Falls. That's not a genre I'm terribly familiar with; I didn't see The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which is the most recent manifestation I can think of. But it seems like that sort of story would be a relevant touchstone.
Yeah, there is a great sadness to this film that the script seems careful to avoid. But I wish it would have gone there, dug into those emotions, and worked its way out on Carl's terms.

But here's the thing, I think Up does very profoundly engage Carl's grief, but in a metaphorical and poetic way rather than with literal emotional fireworks. Did you read the coda to my review (which very much converges with what NKC writes)?

#256 morgan1098

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 10:22 AM

QUOTE (SDG @ Jun 15 2009, 08:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE
I know the villian was mean and all. Couldn't they have scripted him as falling back into the house and then gently to the earth in a wasteland somewhere? Living out a nightmare version of the previous owners' dream? His death came out of nowhere.

Yeah, I wondered this too. But there's a problem with that proposal:



I think Muntz's fate was sealed the minute he fired the gun and the bullets ricocheted just over Kevin's head. There was no way the film was going to let him off easy after that.

Edited by morgan1098, 15 June 2009 - 10:24 AM.


#257 M. Leary

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:01 AM

QUOTE (SDG @ Jun 15 2009, 09:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But here's the thing, I think Up does very profoundly engage Carl's grief, but in a metaphorical and poetic way rather than with literal emotional fireworks. Did you read the coda to my review (which very much converges with what NKC writes)?


I hadn't had a chance to read your review until this morning, and find it all very well put. I can't expect a Pixar film to become a Bergman film, as much as I would love such a mash-up. They do well at expressing his grief throughout the film, balloons popping and fading as the house drags across the sand. And then to undo the moroseness of the burial quest, he tosses everything out of the house as if it means nothing to him anymore. Nice moment.

And I do like the grace-note at the end, though I am still a bit startled that it comes at the cost of the most realistically violent storyline in any Pixar film (correct me if I am wrong). I wonder if the helmet and goggle scene was placed there to juice up this half of Up's plot, with all of its Apocalypse Now and Dr. Moreau overtones. At the same time, victory over the alpha dog is great comedy. Up has it both ways.

#258 SDG

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:16 AM

Good thoughts, Mike.

I absolutely think the helmet and goggle scene is there to point toward the final act and the climax. It establishes both Muntz's motivation and outlook as well as what he is capable of.

Regarding the violent moment that bothers you, not sure whether the term "realistic" is the key here, but certainly Syndrome meets a far grislier fate. (And while rocket boots aren't "realistic," there's nothing unrealistic about dying if you happen to get sucked into a jet turbine.)

Edited by SDG, 15 June 2009 - 11:18 AM.


#259 M. Leary

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:21 AM

Ah yes, a terrible fate. I am not one to get all hot under the collar when someone dies in animation. I just introduced my daughter to Howl's the other day, which has many troubling and violent scenes, and was happy to have her see that everything isn't Yo Gabba Gabba land. This one just threw me for a loop.

#260 SDG

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:48 AM

QUOTE (MLeary @ Jun 15 2009, 12:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ah yes, a terrible fate. I am not one to get all hot under the collar when someone dies in animation. I just introduced my daughter to Howl's the other day, which has many troubling and violent scenes, and was happy to have her see that everything isn't Yo Gabba Gabba land. This one just threw me for a loop.

Ah. I know it's a tangent, but how old is she again? And how many Miyazakis has she seen?

My kids all know Totoro and Kiki (surely the gentlest Miyazakis, and among the gentlest family films ever) as well as the violent Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky (in which a villain menaces children with firearm and falls to his death when the children utter the spell of destruction); and the three older ones have all seen Spirited Away and The Castle of Cagliostro (in which the villain dies a squishy death).

Perhaps I need to give Howl's another shake; after the brilliant opening it didn't do much for me when I caught it in the theater ... a point I've already noted in this thread, reflecting how some people respond to Up and Wall-E the same way.