10 Live-Action Movies With Amazing Animation Scenes

Animation can be a valuable tool even for live-action films, popping off the screen for some added flare. Sometime it’s used in a way to tell an exposition, others it’s a way to tell a story within a story. No matter how it’s used it can be a helpful tool as well as a visually unique expression of its story.

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Now some movies can use animation to create an entire character, such asWho Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) which saw cartoon characters come into real life. Then there is animation to support the live-action scenes, like the myriad of exciting animation decals over Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010). However, in other live-action films the story takes an entire scene and completely dives into animation.


‘Under the Silver Lake’ (2018)

Under the Silver Lake stars Andrew Garfield as a young Los Angeles resident who goes on a conspiracy driven search to find his missing neighbor. The film acts as the follow-up to writer director David Robert Mitchell‘s breakout horror flick It Follows (2014), with Under the Silver Lake diving into a smutty world of paranoia.

Sam stumbles across a zine that tells creepy stories of dog killers and a seductive killer in an owl mask, that turn into several animated scenes in the film. This leads Sam to the writer of the zine, credited only as Comic Fan (Patrick Fischler), but only serves as a stepping stone in Sam’s paranoid investigation.

‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1’ (2010)

In the epic finale of the Harry Potter series, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) continuously evade Voldemort’s minions. Hermione eventually deduces they should visit Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans) who was seen wearing the symbol earlier in the film and who then explains it’s the mark of the Deathly Hallows.

This brings them to the tale of The Three Brothers told through animation. Hermione tells how of three brothers were given items to help them cheat death, the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility, items that are incorporated into the three shapes of the Deathly Hallows symbol.

‘Tank Girl’ (1995)

Tank Girl stars Lori Petty and the title character, Naomi Watts as her clever sidekick, Jet Girl, and Malcolm McDowell as Kesslee, the evil leader of Water & Power, who corruptly controls the resources in a desolate setting.

Inspired by the comic book, the film incorporates still comic strip transitions and establishing shots into the film as homage. Upon teaming up, Tank Girl and Jet Girl steal a tank and escape the villainous W&P corporation and Jet Girl bangs her head on the tank and falls into an animated reality. The exciting animation exaggerates movements in a mad flurry of unhinged fun, with Tank Girl flipping through the air, slamming her face to press a button and taking the tank for a joyride.

‘Vertigo’ (1958)

Considered one of Alfred Hitchcock‘s classics vertigo (1958) stars James Stewart as a former detective who developed an extreme fear of heights and added vertigo after an incident in the line of duty. The film features many innovative filmmaking techniques, including the first use of a dolly zoom, as well as special effects and animation to create its nightmare sequences.

Initially the film opens with a very early computer animation, that rotated geometric shapes over the title credits. Furthermore, the film uses animation during its nightmare sequences, a clever way to push the surreal nature of dreams.

‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ (2008)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), reunites the BPRD, including titular character Hellboy (Ron Perlman), Liz (Selma Blair) and Abe, now performed and voiced by Doug Jonesin a new adventure protecting the human world from supernatural threats.

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In the opening sequence, Professor Broom (John Hurt) describes a time in which humans and magical creatures coexisted. Modeled as animated wooden figures the scene breaks out into a war, with the Elf King looking on. Next, a goblin blacksmith comes to the Elves to suggest building a mechanical army, 70 times 70 soldiers, and the young Elf Prince, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), is eager to accept. So, with the clanging of hammers and gears in the orange glow of fiery forges, the creative animation sets up the conflict Hellboy is about to face.

‘Watchmen: Ultimate Cut’ (2009)

watchmen (2009) is Zack Synder’s adaptation of the 1986 comic of the same name, written by Alan Moore. The film stars an ensemble cast to fill out its large collection of heroes including: Silk Specter II (Malin kerman), Night Owl II (Patrick Wilson), The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) and Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup).

Like in the original watchmen comic, The Tales of the Black Freighter is a comic book strip a young boy reads within the story. Presented in grimy 2D animation, the main character, voiced by actor Gerard Butlerleads a grim pirate tale that was later interwoven into the live-action Ultimate Cut of the movie.

‘Kill Bill: Vol 1’ (2003)

From the bloody mind of Quentin Tarantino comes the first of his martial art action epic Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003). It stars Uma Thurman as The Bride, an assassin left for dead who vows to enact her revenge, going on a killing spree against numerous other assassins, the Deadly Vipers. One of these assassins is that of O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Luis), who gets a unique anime inspired retelling of her origin story.

The animation comes to life as The Bride retells the trauma of the young O-Ren, and her parent’s violent murder. Committed to avenging her parents, O-Ren waits until she is 11 to seduce the vile murderer, slaying him with a Katana in his bed, and with no shortage of spraying blood the film is known for. From there O-Ren becomes one of the best assassins of the Yakuza and The Bride’s formidable next target.

‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (2005)

The 2005 movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is based on the Douglas Adams book of the same name, and features a comedic cosmic adventure with help of a handy encyclopedia. The movie stars Martin Freeman as the monotonous Earthling, Arthur Dent, and his alien best friend, Ford Prefect (Moss Def). With the imminent destruction of Earth, Ford snags his unsuspecting friend, sticks out his thumb, and the two hitch a ride into space.

Once there, Arthur is understandably full of questions, when Ford directs him to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Within its digital pages are a complete database of everything Arthur needs to know about life in the cosmos and the film transports the audience into a colorful, minimalist, animation to display its facts.

‘A Monster Calls’ (2016)

A Monster Calls (2016) follows a young boy, Conor (Lewis McDougall), whose mother (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill, and is visited by a monstrous tree with the voice of Liam Neeson. Stricken with anger and grief, the young Conor faces many hardships and finds solace in the interactions with the monster and the three stories its presents.

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Like drawings scribbled on paper, rough and warm, the animation is equally beautiful and gloomy. One story sees Medieval knights, skeletal warriors and dragons clash as the ink blots and rough figures interact as if in a children’s book. The other sees factories pummeling nature and Connor later tells his own story, with the film using animation to tell its emotionally mending story.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park (1993) was monumental for the use of visual effects as it brought dinosaurs back to life. The film primarily follows three scientists Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, who are invited to experience a brand-new amusement park that features living, breathing dinosaurs. There they are given a tour by the park creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) who felt a pleasant animation would assist the tour.

Poorly strapped into the theater based ride, the scientists are presented with an animation of a DNA strand who explains to them, and the audience, how they created the dinosaurs. The exposition scene is able to simplify the explanation for children, and the not-so-bright lawyer, and provide the science for the movie before getting on to all the dinosaur evading peril to come.

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