7 films to get you pumped for the Cape Town International Animation Festival

By Stephen Aspeling24 April 2024

7 films to get you pumped for the Cape Town International Animation Festival

The Cape Town International Animation Film Festival is almost upon us, running from 27-28 April and geared to celebrate cutting-edge animation, rising stars and the next generation of animators with everything from locally produced shorts to Oscar-nominated feature film Nimona. 

Kids who grew up with cartoons have become big kids now and the spirit of animation lives on, making these incredible team efforts a thing to be enjoyed by just about anyone. Ahead of this celebration of all things animated, it’s the perfect time to warm up with some of the biggest and best animated features on Showmax. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is on Showmax

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a groundbreaking animated sci-fi adventure that takes Spider-Man into fresh multidimensional peril as Miles Morales takes over from Peter Parker. This dazzling addition to the Spider-Man universe comes from the creators of The Lego Movie, who have injected just as much energy, invention, and crackerjack fun – juicing up the classic narrative with a ragtag crew of Spider-Beings.  

The textured animated chaos is the playground for this bold new Spidey adventure. A breath of fresh air, this kaleidoscopic Oscar-winning breakthrough is filled with offbeat humor and spellbinding visuals, on a spirited quest to take down Kingpin and rescue reality. Adopting a pulpy comic book feel, it’s amazing how all-encompassing the animation style is – dexterous enough to revolutionise without losing the golden thread.  

A pinnacle production, the unenviable task of a sequel surpassed all expectations as the web-slinger hero saves the day once again with blistering action set pieces, heartfelt drama, and zippy dialogue in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.  


Shrek is on Showmax

It’s surprising just how rewatchable and enjoyable Shrek remains, having racked up four fantasy adventures, with one in the pipeline. This is testament to the enduring power of the disgruntled ogre, whose Scottish accent still leaves many question marks. Led by voice talents Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, the warped fairy tale misadventures of Shrek and Donkey are now entrenched in pop culture. Cutting-edge animation for its time, it’s remarkable how well the simplistic style holds up, leaning into its cartoon feel, and tuning into the overriding frequency of fun. 

The unlikely heroes are an ogre in shining armour and his Shetland-sized steed, who together make this movie so much more than a one-trick pony. Filled with memorable characters and moments, the supporting cast is blessed with the stellar voice talents of Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow. The Brothers Grimm spirit is alive and well, thanks to an imaginative reinvention, lively performances, and a triumphant underdog tale. Tapping into some of the most popular fairy tales, Shrek has made the faraway kingdom its own. This animated adventure remains a firm favourite, setting the scene for the epic Shrek 2, which ratcheted up the pop culture quotient and introduced another popular character in Puss in Boots.  

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Puss in Boots The Last Wish is on Showmax

At first a feisty sidekick to Shrek, Puss in Boots has more than earned his stripes with one rollicking new adventure after another. This character’s not only lovable, but action-ready too, voiced by Antonio Banderas, whose warmth and verve has elevated Puss in Boots and made the witty swashbuckler as funny as he is smooth. Set in the same fairytale kingdom, his action-packed quests have seen him grapple with worthy foes, thanks to his cat-like agility, swordsmanship and heroic jest. Each an epic quest to dispatch nightmarish fairy tale villains and be the cat that got the cream – there’s a beautifully precarious balance of action-comedy to behold.  

An Oscar nominee, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a mesmerising and hilarious adventure for the whole family, taking him back to his most vulnerable state as he’s compelled to reclaim his mojo and save the kingdom. An exhilarating and entertaining spectacle, there’s no limit to imagination as this wild thrill ride morphs from tame to untameable once more. Keeping the fearless Puss in Boots as our spirit guide, it’s an enthralling expedition that serves as a pinnacle for the spin-off series.  

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

How To Train Your Dragon on Showmax

How to Train Your Dragon was a surprise hit, the animated fantasy adventure with a long clunky title that surpassed all expectations. With a similar style of animation to Shrek, the quality of the lush textures go beyond their naive yet appealing design. A heartwarming tale about growing up and overcoming obstacles, it’s hard not to get behind the plucky young Viking Hiccup and his cat-like Night Fury companion Toothless, now a little bit older but tasked with an uncharted quest. 

The quirky yet soaring How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World features a solid voice cast in Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and F. Murray Abraham. Pushing the limits of his trusty sidekick, they journey into a forgotten kingdom as a dangerous warrior emerges back home. The Hidden World raises the stakes, multiplies the characters and swathes the adventure in compelling mystery – making this quest as entertaining as it is exhilarating. Harnessing the best ingredients from previous adventures, this exciting escapade checks all the boxes, filled with high-flying action, gamesmanship and timely themes. 

Super Mario Bros. Movie 

The Super Mario Bros. Movie on Showmax

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is all about madcap mayhem, making it difficult to explain their plumbing fantasy kingdom situation without a wink. Starting from their real-world plumbing business and being sucked into another dimension, things start to make more sense as Mario rallies to rescue the kingdom from Bowser and save Princess Peach on an entertaining, nostalgic and wacky quest.  

Just as much fun as the video game, Super Mario Bros. is on a mission to be an accessible, charming and wild rollercoaster ride. Starring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy and Jack Black, one gets a good sense of its cheeky charms. Colourful, vivid and spirited, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the nutty fun as Mario gets his boot camp training under the tutelage of Princess Peach and the delightfully incensed Bowser takes unrequited love to the next level. A nod to the Nintendo poster boy and video game icon, Super Mario Bros. makes many references to other films as it mushrooms into a rip-roaring adventure filled with heart and humour.  

Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3 on Showmax

Kung Fu is often associated with animals when it comes to styles, which is what probably inspired the creators of Kung Fu Panda, giving one of the cuddliest critters his own style. Po is an “underpanda”, if you will, whose clumsy efforts were rerouted Karate-Kid style by Master Shifu, making him one of his troop’s greatest assets, a Dragon Warrior. Having proven himself in the first two films, Kung Fu Panda 3 escalates the adventure and finds Po out of his depth once again as he must train a bunch of awkward pandas to defeat a supernatural nemesis in Kai.  

Keeping the same style of animation with every character reprising their voice roles, Jack Black is perfectly cast as the unlikely hero, who must continually stunt self-doubt to rise to his destiny. Filled with eye-popping martial arts action sequences, a stellar voice cast and infused with Asian motifs, this visually striking adventure masterfully blends action and comedy, much like its supporting voice star in Jackie Chan. Pure popcorn entertainment in one sense, the feel-good fun is never far behind as Po comes of age and seeks to conquer his fears.  


Sing on Showmax

Animation has been dominated for many decades by anthropomorphic creatures who have a knack for creating scenarios that are not only entertaining but heart-warming. While we know they can talk (no surprises there), Sing takes it one step further by introducing a singing competition. A jukebox animated comedy that blends the best of karaoke and Idols, this character-driven movie is all about having a good time, featuring a stellar voice cast in Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Saunders and Matthew McConnaughey. 

Never taking itself too seriously, Sing adds fun and sizzle as it goes all out in pursuit of family entertainment. Not far from the pizzazz of Pitch Perfect, it’s filled with a band of wacky characters latching onto many popular songs and classics to reinvent and ridicule simultaneously. Cute, adorable, fluffy and sometimes even spiky, this playful movie features vivid animation and genuinely funny comedy as a mouse, a timid elephant, a pig, a gorilla and a punk-rock porcupine subvert the call of the wild to take centre stage. A wild and wacky backstage meltdown, this escapade is non-stop fun bolting out many toe-tapping showstoppers as it teases out one lovable character after the next.