In the old days, every animated movie was done with classic 2D animation. Of course, back then, animation took months or even years to make, costed millions of dollars, and required huge teams, and that led to all the old Disney movies, and some of Ralph Bakshi’s greatest works (like Wizards).
Nowadays, the majority of Western animation is entirely digital, and done in 3D. Ever since Pixar rose to fame in the 90’s, damn near every American animated family movie has been done with digital 3D animation, never mind that nearly all the popular family movies are made this way. This includes Despicable Me (and its sequel), Monsters vs. Aliens, Cars, The Croods, Monsters University, Megamind, and the newly released Justin and the Knights of Valor.
The 3D animated films shelled out for kids seem to be quite soulless, especially since they’re all made the same way. I can’t exactly blame them. Since such acclaimed Pixar movies as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life came out in the mid-late 90’s, Hollywood came to realize that movies like these are profitable. The difference is that the Pixar movies weren’t as soulless as the other 3D animated films that would follow it.
Also, the reason many of these 3D animated films are made as “family movies” is because Western society is still under the impression that cartoons are just for kids, even when TV shows like South Park and Family Guy, and films like Coonskin and Heavy Metal came out and disproved that.
Nowadays, Hollywood assumes all family movies are just for kids, so they make all the 3D animated movies as childish and clichéd as possible so that even an infant can watch it. However, this has led to creative lows for animation, and dumbed down writing due to pressure from the producers to cater to their presumed audience. Effectively, this means the animation age ghetto of Western society hasn’t changed at all.
Will classic 2D animation ever come back into the mainstream, and will it be able to break the animation age ghetto? Will we ever see movies like Wizards and Heavy Metal in cinemas ever again? Only time will tell.