Archive for the ‘Animated’ Category

  • Teaser: Peanuts by Schulz


    Popping out at you in 3D, Charlie Brown and the gang haven’t been seen since the late 1990s when the last of the cartoons were aired, and the comic strip closed down (due to creator Charles Schulz’s death in 2000.) But this teaser seems to capture a fair bit (the music certainly helps) of the spirit of the strip and the shows. The only unfortunate edit is that after the (please stop) “Also Sprach Zarathustra” A Space Odyssey intro, it certainly looks like the bliss on Charlie Brown’s face is due to Snoopy blowing him. Seriously.

    We shall see what Blue Sky Studios, the creators of Ice Age, Rio and Horton Hears a Who do with the property. I’ll certainly be revisiting the original made-for-TV animated shows as preparation for this, as they have aged exceptionally well.

  • Review: Mr. Peabody & Sherman



    Director: Rob Minkoff (Flypaper, The Forbidden Kingdo, The Haunted Mansion, Stuart Little, The Lion King)
    Writer: Craig Wright, Jay Ward
    Producers: Denise Nolan Cascino, Alex Schwartz
    Starring: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Tobolowsky, Joshua Rush, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci, Lake Bell, Mel Brooks
    MPAA Rating: PG
    Running time: 92 min.

    I should make it clear right out of the gate that I never watched Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’m familiar with the characters in a superficial pop culture sort of way but as far as the intricacies of that universe and the characters that inhabit it are concerned, it may as well be new material. So in the back of my mind, I knew that Mr. Peabody was a character that stemmed from Rocky and Bullwinkle but beyond that, he’s completely new to me and though it didn’t affect my enjoyment of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, it may have some influence on others who are familiar with the character’s origins.

    Mr. Peabody is a genius dog who, upon discovering a baby boy in an alley, fought to adopt him as his son. After all, boys can adopt dogs so why not vice versa? Sadly, not everyone is on board with this idea and on his first day of school, Sherman gets into a little trouble with Penny, a smart girl who doesn’t like her intellect being one-upped by the new kid. It ends in a fight and a social worker threatening to remove Sherman from Mr. Peabody’s care. Peabody devises a plan to woo Penny’s parents, a plan that is going smoothly until Sherman and Penny take a ride in the Way Back Machine and kind of mess up the universe.

    On the surface, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a time travel comedy adventure which borrows heavily from both Back to the Future and, most notably Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Peabody invented the Way Back Machine as a learning tool for Sherman, taking him back to meet important individuals and witness historical events. Obviously, when the kids get a hold of it, things get far more complicated than that what it the messing up of historical moments and all but hovering just under the surface is also a great story of friendship, overcoming our differences and most importantly, the bond of family and the struggles of being a good parent.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox is out on Criterion BLU


    While I got shut out today at Bay St. Video when I went to grab a copy (something about a flux in Canadian distributors) I shall be ordering it online, as I should have in the first place. Here are my kids wanting to remind you all that this Fantastic animated film is very, very, very re-watchable. (And, yes, it is shameless that I post this video so often in these parts…)

  • This Unconventional Trailer for The Box Trolls Warms My Heart


    Taking a page out of the Hitchcock or Welles playbook and building your trailer around the behind the scenes aspects of the film (I’m thinking Psycho and Citizen Kane trailers, for instance), Laika Entertainment has decided to emphasize the ‘hand-made’ aspects of their process as a reason to get you into the cinema for their latest film, The Box Trolls. As I am a rather large fan of both their previous films (Coraline, ParaNorman) in large part due to the stop-motion elements, along with pretty impressive, we’re not afraid to actually spook the kids a bit, storytelling, I am all in for this. All in.

    The Box Trolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The Boxtrolls have raised an orphaned human boy, Eggs, since infancy as one of their dumpster-diving and mechanical junk-collecting own. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by villainous pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher, who is bent on eradicating them as his ticket to Cheesebridge society, the kindhearted band of tinkerers must turn to their adopted charge and adventurous rich girl Winnie to bridge two worlds amidst the winds of change – and cheese.

  • Trailer: The Wind Rises



    The North American trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s “Farewell Masterpiece,” The Wind Rises spends a lot of time telling you to see it, rather than truly showing you much. Images with little context, or explanation, any dialogue or spoken words silenced, instead, a pitch that will likely only appeal to folks who already know what the trailer is telling. Le Sigh.

    The film centres around Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of Japan’s World War II Zero Fighter plane. It charts and his life and dreams from education, work, some major contributions to Japanese aviation, and also the courtship and marriage to his wife of fragile health. The film spans nearly half a century and muses on when a creative artist of any stripe should step down and away, thus making the film a perfect living-elegy to the masters long manga and cinema career.

  • Teaser: The Box Trolls


    Animation house Laika Inc. continue to evolve their sense of animated gothic-horror storytelling trending towards towards cuteness.. The company started out with perhaps the scariest children’s film made in the past 10 years with Coraline and then continued handsomely with the quite underrated, if far safer, ParaNorman. Now comes a film that feels more like Monster’s Inc. than Pixar’s own recent prequel, that is if the trailer has anything to say about it. The ‘alternate’ parenting lifestyles gleefully shown in the trailer here, proves that Laika is quite serious about putting some brains and allegory into its animated fables.

    Based on Alan Snow’s “Here Be Monsters!” illustrated childrens book, the film is teaming with excellent voice talent: Simon Pegg, Elle Fanning, Toni Collette, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Richard Ayoade and Tracy Morgan. And like fellow stop-motion animation studio Aardman, seems to delight in talking about cheese.

    Since we are looking at an early teaser of the film don’t hold your breath for its release, until the time comes in September 2014.

  • The return of the Mickey Mouse shorts… sort of.


    The Mickey Mouse short films… without them, there would be no Disney empire as we know it. Before his feature length Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937, Walt Disney was known for mostly for his cute, mischievous mouse creation Mickey who appeared before live-action features.

    Walt Disney’s empire began in 1928 with what is still probably his most famous Mickey Mouse short, Steamboat Willie, after famously losing the rights to his beloved character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The rest, of course, is history. Throughout the 1930s, Disney produced Mickey Mouse short after Mickey Mouse short. By 1940, over 100 Mickey Mouse shorts had been released. Many of these, such as Mickey’s Good Deed, Mickey and the Seal, and Mickey’s Trailer, I grew up watching over and over again on an old, worn-out VHS tape. I still adore them.

    After Walt Disney’s massive success of Snow White, the company’s focus shifted to feature films and over the next two decades, less than 20 Mickey Mouse shorts were produced, before ceasing production on them completely. Mickey appeared in various other forms – TV shows, video games, comic books, but rarely again as an official Mickey Mouse short (in fact, after that, only one in the 80s and two in the 90s).

    Now, Disney has decided to bring back from the dead the Mickey Mouse shorts – and boy, the Disney gang sure has been given a modern animation makeover. There is no doubt about it: the animation is slick, but for a old-school Disney lover, it’s a bit unsettling at first.

    You can watch the short exclusively on Disney’s website. Check it out and chime in with your thoughts on the rather drastic animation changes.

    Do you think that Disney should have stuck with the traditional style or do you believe that in resurrecting these shorts they made the right move by having their animation evolve with the times?

  • Trailer: The Congress


    And now, I am instantly excited for the prospect of Ari Folman’s science fiction feature, The Congress, an idea driven hybrid of live action and animation. After the phenomenal success of his rotoscoped war-drama Waltz with Bashir, it appears that identity and consciousness (two themes that were very much at play in that film) are still on his mind. Here Robin Wright, playing a fictional version of herself who has been retired to raise her son (The Road‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee) for some time – this curious timing considering her astounding turn in the recent House of Cards. Nevertheless, she is convinced by Harvey Keitel and Danny Huston, neither playing fictional versions of themselves, to have her ‘entire self’ digitized into an algorithm. Now in the digital world, there are several versions of her running around yearning to find out their true identity. The animation and the story seem to evoke everything from Cool World to Paprika to Sim0ne, and the modern classic science fiction tones please me greatly. Also noteworthy is that The Congress is all based on Novel from the great Stanislaw Lem (Solaris). The film will make its initial bow quite soon at Cannes and I cannot wait for it to cross the pond.

  • Pixar’s “Monsters University”


    And the quick decline of Studio Pixar’s originality continues to spiral downward as the sequel prequel for my favorite of their output draws ever nearer: Monster University.

    I mean sure, I like Mötley Crüe and watching hippie circles get steamrolled as much as the next guy. And I gotta give props for the Lebowski homage (you want a toe?). But seriously Pixar? This is the best you’ve got for us? Looks like Dreamworks output from the early aughts.

    Of course luckily we have Nemo 2 to look forward to.

  • Review: The Croods


    A very brief and somewhat biased history lesson: Dreamworks Animation, after years of foisting smarmy talking animals, questionable pop songs and a litany of fart jokes on indiscriminate family audiences, released How To Train Your Dragon. It was a film with no small amount of ambition in terms of visual aesthetics and had an abundance of heart. Usually, Dreamworks Animation sits in the long shadow of Pixar, who around that time were putting out Cars 2, so it was a bit of a topsyturvy world which lasted only the briefest of moments as Pixar quickly recovered with their third quality Toy Story movie and Dreamworks numbly churned out Madagascar and Shrek sequels. All this is to say that when Dragon co-director Chris Sanders was the man put in charge of Dreamwork’s latest feature, The Croods, and Monsters University seems lazy as all hell, 2013 promised similar downside-up deja vu.

    Maybe not.

    After watching The Croods die a slow death-by-committee, I feel that perhaps the original story of a fearful and conservative prehistoric family forced to find a new home in an unforgiving world outside their comfort zone, would represent some risk-taking in the narrative department. The film skims some pretty controversial themes for a kids flick in this particular young century. The first is the cave clan’s ongoing over-reaction (espoused in a myth-making Chauvet-esque prologue), ) to the demise of their immediate neighbours; a healthy concern for survival that edges into fear, uncertainty and doubt. The world is a dangerous place for those of the cro-magnon variety. Exchanging comfort and freedom and a zest for living for security, painting the crudes, excuse me, Croods as a bunch of xenophobic ugly Americans as their 9/11 event fast approaches. The event, here geological, in some way echoes Star Trek II‘s ‘Genesis Project’ and for a time, it feels like the film is going to espouse some old fashioned Roddenberry logic, that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Couple this with the idea that one generation often has to make big sacrifices for the benefit of prosperity of the next, and the ongoing baby-boomer disaster that is the current world-wide economic meltdown, and you’ve got some heady subtext for a brightly animated Quest For Fire riff. Indeed, the film struggles with the generational gap between wide-eyed optimism of youth and pragmatic caution of folks who have witnessed a fairer share of death and loss; that is to say there is a smidgen of the anxious dad of Finding Nemo (and possibly the only time ever you will be able to compare Albert Brooks to Nicholas Cage.) Even further, it throws out the can-do spirit of the use of new and untested technology (fire and, oddly, shoes), as a way of advancing into the darkness with the risk of torching oneself in the tall dry grass; this instead of the conservative, tried-and-true idealogy – hiding in the dark and waiting for the danger to pass. The film piles all these things on its plate with an ambitious, almost effortless, glee, then takes the safe, conservative, non-confrontational approach to the whole darn thing. The Croods may say one thing, but it wants to keep hiding in its safe market-tested cave. Damn you Dreamworks.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Likely, This Shall Be Better than Die Hard 5

    A Good Clay To Die

    The title of this posts says it all, enjoy this 1 minute, 20 seconds of bliss known as, A GOOD CLAY TO DIE HARD and save yourself from the 95 minute teal&orange nightmare that is the 21st century shell of the Die Hard franchise.

  • Shorts Program: Paperman


    Who would’ve guessed that in 2012, Disney Animation’s films would arguably beat out Pixar’s contributions? Many found Wreck-It Ralph‘s retro gamer charm superior to Brave‘s Scottish princess story, and I can certainly say that as charming as I found the Brave-preceding short La Luna, I was much more blown away (pun intended) by Disney’s black and white romance Paperman, which played before Ralph. The Academy agrees, nominating Paperman as Best Animated Short. I’d probably go even further and call it the best animated film, short OR feature, I saw all year. It’s not surprising to learn that director John Kahrs was a Pixar animator in arguably their heyday (1998-2007) before moving over to Disney Animation – perhaps he and other animators are bringing Disney Animation itself into another renaissance.

    Paperman is certainly a step in that direction, and Disney has been kind enough to put it online for all of us to enjoy. So, enjoy!

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