To Infinity and Beyond and Far Far Away one last time: Here's a sneak peek at the upcoming animated feature lineup.
How can you top the great 2009? How about finales for both Toy Story and Shrek along with a new feature by Sylvain Chomet? The year has already kicked off auspiciously with How to Train Your Dragon from DreamWorks, which has two more releases in 2010. Although 2010 may not have the breadth and depth of 2009, there are still plenty of delights, so get ready to don those 3-D glasses a lot, and check out some trailers on AWNtv!
Shrek Forever After (Paramount, May 21)
Shrek's tired of being domesticated and longs to be a real ogre again, but he's tricked into signing a pact with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) and gets his wish: But he's also never been born! It's a Wonderful Shrek, as we'll soon see in this twisted version of Far Far Away; this time directed by Mike Mitchell (Sky High and story artist on Shrek the Third and creative consultant on Kung Fu Panda). Looks like cloth, hair and global illumination advances at PDI have made this the richest-looking Shrek, too.
Toy Story 3 (Disney, June 18)
Andy's going off to college, and Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang find themselves in over their heads at daycare, so The Great Escape is on to find Andy. But Woody and Buzz especially must confront life without Andy in what looks to be a heartfelt conclusion to Pixar's legendary franchise. Lee Unkrich (co-director of Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo) gets his first solo shot at directing. Newcomers Ken (Michael Keaton), Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) and Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) are among the newcomers.
Despicable Me (Universal, July 9)
Gru (Steve Carell) plans to steal the moon. Yet despite being armed with shrink rays, freeze rays and battle-ready vehicles, he must confront three little orphaned girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher) looking for a daddy. This is first American-produced animated feature made in France (with animation by Mac Guff Ligne). Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud direct, with Chris Meledandri producing with John Cohen and Janet Healy. Perhaps a little UPA meets Ratatouille?
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (Warner Bros., Sept. 24)
Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, Watchmen, 300) tries his hand at animation with a stunning-looking adaptation of Kathryn Lasky's children's book series. An owl story with unique Australian characters set in a fantasyland of forests, deserts, canyons, oceans and islands, which is why Animal Logic(Happy Feet) is perfect for doing the animation.
Alpha and Omega (Lionsgate, Oct. 1)
From Crest Animation Prods. comes a Romeo and Juliet-inspired tale of two wolves that go against their rival packs by forming a strong bond. Directed by Ben Gluck (9 story supervisor and story artist on The Emperor's New Groove) and Anthony Bell (The Boondoc ks), produced by Richard Rich (The Swan Princess, The Fox and the Hound) and Ken Katsumoto, the children's release is voiced by Hayden Panettiere, Justin Long, Christina Ricci and Dennis Hopper.
Megamind (Paramount, Nov. 5)
DreamWorks' third release involves the world's most brilliant supervillain (Will Ferrell), who, after finally killing his arch-nemesis, Metro Man (Brad Pitt), is faced with a meaningless life until he decides to create a new good guy to fight, Titan (Jonah Hill). However, Titan doesn't want to play by the rules. With room enough for Tina Fey. Directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar) and produced by Ben Stiller.
Tangled (Disney, Nov. 12)
Disney's long in the works Rapunzel finally gets released as the less princess-y Tangled, with a clever take on the fairy tale featuring swashbuckling bandit Flynn Rider (Zackary Levi) as foil and love interest for the famous princess with 70-feet of magical golden hair (Mandy Moore). Speaking of hair, Keane says it took years to follow the design and figure out the twisting and turning and organic fibers. Ed Catmull says this project will help distinguish Disney's CG chops with all the simulation work that's been done. Meanwhile, the backgrounds look very Mary Blairish. Taking over for Glen Keane behind the camera after he suffered a heart attack are <Bolt's> Nathan Greno and Byron Howard.
Sylvain Chomet's follow-up to The Triplets of Belleville is one of the year's most eagerly awaited films. Based on an unproduced script by Jacques Tati, it's the story of a tragically obsolete stage entertainer who hates being upstaged by emerging rock stars. Forced to accept obscure gigs in theaters, bars and garden parties, he meets a young fan who changes his life. The film premiered in Berlin and we obviously can't wait to see it.
My Dog Tulip
Based on the novel by J.R. Ackerley, this is the story of a man who rescues a German shepherd and the beautiful bond that develops between them. Directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (Drawn from Life, It's So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House), the hand-drawn look is quite exquisite. They used a Wacom tablet and 2D animation software Mirage by Bauhaus. This marks the first hand-drawn feature that's entirely paperless using computer technology. It features the voice talents of Christopher Plummer, Isabella Rossellini and Lynn Redgrave.
Sir Sean Connery is an exec producer and supplies the voice for this eccentric vet that encounters a goat that thinks it's a dog, an Admiral afraid of water and a beaver raised by rabbits. The first Scottish animated feature is directed by Sascha Hartmann and animated by Glasgow Animation.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.
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