Fall 2012 Animation and VFX Movie Preview
As autumn leaves begin to fall, audiences will finally be able to see some of the most anticipated movies of 2012. Among them, two remakes of films first seen in 1984 and four entries in popular film franchises. Whether animated or live action, there looks to be an awful lot of eye-candy to take in, so let’s examine the various contenders.
Frankenweenie – October 5th 2012
You wouldn’t be wrong to call this one a passion project. Decades after being fired from the Disney company for creating an odd black & white live action short film about a boy bringing his pooch back from the dead, Tim Burton has teamed up with his former employers to re-imagine the tale as a feature-length stop-motion extravaganza. Frankenweenie – the first stop-motion flick to be released in IMAX 3D – features the vocal talents of Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau and Martin Short with long-time collaborator Danny Elfman supplying the score. Having recently seen many of the puppets and sets first-hand at the Toronto Fan Expo, I can attest to the level of detail present in the suburban town of New Holland, from the vintage records stacked in the Frankenstein family home to the tiny butterflies mounted on the wall of young Victor’s classroom. Many are calling the film a return to form for Burton, whose recent live action efforts have met with mixed reviews. According to a friend who caught a preview screening of the film, “it’s just as good, if not better than ParaNorman!” I’ll definitely have to see it to believe it.
Taken 2 – October 5th 2012
This follow-up to the 2008 hit thriller sees Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen reprise their roles as a family caught up in the midst of another abduction, this time while vacationing in Istanbul. Written and produced by Luc Besson, Taken 2 is directed by Olivier Megaton (taking over for Pierre Morel) with Philippe Hubin as special effects supervisor (taking over for Georges Demetrau). Hubin has worked on some serious action adventures, like Transporter 3, The Da Vinci Code and The Bourne Identity, so it seems a safe bet this one will be equally slick. Factor in some beautiful scenery, a couple of chase scenes and plenty of gunfire and you’ve got yourself another cautionary tale about spending too much time with a father who works for the FBI.
Cloud Atlas – October 26th 2012
Adapted from David Mitchell’s 2004 novel, this epic fantasy written and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski (of Matrix fame) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) already has the distinction of being the most expensive independent film ever made, with a budget of $100 million. Judging by the trailers, much of that money ended up on-screen. Berlin-based RISE Visual Effects Studios had the challenge of helping to realize a variety of locales in different eras, including 1930s Belgium, California circa 1975 and a Korea of the not-so-distant future. Though one reviewer has unfavorably likened that last environment to a “cartoon world…straight out of a video game”, most are hailing the effects in the picture as a bold step beyond the achievements of Avatar. Toronto International Film Festival audiences even gave the picture a ten-minute standing ovation after it premiered last month. Whether or not the 164-minute opus with six interweaving storylines will be considered more spectacle than substance in the eyes of the general public, however, remains to be seen.
Wreck-It Ralph – November 2nd 2012
Making his directorial debut, Rich Moore jumps head first into the world of video games with Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, the story of an 8-bit bad guy who decides he’s sick of being the heavy. As John C. Reilly’s Ralph makes his escape into other arcade games, he encounters a variety of new characters, like Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope von Schweetz and Jane Lynch’s Sergeant Calhoun, while bumping into familiar faces from classic fare like Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man. Of all the environments glimpsed in the trailer, however, the world of Sugar Rush looks to be the most eye-popping. It’s hard to imagine a better visual playground for animators than a cross between the high-octane action of Mario Kart and the sweetness of Candy land. Should be quiet the rush.