Spring 2013 Animation and VFX Film Preview
Spring may have finally sprung, but Hollywood is as determined as ever to see us flock to the cinemas. Here’s a sampling of the plethora of visually tantalizing entertainment options opening at the box office.
Iron Man 3 – May 3rd
As if you hadn’t already heard, the latest (and Robert Downey Junior’s last?) Tony Stark adventure bursts into theatres today with more Iron Men flying around than you can shake a stick at. Even Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts gets to try on the armor in this one. Naturally, that means plenty of visual effects work to go around. Director Shane Black – stepping in for John Favreau, who appears on-screen as Happy Hogan – has divided those duties between Legacy Effects, Weta Digital, Cinesite, The Third Floor, Trixter, Luma Pictures, Framestore, Scanline VFX, Digital Domain, Method Studios and Stereo D. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to whether Joan Rivers, who cameos as herself, requested a digital touch-up in post?
The Great Gatsby – May 10th
Aussie director Baz Luhrmann brings his inimitable style to an American classic set in a period ideally suited to his particular brand of visual splendor: the Roaring Twenties. Reteaming with Leonardo DiCaprio for the first time since 1996’s Romeo + Juliet, Luhrmann is also relying on help from familiar faces on the technical side of things. The fine folks at Animal Logic, who helped realize his vision on Moulin Rouge!, and at Rising Sun Pictures, who assisted on Australia, are bringing the world of New York’s wealthy upper class to glossy life. Prime Focus World, Iloura, Method Studios and ILM also contribute to Gatsby, which marks the director’s first foray into 3D filmmaking. Looks to be rollicking, riveting fun.
Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th
It’s been four long, agonizing years since JJ Abrams reignited interest in the waning Trek feature film franchise. With Into Darkness, his follow-up and the twelfth picture in the series, he has the unenviable challenge of trying to live up to our understandably high expectations. Luckily, the even-numbered Trek films have a historical tendency to be better than their odd-numbered counterparts. And the director also had some solid assistance in his exploration of strange new worlds thanks to VFX pros Pixomondo, Stereo D, ILM and Digital Caliber Inc. With almost forty minutes of footage having been shot on IMAX cameras, and lengthy sequences set on the Earth of the future, this one is prepped to boldly go where no other Trek adventure has gone before.
Fast and Furious 6 – May 24th
It’s pretty remarkable to note that the Fast and Furious franchise begun in 2001 still hasn’t run out of road. This new installment sees Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson all return for a script that requires them to fill up and take down an organization of equally reckless road hogs, lead by Luke Evans. Since even these brave Hollywood tough guys need to keep their bodies intact, however, it falls to Pixomondo, Image Engine, Double Negative, The Moving Picture Company, Level 256, Lola Visual Effects and Proof Inc. to make us think it’s actually them steering those shiny, souped-up vehicles as they soar past the cameras in slow-mo.
Epic – May 24th 2013
The animators behind family fare like Ice Age and Robots are now going in an unexpectedly dramatic direction. Borrowing concepts and characters from William Joyce’s illustrated book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, the folks at Blue Sky Studios, led by director Chris Wedge, have created a 3D adventure set in a forest with the kind of scale you’d expect from a Lord of the Rings picture. Cameras race up tree branches on the heels of tiny characters in the midst of pulse-pounding battles and high-speed races. If the visuals don’t blow you away, the cast list just might, with the combined star wattage of Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried and yes, Beyoncé behind the pint-sized protagonists. Here’s hoping the comedic relief provided by Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari, as a snail and slug respectively, doesn’t eat away at the otherwise epic atmosphere.
After Earth – May 31th
This futuristic father/son sci-fi picture centers on a General named Raige (Will Smith) who decides to take his son (Jaden Smith) back to post-apocalyptic Earth for some good, old-fashioned bonding. This, like so many fishing trips, ends up being a very, very bad idea. Their ship and crew get destroyed along the way, leaving them trapped on a planet overrun with species who have “evolved to killed humans”. Good one, Dad. Iloura alone worked on some 170 shots of said beasties moving around in herds, and judging by the trailer, there was still enough to keep Tippett Studio, Incessant Rain Studios, The Third Floor, Spin VFX, Svengali FX, Spy, Ollin Studios and Pixomondo occupied. Curious as we are to see how the ravenous cows of the future look, there are more pressing questions to ponder: will audiences be hungry for another flick set on an abandoned Earth so soon after Oblivion? Will Mr. Smith succeed in giving his son’s career a boost? And most intriguingly, can this film possibly manage to restore people’s faith in M. Night Shyamalan?