On a rainy October Monday we media types, invited by the Disney folks, gathered at a midtown NYC arts center. The lure: a peek at the studio’s two big holiday events: Tron Legacy and Tangled, their CGI-animated de/reconstruction of the Rapunzel story. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb here and call Tangled Disney’s liveliest animated feature in a long time and their best fairy tale updating ever.
When Warner Bros. asked Matt O’Callaghan to return their yin-and-yang, would-be predator and hoped-for prey pair Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, to the big screen – only in CGI-shape and 3D-depth, O’Callaghan took a deep breath and delivered the goods – and fortunately for all involved with the production, without once resorting to Acme technology…
You’ve probably heard about the Uncanny Valley: not a geographical location, but the precipitous drop in peoples’ comfort level when they come across something that’s almost human… but not quite (like the replicants in Zemeckis’ mocap movies). Well, in Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians you’ve got owls – dozens and hundreds of owls who look almost like real life owls… but not quite. It’s that quest for the absolutely perfect replication of wind rippling the tiniest hairs in their feathers or the way light glints and reflects off their wide eyes: Guardians achieves it – at the expense of the audience they’ve just tossed into the Valley.
Fathers and sons – both onscreen and off – figure in Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea. Onscreen, a teenage prince kills his royal dad and makes off with the man’s sword; offscreen, Goro Miyazaki, the son of Japan’s best-known animation director takes over a project his dad initiated but never found the time to direct. Wish fulfillment or mere coincidence? Does a sword equal a man’s career? You be the judge…
I really wish I could’ve, I wanted to like The Sorcerer's Apprentice more, but the movie tries way too hard, hitting you over the head with its fantasy premise instead of slowly drawing you in.
Despicable Me is a neat and snazzy treat. This time Universal has a definite contender for a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination.
John Lasseter’s always said Pixar wouldn’t make another Toy Story unless they could come up with a narrative that would do the characters justice. Guess what – they have.
Animation, Experimental, Narrative, Spec Commercials – and Stereoscopic 3D shorts; something for everyone at the Be Film Festival.
No marching brooms, cartoon mice, dragons or robotic tentacles: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel and Alfred Molina star in Jerry Bruckheimer’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Robots, superheroes, teen-age angst, the return of Bugs Bunny – and free lox; it’s Cartoon Network’s annual ‘up front’ unveiling of its new schedule.
Coprophilia, necrophilia, aroused onscreen genitalia, an endless supply of “fuck”s, “shit”s and language even less polite; it must be The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!
Disney artist hi-jinks… nasty caricatures of Eisner, Katzenberg and a host of others… not to mention how Walt’s animation studio was dragged, kicking and screaming from old school storytelling into hip ‘n edgy territory; it’s all in Waking Sleeping Beauty, Disney producer Don Hahn’s warts-and-all documentary of the studio’s 1980’s 2D rebirth.
The Miscweant plays with fire watching How to Train Your Dragon – and decides the movie is hot stuff.
Trying to get an adult animated series onto cable? You might want to learn how Devin Clark, creator of Comedy Central’s new series Ugly Americans went about it.
A gallery show lures the Miscweant away from his laptop and into a refined repository of fantabulous imagery – to watch cartoons.
Blue Sky’s David LaMattina and Chad Walker are the creators of Brownstones to Red Dirt, a documentary centering on a pen pal program linking kids an ocean apart who have the odds stacked against them: at-risk Brooklyn sixth graders and African war orphans. Want to do something nice for kids in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn and Sierra Leone Africa at the same time – and come away with a beautiful piece of art for your troubles? It’ll cost you a few well-worth-it bucks,
It’s a neat trick for a small Irish studio to snag an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature and go head to head with Pixar, Disney, Henry Selick and Wes Anderson, not to mention beat out Hayao Miyazaki for a slot. It’s even more impressive when it’s the first time you’ve directed anything longer than a few commercials or TV segments. But that’s what Tomm Moore has done with Secret of the Kells - and on a budget that’s probably less than what any of the other films spent promoting themselves.
Beyond South Park and Dr. Katz, not much has stuck to Comedy Central’s cartoon wall. Drawn Together came close with three seasons. Lil’ Bush vanished with Bush II’s presidency, TV Funhouse came and went awfully fast back in Y2K – and anybody even remember Shorties Watching Shorties or Kid Notorious? Well, next month Comedy Central tries one more time with Ugly Americans, a higher-than high concept show that just might stick around for a bit.
How did this film manage to snag an Oscar spot alongside films that cost over $100 million dollars with $50 million marketing and promotion budgets? How did it manage to beat out DreamWorks, or even the deity of animation, Miyazaki himself?
Maybe I was in a bad mood when Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs came out. Maybe I just resented the idea of taking one of my kids’ favorite picture books and pumping it up into a full-length feature, so I passed on it in the theaters.
Nick’s The Last Airbender – the movie based on the channel’s long running animated adventure – won’t be out until July, but the toys are already in the pipeline, and the prototypes went on display for a select audience the week before the New York Toy Fair began on Valentine’s Day.
There are ten Best Picture Oscar nominees this year? Big deal, nobody cares about Best Picture... what's really important is the Best Animated Feature, everybody knows that. Who will win?
As you probably know, The Princess and the Frog is Disney’s first 2D effort in five years. It took John Lasseter, a Pixar guy who now runs all of Disney animation to get the studio to return to its 2D roots. Lasseter and company knew they had to hit a home run to make people care about hand-drawn animation again. Hey, it’s a Disney movie – there’s gotta be a happy ending, right? Damn straight – a happy ending to both the movie and the studio’s mission to show the world 2D’s still got the goods.
Pete Docter remembered me – or at least my Route 66 pin. I have a whole collection of them, shiny metal lapel pins I’ve gathered over the years. Pete arrived and our chat began. I started by mentioning I’d last seen him way early in the year at Disney’s New York screening room. “And you were wearing the Route 66 pin,” Pete said without a pause. “A different jacket, but I remember the pin.” When you’re in charge of a $175 million film, you develop an eye for details.