The year 2011 was a good year for animation. I have seen some “Perrific!” entertaining films with rich storyline and characters, dazzling visuals, and lively music. But overall, 2010 was a stronger year for animation than 2011, the three Oscar-nominated films Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Illusionist all got 4.5 starfish from me!
My favorite animation feature films of 2011 are: Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rio, and The Adventures of Tintin, all received 4 starfish from me. I enjoyed interviewing the directors of Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots from DreamWorks Animation earlier this month at the Annie Awards for Animation in Hollywood.
The Oscar-nominees are Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango, Chico & Rita, and A Cat in Paris. I haven’t seen the last two films, both are foreign and from smaller studios. Chico & Rita is too “mature” with adult content, unsuitable to watch for me according to the publicist. A Cat in Paris has not been released, but the art looks interesting.
Because these two films are hardly seen by most people, I don’t think any of them has a chance of winning the Oscar. Just ahead of the Oscars on Feb 26, 2012, here is my prediction for the Best Animation Award.
Puss in Boots. This new, action/adventure film about the notorious swashbuckling feline stars him in his own movie, about how he became an outlaw to repay an old debt to his city and discovers his old friend, Humpty Dumpty, who has become a rotten egg. This film is filled with action, adventure, and romance in an entirely new film that may steal some thunder from the other DreamWorks feature “Kung Fu Panda 2″ if people favor a spin-off compared to a sequel. I don’t think it will win the Academy Award, although I would be very happy if it does. My review:
Kung Fu Panda 2, the sequel of the hit movie Kung Fu Panda retains all of the charm and humor of the original story in an all new, intriguing story about inner peace and finding yourself. Even though it is a sequel, it has an entirely new and exciting story about the adventures of Po the Kung Fu Panda. It has more emotional and deeper connection with viewers than Puss in Boots which is more entertaining. This film is definitely deserving of an Oscar in my opinion, but a chameleon will likely steal its thunder… My review:
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-613413  (on CNN iReport)
Rango is my least favorite, only 2.5 starfish, but it is a new idea never done before, and with Johnny Depp in it. I didn’t like it much though, because the characters were unappealing, and the film basically put Johnny Depp’s voice in a terrible script. But, many critics enjoyed it, and it has been getting the most Oscar buzz, winning many awards, including the Annie Awards in Animation earlier this month. So I predict Rango will take home the Oscar. My review:
The more interesting Oscar race this year is for the animated shorts, see my review and prediction:
Below are my interview with director Jennifer Yuh Nelson of “Kung Fu Panda 2” and director Chris Miller from “Puss in Boots” at the Annie Awards on FEb 4, 2012.
Puss in Boots, directed by Chris Miller
Perry Chen: How did you come up with the idea of this movie from the original characters in Shrek?
Chris Miller: First of all, from all the characters in the Shrek universe. Puss in Boots is my favorite. The reason he is my favorite is that I wanted to know more about him. He seemed to have interesting stories from his past. You knew that he had been on numerous adventures. I wanted to know: What his life was like, Where did he get his boots? Where he got his hat? Why was he from Spain? He is such a great character that you can build a whole exciting movie around.
PC: Why did Puss forgive Humpty Dumpty even though he betrayed him twice?
CM: One of his great qualities is that he is a very honorable character, very loyal. In his heart, he always wants to do the right thing. One of his best qualities is his capacity for forgiveness, even when someone did something as bad as what Humpty did to him, he still give him the chance to redeem himself, and it paid off. Humpty was able to do that.
PC: Yeah, I noticed Puss did have a quality for forgiveness, although normal people won’t forgive a person twice.
CM: It can be tricky. It takes certainly a lot of faith and love to do that. Humpty used Puss’ good qualities against him, to trick him. Still at the end of the day, Puss’ force of will and his capacity for forgiveness wins the day.
PC: How did the Spanish music add to the action scenes in the story?
CM: I think it helped a lot in creating the authentic flavor. You see the Mexican culture, the Argentinian culture, even a little bit of Latin flavor in the United States. The musicians are a very special and unique guitar duo from Mexico.
PC: Do you have any advice for aspiring directors of animation?
CM: I think this is a great example (pointing to Perry’s film DVD “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest”). If you are interested in animation or love to draw, creating animation on computer, stop motion, however you are doing it, Make Movies, go through the experience, tell stories. That’s how you get better. Be prolific, do it now, and love what you’re doing.
PC: What is your favorite part of being a director? And what is your next film?
CM: There could be another Puss in Boots film, or something else. I love making another animation. I love telling stories, that’s why I love being a director. I love animation because your only limit is your imagination, so you can do anything with the format.
PC: I love all of that too. I am making my next animation film, it’s called “Stix.” Thank you for answering all my questions.
Kung-Fu Panda 2, directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, DreamWorks Animation
Perry Chen: How did think of a peacock as a villain, there aren’t many movies with that.
Jennifer Yuh Nelson: We want to go with a completely opposite villain from Tailong, who is a big, scary, physical guy. So we chose the most meek, unassuming character that we can get, and made it super, super smart, which made him even more dangerous. We just wanted to go for contrast.
PC: At the end of the film, how did Po’s dad know that Po was alive, and what is the significance of that to the story?
JYN: We always thought that there are spiritual connections between a lot of these characters. They feel it through their connection to the universe. It was just a feeling he had, a moment when he felt his son somewhere around there. It’s like what your parents would know you are out there in the world, if you are away from them.
PC: How is it different being a director of a movie, than being a story artist? Which do you like better?
JNY: It’s very different. Directors have much more responsibility. They get to work with a lot of departments all the way through the movie, including actors who record with them. All that responsibilities are both really scary, and also really, really wonderful. I do like being a director because I like working with all these people I didn’t meet before.
PC: Are you planning on making your next film?
JNY: I’ve already started developing another film. I can’t say what it is because it’s still so early.
PC: How would you celebrate if you win the Oscar?
JNY: I will probably hug a lot of people!
IF you live in San Diego, watch me predict the Oscars live on ABC 10 News at the official Oscar Night America – San Diego party/charity event on Feb 26, 2012:
————-Perry S. Chen is an 11-year-old award-winning child film critic, artist, animator, TEDx speaker, and entertainment personality, currently in 6th grade from San Diego. He started reviewing movies at age 8 in 3rd grade using a kid-friendly starfish rating system, and has been featured in CBS, NPR, NBC, CNN, CCTV (China Central Television), Variety, The Young Icons, The Guardian, The China Press, etc. He was a presenter at the 2010 Annie Awards for Animation, and has written movie reviews for Animation World Network, San Diego Union Tribune, Amazing Kids! Magazine, and his own Perry’s Previews blog.