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Animation and VFX Summer 2015 Movie Preview

Dinosaurs, Video Game Monsters and Action Movie Icons return this summer for a blockbuster reunion at the multiplex.

Buckle up for Sumer Blockbuster Season people: it’s here in all its glory. And in spite of the fact that the films are mostly remakes, reboots, franchise continuations and spinoffs – whether animated or VFX-laden – they’re all looking pretty darn good. Just think of it as a reunion picnic with some of your favorite screen icons - pass around the popcorn and soak in the visual splendor. It sure beats getting sunstroke out in the real world!

Jurassic World – June 12th

Chris Pratt hops into another franchise with this third sequel to 1993’s smash hit Jurassic Park. This one not only brings the focus back to Isla Nublar – the original site of the carnage – but also B.D. Wong’s character, Dr. Henry Wu, who may have a bone to pick with his former employers. In short, fans of the first film will have plenty to enjoy, most especially the dinos, courtesy of ILM, Hybride, Stereo D, Image Engine, OOOii and Ghost VFX. And if you’re thinking this might be a last hurrah, think again: director Colin Trevorrow is hinting it may only be the beginning of a whole new chapter.

Inside Out - June 19th

Audiences at the Cannes Film Festival flipped for the latest offering from Pixar and director Pete Docter, which dramatizes the various emotions inside the mind of a young girl. It probably helps that they’re voiced by the likes of Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith. That’s a cast that can definitely deliver laughs and warm fuzzies in equal measure, and Docter has more than proven himself capable of pulling at the heartstrings with films like WALL-E, Up and Monsters University.

Ted 2 – June 26th

The fuzzy ball of fluff who was the subject of a copyright violation lawsuit returns against all odds in a story about the trials of sperm donation. With Family Guy guru Seth MacFarlane at the helm should we really be surprised? He once again writes, directs and stars in this sequel with Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried and Morgan Freeman joining in on the fun. Whether this one will restore audiences’ faith in his particular brand of funny after A Million Ways to Die in the West bombed is the big question. Iloura, Tippett Studio and Weta Digital definitely don’t know the answer.

Terminator: Genisys – July 1st

Ah-Nuld is back baby…and what’s not to love about that? Director Alan Taylor is revamping the Terminator franchise with this time-jumping, series-rebooting adventure in which just about everyone’s lives hang in the balance. Our suggestion? Cut the power over at Double Negative, Gentle Giant Studios, MPC, ILM, Prime Focus, Stereo D, Lola VFX and Method Studios. That should bring all those Skynet robots to a screeching halt.

Minions – July 10th

If you’re wondering how the sidekicks from the Despicable Me franchise got their own spinoff, you’re not alone. With this CG animated flick, however, directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda are hoping to show us there’s more to these yellow mumblers than meets the eye. And on the plus side, their origin story features a visit to a Villain Convention, Sandra Bullock as a Big Bad and a road trip with a nutty Dad voiced by Michael Keaton. Sold!

Pan – July 17th

Is anyone else a little tired of all the exposure the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up has been getting of late? Well, this new take on J.M. Barrie’s world of wonders is brought to us by director Joe Wright and what we will call his “Lost Boys” of VFX: MPC, Framestore, Scanline VFX, Wolf & Crow, Rising Sun Pictures, Clear Angle Studios and Atomic Fiction. And as a twist, this one focuses on the origins of Pan and Hook, with Hugh Jackman playing Blackbeard. How he figures into things remains to be seen, since he was, you know, an actual person.

Ant-Man – July 17th

Expect Paul Rudd’s profile to get bigger, smaller, and then bigger again with the release of this new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Co-starring Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Cannavale and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man tells the tale of a hero who can change his size thanks to an incredible suit. Except that hero, Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas), is now passing along his mantle to a petty street criminal named Scott Lang (Rudd) who needs to learn how to put others first before putting on the costume. Director Peyton Reed (of the memorable comedies Down with Love and Bring It On) gets some assistance resizing his star from Double Negative, Gentle Giant Studios, ILM, Luma Pictures, The Third Floor, Prime Focus, Method Studios, Cinesite and Stereo D.

Pixels – July 24th

Never thought Pac Man was all that scary back in the day? Well, imagine him several stories high, charging around biting people’s limbs off and turning them into piles of pixels. Okay – maybe even that sounds adorable, but this adventure from the legendary master of cinematic fun, Chris Columbus, is bound to delight either way. The cast features Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, Kevin James, Jane Krakowski, Peter Dinklage and those ‘80s arcades icons Donkey Kong, Pac Man and Centipede, brought to life by Digital Domain, Basilic Fly Studio, Prime Focus, Pixel Playground, Sony Imageworks, Trixter, Shade VFX and Cantina Creative. Better start saving up those quarters.

Poltergeist – July 24th

It’s hard to imagine any remake could trump the brilliant original, but hats off to director Gil Kenan for daring to try. This trip to a haunted house features spooks by Shade VFX, The Third Floor, Milk VFX, Legend 3D, Soho VFX and Framestore, with Sam Rockwell starring as the patriarch trying to hold his family together in the face of a supernatural threat that seems fixated on his sweet, trusting daughter. Sadly, there’ll be none of the late, great Zelda Rubinstein’s disturbing/delightful screaming in the midst of all the chaos.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – July 31st

Tom Cruise boldly returns with Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Alec Baldwin in tow for another mission filled with thrills and chills. One of the biggest this time around appears to be Cruise’s Ethan Hunt clinging to the side of a plane in takeoff, apparently sans aide from Double Negative, The Third Floor and Prime Focus. He’s a braver man than we give him credit for. It does beg the question, though: just how much does it cost to insure him?


James Gartler is a Canadian writer with a serious passion for animation in all its forms. His work has appeared in the pages of Sci Fi Magazine, and at the websites and