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Entries in animated films (195)

Tuesday
Jun032014

Ant-Man Shrinks, and Other Lukewarm Stories

I don't always get around to stories when they hit. Join me in the catch-up comments...

Fan made poster (if I knew who made it I would credit them, but so many blogs are bad about giving creditAnt-Man Shrinks
By now you've heard and digested or, more likely given this crowd (you didn't even comment on that juicy misogynistic She-Hulk debacle!), ignored the drama surrounding Disney/Marvel's Ant-Man movie. The long and short of it: Edgar Wright, of Shaun of the Dead / Scott Pilgrim fame who is unarguably adept and inventive about action-comedy (a unique skill given how unfunny action 'comedies' usually are), abruptly left over creative differences. Now from the roster of potential replacements (none of them even ⅕ as interesting as Wright), one has already fallen away. Leaving us sad for Paul Rudd (probably locked into the role for a decade) and Joss Whedon's Avengers: The Age of Ultron (doesn't Joss need Ant-Man to have his story work since Ant-Man created Ultron?) 

The probable answer as to why is that Disney/Marvel, now that they've won all the moneys in the world and are surely empowered by the knowledge that audiences are lemming-like about these things and will turn out in droves for even dud superhero movies  (Thor: The Dark World, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Iron Man 2), can afford to dump directors with artistic vision and focus on generic bosses who will just keep the assembly line running with less "ideas" / back-talking. Capitalism eventually ruins everything. Marvel sadly didn't learn the inspiring lesson they could have from hiring Joss Whedon. He made The Avengers the success it was, basically rescuing The Black Widow entirely, understanding how tiresome Iron Man had become and how to limit the dose, finding a way to make Thor and Hulk work in a team format even when they've never worked on their own. You need an artist to accomplish these kinds of juggling miracles and feats of resuscitation, not hired hands. 

The silver lining? This Ant-Man debacle did inspire the parody Michael Haneke twitter account to chime in...

 

 

 

Who Stopped Roger Rabbit 2?
It's a story that never quite dies. It is... undead. The Dissolve performs the oft performed reanimation of that story corpse wondering why the sequel never happened and if it might happen now since the original people all still want it to. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is the Movie of the Week over there which is why they're asking.

In a Hollywood culture that prizes franchises and recognizable characters above all else it is a still a SHOCK in all caps that this sequel never came to be. In many ways this movie is the movie that proved to Hollywood that people would go nuts for a mix of new envelope pushing visual effects mixed with old school nostalgia. Which you could argue led to Toy Story which you could argue led to everything. I am ultra fond of that movie (I'd have easily nominated it for Best Picture that year) but I also have a not-so secret amount of affection for the fact that it never produced a sequel.

Why would I not want a sequel to something I love that much? Well, sequels are in so many ways our collective junk food and in an era where movies produce not only sequels but reboots and straight-to-dvd spinoffs and other forms of money-grubbing self-cannibalizing, Roger Rabbit feels comparatively monumental in its mystic standalone purity.

Finally...

Big Hero 6 Teaser
I meant to share this last week and completely forgot. I don't have much to say about it other than that it is adorable despite doing nothing other than ripping off The Incredibles (2004) for its "too fat for this suit" slapstick teaser but people have very short memories about these things so everyone can LOL anew

 

Friday
May302014

Tim's Toons: On Marc Davis, father of Maleficent

Tim here. This weekend, Disney’s latest attempt at brand leveraging, Maleficent, will be open, and critical word so far is not terribly positive, with only one consistent bright spot being called out in even the most savage reviews. That being Angelina Jolie’s performance as the titular wicked/misunderstood fairy. And this should come as absolutely no surprise to anybody, given that putting Jolie in the role was the only real justification the project ever had. And even moreso given that Maleficent, first introduced in the company’s 1959 animated feature Sleeping Beauty, has long been agreed to be one of the studio’s best villains, and one of the best in movies generally.

Some months ago, I said my piece on just why Maleficent was such a top-notch character, and I’ll refrain from belaboring the point again here. Instead, I hope you’ll indulge me if I take this opportunity to spend a moment praising her creator – her original creator, before screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who wrote the awful 2010 Alice in Wonderland) and director Robert Stromberg (the production designer of the awful 2010 Alice in Wonderland) had a chance to make her some kind of half-assed avatar of heavily corporatized feminism. I’m referring to Marc David, one of the famous Nine Old men animators at Disney between the ‘30s and ‘60s, the supervising animator on the original Maleficent.

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Thursday
May222014

Tim's Toons: Oz well that ends well

Tim here. By now, you've undoubtedly all heard the biggest news of the summer movie season so far: there’s a conspiracy by Big Hollywood to bury the little cartoon indie that could, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return.

“Legends of which, now?” I can already hear some of you asking.

Exactly the point!  As producer-fundraiser Greg Centineo so sagely put it:

We’re nobodies in this industry. And we stepped into a deep, deep ocean with some very, very big sharks. Some of those mainstream critics have not just trashed the movie, but literally tried to crush it… You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out something is wrong there.”

Damn straight!

It's a well-established fact that critics and audiences tend to agree about 100% of everything, and the movies with the best reviews always make the most money. Surely only a shadowy cabal of self-sabotaging distributors and bought-and-paid for critics could be responsible for the film’s box office failure, and I am disgusted that you might even think it’'s because a handful of con artists fleeced a whole bunch of rich idiots out of their investments on a movie whose reported $70 million budget is clearly nowhere to be seen onscreen, obvious even from the trailer.

More...

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Saturday
May172014

Cannes Tidbits: Deals, Toons, and Oscar Futures

I haven't organized my thoughts. I'm warning you up front. I am just collecting them like dead leaves and throwing them at you in chunks with links to related articles. I'm doing my meager part to engage with Cannes from my Harlem apartment across the ocean...

COMPETITION & UN CERTAIN REGARD
After that much maligned Monaco kick-off, not uncommon with festival openers, Cannes competition films have been collecting more fans. Well, not Atom Egoyan's Captive (which was booed) but the others. And frankly no film festival ever wins consensus "that was awesome" reviews anyway. It's part of the ritual this 'it's a terrible year for the fest!' hand-wringing.

Diana chimed in earlier today on the African film Timbuktu and Mike Leigh's artist biopic Mr. Turner which we can safely suspect will win plentiful Oscar talk. There's a ceiling for Leigh films with Oscar but the Academy adores him nonetheless. Since his mainstream breakthrough Secrets and Lies (5 nominations / 0 wins) all but 2 of his pictures have won at least a screenplay nomination with Topsy Turvy and Vera Drake (period pieces like Mr Turner) proving most popular. To date Topsy Turvy is the only Mike Leigh picture to win any Oscar statues and Mike Leigh himself, though a 7 time nominee, is still Oscar-less. That's probably good news for Mr. Turner on both the 'overdue' front and the 'it takes a period piece and a genre they love' (in this case the biopic) truth about awards bodies. If you're interested in Mike Leigh's process (and many are since it's so unusual) there's an article in the LA Times where he explains why they still do the same character creation groundwork for months before shooting even though the actors are playing real people rather than fictional ones. I think Mr Turner is also inspiring some interesting reviews (including this one from David Poland who compares it to the Grand Budapest Hotel of all things) 

More Oscar hopefuls, deals, and animated buzz after the jump...

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Saturday
May172014

Controversy, My Preciousssss 

I've long had a deep respect for the work Andy Serkis has done in elevating the acting in visual effects. Serkis is, in many ways, the figure head of the fusion form or acting and animation known as performance capture, Hes already given us King Kong, Gollum, and Caesar. But in interviews he's beendownplaying the efforts of animation teams in bringing these highly memorable characters to life.  It's really pissing animators off. That's kind of a shame since film is such a collaborative medium. It's also a shame that he himself doesn't get as much credit as he should with his acting peers for how good his work is in these movies. So there's enough lack of credit to go around... deficent credit for everyone. Um... hoorah?

Here's an interview he did in March with i09 about his work on the forthcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and two responses, one angry from Cartoon Brew and one measured but annoyed from the Lord of the Rings animation director Randal William Cook. Cook makes an interesting comparison with Marni Nixon's voice work on 1960s musicals in his rebuttal...

Let me state that Andy really should be considered the principal author of Gollum’s performance, but there’s a hell of a difference between principal author and sole author. The Animators who helped shape Gollum’s performance are actors of a very special type, working at a high level of achievement. They’re not like Marni Nixon singing for Natalie Wood in WEST SIDE STORY, doing only the things that Andy couldn’t do: they were doing the same things Andy did, in concert with him...

Next up for Serkis is his debut in the director's chair, helming Warner Bros live action version of The Jungle Book in which all the animals will be performance captured. This is not, to be clear, the same Jungle Book movie that has been in the news recently with celebrity castings (the one that Lupita Nyong'o signed on for recently) which is an animated film. But with these types of feelings brewing among animators directing his first feature employing tons of them might be a tougher task than first features already always are.

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