It’s been a good year in animated film. The trend continues with Rise of the Guardians. DreamWorks has really stepped up their game in the last few years, following the successes of How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and the Kung Fu Panda series. Once again, they have given us a solid outing, with an adaptation of the children’s book by William Joyce. Written for the screen by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Peter Ramsey, this is a fantastical adventure that encompasses many magical realms and provides fresh perspectives to age-old legends and myths. As a movie geared for the entire family, this fires on all cylinders, from the exquisitely detailed animation to the thought-out character development. This one will entertain people of all ages; if given the chance, it will come as a pleasant surprise.
One of the toughest genres to crack has been the video game movie. Almost universally, the adaptations have been panned…and when Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is the cream of the crop, it speaks to how much failure there has been. While not a true video game adaption, Wreck-It Ralph has set a new bar by which to judge video-game-themed movies, and will clearly be a contender for best animated feature at the Academy Awards.
Every day is a chance to learn something new. Today I learned about the “Disney Fairies” franchise. When J.M. Barrie created the world of Peter Pan and Never Land, he gave limited information about the Fairies. In an attempt to build upon and expand the mythos of these creatures, Disney green-lit a number of children’s books and several animated movies. Ok, so maybe what I learned isn’t exactly life-altering, but bear with me. Since 2009, five films have been released or are in current production. When Disney has an idea, they go all out, and with the quickness. The movie we’ll be discussing is Secret of the Wings (2012), the fourth of the five. I took reviewing this as a challenge: could I see it through the eyes of a child and not through the cynical filter of an adult? What do you think?
Spencer interviews producer Allison Abbate from the animated horror comedy Frankenweenie.
It has been a long time since Tim Burton has been a relevant filmmaker for me. Stylistically, I have always appreciated his eye, but not since 2003’s Big Fish have I enjoyed one of his movies. It actually goes beyond that; some of his more recent films have been downright painful, such as Alice in Wonderland. The trailers for his latest film, Frankenweenie, felt like a throwback to the Tim Burton of old, so I was holding out hope for a return to form, and I got it…kind of.
Don’t be thrown by the tender notes hit upon in the opening moments of Hotel Transylvania. You’ll be graciously rewarded for your patience when the first fart joke hits at about minute three.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
Pixar’s fourth feature length film was also one of its biggest successes. Finding Nemo (2003) dominated the public eye, earning both critical praise and huge monetary returns. It set the bar in terms of quality storytelling, a standard that would become commonplace from the studio. The appeal to both children and parents was key, and would result in an Academy Award for Best Animated Film. As of today, the film ranks with Toy Story 3 (2010) as Pixar’s highest grossing movie. With Disney/Pixar’s latest trend of 3D conversions of their past work, it would only make logical sense (business-wise) that Nemo should get the latest treatment. But does creating a third dimension add anything new to this wonderful story? Is the already-beautiful animation helped or hindered by this new element? Let’s find out.
I love stop-motion animation. It played a big role in the formation of my movie sensibility growing up, particularly projects like Wallace & Gromit and The Nightmare Before Christmas. There is a sense of it being the rawest form of filmmaking to me, where you are literally making a movie frame by frame. That kind of dedication has always amazed me, so I was very excited upon discovering the new film ParaNorman.
There aren’t a lot of sure things in the film industry. Expected blockbusters frequently come out as duds; small films explode into hits…there seems to be nothing certain. But if I were to hazard a guess about the chances of the new Ice Age film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, it would be that it is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit.
A Cat in Paris is a delightfully animated tale that keeps you entertained the whole way through. When the Academy Award nominations were announced last year for Best Animated Feature, I was thrilled that A Cat in Paris and Chico and Rita were nominated. I had not even seen either one yet, but the fact that two independent foreign films got in was, to me, a great sign. Just having beautiful graphics (à la Cars 2) was not enough to be deemed a worthy animated film. A Cat in Paris isn’t breaking new ground with its subject matter, but directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol keep us involved with its story with beautiful animation, a sense of fun, and strong characters.