Tuesday, 31 July 2012

UPDATED - Wreck-It Ralph TV Spot

Now that the London 2012 Olympic Games are underway, Disney have released a seemingly Olympic themed TV spot for their latest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. While the film is set inside the world of video games, this TV spot (above) features some real-life games, specifically wrestling.

The video is interspersed with footage from the trailer we saw at the start of last month and features Glee's Jane Lynch, who lends her voices to the tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun in the film, and a very hands-on Jack McBrayer, (30 Rock) who voices Fix-It Felix, Jr. in Ralph.

It doesn't really show us anything new, but it's pretty funny - because, honestly, who doesn't love Jack McBrayer? Disney are handling the marketing for Wreck-It Ralph very well thus far, and it certainly looks phenomenal; the Mouse House surely have another winner on their hands.

Wreck-It Ralph is still a while off though, and hits US theatres on 2nd November, and arrives here in the UK (at the moment) on 15th February, 2013.


Disney continue the advertisement with another two Olympic themed TV spots, this time showing Jack McBrayer playing the Fix-It Felix, Jr. arcade game, and trying his hand at Gymnastics. Check the latest Wreck-It Ralph TV spot outs, embedded below.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Interview: William Joyce, Moonbot Studios Co-Founder and Co-Director of Morris Lessmore

On Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to the very kind, very friendly and very funny William Joyce, on the phone from Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana. Joyce, a co-founder of Moonbot, co-directed their debut short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, with Brandon Oldenburg last year. The short was nominated against, among others, Pixar's La Luna (my interview with La Luna director Enrico Casarosa, here), and actually won the prestigious award - one won several times by the incomparable Walt Disney!

William was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule - he's also working on DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians and Blue Sky Studios' Epic; both based on books of his - to talk to me about several topics. In our extensive 40 minute interview, William talks passionately about Morris Lessmore and its solemn origins, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and its effects on him, touches enthusiastically on the Oscar experience, Moonbot as a studio and its next steps, as well as working with other studios and how Rise of the Guardians and Epic are turning out.

As per, I'm indebted to - as well as William, for taking the time out of his schedule to speak to me, and for being so friendly - the brilliant people who helped organise it. Specifically, I want to thank Trish Farnsworth-Smith for being so brilliant in setting this interview up.

Check out the interview after the jump break!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Minion-Centric Despicable Me Spin-Off On the Way

This was kind of an inevitability. Illumination Entertainment, who most recently released Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, broke onto the scene back in 2010 with Despicable Me. The film was a big commercial hit, making $543 million worldwide, and well received by critics also - averaging 81% on Rotten Tomatoes - but arguably the biggest hit in the film were the minions.

The gibberish speaking yellow army were huge merchandise hits, received their own short films on the Despicable Me DVD and Blu Ray, and even their own theme-park ride! The minions are sure to feature prominently in 2013's Despicable Me 2 (which adds Kristen Wiig and Al Pacino to the voice cast)but they're going to get even more focus the year after, as the Minions are getting their very own spin-off movie!

Being produced in parallel with Despicable Me 2 with a view for a 2014 release, Deadline reports that Despicable Me co-director Pierre Coffin will direct and The Lorax co-director Kyle Balda will co-direct, from a script written by Brian Lynch (who has experience writing spin-offs, writing the script for DreamWorks' Puss in Boots, and working with Illumination, having worked on Hop). How great a Minions spin-off would be is questionable, but it's sure to rake in a lot of money, and this is sound business for Illumination's parent-company, Universal.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Monsters, Inc. 3D Release Moved Up

With the release of its first prequel, Monsters University, fast approaching, Disney and Pixar have a tactical re-release of the 2001 original planned, Monsters, Inc. 3D. Originally intended for an 18th January, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter now informs us that the re-release has been shunted up to 19th December.

Though it's a bold move to move Monsters, Inc. 3D into the packed Christmas Holiday season - meaning it'll be competing against The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, part one of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings prequel - it is a smart move on behalf of Disney. It'll be competing against DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians, due on 18th November (30th November in the UK), but aside from that, Monsters, Inc. 3D would have the animation category entirely to itself. And following from Disney's Wreck-It Ralph at the start of November (15th February, 2013 in the UK), this promises to bring in huge Christmas Season receipts for Disney, and the beloved Pixar classic is sure to be a huge hit... again!

Finding Nemo 3D is due on 14th September (in the US, but much later - on 29th March, 2013 - here in the UK), so this means US fans get 3 Pixar films in cinemas this year - with Brave still out (just passing $200 million domestically) in the US and opening here in the UK on 17th August. Who knows when Monsters, Inc. 3D will arrive here in the UK though...

Monsters University is then is due on 21st June, 2013 in the US and 12th July, 2013 in the UK.

First Look at DreamWorks' Me and My Shadow

We heard briefly about this from DreamWorks' Comic-Con panel, and today the official DreamWorks Facebook page gives us the first poster from DreamWorks' upcoming CGI/hand-drawn hybrid, Me and My Shadow. The film, in the words of DreamWorks CCO Bill Damaschke is about:

"what would happen if your shadow, that has been following you around and basically just follows what you do your whole life, just stood up and took over."

Whilst the majority of the film will be animated in the normal DreamWorks mould, using CGI, the shadows of the film will be traditionally animated. This promises a great visual style and will surely make Shadow one of DreamWorks' most striking films!

The official plot synopsis for the film, due Spring 2014, is:

Me & My Shadow reveals the once secret world of shadows and their human counterparts. Stan, our hero’s shadow, yearns for a more exciting life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb, a timid guy with an extreme aversion to adventure. When a crime in the shadow world puts both of their lives in danger, Stan is forced to take control of Stanley. They go on a madcap adventure to investigate the crime and stop the shadow villain from leading a rebellion where shadows take over the human world. During this adventure, Stan empowers Stanley to let go of his fears and embrace life. Through their adventure, they both learn that one cannot be whole without a true friend.

Be sure to like the Me and My Shadow Facebook page for updates about the film.

In related news, DreamWorks just acquired Classic Media, home of Casper and He-Man for $155 million! Read more here.

Monday, 23 July 2012

DreamWorks Buys Classic Media

News broke a few days back that DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, was planning to purchase Classic Media. Today, it hit the web that the purchase had been made for $155 million, adding the vast Classic Media library to DreamWorks' already vast repertoire.

Classic Media hold the rights to - as well as Rocky and Bullwinkle, the Mr. Pebody and Sherman section of which DreamWorks are already making a film adaptation of - the Entertainment Rights catalogue, including Basil Brush and Postman Pat (big hits over here in the UK); Where's Waldo?/Wally?; He-Man; Felix the Cat; several UPA properties, including Mr. Magoo; LassieCasper the Friendly Ghost; Noddy and several more! Basically, Classic Media own a lot of stuff. And now DreamWorks owns it.

So, we can expect - presumably - to see a lot more from these properties coming out of DreamWorks in the next decade or so. Speaking of the transaction and DreamWorks' plans for the properties, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said:

"Classic Media brings a large and diverse collection of characters and branded assets that is extremely complementary to DreamWorks Animation's franchise business,

We plan to leverage it across our motion picture, television, home entertainment, consumer products, digital, theme park and live entertainment channels."

It's going to be very interesting to see what comes out of this in the near future.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Aardman News 10 - News and Stories from Wallace and Gromit in the Radio Times

Last week the Radio Times featured British institution Wallace and Gromit on their front cover, to promote the plasticine-duo's appearance at the BBC Proms. A large classical music festival, the Proms was a big stage for the hapless inventor and his mute mutt to appear on, and RT spoke to the pair's creator, Aardman's Nick Park, about the appearance and other things Aardman.

As well as discussing the logistics of their appearance at the Proms, music used in the appearance and Gromit's favourite composers ("Poochini and Bark"), Nick Park also spoke about Wallace and Gromit's origins and more. Very interestingly, Park spoke about Gromit's beginnings, and how he was originally conceived as a cat! However, he adds:

"when I came to model the cat out of clay, I just found a dog easier to make... so Gromit became a dog"

He also spoke briefly about Gromit's early characteristics; the article quotes Park that:

"[Gromit] was going to be a bouncy, extrovert character but on the first day of shooting, he was too hard to move. I found it much easier just moving his brow." It was a Eureka moment. "It gave him a personality, an inner, discerning mind. Suddenly he became a contrast; a child more intelligent than his father."

As well as speaking about working with current Wallace and Gromit Creative Director, Merlin Crossingham, and their respective favourite (non-Aardman) animated films - "The first ten minutes of Up. The Incredibles. Toy Story 3." says Park, an evident Pixar fan, whilst Crossingham cites Disney's The Jungle Book, DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda and, also, The Incredibles - we also get a little bit on Aardman aspirations.

Park tells Radio Times that he aspires to do something that Disney have done in the past, and Pixar have famously done repeatedly: produce a tear-inducing, emotional film, in the manner of Bambi or Toy Story 3. Park says that he wants to make a film much more serious and emotional than Aardman's usual light-hearted, quirky take, saying:

"We need to tell our own stories, rooted in our own culture, but do it with the equivalent emotion of Hollywood... Billy Elliot did it, and The Full Monty did it, but I don't think we have it yet in animation. Films that get you in the gut. It can be done, but we avoid it because we don't wear our emotion on our sleeves as a nation. We avoid it because we have seen it done badly with Hollywood schmaltziness and triteness."

Wow, that's certainly something I'd love to see Aardman tackle in the future! As much as I adore the studio's quirkiness and more light-hearted takes, originality is what they do best, and this sounds like a very original idea. And we may not have to wait that long to see how it turns out, because Park also - briefly - spoke about his next film, confirmed as not a Wallace and Gromit film; based on an idea he's had for over 10 years! An idea that may well be an emotional one.

We can't wait to hear more from Nick's next project, and will keep you informed as we learn more (on a somewhat related note, this is our tenth Aardman News feature *blows party whistle*)!

All quotes via 14-20 July edition of Radio Times.

In an Aardman mood now? Why not check out our interview with The Pirates! director Peter Lord last month!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

UPDATED - Peter Jackson on Tintin 2!

The Hobbit director dressed as Captain Haddock.

Friend of the blog and our resident Tintin expert, Damien, shared an interesting interview today, an interview with Tintin 2 director, Peter Jackson. The director, who produced the first Tintin film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, and who is currently directing the Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, spoke to Salon about not being a superhero fan and his tastes in comic books. This, inevitably, led to talking about Hergé's Tintin and the film's based on it.

Steven Spielberg directed the first film, and is set to produce the sequel - written by Stormbreaker author, Anthony Horowitz. Of the sequel, Jackson told Salon that it will be:

“slightly less of a rollicking adventure and something a bit more, a little bit more of a sort of espionage type of story. So it’s a slight tone shift, which I think will be good.”

Well, that narrows the list of possibilities a bit. The obvious choice, in terms of espionage type stories - that introduces Professor Calculus - would be The Calculus Affair, but Anthony Horowitz told us on Twitter last month that we shouldn't "put too much money on that". Of course, it's entirely possible that Horowitz was just trying to throw us off the scent - as there's not that many other stories that fit the espionage mould. The Black Island (one of Peter Jackson's favourite Tintin adventures) or King Ottokar's Sceptre are also possibilities, but references to those adventures appeared as newspaper clippings on Tintin's wall in the first film, so who knows.

Basically, we're no closer to knowing than we were before - if anything we're further away - but it sure gets you excited for the film!

We also now have a better idea of when we can expect to see Tintin 2, as Jackson also stated in the interview that he hopes to spend five or six weeks in 2013 doing the mo-cap for the film - when he's winding the second part of The Hobbit. That would seem, factoring in animation time, to place a Tintin 2 release in late 2015 or early/mid 2016.

It seems such a long way off...

Be sure to check out the full interview for more, including talk about possibly bringing in another director for Tintin 3.


Anthony Horowitz just told us on Twitter that "The clippings are irrelevant." So, this opens the field up. Given that The Calculus Affair was said to be ruled out (although, it could still be a bluff), and that we now know that the stories on the wall in the first film are still possibilities, The Black Island is looking very likely!

A great story that is sufficiently far removed from the globe-trotting Indiana Jones-esque nature of the first film, to shake things up a bit tonally, should make a brilliant film. And we know Jackson likes animated gorillas after his King Kong remake!

Keep visiting A113Animation for more Tintin 2 news as it happens!

Wreck-It Ralph Voice Cast News

Last week, out of the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con international, we learned that Firefly's Alan Tudyk would be voicing King Candy in Disney's next animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. And today Entertainment Weekly brings us a far more extensive voice cast reveal!

  • Dennis Haysbert (24, Kung Fu Panda 2) voices General Hologram, of the "Hero's Duty" section of the film.
  • Adam Corolla and Horatia Sanz voice King Candy's security guards, in the "Sugar Rush" section of the film.
  • Mindy Kaling (The US Office) voices the memorably named Taffyta Muttonfudge, a mean-girl from "Sugar Rush" who bully Sarah Silverman's Vanellope.
  • Edie McClurg (Minny in the Cars franchise) and Rachael Harris (The Hangover) voice two Nicelanders, the citizens of Fix-It Felix, Jr., the game that Ralph inhabits.
  • Ed O'Neill (Modern Family) voices one of Wreck-It Ralph's few human characters, the owner of Litwak's Family Fun Center and Arcade, which the film takes place within.
  • Stefanie Scott (Disney Channel's A.N.T. Farm) voices another human character, Moppet Girl, a gamer at Litwak's who notices Ralph's game jumping.

The film has been generating a lot of buzz for the video-game cameos that populate the film (look at the picture at the top to see just a few), so, in addition to the film's original characters, EW bring us the voice cast for some of the film's highly anticipated cameos:

  • Roger Craig Smith (Ezio in the Assassin's Creed series) voices Sonic the Hedgehog, a character he currently voices in Sonic video games.
  • Gerald C. Rivers, Reuben Langdon and Kyle Hebert voice their respective Street Fighter characters: boss M. Bison, Ken Masters and Ryu.

Alan Tudyk and these latest additions join the main voice cast of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer. Wreck-It Ralph is due in US cinemas on 2nd November, and here in the UK on 15th February, 2013.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

John Carter Blu-ray Review

This is a belated review, yet I feel an important one.

Pixarians Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) and Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) recently branched out their résumés, into the field of live-action, Bird with the fourth instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and Stanton with the Disney sci-fi epic, and highly controversial, John Carter. Whilst Bird's live-action debut was released to the critical acclaim that Pixar directors are accustomed to, John Carter was received far less enthusiastically.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Randy Newman Set to Score Monsters University

I missed this story until now, but Bleeding Cool reported about a month ago, at the premiere of Brave, that Randy Newman is set to score the Monsters, Inc. prequel, Monsters University!

Newman scored the 2001 original, and it was a toss up in speculation as to whether he or another composer would score the 2013 prequel. Newman scored the original two Toy Story films, and its threequel, yet, after scoring Cars, fellow Pixar favourite Michael Giacchino scored its sequel Cars 2 - to give it a different feel. Aside from Toy Story 3, it's been a while since Newman scored a Pixar film, and I can't wait to see what he does with the score!

When interviewed at the Brave (scored by Pixar newcomer Patrick Doyle) premiere, Newman even sang a brief snippet from the soundtrack that he hasn't started on yet!

Monsters University opens on 21st June, 2013 in the US and 12th July that same year here in the UK!

Via Pixar Corner's Twitter.

Elsewhere in Pixar follow-up news, have you heard the reports about Finding Nemo 2 yet?

Andrew Stanton Reportedly Working on Finding Nemo 2!

No, you didn't read that wrong, that's the story that Deadline's reporting! Deadline reports, following the supposed $200 million loss on his live-action directorial debut John Carter, that Andrew Stanton is returning to animation with a sequel to his Oscar winning 2003 animation directorial debut, Finding Nemo!

Deadline's Mike Fleming says that he has been "told [Stanton's] now officially come aboard the Finding Nemo sequel and has a concept the studio loves." The article also suggests that the reason behind Stanton's sudden involvement is directly due to the failings of John Carter (belated review up soon by the way) and that a sequel to Pixar's second highest-grossing film might ingratiate him to the Disney top-brass again. I can't believe - if the story is true - that this is the legitimate reason behind the sequel. One of Pixar's brain trust and a two-time Academy Award winner for his animated films, the faith in Andrew should still be there, despite one shortcoming - one not even necessarily due to the quality of the film.

It may not be the sequel fans were particularly clamouring for (The Incredibles 2), but it's almost a complete certainty that Finding Nemo 2 would be huge; possibly the only Pixar film that would have a real shot at beating Toy Story 3 worldwide. The timing of the reveal also makes sense, with Finding Nemo 3D hitting theatres in September. But, I can't escape the feeling that a sequel is not needed! Nemo 1 had a perfect ending as is.

That said, Pixar have never disappointed me; Toy Story 3 had its naysayers prior to release - if you're looking for them, just check the "Toy Story 3 was great!" bandwagon - and, although its quality is debated much more, the same is true for Cars 2. Both were, in my eyes, fantastic films, and I have no doubt that Pixar would give a sequel to one of its most beloved properties its all. It would also take a remarkably strong idea to get Stanton interested in a sequel - if the rumours about it being a ploy for more Barsoom time are false of course.

Let's see how Monsters University turns out first.

Where do you stand on a Nemo sequel? Yay or nay? There will be a poll up on the right very shortly, sound off there, in the comments section or Tweet us about it (@A113Animation).


Giving more credence to the already trustworthy claims is the fact that The Hollywood Reporter is also reporting that Lindsey Collins (also John Carter) is set to produce, Victoria Strouse is set to write the script, and a 2016 release date is being aimed for.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Interview: Robb Pratt, Disney Storyboard Artist and Bizarro Classic Director

A while back, I shared with you a wonderful little short film called Superman Classic from Disney animator and storyboard artist, Robb Pratt. I fell in love with the tone and animation of the films and the, well, classic visual style of it; as well as a very witty and classically Superman-esque script. So, I was very excited two weeks ago when Robb released his follow up, Bizarro Classic. Longer, funnier, wonderful music, and, in my eyes, even better than Superman Classic, I was completely enamoured with Bizarro too!

In fact, I was so enamoured with Bizarro Classic that I sent Robb an email, telling him how much I'd enjoyed his Classic shorts, and asking if he'd mind doing an interview for the blog. Robb, a very kind and modest person, thankfully said yes.

You can read our extensive interview after the jump break, in which we talk about his work at Disney, on films like Tarzan and Hercules, his work at Disney Channel, his current work at DisneyToon Studios on Planes, how direct-to-DVD productions compare to normal features, and his Superman short films. Enjoy!

Comic-Con Roundup: DreamWorks, Phineas and Ferb, Wreck-It Ralph, Frankenweenie and Marvel!

Wow, Comic-Con really is the place to be this time of year. Yesterday, out of the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con convention, we got some huge news, some enlightening panels and some exciting looks at the latest films and projects coming out of DreamWorks and Disney - and their subsidiary, Marvel.

Check out recordings of some of the panels and all the goodness they bring after the jump break!

Phineas and Ferb to Crossover with Marvel!

Just a few weeks after we heard that Walt Disney Animation Studios are going to include a Marvel-based animated feature in their canon, the Don Hall directed Big Hero 6, we now get word of another crossover. A few hours ago at Comic-Con, Phineas and Ferb creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh announced that the super-successful Disney Channel show will collide with some of Marvel's most famous heroes, in Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel!

The episode, due next summer, sees four of Marvel's biggest names: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, accidentally drained of their powers by a lucky Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Phineas, Ferb and their friends must then help the heroes regain their powers in time to combat the villainous team of Red Skull, Whiplash, Venom, M.O.D.O.K. and, obviously, Doofenshmirtz.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

You can see the producers of the show and higherups from Marvel talking about Mission Marvel (above), and any potential there is for future crossovers.

Whilst crossovers aren't always tasteful or necessary, they are damn cool. This looks and sounds damn cool. I have the utmost faith in the Phineas and Ferb team to execute it well, but we'll have to wait and see.

Via Geek Dad.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Disney at Comic-Con - Wreck-It Ralph News

The 2012 San Diego Comic-Con is well underway and as well as supposedly awesome fist looks at Oz: The Great and the  Powerful and Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, and more from Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, the Disney panel brought some great news and peaks at their latest animated feature, Wreck-It Ralph. Check it all out after the jump break!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Great Vintage New Frankenweenie Trailer

DisneyMovieTrailers' YouTube channel just unveiled another trailer (above) for Tim Burton's stop-motion, black-and-white animated feature, Frankenweenie. This latest trailer, appropriately titled "Homage", spoofs horror and thriller trailers from yesteryear, bringing to mind old classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein (the story that inspires Frankenweenie).

It's fantastic. As well as being funny, and adding more of the trademark Burton-spook it also gives it the feel of a film that's very different - entirely apt from what we've seen so far. With every trailer, I become more and more excited for Frankenweenie!

Frankenweenie is due out for Halloween season, on 5th October (US) and 17th October (UK).

Watch: Time Travel Mater

The latest Cars Toon, Time Travel Mater - the redesigned version of the formerly planned Backwards to the Fowards - which aired a few weeks ago on ABC, is now online! Perhaps not as chaotic or fun as the early boards for the story made it seem, it is very funny, very sentimental and focuses a bit more on characters besides Lightning and Mater. Check it out embedded above.

I also really enjoyed the Disney reference towards the start of the short, declaring it a "Pixar Laugh-O-Gram", paying homage to Walt Disney's early days in animation.

No word yet on when or if we can expect another Cars Toon; although we've still got 5 more Toy Story Toons on the way!

Via Pixar Post.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Planes Storyboards

A storyboard from Planes, Sequence 13

Courtesy of the website of Robb Pratt, the very talented Disney storyboard artist who brought us Superman Classic and Bizarro Classic, we get a look at some story art from Planes! Planes, being produced by DisneyToon Studios, is a spin-off from Pixar's widely successful Cars universe, and the world of Planes was introduced to us in the Cars Toon, Air Mater.

A storyboard from Planes, Sequence 23

Robb is working on Planes as a storyboard artist and has shared some of his work on the film on his website. There are a huge number of storyboards on the website, for sequences '13' and '23', and there's a slideshow function so that you can watch the boards in action; giving a feel of the actual film.

A storyboard from Planes, Sequence 43

There are also a few storyboards from sequence '43'. They seem to show some sort of festival, and have a wider variety of jets and emergency vehicles.

There's not a lot in terms of story we can grasp (other than a few settings) but these storyboards are great for giving us a look at the characters and the worlds! Remember there's a sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, coming up too!

Two and a Half Men's Jon Cryer lends his voice to Planes' main character, Dusty, and Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett also lends his voice to the film, currently due in 2013.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Classic Cartoons #9 - Superman/The Mad Scientist

Today's classic cartoon is the first from a series of widely successful short films produced by the Fleischer Studio in the early 1940s, the Superman short films. The Fleischer Studios, founded in 1921 by brothers Max and Dave Fleischer, were the most significant competition for the Disney studio during the Golden Age of Animation.

Most notable for their Betty Boop and Popeye cartoon shorts, the Fleischers' Superman cartoons are also revered. The short that started that off, eponymously titled Superman - or The Mad Scientist - was even nominated for the 1942 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject, losing out to the Disney propaganda short, Der Fuehrer's Face. The Fleischer shorts are also purportedly the inspiration for Superman flying - up until then he had only lept, but the brothers deemed this 'silly looking'.

Incredibly high budget - at about $50,000, twice the cost of an average Fleischer cartoon - and filled with spectacle and awe - if a little old by today's standards - Superman and the subsequent shorts in the series were, and are, great testaments to storytelling and animation, and you can definitely the Fleischer inspiration in Robb Pratt's brilliant new Superman short films.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Brave Review - A Magical Film that Hits the Bullseye!

*This review is largely spoiler free, but read cautiously if you haven’t seen the film yet*

Brave is the thirteenth feature film from Pixar Animation Studios, the studio most notable for having produced critical and commercial hits such as Toy Story, Up and Monsters, Inc. The common denominator between these films (aside from their obvious brilliance) is that none of them have a female main character. Brave is therefore notable for being the first Pixar feature to have a female as its lead, and also for being Pixar’s first fairytale. Hearing those two statements however might give you entirely the wrong impression about Brave; it is neither a feministic rant nor a traditional, princess-prince-stepmother-villain type fairytale. The common denominator with Brave and previous Pixar films, is that it’s brilliant.

Brave has received decent reviews, but, at 76% on Rotten Tomatoes, nothing near what we’re used to from the studio. It seems Cars 2 acted to, unjustly in my opinion, make people doubt Pixar, the studio they once revered above all else, and look for flaws. Well, they must be looking pretty damn hard to find things to gripe about here, as Brave was phenomenal. Touching, powerful, immersive, funny and gorgeous – all in equal measure – Brave is yet another winner from Pixar, and has the feel of a grand epic, and an instant classic.

Ice Age 4 Now in (Some) Cinemas - What Are the Reviews Saying?

Blue Sky Studios' fourth instalment in the Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift has been out here in Europe for over a week (although, despite a few early screenings this weekend, isn't open here in England and Wales until 13th) and will open stateside in just under a week, but how's it faring so far? It should come as no great surprise, given how hugely successful Ice Age 3 was, that Continental Drift has done fantastically well at the worldwide box-office - despite non-too strong performances overall in the UK. The film, coming a whole decade after the release of the original Ice Age, opened at number 1 in all of the 34 territories, taking over $80 million and setting many opening-day and opening-weekend records in those territories. The film's current takings (remember, it hasn't opened in the US yet) are an impressive $118,677,915 (via Box Office Mojo).

The critical response, however, is far less enthusiastic. Ice Age: Continental Drift currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 54% from 24 reviews. It's hardly surprising given that the response for the third Ice Age was far from enthusiastic and sequels rarely maintain the critical adoration of the originals - especially to 4 films. THR's Megan Lehmann sums up her review by saying "[Ice Age 4] Has the goods for kids but fails to break new ground for the series." But, on the positive side, Den of Geek's Simon Brew says "the team behind it have delivered something worth cherishing: an immensely good fun summer movie, warts and all. It might not win bags of awards, but for a family movie, you most certainly get your money's worth."

It shouldn't come as any great surprise that critics are less than enthusiastic in general about the film, I can think of very few franchises that maintain critical praise this far in - Toy Story, Lord of the Rings and The Godfather are some of the few that survived 3, let alone 4! But a strong box-office performance and Blue Sky's consistent standards should mean it's enjoyable anyway.

Ice Age: Continental Drift opens in the remaining UK countries and in the US on 13th July,

Friday, 6 July 2012

New Rise of the Guardians Trailer

Firstly, apologies for the four day hiatus; it's been a busy week, I've been down in Cambridge since Tuesday and I'm down south again tomorrow in London for an early press screening of Brave on Sunday!

But, to leap straight back into it, today we are treated to the second trailer from DreamWorks' highly anticipated upcoming feature, Rise of the Guardians. Based on the Guardians of Childhood book series by Moonbot Studios' William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians re-imagines the childhood fairytale figures we all know and love.

The previous trailer focused on establishing the intensity of the film and its epic feel, whereas this latest trailer fleshes out the story and the characters a bit more, showing us the fantastic, vibrant animation on display. It's appropriate that the video touts the film as being from the creators of How to Train Your Dragon, as this certainly looks like it has the potential to rival that as one of the studio's best films yet!

With a sharp script, a funny and balanced sense of humour and gorgeous animation, if Rise of the Guardians turns out like this trailer, DreamWorks will have another winner on their hands. Rise of the Guardians is due in cinemas on 21st November in the US and 30th November in the UK.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Bizarro Classic by Disney's Robb Pratt

I was just thinking about Robb Pratt's Superman Classic earlier today actually - after recently watching some of the Fleischer Studios' Superman shorts - so, I was very pleased to come online and find Cartoon Brew sharing Robb's follow up short, Bizarro Classic!

Robb is a Disney veteran who has animated on Tarzan and Pocahontas, and he directed, produced and co-animated both this and Superman Classic, fully realising the funny, clever and visually striking "Super Fan Film" to create a fantastic homage. Again starring the voices of John Newton (TV's Superboy) and Jennifer Newton as Superman/Bizarro and Lois Lane respectively. The short is swiftly followed by an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the short, showing the animation process.

Robb's enthusiasm and adoration for both the subject matter and the medium is evident, and, whilst I love the visual style, I'd love to see what he could do using Disney's new Meander animation program, used on John Kahrs' Paperman.

I'd love to see more from Robb in this realm, be sure to check it out!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Classic Cartoons #8 - The Karate Guard

Paired up with today's Bitesized Biography, of Hanna-Barbera co-founder, Joseph Barbera, is the last Tom and Jerry short film directed by Barbera, The Karate Guard. Co-directed with Spike Brandt (The Looney Tunes Show) the short is inspired by Japanese film, but giving the usual violent, zany Tom and Jerry take on it. Released in 2005, The Karate Guard was the first Tom and Jerry theatrical short produced in over 45 years, and, as of now, is the last.

Although Barbera did work on the straight-to-DVD film Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale, The Karate Guard is the spiritual end to his career, ending how Hanna-Barbera started, with Tom and Jerry theatrical cartoons. Funny, charming, lovable and boasting a great score by Pixar favourite, Michael Giacchino, The Karate Guard was a fitting cartoon to bookend the legendary career of Joseph Barbera.

Bitesized Biographies #5 - Joseph Barbera

Barbera (left) with Hanna (right) with an assortment of their famed creations, including Fred Flintstone, Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and Top Cat, and some of their many Emmy Awards.

Our recent Facebook exclusive poll (to make sure you don't miss out on future polls, be sure to like us on Facebook) to decide who our next Bitesized Biography would be about returned an interesting draw: a split between the two halves of Hanna-Barbera, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Following through the logical order of Hanna-Barbera, we started with a Bitesized Biopgraphy (and accompanying Classic Cartoon) of William Hanna, and today, we look to complete that by covering the life and accomplishments of Joseph Barbera.