Sunday 24 April 2011

International Poster A-thon

We've been treated to a whole new smorgasbord of international posters for 2 of the animated sequels coming up this year. Firstly we have the above poster, which is the newest French poster for DreamWorks' upcoming Kung Fu Panda 2 (which is personally my favourite poster for it so far) and is a very bright and appealing one.

Secondly, below you'll find 3 of my favourite new Russian Cars 2 posters (you can view all 7 of them at Daily Blam), they are also amongst my favourite posters for the film and are all just great, while the other 4 are also okay, these are my favourites.

Keep your eye out for both of these films later in the year. All posters courtesy of Daily Blam.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Cars 2 Stuff


We have been treated to a new slew of Cars 2 news and tidbits, we have a series of new bits of concept art and production artwork. Firstly, we have a look at the different stages in the Cars 2 progression (above) from the original storyboards to the fully rendered piece.

We have also been treated to a HUGE amount of concept art from the film, that, to be quite honest, I don't have the patience to upload all of, but the saints over at Stitch Kingdom have you covered, so head over there to see the plethora of Cars 2 production artwork now.

Also, though it has nothing to do with Cars 2, and for no other reason than the fact that it amuses me, the above picture (also courtesy of Stitch Kingdom) is of some Easter themed Toy Story egg art, it just looks really great. This also brings me to my next point:

Happy Easter!

Thursday 21 April 2011

The Ballad of Nessie Thoughts

Following on from my thoughts on Disney's latest animated release, Winnie the Pooh, I realised there was one aspect of the film I hadn't reviewed, the attached short film.

Technically I should be saying short films, we are treated to not one, but two short films. Well... I say treated, the first short film was the closest thing to torture I have ever encountered in the cinema, or indeed anywhere. This short film, entitled Jake and the Never Land Pirates, was the kind of torturous, dreadful, awful dribble that could permanently put me off Peter Pan (fortunately Winnie the Pooh didn't ruin its franchise like Jake et al did). Jake and the Never Land Pirates, from Disney Junior, was asinine, stupid, as shallow as a puddle in the middle of September and starred the least likeable characters I've ever had the displeasure of encountering. The plot of the short, and the animation used in it, were just as dreadful, and unfortunately the short lasted WAY too long - although it would be WAY too long if it was a commercial. This short film was more like a trip through Guantanamo Bay than through Never Land, shame on you Disney, for very nearly ruining Peter Pan forever.

As you may have guessed, I loathed this short film and the very thought of it makes me feel ill, if I had to rate this abysmal romp into Never Land, I'd give it, maybe, a 1/10, and that was just for being in close proximity to the excellence that was Winnie the Pooh.

I purposely shunned Jake and the Never Land Pirates from the title in favour of a far superior short film. The Ballad of Nessie, the second short attached to Winnie the Pooh, was sublime.

The classically, and utterly innocently, animated Ballad of Nessie was a Scottish tale of the Loch Ness Monster, with a fairly inspirational - if slightly dark - moral and a FAR more solid plot than the dreadful short film listed above. The film was very funny and original - while a bit too short - and the characters were very likeable. Strange as it may sound, this Scottish short has got me more excited for Pixar's Brave. However, the real star of the short is the animation, it is so refreshing to once again see some classic hand drawn Disney animation, particularly accompanied with Winnie the Pooh, it's just such a charming style. Hand drawn animation is Disney's forte, it always has been, while it's a tad outdated now, it's always nice to see the occasional return to good ole Disney hand drawn excellence.

Ballad of Nessie might as well be the antithesis of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, I'd give Ballad of Nessie a strong 9/10 and suggest napping through the first 5 minutes of the showing of these shorts to circumvent Jake and the Peter Pan Murdering Oiks.

Phew... Good to get that off my chest.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Winnie the Pooh Review - No Bother

This review is of a film that I very much wanted to see, the classically animated and wonderfully charming, Winnie the Pooh. However, as regular blog followers will know, I was unsure how good it would be. I knew a Winnie the Pooh film would be charming, funny and nostalgic, but would it be "the defining film"? Would it be great? Or just good? Would it be purely a nostalgia film, or could it sustain itself? I found that Winnie the Pooh faced some of the same questions that I aimed at Toy Story 3. Fortunately, Winnie the Pooh - like TS3 - did not disappoint.

Monday 18 April 2011

New British Cars 2 Characters

As Cars 2 will see our favourite high-octane Cars from the 2006 original head around the world for the "World Grand Prix", we have been introduced to several new characters from the several new locales that Cars 2 will visit and today we meet 5 new British Cars 2 characters.

The first character (above) is a London Taxi (I just pray Pixar don't overdo the British gimmick to death, because - as a Brit trust me - it gets annoying) called Chauncy Fares and his one line bio reads "No one knows the sites, streets or shortcuts of London better than the jovial Chauncy Fares, a quintessential London black cab".

Our second new character is called Topper Deckington III and his bio cites him as "a classic British double-decker bus in a vivid shade of red who relishes in his daily Killswitch route through London’s famous bustling Petroldilly Circus".

Thirdly, we have, as you may have guessed, the car version of The Queen, who bio says "With the final stage of the World Grand Prix racing through the historic streets of London, England, the Queen is quietly elated she was invited to preside over the finish line by Sir Miles Axlerod.
Painted in shades of the most royal blues and never without her jeweled crown, the Queen is the definition of decorum and regality, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy a bit of first-rate competition".

Next, we have, as his Royal Wedding gets closer, the car version of Prince William, Prince Wheeliam. "Prince Wheeliam of England is an avid racing fan. He can’t believe his luck that the final race of the one-of-a-kind World Grand Prix is happening on the streets of London. Though he must remain impartial when by his grandmother the Queen’s side, he is privately rooting for his fellow Brits Lewis Hamilton and Nigel Gearsley to cross the finish line first".

Finally, we have Sgt. Highgear who "is a member of the regiment assigned to London’s landmark Buckingham Palace. With a recognizable tall bearskin cap atop his scarlet body, he stands guard at his sentry box with pride and conviction".

Surely there can't be that many more Cars 2 characters to come now, but needless to say, these ones look sufficiently cool!

"Scrat Continental Drift"

You may recall a while back, I told you all about a clip from a planned Blue Sky Studios short film, Srat's Continental Crack Up, starring Scrat from the Ice Age franchise. The clip garnered attention as many thought it a teaser trailer for Ice Age 4, rather than a short film, my theory was that it was both, and I appear to be right.

The full short, embedded above, premiered with select showings of Guilliver's Travels and Rio and acts as a promotional trailer for Ice Age: Continental Drift, due out in July of next year.

Most recently, artist and animator Ric Sluiter (who was part of the team for the original Circle 7 planned Toy Story 3) posted the above picture on his blog, citing it as "Scrat Continental Drift Colour Key"... What?
This seems a tad conflicting, as this appears to be a shot from the above short film, called "Scrat's Continental Crack-Up", whereas Ice Age 4 is to be subtitiled, "Continental Drift", the title on this colour key is a combination of both. This could be an error on Ric's part or perhaps, if the short film really is nothing more than a teaser trailer, a hint that scenes from the short will feature in Ice Age 4.

Hmmm... I guess we'll have to wait to see.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Cars 2 Tidbits

This past week has brought a tonne of new Cars 2 stuff; characters and posters galore. Firstly, above we have a huge new Cars 2 Triptych poster courtesy of Apple and it showcases pretty much all of the characters we have previously met and a few new ones (Double Decker buses anyone?).

We've also been introduced to 4 new Japanese Cars 2 characters (below):

Kingpin Nobunaga

Official Description: As a professional Sumo wrestler at an arena in Tokyo, Japan, Kingpin Nobunaga is a gold-painted micro van who fights his fiercest matches when he’s wearing his lucky purple mawashi.

Pinion Tanaka

Official Description: Pinion Tanaka is a gold-painted micro van and a professional Sumo wrestler from Tokyo, Japan, who’s always a menacing sight in the ring in his signature teal mawashi.


Official Description: Okuni is a micro car Kabuki dancer who dons the traditional white-painted face and an exquisite colorful kimono for her performances at the Kabuki theater in Tokyo, Japan.

Zen Master

Official Description: A master in the art of sculpting the serene zen rock garden at the Tokyo museum, Zen Master wears his old woven reed hat and uses his antique wood rake to create mesmerizing patterns in the garden’s sand.

Finally, we have 3 new Cars 2 Retro Posters (below):

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Are We in The Third Golden Age?

Disney. The word that embodies animation. When you think animation you think Disney and vice versa. Yet, Disney hardly has the best track record when it comes to animated films, sure when you think of Disney animated films, you'll think of the classics; The Lion King, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast etc..., but since the end of the second Golden Age (or Renaissance) Disney has been a bit down in the dumps. Particularly in the majority of the 2000s we've had a lot of flunks (in terms of critical consensus and box office revenue), with Chicken Little, Brother Bear, Home on the Range and Atlantis (among others) with some exceptions i.e. Lilo and Stitch.

Through all of the turbulence, there's been so much speculation about when - if ever - the third Golden Age of Disney will begin.

More Monsters University Details

Following the announcement that Monsters University - the prequel to Monsters, Inc. - had been delayed to 2013 and that it was to be directed by Mater and the Ghostlight director, Dan Scanlon, we get some more details.

We now know that Scott Clark will be the film's supervising animator. Scott announced this via Twitter today and he has past experience with the film's director Dan Scanlon, as he worked alongside him (with both of them in these roles) on Mater and the Ghostlight.  Clark also served as supervising animator on Up and the original Cars.

Sounds like the team is really shaping up for Monsters University.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Rio Review - A Film That Easily Takes Flight

This latest review is of a film that, as regular blog followers will know, is one of the animated films I have been most looking forward to this year, Rio. Rio is the sixth film from Blue Sky Studios, the animation company famous for the Ice Age trilogy, however Rio is far removed from director Carlos Saldanha's more comedic Ice Age films and is a far more musical endeavour than Blue Sky Studios' previous films.

Friday 8 April 2011

Rio Released

Blue Sky Studios' sixth animated feature film, Rio, is released today over here in the UK. As regular blog readers will know, Rio is one of the animated films that I am most looking forward to this year and I am still very hyped for it. Rio currently holds an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (100% from Top Critics) and the positive reviews are making me want to see it even more.

Unfortunately audiences in the US will have to wait until the 15th to see the film. Personally, I will be going to see the film this weekend so keep an eye out for the review.

Pixar Tidbits

Over the past few days we've got some little bits of interesting news from Pixar:

Firstly, we've got a look at 2 brand new Cars 2 characters. Max Schnell and Miguel Camino are two previously unheard of characters and while we'll have to wait a while for some descriptions and turntables the characters certainly look cool and you can view them both above.

Secondly, we have 3 new retro style Cars 2 posters, working even more to promote Pixar's 12th feature, out, here in the UK, in July (above).

Finally, continuing Pixar's repackaging and re-releasing of all of their films on Blu Ray with new Box Art, we have the new cover for the Blu Ray of Ratatouille (above). Can't wait to see the rest of them, it's a really good look.


We now have the 2 turntables for the above characters:

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Monsters University Delayed

2012 was due to be the year where Pixar changed their game plan and brought out 2 films in the same year, but no longer. Next year Pixar were due to release Brave and Monsters University (formerly Monsters, Inc. 2), however today (via Box Office Mojo) we were infiormed that MU has been delayed from November 2, 2012 to June, 2013. Whilst this is by no stretch a bad thing, as it means Pixar will have more time to try and live up to the original Monsters, Inc. and retain their standard, it seems bizarre that this announcement should come just after so much news about the film had been revealed.

I'm sad that I'll now have to wait until June 21, 2013 for the film, but I'm assuming it's for the best.

Cars 2 Viral Campaign Begins

In the same vein as last year's "vintage" Lotso commercials, we now have a viral advert promoting Cars 2. The above video is advertising a "sale-a-bration" blow out at Cars 'n' Deals of Emeryville, California (home of Pixar) and whilst the actual video is really funny, what it leads to is awesome.

For want of not ruining all of your individual discoveries of the "secret" Cars 2 clip, all I'll say is pay close attention to the small glitch in the video. If you absolutely give up follow this link to the "secret" clip.

Nonetheless, the clip is great and offers some new footage and an actual look at the film, however the viral ad is also really good and has lots of Pixar trivia (A113 registration plate anyone?) for us die-hard fans to enjoy.

This got me even more psyched for Cars 2!

Sunday 3 April 2011


On the flip side of success stories when it comes to animated films (most recently Rango) there are always some films that, for want of a better word, and in one way or another, tank. This year's examples of those films, so far, are Hop and Mars Needs Moms.

Hop, the second film from upstart animation company, Illumination Entertainment (the company who was, last year, responsible for the widely successful, Despicable Me) is a CGI/Live Action mash-up (a la Garfield and Yogi Bear) and seems to have fallen into the same pot hole that most of these films do; namely, bad reviews. Hop, which stars Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny who instead wants to follow his dream as a drummer, currently holds a very low rating of 24% on review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes.

We'll have to wait and see how Hop does at the Box Office, but one film that we can judge as a Box Office bomb right now, is Disney's Mars Needs Moms.

The last film from Imagemovers Digital (now closed), the company behind Polar Express and A Christmas Carol, using motion capture technology, has tanked in every sense of the word. The mo-cap method of animation is generally a very unpopular one, as it seems to cross the uncanny valley, and this is one of many reasons why the film is failing. Currently holding a Rotten Tomato score of 40% (not particularly awful), the film has grossed a meagre $30 million + and is currently on track to lose well over $100 million. It is very rare for a Disney branded film to do so badly.

We'll have to keep our eyes peeled for these films, but I wouldn't hold your breath for Hop or Mars Needs Moms.