Friday 30 September 2011

Puss in Boots: Kitty Softpaws Clip

DreamWorks are really laying on the advertising for their next feature film, the Shrek spin-of, Puss in Boots. Today we are treated to a new clip from the studio's official YouTube channel, this time, showcasing the female lead of the film, the mysterious and roguish, Kitty Softpaws.

The clip showcases the romantic side of the film; the relationship between Puss and Kitty, helping to add some extra depth to the film, which, hopefully, won't be a lackluster Shrek spin-off - as it promises to be very good.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

DreamWorks' Halloween Double DVD Party Pack

DreamWorks have uploaded a new advert onto their official YouTube channel, advertising a new special holiday double back. The Halloween Double DVD Party Pack includes past DreamWorks Halloween specials: Scared Shrekless and Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space as well as a Shrek parody of the Thriller music video.

I have to say, DreamWorks have always produced particularly entertaining TV/DVD specials, and this seems like a fairly decent deal; although, quite who would ever wish to see a Shrek parody of MJ is beyond me, but I'm sure it will be entertaining, as is the norm for DreamWorks.

Monday 26 September 2011

DreamWorks Sign With Netflix

DreamWorks Animation, home of Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and many more great and popular films, have just finalised a deal with the Internet movie-streaming giant, Netflix.

The deal replaces DreamWorks' current one with HBO, marking the first time that a major Hollywood studio has walked away from a paid TV deal (as DreamWorks had with HBO) in favour of a web-streaming deal. It's easy to see why DreamWorks have jumped on board the web streaming  bandwagon, as, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal is worth $30 million, per film, to DreamWorks - an already wealthy company.

The deal comes into effect in 2013 - one year early, with DreamWorks being let out of their HBO contract early by the network -, a year which will see DreamWorks release The Croods, Turbo and Peabody and Sherman, and the deal will include the streaming of films from DreamWorks' extensive canon of films: including Madagascar, Antz, Shark Tale and more.

The deal promises to be a particularly good one for both Netflix and DreamWorks!

Sunday 25 September 2011

New Lee Unkrich Film Underway at Pixar

Following on from the D23 announcements of two new Pixar movies - The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs and The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside The Mind - we now get a sniff of yet another Pixar movie in the works in Emeryville. As it turns out that Lee Unkrich, the director of the Best Picture nominated Toy Story 3, has just begun directing a new film.

Lee, an avid Twitter user, Tweeted on Thursday night "Tomorrow is a big day that may determine the next four years of my life. Wish me luck.", now, given that the creative cycle of an animated film at Pixar usually takes about four years, this would certainly point towards Lee pitching a new film to the Brain Trust.

The Pixar Times then tells us that he later Tweeted, before removing the Tweet, "Weekend: Relax. Monday: Get started on a new movie.”, so it appears as if the helmer of the highest-grossing animated film of all time's next project has been greenlit and I certainly can't wait to here more about it.

However, given that we have just passed D23 and the huge slab of news unveiled there, it is unlikely we will be finding out any substantial details about the film any time soon; other than the fact that, given an average of a four year production timeframe, the film will probably be released late 2015, or maybe pushed back to 2016 to allow more time. In my opinion, with Lee already being the director of the latest installment of the Toy Story franchise, it is highly likely that this film could be the ambiguously rumoured Toy Story 4, hinted at by Tom Hanks and John Lasseter. Hanks said he believed Pixar were working on it, he could have meant that Lee Unkrich was working on an idea for it, which has now been approved.

Now, I have often expressed my uneasiness about a fourth chapter in the Toy Story franchise, however many expressed similar concerns about Toy Story 3, and Lee did a stellar job with that, and I have no doubt he'd do the same with a fourth!

The Corner - Week 1 - Heather Reviews Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

A belated review, by A113’s standards, but a review nonetheless, of DreamWorks’ Spirit…

If you were to ask a person to list their favourite animated films, chances are, this would not be listed. Why? Because, in my opinion, Spirit is massively undervalued; it’s funny, it’s quirky, and it’s the only animated film to be seen through a horse’s eyes…

Spirit (voiced by Matt Damon) is a wild, young Kiger mustang, curious by name and nature, and the determined leader of a magnificent herd of wild horses who roam the wilderness of the American Frontier. When Spirit spots something awry in hi herd’s territory, he inspects it, and is thrown tail-first into an adventure. Befriending a young Lakota, falling for a beautiful pinto mare (also known as a paint mare) and outwitting an unyielding squadron of soldiers does nothing to discourage Spirit as he fights to return to his herd.

It was Senior Supervising Animator James Baxter (The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, Beauty and the Beast) who oversaw the animation of Spirit, himself, and though the horses don’t physically speak, Spirit’s thoughts are conveyed to the audience through the mouthpiece of Matt Damon; songs by renowned singer-songwriter Bryan Adams play a prominent part also.

Little Creek, the Lakota boy, was played by Native American actor, Daniel Studi and It was Senior Supervising Animator Pres Romanillos (Mulan, Pocahontas) who oversaw the animation of this compassionate Lakota, who is captured by the cavalry, which is where he meets Spirit, who has also been caught.

Rain, fiercely loyal to Little Creek, her Lakota owner, is voiced by nobody, which could be seen as a weakness in the film…but instead it seems to add intrigue and mystery to the beautiful mare who bewitches Spirit. The animation of her character was overseen by Senior Supervising Animator William Salazar (The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado).

Enter: The Colonel-stern, determined, strong-willed… The Colonel quickly becomes Spirit’s most relentless adversary on his fight for freedom. He is voiced by James Cromwell (Babe, L.A Confidential), who perfects the short temper of his character, and holds just the right amount of dignity to make this ‘bad guy’ as ‘bad’ as he needs to be, yet still holding on to the last shred of honour. Supervising Animator Fabio Lignini (The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado) oversaw the Colonel’s animation.

One special character, neither horse nor human, is the landscape. It is the landscape of the American West itself, in the 1800s when the landscape was untamed, just like the mustangs who roamed it. To capture this beauty in this film, there were no books or films to compare enough to the actual thing, so a team of eight (including story supervisor Ronnie del Carmen, who, more recently, was the story supervisor on Pixar's Up) took a four-day tour of America’s most treasured national parks and incredible landscapes. The journey must have been successful, for in the many sweeping scenes in Spirit, the landscape is phenomenal and has been encapsulated perfectly, from the way the eagle soars through it, to the way the ‘camera’ pans across its brown and green floors.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron shows us some stunning animation, breath-taking in places, and has a storyline easy to be swept up by. Yet, if there was one gripe… for some it could be too musical. I suppose, this depends on preference. In my opinion, the music adds to the emotion of the film: sorrow in the heart-breaking scenes; laughter in the funny scenes.

For example, in one scene Spirit is shut up in a wide stall on a train. The music behind this particular scene is called “Sound the Bugle” (by Bryan Adams), and fits perfectly with the morose mood. The song has its ups and downs and keeps up with the animation like clockwork when Spirit’s moods heighten-when he believes he sees his family-and falls again. This musical aspect truly is a matter of opinion.

All in all… 8/10, for me; a memorable film with character, and one I’d recommend.

The Corner - Week 1 - Sean Reviews Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

An Animated Film Review: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
By Sean Taylor

Good morning, day and evening readers. Now to begin my first animated film review, I would like to present one word to you; anime.

Anime. What does the word mean? What does it embody? What is it associated with?

Now, I know what you're thinking. Anime refers to the person sitting by themselves in the corner with a rather erratic hairstyle and wearing rather dark clothes doing some rather vigorous sketching. Anime refers to that type of cartoon many find rather strange, as it appears to be populated by girls with rather high voices and boys with rather clumpy, spiky hair. Often in rather unnatural colours (which everyone seems to be fine with). Oh, and everyone's eyes are rather big.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against anime or the consumers of anime (as I am one myself). Nor do I find problems with the style of anime; high-octane, unrealistic fighting scenes are actually a favourite of mine.

The word 'anime' is of Japanese origin, referring to a style of animation (cartoon, if you like) which is also of Japanese origin. Most anime is derived from a 'manga', a form of comic book usually read from right to left in the traditional style. The images are drawn using the classic calligraphy 'wedge-pens' to give it that stylised look some of you may be familiar with.

I do not watch a wide range nor a vast amount of anime (I am no 'otaku'... look it up). These days I seldom have time. However, a few years ago I was introduced to a CGI movie based on a series of much-loved computer games that I enjoyed immensely. This movie stood out because, while it was animated using 3-D computer rendering, it had all the virtues of an anime.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children follows the life of an ex-mercenary named Cloud who, alongside his childhood friend Tifa, looks after two kids. Cloud, as is noted in most of his appearances through the media, is rather forlorn. I would imagine, after being a mercenary, the dullness of a delivery job seems boring and off-piste. After the short prologue, we are immediately thrust into the action as Cloud is attacked by a mysterious trio. Soon after, he learns of a disease dubbed 'Geostigma' infecting the citizens of Edge. The story then unfolds beautifully from the outset.

Throughout the story we meet a series of loveable, animated (no pun intended) and (to those who have played the games) familiar characters, each with their own part to play. The quality of the animation is breathtaking: the Japanese have long had a lead in animation in every aspect of media. The battle scenes are also wonderfully intense and thought out, especially at the film's climax when Cloud has to deal with the threat of his old enemy, Sephiroth.

The score of the movie (and the games in fact) is just an awe-inspiring epic; Nobuo Uematsu did a sterling job, and I, being a musician myself, bow to Uematsu—sensei's skill (I am still trying to learn 'One-Winged Angel' for piano!). Also, those of you who are fans of My Chemical Romance are in for a treat if you get the Japanese blu-ray edition; Gerard Way combines forces with Kyosuke Himuro to provide a scintillatingly star performance of their own devising, 'Safe and Sound'!

However, I feel that the original film could have benefited from the deleted scenes added in the director's cut, and that the director's cut itself should have been available on DVD. And Loz seemed too, oh I don't know... built and reckless compared to the other two villains; he just doesn't fit in, despite his comic relief (I'm not crying!).

To conclude then; an epic film, but the cuts and the characters needed (just a little) reviewing. Despite that, I believe we have found a true gem in the rough of animation. I believe we have found our first 'CGanime'.

The Corner - Week 1 - Luke Reviews Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Right, let's kick off Week 1 of the newly revamped Corner with a review from the originator of The Corner, Luke - also, today will feature a triple bill of reviews, so keep your eyes peeled for Heather and Sean's respective reviews in the next few minutes.

I have recently watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for the first time and have to say that the movie is quite inspirational. It's a story about a young inventor, Flint Lockwood, who always wanted his inventions to be big and, one day, that dream comes true. But he soon finds that it isn't all as he imagined it, as, one day the invention starts to take a turn for the worse when the machine overloads. Leading to a bizarre, brilliant and utterly random food-disaster movie.

One thought that came to mind while watching this film was "I wish you could get pizza that big" but, seriously, the film was brilliantly animated, had a tremendous plot and features some well know actors voicing the characters, including Bill Hader, Mr.T, Neil Patrick Harris, Bobb'e J. Thompson and Anna Faris.

Although the film is hardly the most original or groundbreaking film in the world, being largely a rehash and imitator of so many DreamWorks and Pixar films; it has a surprising amount of heart, a love story that we are genuinely invested in, some great characters and is a very fun film.

My favourite part of the film had to be the moment where they're on the side of the canal and Flint kicks Sam Sparks in the eye, this being one of many examples of what made this film so great to watch, the utter randomness!

Overall I give it 8/10

Ups: Story, animation and very funny and random

Downs: Hardly very original

Thanks for reading,

Friday 23 September 2011

Puss in Boots: "The Cat Haz Swagger"

DreamWorks have unveiled another great parody trailer, building up the awesomeness of the legendary Puss in Boots, to hype people up for the upcoming Shrek spin-off. Following on from the "He's So Legendary" clip a couple of weeks back, we now have the above video, parodying the brilliantly random and popular Old Spice adverts.

DreamWorks have always been relatively strong at advertising and they're really working well to get me excited for the film, and I really can't wait to see this film.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Luke's Corner Update - The Corner

Due to unresolved scheduling conflicts, Luke is unable to fully commit to Luke's Corner - many of you will have noticed the erratic posting of reviews - and his responsibilities for the blog will therefore be scaled back. Luke will still be posting reviews, but to a time-frame much more suited to his needs.

But this isn't to say that Luke's Corner will be no more, instead we now have a team of reviewers who will take it in turns to review a much wider variety of animated films - bringing more diversity to the blog. Luke's Corner will now be know as simply The Corner and we are very happy to welcome two new reviewers aboard to contribute their own reviews: Heather Medley and Sean Taylor.

Heather and Sean, who have now joined the team, will, like Luke, write reviews of as many animated films, from as diverse a background, as possible and will bring a much more diverse feel to the blog - in case you occasionally tire of my reviews. Heather and Sean, who are both very competent and diligent will, along with the originator of the corner, Luke, try and bring you a review every week or so.


Now, Luke asked me to post the below message, to clarify his role on the site:

Hello followers of A113Animation. There is currently some dispute over the corner and from now on I am allowing a few other people to post blogs in it. Unfortunately it will no longer be called Luke's Corner, but I am still here and I'm ready. I hope everyone around the world had a great summer and there will be many more blogs to come, a lot more than I have produced in the past few months.

Thank you for reading this little note.



So, keep your eyes out, Luke will bring you a review of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs this weekend, and the next few weekends after that will be reviews from Heather and Sean.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Dice Tsutsumi Autographs - Sketchtravel

A few months ago, I had the chance to talk to Daisuke "Dice" Tsutsumi, the Colour and Lighting Art Director on Toy Story 3, via e-mail. Dice is a fantastic artist, responsible  for a large portion of the artwork - namely the colour scripts - in the Art of Toy Story 3 book, and was kind enough to agree to autograph a few of his drawings for me.

Not only was it a pleasure to talk to Dice, but he was kind enough to take some time out of his very hectic and busy schedule to sign them for me and I am insanely grateful!

Dice, who runs, is also co-running the very noble and extremely interesting, Sketchtravel project. Sketchtravel is a project where 71 illustrators and artists, including Glen Keane and Hayao Miyazaki, have contributed brilliant and stunning art to a sketch book. The original book will be auctioned on October 17 in Brussels, with proceeds of the book, and royalties from its subsequent publication, going to Room to Read, an international, non-profit, literacy organisation.

Needless to say, this is a fantastic cause and I am fully behind Dice, and the other co-founder, Gerald Guerlais, and encourage you to support them as much as possible and share the facebook page and website, and just help however you can!

The Muppets Get Raw, the website for the biggest wrestling promotion about, is advertisng an October 31 appearence from The Muppets on its Raw SuperShow to promote the upcoming movie!

The website says:

"To celebrate their first theatrical release in more than a decade – Disney’s "The Muppets," opening this Thanksgiving – the Muppets will step into the ring on the Oct. 31 WWE Raw SuperShow to mix it up with the Superstars in Atlanta."

The Muppets will come face to face with the superstars of the WWE to help promote the film - co-starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams - and, as says, "On Halloween, it's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights, because the Muppets are about to get Raw!".

Monday 19 September 2011

Competition Deadline Delayed

Just a heads up, the deadline for our first A113Animation Competition has been delayed from October 5 to October 31. This means you have a bit more time to prepare entries and it gives me more time to look over them. Remember to enter to win your own award and a free copy of Cars on DVD; more details can be found on the Competition page.

Friday 16 September 2011

The Muppets - The Pig With The Froggy Tattoo

As the release of Disney's The Muppets film grows ever nearer, The Muppets return to parody trailers, as a few days ago the iconic bunch were back with another spoof trailer.

After parodying trailers such as Green Lantern in the past, The Muppets have this time set their eyes on the trailer for David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trailer. The very intense trailer for the English film adaptation of the best-selling Millennium Trilogy book is spoofed here to great effect.

The trailer is, as is the norm for The Muppets, hilarious and it gets me even more excited for the film - which will have the second Toy Story Toon, Small Fry, attached to it - and The Muppets hits theatres on November 23, 2011 in North America.

Thursday 15 September 2011

DreamWorks Animation - Highlight Reel

A couple of days ago DreamWorks Animation uploaded a new video (above) onto their YouTube account; a highlight reel of some of their best and most recognisable films.

The video showcases some of the studio's finest moments, really adding a sense of accomplishment and amazement to the famed studio.

However, I am somewhat confused by the exclusion of most of the DreamWorks canon, the video focuses only on the Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar films, omitting recent films such as Megamind and Monsters Vs. Aliens as well as some of their older films such as Antz or Shark Tale. I suppose DreamWorks could just be showcasing their highest points (although Madagascar has never particularly been a critical hit), it just seems weird.

Nonetheless, the video really does capture the studio's claim to being one of the best animation studios in the world.

Monday 12 September 2011

A Trip to the Wallace and Gromit Exhibit at the LIFE Science Centre - A Grand Day Out!

The replica of Wallace and Gromit's home which houses the exhibit.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit the Wallace and Gromit: A World of Cracking Ideas exhibit at the LIFE Science Centre in Newcastle. The exhibit has been open for the past five months or so and is open until the 31st October and it was fantastic.

Me standing in the doorway of 62 West Wallaby Street.

The exhibit, running to promote the Intellectual Property Office and to encourage young inventors to create some "Cracking Ideas" features everything from a full sized replica of the famous duos house at 62 West Wallaby Street, to working inventions like the Hat Barometer to actual props from the Wallace and Gromit films!

Left - Everyone's favourite sheep, Shaun the Sheep. Right - Me with Shaun

Left - Wallace andc Gromit's famed garden. Right - Me crouching by the duo's garage.

Left - Wallace's broom prop from A Matter of Loaf and Death. Right - Record props from A Matter of Load and Death.

Left - The actual Gromit's Greenhouse set from the 2005 Best Animated Film Academy Award winning, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Right - Wallace and Gromit's Living Room from A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the exhibit (and indeed of the past few months for me) was seeing actual sets used in the Wallace and Gromit films, including ones from 2005's Curse of the Were-Rabbit; it was unbelievable.

Left - The set of Wallace and Gromit's Dining Room from A Matter of Loaf and Death. Right - The set of the Italian Restaurant from A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Left - A set of Wallace and Gromit's Kitchen. Right - A birdseye view of the famed pair's Living Room.

Left - A painting of a young Wallace and Gromit adorning one of the walls in the exhibit. Right - a replica of the stairs down to the house's basement.

Left - A collection of Wallace and Gromit memorabilia I picked up at the exhibit. Right - Me posing in my Mickey Mouse T-Shirt and Google hoodie with Aardman's iconic pair.

Overall, this exhibit was brilliant, a collection of the kind of stuff Aardman and Wallace and Gromit fans dream of, and I would encourage anyone and everyone who can to head to LIFE in Newcastle to visit before the exhibit ends in October. The exhibit would be a fantastic visit for young children, although it is perhaps those of us who have dedicated so much to the brilliant films that will enjoy it more.

To see times and more details visit this website, I would definitely recommend the exhibit as I had A Grand Day Out!

Interview: David A. Price, author of The Pixar Touch

Recently I had the opportunity, via e-mail to speak to the author of the brilliant book, The Pixar Touch, David A. Price and he, very generously, agreed to do an interview with me. Following on from my review of the book, which charts the origins of Pixar, David, who featured my review on the book's website, agreed to answer some questions for me, about his book, his thoughts and feelings about Pixar and what's coming up for him; read on after the jump break for the interview.

Friday 9 September 2011

New Puss in Boots Clip: "He's So Legendary"

Yesterday, DreamWorks released a new clip (above) from their upcoming Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots. The film, centring around "the most interesting cat in the world", is due out in cinemas on November 4 in the US and on December 9 over here in the U.K. and this new clip shares with us some of Puss's achievements, basically telling us how he's the feline Chuck Norris.

Although I was sceptical about another Shrek film -  even if it is a spin-off - after the dip-in quality from Shrek 1 and 2, I must admit, I'm very excited for Puss in Boots. Also, there's no arguing that there has been a huge increase in DreamWorks' quality of animated film in the past couple of years, with them spawning two of my favourite animated films of all time, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda 2; not forgetting that Shrek 4 was decent enough and Megamind was really fun.

With all this in mind, I have high hopes for Puss in Boots and this great video has me even more excited!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

My Fourth Uploaded Drawing - Angry Birds

Those of you that follow my Twitter may have already saw my new drawing, of the main Angry Bird from the uber popular mobile game (above). I drew the bird, who is the main character of the Angry Birds franchise, as with previously (with Rex, Wheezy and a Squeeze Toy Alien), on the Brushes for iPod Touch.

You can see the progress of the drawing, in GIF form (below).

Friday 2 September 2011

Pixar Head Honcho John Lasseter on Vanity Fair New Establishment List

John Lasseter, the creative genius behind Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, has been honoured by Vanity Fair as one of the most influential people in the world. The Pixar CCO is ranked at number 8 on the Vanity Fair New Establishment List, one above Lady GaGa.

Sharing the top ten spots with Lasseter are Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerbeg (#1), Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (#2) and representetives of Amazon (#3),  Apple (#4), Twitter (#5) and more.

Ranked above such huge public figures as J.K. Rowling and Tim Burton, this is certainly a huge honour for the director of Toy Story.

Via The Pixar Blog and The Pixar Times.