Monday 31 October 2011

The Corner - Week 4 - Halloween Special - Sean Reviews The Nightmare Before Christmas

An Animated Film Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas
By Sean Taylor

Muahahahahaha... good morning, day and evening readers. Kicking off my third animated film review, I bring an analysis of a film which is (I feel) appropriate considering the time of year; Halloween. This means that, in celebration of the holiday, I will be ranting to you more and taking up more of your time than usual. Yay! I hear you exclaim.

Yes, this is the night when everyone dresses up in mostly silly costumes that cost less than a pound/dollar/rouble and knock on doors, begging for moneys and sweeties. As I write this on the 31st October 2011 there are Halloweeners at my door even now, and I have decided to ignore them.

But why, I hear you cry in dismay. I'll tell you why. Although I do like Halloween very much, I don't like it enough to give strangers things for free, especially in a time of recession. Also when I was younger, what passed for a cape was actually a bin-bag – and the Halloween masks were always from last year, meaning they were never comfortable, I suffocated and they often smelled of the attic. Last year I dressed up as the Grim Reaper, and guess what? I didn't dress up the same this year. I actually intended to go over to the old folks' home and whisper in a Granny's ear “Your time has come,” but I concluded it was almost too harsh... almost. -evil smile-

Unfortunately this is also the time where the suited general-store loonies start waving the Christmas flags, and suddenly -whoa- everything is fake snow, Santa Clauses and pine trees. I believe -like so many others- that shops bring out Christmas decorations WAY too early. Perhaps this was the reason for the film I am reviewing tonight. Maybe it is now time to even get on topic. So turn off the lights, close the curtains and light a coal fire – it's time to review, Halloween style.

Tonight it is everyone's favourite Halloween/Christmas crossover, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Steering away from my usual spiel of Japanese anime, THIS epic by Tim Burton really captures the spirit of Halloween and Christmas in one fantastic movie.

As anyone will know who follows Tim Burton's work, he always likes to put a bizarre, gothic twist in his films. I have watched his rendition of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and I enjoyed it thoroughly. There could have been less singing in it though. Huh. That's maybe because it was a musical. Anyway...

The Nightmare Before Christmas goes back to when Halloween was real; that there really were monsters under your bed and witches roamed the sky on a moonlit night. The film sets this scene beautifully with all of Halloween's most prominent characters making an appearance. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a musical, and is a good one at that.

The film follows Jack Skellington, the 'Pumpkin King' of Halloween Town (Danny Elfman/Chris Sarandon) who leads a parade every year on Halloween night. But this year, Jack is tired of it, and seeks something new and exciting. He finds this in an old tree with a tree-shaped door on it, which leads him and his faithful ghost-dog Zero into a completely new world – Christmas Town. After being inspired by the sights and sounds he finds there, he attempts to recreate Christmas in Halloween Town by becoming his very own 'Sandy Claws'.

However trying to stop him is Sally (Catherine O'Hara) which, after receiving a dreadful portent of Jack's failure, believes she is doing it for Jack's own good. While all this is going on Santa is kidnapped, and the toys, the citizens of Halloween Town aren't... well, they're just not Christmassy.

My favourite character by far is Jack Skellington. He just enters the plot in such style! He is constructed in a complex and wonderful way; being torn between Halloween and a Christmas vision only he can see. Also the relationship between Doctor Finklestein (William Hickey) and Sally is fraught with emotional difficulties; if the good Doctor made Sally, does that REALLY make him her father? Sally is discontent with this, and longs to be with Jack. Jack Skellington's evil laugh is amazing. But not as good as mine. Hehehe...

Yes, ok, Jack Skellington was amazingly put together as a character (and literally) but I couldn't help thinking that Death should have been made more of a character. He seems so prominent in Halloween custom. Also the joy of Christmas simply doesn't fit with Halloween, which doesn't sit right with me but I still believe Burton pulled this off with aplomb.

The little musical number with which the film opens, 'This Is Halloween' introduces most of the characters which I thought was brilliant and the storyboard was seamless. Also, I write with great satisfaction that Marilyn Manson covered the song to celebrate the movie's 13th anniversary from its humble beginnings in 1993 (I couldn't believe it was 18 years old!). It is much heavier and less jaunty than the original, but I prefer it. This being a musical, the other songs were great, too but it was really this one which caught my eye (or ear).

To cut the head off the body of this review, The Nightmare Before Christmas was truly a wonder to behold. Stop-start motion films usually creep me out big-style (I don't know why) but this really hit the spot.

Haaaappppy Halllooowweeeennnn...

Happy Halloween from A113Animation

Hope you've had a good, or, more seasonably, bad, spookiest day of the year, and from all of us here at A113Animation, and, as you can see below, The Muppets, happy Halloween!

Also, be sure to check out The Muppets' guest appearance on WWE Raw tonight, and be sure to head on over to our friends at The Muppet Mindest for more Halloweeny stuff from Jim Henson's creations.

Sunday 30 October 2011

ParaNorman Teaser

I generally just cover the main animation outlets here at A113Animation: Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Aardman, Sony Pictures Animation, Illumination Entertainment etc... and the mainstream films beyond that, like The Adventures of Tintin (on a side note, I came up with a good pun for that: Tintin was Greatgreat). However, whilst perusing Cartoon Brew, I saw the teaser (above) for Laika's next film. The studio behind Coraline are bringing us another eery, dark film in August of next year, ParaNorman.

Now, the film doesn't look that fantastic, although we may see a lot more to sell me on it; but it is very creepy and the trailer for the stop-motion film will set the mood well since it's almost Halloween.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn Review - Steven Spielberg Delivers a Perfect Performance (Capture)

This latest review is of a film that, although widely anticipated by oh so many, I hadn't heard about until very recently, despite it being the incredibly high profile first voyage into the animated realm by renowned director, Steven Spielberg, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Arguably the world's most famous director sets foot into the ever competitive field of animation for the first time, flanked by an all-star team, including: co-producer Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings), writers Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), and an all-star cast, lending their physical performances as well as their voice talent; this hugely influential, talented and insightful crew provide a brilliant, animated adventure film with real heart and comedy.

Friday 28 October 2011

Aardman News 6 - Trailers Galore and More

The stop-motion giants, Aardman, have been hard at work, in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, making their next two feature films, the CGI film, Arthur Christmas, due out this November and the stop-motion film, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (internationally known as The Pirates! Band of Misfits) due out March next year, and, today, we get to see some new clips and trailers from both.

Firstly, we have the next theatrical trailer for The Pirates (above), from Peter Lord, the director of Chicken Run, and it is looking phenomenal, as is to be expected from Aardman; funny, clever and with an all-star voice cast, look out for The Pirates as a top animation contender next year.

Secondly, we get a couple of clips promoting the ever approaching release of Arthur Christmas, which, likewise, looks phenomenal. Anyone who knows me personally, or indeed has spoke to me a bit, knows how much I love Christmas, Christmas films included, and I can't wait to see Arthur Christmas in all its glory on the big screen. The extended version of the clip is embedded above, the shorter version can be viewed here.

Although, if I was to fault Aardman, I'd say November 11 seems a trifle early for a Christmas film... nonetheless, we also get a couple of tidbits of news from the studio:
  • In news that may not please all, Justin Bieber's version of Santa Claus is Comin' To Town is set to play over the end credits of Arthur Christmas - full story here.
  • Secondly, James McAvoy, the voice of the eponymous Arthur is set to appear on the Graham Norton show later tonight on BBC One to talk about his role in the upcoming film - full story here.
  • The Guardian has a very interesting interview with The Pirates director, Peter Lord, and a visit to Aardman's Bristol home - full article here.
  • Finally, watch the below video. I command it. It's Aardman's latest short film, Pythagasaurus, and it's fantastic. It's hilarious, wonderfully animated, beautifully simple and is, simply, Aardman at it's finest (beware, however, of some mild use of adult language if watching with young kids) - full story here.

The Lorax Trailer

Courtesy of Cartoon Brew, today we get the first theatrical trailer for Illumination Entertainment's animation adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.

The film looks brilliant; wonderfully innocent, fantastically animated and with a very funny, well polished story; The Lorax looks set to be a great return to form for Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me, after the rather disappointing Live Action/CGI mash-up, Hop. It also looks like it will do very nicely as, at least spiritually, a follow up to Blue Sky Studios' Horton Hears a Who film a few years ago.

While this may not be the perfect image of Dr. Seuss's book, it looks like a whole lot of fun and a good film besides; Dr. Seuss was a genius, and this film looks like it's going to capture that.

A Look at Tim Burton's Frankenweenie

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly (and via Blue Sky Disney), we get our first real look at Tim Burton's next animated feature film, Frankenweenie.

The re-telling of the short film that he created for Disney way back in the 80s, that led to him being kicked out of the company - with the film being viewed as too weird and too scary - is set to be, as you can see about this post, released in black and white, hearkening back to a simpler time in cinema; and with the very classically Burton character designs the film looks set to be a great return to animation for the man who helped bring us The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The plot of the film follows a young boy, Victor, whose love for his pet dog, Sparky, reaches new heights when the canine companion is killed in an accident and Vincent uses his science kit to bring him back to life.

So, obviously, the stop-motion film is set to be wonderfully weird, and quite dark, even down the actual colouring of the film, but Disney obviously have more faith in the project than they did back in 1984 and for more details on the background of the film and Burton's inspiration for it, be sure to check out the full Entertainment Weekly article.

Frankenweenie is set to be released by Disney on October 5, 2012.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

New Air Mater Images

Along with Cars 2 and the Toy Story short film, Hawaiian Vacation, the home media release of Cars 2 will also feature the tenth, and purportedly final, Cars Toon, Air Mater. As the release of Cars 2 on DVD, Blu Ray and Digital Download approaches - due to be released this November around the world - Disney and Pixar have rolled out some brand new images of the short film.

The short film is supposed to link in to Disneytoon Studios', straight to DVD/Blu Ray, Cars spin-off, Planes, and is the first short film to be entirely produced by Pixar Canada.

Courtesy of The Pixar Times.

Also, worth your time is Greg, from Pixar Talk,'s interview with Rob Gibbs, the director of Air Mater.

The Corner - Week 3 - Sean Reviews Resident Evil: Degeneration

An Animated Film Review: Resident Evil: Degeneration
By Sean Taylor

Good morning, day and evening readers. I'd like to start this review by apologising profusely for it being so late. Higher education's workload has kind of thrown me!

Anyway, I'm sure you're not reading this for me to explain myself. On to the movie!

Like last time's review, this film is also based on a series of video games. And yes, they are also Japanese. And no, you are not mistaken, there is a pattern emerging here; which I hope to break with next week's review due to the call for diversity on this blog. Pfft, I'm rambling again.

Yes, the film in the spotlight is Resident Evil: Degeneration which I have been meaning to watch for a long time since it's release in 2008. If any of you know about the Resident Evil series of games, you will know that it focuses around flesh-eating zombies and terrible mutations caused by the 'T-Virus' and 'G-Virus'. Therefore I have steered away from William's usual happy land of Disney and Pixar, and moved into the region of BLOOD and GORE. Which, as Halloween is just around the corner, is not completely irrelevant.

Having enjoyed the games, I had to see the film. So I did. Resident Evil: Degeneration centres around the protagonists of Resident Evil: 2 (the first one I played) – Leon Scott Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Set 7 years after the events of the second game and the horrific 'Raccoon City' incident which resulted in a nuclear strike, an unknown terrorist force is seeking to reveal the truth about Raccoon City.

The first attack is made at the Harvardville Terminal, which, after night falls and she is trapped, Leon and Claire meet again. With Claire is Rani, a little girl whom Claire has connections with, and Senator Ron Davis, a corrupt politician who knows more than he lets on...
After being saving by Leon, Greg Glenn and Angela Miller (who are members of a Special Response Team), Claire escapes with her life, at the cost of one of their team. Claire then goes on to meet Frederic Downing, head of WilPharma Corporation. After which things really start to get going.

The characters are built upon wonderfully throughout the film. Claire and Leon's relationship appears to strengthen, even managing to encounter some deja vu along the way (I spotted one instance, see if you can spot it). However the story progresses more when Leon and Angela are together, and become the main protagonists. The voice acting was also very good, with old favourites such as Paul Mercier returning to fulfil his role. The slow-mo effects, particularly the bullet time sequences are exhilarating and really give the plot a sense of style.

Despite this, I believe the structure of characters was a bit... off. Claire should have been a main character next to Leon instead of becoming a secondary protagonist. There is also one other major flaw. I remember when playing Resident Evil: 2 that I was absolutely terrified to go around that corner or enter that room. There was only one reason for this; sound. The music and background noise in the old games completely set the scene and, well if it can scare me, it's definitely good. I didn't hear that in the movie though, which disappointed me. I think this movie has went the same way as the video games – from tense horror to full-blown action, which I do not agree with.

To round up, it was an excellent film and well worth watching, but it just didn't seem right. It focused too much on action sequences and explosions. And there are a lot of explosions.

Monday 24 October 2011

When I See an Elephant Fly for 70 Years

Yesterday marked the 70th Anniversary of the release of Walt Disney's fourth animated classic, Dumbo. The heart warming tale of a large eared elephant that finds fulfillment and happiness through the use of his unnaturally sized ears to fly was released on October 23, 1941.

Coming right near the middle of Disney's Golden Age, Dumbo is a brilliant, emotional, funny and generally brilliant film that is indicative of the legacy of Walt Disney and the company he and his brother spawned, that the film is still popular today. Though somewhat outdated today, being nearly three quarters of a century old, the film is still a joy to watch and hearkens back to a time when cinema was so much simpler and so much more magical.

So, kudos to Disney for producing a true classic and let's remember this fantastic film with one of its most famous clips.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

The Corner - Week 2 - Heather Reviews Igor

It has ingenious evil scientists. It has Frankenstein’s monster-like creations. It has a miserable, depressing, scathing, suicidal rabbit. A brain without a brain. Hunchbacks. Annual Evil Science Fairs. And an “impossible” ambition: to create… life.
Igor (2008) was directed by Anthony Leondis and written by Chris McKenna. The story: behold the kingdom of Malaria, where evil inventions are the way to make money. Enter Igor, one of many insignificant igors (hunchback assistants to evil scientists) who is about to perform a feat not yet to be performed. Igor’s previous inventions have turned out to be successful… kind of: Scamper, a suicidal rabbit, and Brain, who is super-unintelligent. Igor’s life-long dream is to create the greatest invention the world has ever seen, and in doing so, winning first prize in the annual Evil Science Fair. However, fiendish Dr Schadenfreude has also made plans: to steal Igor’s creation from him, and, as the cliché goes, take over the world.
Voiced by John Cusack, Igor wins hearts from his very first, sociable phrase: “Nice weather we’re having, huh?” He befriends us, becomes allies with us, and inspires pity and allegiance with us through the medium of Igor-ness. Yes, that’s right, his deteriorating physical shape is a beacon of lost hope, and one we will scorn and laugh at. Yet there is something in this hunchback that is different from all his other hump-backed, indifferent kin. This Igor has spirit, he has heart, and most importantly of all, he has talent.
Alongside John Cusack stars Eddie Izzard (playing Doctor Schadenfreude), Molly Shannon (playing Eva) and Steve Buscemi (playing Scamper). Igor plays host to a wonderful cast and a fable full of likeable characters.  The plot, slightly clichéd, yet unique in presentation is encapsulating. Fun for children and adults alike, it is a little like Despicable Me (brought out in 2010) in that even the most sinister of evil scientists strive to impress their mothers!
And so Igor and his partially brainless, partially cheerless comrades take us on a journey through the life of an igor who makes a difference. The message? Be yourself! Yes, it’s that old corker, a message apparently we watchers never get tired of… well that’s debatable. Yes, it would be nice to see a film with a fresh message, one unvisited and surprising, but I, for one, am not going to hold my breath on that one. Igor does, however, tick a surprising amount of boxes for originality and holding our attention, and for that, I must praise it.

Overall, I'd give it 7.5/10.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

John Lasseter Speaks Out on Cars 2

Recently, John Lasseter spoke to Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, specifically about the not so warm response that many critics had to Pixar's latest release, Cars 2. Cars 2 was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a bad fim (as my review reflected, and many of the more respected reviews - such as Roger Ebert's review of the film), it was, indeed, a very good film; in many ways an improvement on the original. Nonetheless, it was not Pixar's finest hour, and many critics panned the film and the studio for this, saying Pixar had sold out and that the film was a disappointment, but the Pixar and Disney Animation CCO had some choice words for these critics.

Addressing the critics who assumed (apparently wrongly) that it was big, bad Disney that had pressured Pixar into making another film to capitalise on the billion dollar Cars franchise, Lasseter said:

"It’s people who don’t know the facts, rushing to judge. I recognize my place in the Walt Disney Company, but my job, my focus, my deepest desire is to entertain people by making great movies, and we did that with ‘Cars 2.’ ”

Obviously very defencive of the film he directed, Lasseter also, on the subject of the somewhat negative critical response levied at the studio after their latest film, - following 11 consecutive hits - said:

“I typically don’t read the reviews. I make movies for that little boy who loves the characters so much that he wants to pack his clothes in a Lightning McQueen suitcase.”

The article concluded with a quote from Lasseter on why the Cars franchise is special to him, saying:

"I reached deep into myself and saw what this film was about, and I think it’s clear that audiences have responded. It’s is a very, very special film to me.”

Read the full article here.

Monday 17 October 2011

Disney Turns 88

88 years yesterday, on October 16, 1923, The Walt Disney Company was founded.

Starting off as the pipe-dream of brothers, Roy Disney and the eponymous, Walt Disney, as Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, this was the studio destined to become the world's largest media conglomerate, changing the world forever, in terms of films, TV and in terms of all of the millions of lives it has touched.

From the Golden Age of its animated films way back when, with films like Snow White, Pinocchio and Dumbo, through the Silver Age of films like 101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book and more, and to the Renaissance of such modern classics as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King and beyond to modern day; Disney has long been the gold standard of animation. Although accused of a dip in quality in more recent years (although currently undergoing a revival), Disney is, in essence, the company that made animation an art form.

From the debut of "Disney's folly" and Walt and his company proving to all comers that animation was, and is, a sustainable medium that can inflame the imagination and inspire the world, moving us all to laughter and tears, to today, there is rarely a person on the face of the world who hasn't heard of Disney and its famed mouse.

I'll try to keep this brief, as there is oh so much I could say about Disney, its influence on the world and on its influence on me, and more - particularly, of how, without it, it is questionable that Pixar would be the giant it is today.

Disney, in one word, means magic. At its best, nothing can touch Disney, the classics are unparalleled and without rival. Magic is imbued into every frame of so many Disney films, although Disney has rolled out several not so brilliant films, the fact that this is the company that brought us Bambi, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid more than makes up for that.

Simply put, I love Disney and I'd like to take this opportunity to say: thank you Disney. Thank you for the films, thank you for the music, thank you for the magic, thank you for the memories and thank you, most of all, for making my childhood as wonderful as it was.

Long live Disney!

Friday 14 October 2011

New The Muppets Trailer

As its Thanksgiving release date (North America) draws ever closer, Disney and Muppets Studio are laying on the advertising heavy for The Muppets. As, yesterday, we were treated to the second full length official trailer for the newest Muppets film.

This trailer (above), the most spoiler heavy to date (not to say it'll ruin the film, it just reveals quite a bit more about the plot), shows us more of the world's newest Muppet, Walter, and of the relationship of Jason Segel and Amy Adams' respective characters. While a little less nostalgic and emotional than the last trailer, this one is very funny and adds a lot of the spectacle, whimsy and laughter that we now we can definitely expect from the film.

And, be honest, who doesn't want to see Neil Patrick Harris sing Manha Manha?
Complete with singing chickens, the usual comedic gold from Statler and Waldorf, guest stars aplenty and more; all this combines to make The Muppets a can't miss event!

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Cars 2 Special Features

As the home media release of Pixar's latest feature film, Cars 2, draws ever closer, Disney and Pixar are amping up the advertising and bonus clips to build interest in the film. Today, they have released clips showcasing some of the special features on the Cars 2 DVD and Blu Ray.

Firstly, Pixar released the above clip showing how the animators at Pixar get the movements of their characters so accurate; in this case, the Pixarians were "Getting Behind The Wheel" of fast cars to really get the hang of just how their cars characters would move. This clip provides just a small insight into how the guys from Emeryville research each and every movie, although, to see the full feature, you'll have to buy Cars 2 on DVD or Blu Ray.

We also have a short extract (below) of the brilliant Toy Story Toon, Hawaiian Vacation (directed by Gary Rydstrom), that played with showings of Cars 2, and which will feature on the DVD and Blu Ray releases as well.

The clips, as is the norm for Pixar, are interesting and thoroughly entertaining, but, to see more, be sure to keep your eyes out for Cars 2 on Blu Ray and DVD on November 1 (North America) and November 21 (UK).

Thanks to The Pixar Times.

Monday 10 October 2011

The Lion King 3D Review - Adds an Extra Dimension to a Fantastic Film

The Lion King is really the jewel in Disney's cap. Though, in recent years, Pixar has overshadowed its parent company's animation division; Disney always lay claim to being the home of animation, to providing us with some of the greatest, most emotional, most popular and most widely beloved animated films of all time and, arguably, the greatest of the great is The Lion King.

The sweeping saga of Simba and his ascension to the throne and control over the pride lands encapsulates everything that is fantastic about Disney: brilliant characters, a great story, wonderful songs and real, genuine, nostalgic emotion, for a time in cinema where everything seemed that bit more magical. The Lion King was a substantial critical hit in 1994, which smashed records commercially - it still holds the place of highest-grossing traditionally animated feature film -, given that and the success of the straight to video sequels, it's no surprise that this 3D re-release has been smashing records and propelling it further up the totem pole, currently meaning it's worked its way up to the third highest grossing animated film of all time, behind only Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2. After a strong, box-office smashing, run in the US, The Lion King 3D is now open over here in the UK and if today was anything to go by, it's going to have a strong run here too, as the screen was packed.

The world is clearly happy to see one of Disney's most beloved classics back on the big screen in eye popping 3D, I, personally, was full of emotions and ecstatic during the entire film and I literally got goosebumps during The Cirlce of Life. Furthermore, there was a decidedly sizeable amount of singing along to all of the beloved songs throughout the film, rapturous laughter and emotional tears; showing, that this truly is one of the greatest animated films of all time!

I Called It - Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots

Well, kind of saw something like this coming... following on from a recent string of iPod game/animated film mashups such as Angry Birds Rio and Doodle Jump Hop, we know get Halfbrick and DreamWorks' contribution: Fruit Ninja Puss in Boots.

Personally, I guessed at Fruit Ninja Kung Fu Panda, but I was kind of right, it was a predictable move, but nonetheless, it looks pretty good.

Halfbrick never do anything half way, their games are always brilliant, wonderfully thought through and a pleasure to play; in addition to Fruit Ninja, Halfbrick is also the studio behind Monster Dash, Age of Zombies and, recently, Jetpack Joyride. All brilliant and well reviewed games that frequent the 'Top Paid Apps' section of the iTunes App Store and this game looks set to continue that tradition.

The new game is due to be released on October 20 and to promote it we have the above video, introducing us to some of the new features in the game, including all new 'Bandito' mode, consisting of several challenge levels, including the MONUMENTAL addition of the tomato. In addition to 'Desperado' mode - a rehash of Classic mode.

The game, redesigned to help promote DreamWorks' next feature film, hits the App Store in 10 days.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Puss in Boots - Cat Premiere

Friday saw the world's first cat premiere (video above) as DreamWorks put on a special screening of their next feature film, Puss in Boots, for a collection of "famous" cats, including "Robert Meowny, Jr." and "Leonardo DiCatrio".

The voice of Puss, Antonio Banderas, also graced the premiere of the film "nine lifetimes in the making" which the rest of us still have a little wait to see. Puss in Boots hits US theatres on October 28 and arrives here in the UK on December 9.

Friday 7 October 2011

Aardman News 5 - Arthur Christmas Trailers and Park's Back

<a href='' target='_new' title='MSN World Exclusive: Arthur Christmas 3D - trailer' >Video: MSN World Exclusive: Arthur Christmas 3D - trailer</a>

Finally we have enough substantial Aardman news to return to the Aardman News feature here on the blog as today we get a couple of big Aardman nuggets to think about.

Firstly, we have two new, full length, trailers for Aardman's next feature film, the CGI film, Arthur Christmas. Arthur Christmas, a film about how Santa really delivers presents to every child in the world in one night, and what happens, when he misses one, stars the voice talent of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy (a pretty all-star British cast to say the least) and is directed by Sarah Smith.

The trailers (UK one above, US one below) are fantastic, witty and provide far more details on plot, characters and looks at the breath taking, stop motion immitating, CGI animation used in the film - I particularly liked the bit concerning the reindeers' names: "Dasher. Dancer. What are the others called? I could never ruddy remember... Bambi?".

In addition to these two brilliant trailers for the studio's next film (on which they are collaborating with Sony Pictures Animation - the studio behind Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) we get the extremely exciting news (courtesy of Bleeding Cool) that Wallace and Gromit creator, and four time Academy Award winner, Nick Park is working on a new project!

We currently know nothing of the project other than the fact that it is NOT a Wallace and Gromit film, but that it will be made using Aardman's trademark, stop motion style, as opposed to the CGI animation of Arthur Christmas.

I couldn't be more excited about all things Aardman!

Thanks to Bleeding Cool and Slash Film.

Final Puss in Boots Trailer

The final trailer for DreamWorks Animation's next feature film, the Shrek spin-off, Puss in Boots has made its way onto the studio's official YouTube channel.

The trailer boasts a lot of new footage and some interesting plot points, including more elaboration on the romantic side of the film, the main plot/adventure and more.

As with previous trailers, this one is great and has really added to my hype for the film, however, with the quality of the Shrek films waning in recent years, I'm still sceptical about a spin-off, but if DreamWorks continue their recent string of high quality films, then I can't wait to see it!

Finding Nemo Blu Ray Trailer

Following on from the tragic news of Steve Jobs' passing, any Pixar news is going to have a melancholy tinge to it; however, this news is just jolly enough to cheer us all up a tad.

The long awaited Blu-Ray release of Finding Nemo is now approaching, and, as such, Disney have released the above teaser trailer for its first ever Blu Ray release.

Like Disney did with The Lion King, the Blu Ray release will perhaps follow the 3D re-release of the film next summer, and it's sure to look stunning.

Thursday 6 October 2011

RIP Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011): Visionary, Genius and The Apple of our i

Today, the tragic news broke that Pixar and Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56.

Steve added so much to the world, in terms of electronics, home computers and, due to his financing of Pixar from 1986 until the Disney merger, animation. But, alas, Steve, who had been ill for a while, after recently stepping down as Apple CEO, passed away late last night.

The world has been abuzz with condolences and well wishes to the family of Steve and messages remembering the visionary. The Apple website features a tribute to the late, great Steve Jobs, as well as a message on the Disney/Pixar Facebook page, from CCO of Disney and Pixar Animation, John Lasseter:

"Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply 'make it great.' He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA. Our hearts go out to his wife Laurene and their children during this incredibly difficult time."

In addition, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, said the following of Jobs:
"Steve Jobs was a great friend as well as a trusted advisor. His legacy will extend far beyond the products he created or the businesses he built. It will be the millions of people he inspired, the lives he changed, and the culture he defined. 
"Steve was such an 'original,' with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era. Despite all he accomplished, it feels like he was just getting started. With his passing the world has lost a rare original."
The world truly has lost a true visionary and our deep condolences and thoughts go out to all of Steve's family and friends and everyone whose lives were enriched by him.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Disney and Pixar 3D Re-Release Schedule

Disney have announced a slew of upcoming 3D re-releases on the horizon. Following the enormous success of The Lion King 3D over in the states, and, what I'm assuming will be a strong run over here in the UK when it opens on Friday, it's no surprise that Disney have chose to try and replicate this success with some of their most beloved classics.

As such, Disney announced in a press release yesterday that they will be re-releasing Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid as well as Pixar's Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. over the next few years, all in 3D.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast will hit theatres in 3D on January 13, 2012, Pixar's Finding Nemo will be released on September 14, 2012, with Monsters, Inc. coming back in 3D on January 18, 2013 - presumably to build hype for Monsters University later that year, in a similar vein to the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double 3D feature to promote the release of 3 - and, finally, Disney's The Little Mermaid will open on September 13, 2013.

I've never been THAT big a fan of 3D in general, but love it in animated films, and, therefore, can't wait to see some of my favourite animated films back on the big screen in 3D.

New Muppets Posters

Disney continue the heavy advertising for The Muppets with the rolling out of 4 new posters. Featuring individual posters of Kermit, Miss Piggy and Animal, as well as a group shot (above).

According to The Muppet Mindset, the posters are due to be scattered about on bus stops

Monday 3 October 2011

The Lorax Poster

A week or so ago, Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me - and more recently, Hop - revealed the teaser poster for their upcoming film adaptation of Dr Seuss' The Lorax.

The film follows Chris Meledandri, CEO of Illumination Entertainment, over from Blue Sky Studios, after Meledandri oversaw production of the previous Dr. Seuss film, Horton Hears a Who over at Blue Sky and hits theatres March 2, 2012, directed by Despicable Me director, Chris Renaud and featuring the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Ed Helms.

Poster courtesy of The Reel Bits and Yahoo! Movies.

Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension Thoughts

Phineas and Ferb has been one of Disney's premiere shows in the past few years; garnering acclaim, awards, attention and more, so, being Disney, a movie - albeit, a TV one - was inevitable, so it was a good job that it did a stellar job. Yes, if you live in America, this film has been out a while for you, however, it only aired this past week over here in the UK for the first time, and, while it was nothing earth-shattering or groundbreaking, it was solid and enjoyable entertainment, and, as such, I thought it worthwhile to pen some thoughts on it, in the form of a mini-review.

The film is well written, retaining a lot of the wit, humour and broadly appealing entertainment that made the TV show such a massive hit; bringing a decent story, in which Phineas and Ferb find out that their unassuming pet platypus, Perry, is really a secret agent, using them as a cover story and accidentally help the villainous Dr. Doofenshmirtz fix his "other dimensionator", transporting them all to an alternate dimension where Doofenshmirtz succeeded in his planned enslaving of the tri-state area and where they find alternate versions of themselves, helping them to learn valuable lessons about themselves and their family (blah, blah, blah, cheesy repeated movie platitudes). Ultimately leading to alternate-Doofenshmirtz making it back to the original universe and taking over there, only to be thwarted by Phineas, Ferb and their army of inventions - linking effectively to previous episodes and helping to validate the movie in terms of following on cogently from the previous series.

So, it's a surprisingly complex storyline for a "kid's movie" and even more so for a Disney Channel movie, but it never feels pointless or trite, merely showing the show's respect for the audience. The film also packs a surprisingly poignant emotional punch - not compared to, say, a Pixar film, or a fully-fledged Disney film, but a lot for a TV film -, building on our inherent love for the wonderful characters, helping to make the film seem a bit less unnecessary.

Because, this film does feel a tad unneeded - TV spin-off films tend to -, more like 2 or 3 episodes tacked together, and, although their is decent advancement in all the character relationships (between the boys and Perry, the boys and Candace, Phineas and Isabella and substantial growth from Doofenshmirtz), the very cheesy and over-used "amnesia" ending undermined the film. Amnesia and/or dream stigmas are almost as common and overused in cinema to "nicely" wrap-up the movie as Deus Ex Machina is and it just ends up meaning that the film does come across as pointless, as you know that these points and progressions will all be ignored come the next episode; defeating the point of the film.

Nonetheless, despite being rather unoriginal, feeling a bit derivative at times and being rather redundant and unneeded; there is enough good writing, decent songs, great characters, fun, laughs and genuine emotion here to mean that is a wholly enjoyable, if not necessary, film that you will definitely enjoy, regardless of whether or not you have ever seen the show before.

So, I would whole heatedly recommend Phineas and Ferb The Movie, citing that, yes, you may not be blown away, but you will be entertained and you will want to see it again and I would give it an 8/10.