Wednesday 30 November 2011

2011 So Far

With the end of the year just over a month away, and Christmas approaching even faster, now seemed as good a time as any to take a retrospective look back at 2011 in animated films.

Now, first of all, a few have pointed out that my reviews are mostly positive, don't get me a wrong, I can be a particularly nasty blighter some times, particularly when I strongly dislike a film, however, I, obviously, am very passionate about animation, Disney and Pixar in general, and hate to fault it, furthermore, I purposefully avoid films that I know will be bad or that I have no interest in seeing, so I'm generally complementary in my reviews, yet, even by my standards, 2011 has been a brilliant year for animation thus far.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Cars 2 Blu-ray Review

This may be old news to those of you in America, but Cars 2 was only recently (Monday in fact) released on DVD and Blu-ray over here in the UK and I picked up my copy today, and thought it a good idea to pen my thoughts on the overall quality of the product; the film, the picture, the sound, the features and more.

Now, I won't get too bogged down with talking about the overall quality of the film - read my review of the film if that's what you're after -, however, what I will say of the film is what I said at the time, do not be fooled by the bad reviews, Cars 2 is a damned good film and, perhaps more importantly, Pixar are still to produce a disappointing film. Sure, it didn't have the same emotion or character depth as some of Pixar's more acclaimed classics, but it was fun and warm hearted and, as I said at the time "anyone going into Cars 2 expecting the emotional resonance or poignancy of Toy Story 3 or of Up is, simply put, an idiot. Enjoy Cars 2 for what it is, a rollicking, fast paced, enjoyable and genuinely great spy film that, if anything, marks a definitive improvement on the original.", basically, don't review Cars 2 comparatively, but, rather, on its own individual merits; it's such a fun film. Furthermore, with absence grows fondness, as, after only watching Cars 2 once in cinemas (compared to four times with Toy Story 3), I enjoyed Cars 2 even more than the first time when I watched it back on Blu-ray.

So, getting onto the crux of this review, the actual package; I bought Cars 2 on Blu-ray (although it was a perplexing case, as, rather than selling the normal old Double Play - which is what I'd normally spring for - the Blu-rays were being sold and inside the box was a code that enables you to send off for a complimentary copy of Cars 2 on DVD, it's just weird. I assume Disney think, because some people'll be too lazy to send off for the DVD, that they'll save money making them) and was blown away by the sheer quality of the picture. Cars 2 was a gorgeous film when I saw it in cinemas, but it looks absolutely breathtaking on Blu-ray, the three main different locales of the film, Japan, Italy and England, each have their own charm and every single detail, from Lightning's bonnet to the furthest away, minuscule background item were superbly animated and designed. Pixar has long been leading the computer animation industry, basically because they invented it, and it shows due to the brilliance and gorgeousness of this film, from the glint of the runway in Japan to the sparkle of the river in Porto Corsa, the animation was top notch throughout and was only enhanced by the HD visuals.

In terms of sound, it is brilliant. The superb sound quality is utterly immersive, from the way it quietens and mellows out in the film's sombre, tender, emotional scenes, to the way it booms and crescendos in the high-octane fight and race scenes. Furthermore, Michael Giacchino is, simply, a genius, all of his work at Pixar has been sublime, I love the score here in Cars 2 (kind of a hybrid of The Incredibles and James Bond) almost as much as his work on Up.

However, in terms of the quality of the bonus features, I was left unsatisfied. Blu-ray used to be the premier brand, now, however, Disney's trying to push everyone towards 3D (meaning we have to spend an extra few hundred pounds on a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray player to have to wear daft, darkening glasses to watch the films we've paid for), and the latest uncomfortable example of this is that all of the noteworthy bonus features for Cars 2 are only viewable if you buy the 3D Blu-ray copy. The regular old Blu-ray copy sports only Hawaiian Vacation (which is still as wonderful as it was alongside Cars 2 in cinemas), Air Mater (which was very funny and a nice way to link into Disneytoon Studios's Planes - if a bit less impressively animated) and director's commentary. This is incredibly lacking and left me rather disheartened.

Nonetheless, Cars 2 was a great film, it's in great quality here and the attached shorts are sure to bring a smile to your face, while the lacking bonus features may aggravate you somewhat (it annoyed me to no end), it's still a good buy this holiday season, and, in addition to a 9/10 film score, I'd give the Blu-ray copy of Cars 2 an 8/10 for the overall product.

Want to find out for yourself? You can order Cars 2 on Blu-ray by clicking above (UK link).

Friday 25 November 2011

The Road to Pixar - RES1536

You may remember that, a few months ago, I carried out some interviews with members of the Road to Pixar team, a group who are making a replica of the famed Pixar Pizza Planet Truck and recording a documentary about their journey along the way, their interactions with Pixar fans and, ultimately, their arrival at the famed Emeryville studio.

Now, about a month ago, the team revealed the above video, which shows them adding a few of the finishing touches to the truck, including the registration plate and the group have some big news on the horizon as they are soon to participate in a Christmas parade with the truck.

In the meantime, be sure to follow them on Twitter and pay their blog a visit, and if you can help bring their endeavour to the eyes of any Pixarians, I know they'd be incredibly grateful.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

New Small Fry Images and Interview With Director

Following on from the release of the first clip and look at Pixar's next voyage into the world of Toy Story, the Toy Story Toon, Small Fry, we get a couple more images courtesy of IGN. With The Muppets now hitting theatres in the US (although those of us in the UK will unfortunately have to wait until February 2012), audiences who go to see it will be treated to the 7 minute short, that sees Buzz left behind at a fast-food restaurant and the gang inadvertently taking home a happy-meal-like toy instead.

The images give us a sneak peak at the scaled down, toy characters and how they'll slot into the Angus Maclane directed short. Speaking of MacLane, IGN also managed to catch a few words from the Pixar veteran on the short, its voice cast (including Glee's Jane Lynch and Pixarian Teddy Newton) and its genesis, which is definitely worth a read.

Via The Pixar Times.

The Tale as Old As Time is New Again - Beauty and the Beast 3D Trailer

A few weeks ago, we got a look at Disney's upcoming 3D re-release schedule, of Disney and Pixar classics that will be soon making their grand returns to theatres everywhere with an added dimension. The first of the four films to receive the 3D treatment is arguably Disney's most acclaimed classic, the only one of its films to be nominated for Best Picture, Beauty and the Beast.

The tale as old as time is due to return to cinemas, accompanied by the brand new Tangled short film, Tangled Ever After, this January (creepily, it's released on Friday the 13th, so I guess Disney aren't superstitious) in 3D. To help promote this, Disney rolled out the trailer (above) for the film's 3D re-release yesterday.

Although there are many critics of 3D, I'm sure we can all agree, that it doesn't matter the format, so long as we can watch Disney films, where they belong, on the big screen, once more.

Monday 21 November 2011

Arthur Christmas Review - A Festive Gift of a Film

Although it may still be over a month until the most festive day of the year, it is very much Christmas time, at least commercially, and Aardman set the mood this year, rolling out the year's first Christmas film, Arthur Christmas. The British animation giants behind Wallace and Gromit, famous for their use of stop-motion, release Arthur Christmas as their fourth feature film, (and their second CGI animated film) and their first under the Sony Pictures banner, after their deal with DreamWorks ended a few years back, and, as we have all come to expect from Aardman, the film was funny, charming, thoughtful, warm and quintessentially British, yet being a broad, entertaining and generally great family to the extent that it will appeal to people all over the world this holiday season.

Sunday 20 November 2011

More For Your Consideration Ads

After just posting about the Cars 2 For Your Consideration Ads, I stumbled upon (thanks to Big Screen Animation) Awards Daily's large list of the For Your Consideration Ads released as of now, a select few of which are scattered about this post, the rest can be viewed at Awards Daily.

I particularly like the sleek designs of the Tintin and Arthur Christmas ones, as well as the very vibrant Happy Feet Two and Rango ones. Also, note how The Adventures of Tintin is also being promoted for consideration in the Best Feature Film category, which it is good enough to be nominated for!

Cars 2 For Your Consideration Campaign Begins

As awards season rapidly approaches, Disney and Pixar begin the promoting of the Emeryville studio's latest feature with the above For Your Consideration Oscar adverts. Cars 2 is being promoted for consideration in the categories of Best Animated Feature, Best Song and Best Score.

However, due to the outpouring of negative and mixed reviews for Cars 2, Pixar face an uphill battle for the first time ever, just to get nominated; especially against such firm competition this year as Kung Fu Panda 2, Tintin, Rio and more. Personally, I thought Cars 2 was very, very good and was reviewed very unjustly, however, it is hard from Pixar's strongest and the studio that have won the prestigious Best Animated Feature Oscar consecutively for the past 4 years, will struggle to win, if, of course, they get the nomination.

Friday 18 November 2011

New The Pirates Trailer

Aardman and Sony Pictures Animation have unveiled the latest trailer for their next animated feature film, The Pirates: In an Adventure With Scientists (The Pirates: Band of Misfits in America). The stop motion giants behind Wallace and Gromit, roll out their latest feature, directed by the man behind Chicken Run, Peter Lord, next year (after recently releasing the CGI film, Arthur Christmas - which I'm going to see tomorrow).

The trailer reveals more of the plot and gives us a further look at the epic scale of the huge stop-motion animated film, which promises to be another Aardman classic, with their trademark look, deep and detailed story and all-star voice cast.

Via Yahoo! Movies.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Full-Length Brave Trailer

We saw the teaser for Pixar's next feature film, their first fairy tale, Brave, a few months ago, and today, a day later than originally promised, we get the first full-length theatrical trailer (above) for the studio behind Toy Story's next film.

This trailer is even more fantastic than the last and showcases why Pixar is, without a doubt, the best animation studio around, and one of the best film studios in general. The film looks, as is the Pixar norm, funny and touching - and fantastically animated -, but with an overarching epic adventure; it looks like Brave will silence any naysayers after Cars 2.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

The Lorax - "A Look Inside" Clip

Illumination Entertainment have released a new clip to promote their next animated feature film, the adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax. The studio behind Despicable Me rolled out the trailer for The Lorax a few weeks back, and today they have released a clip showing the voice cast at work and offering some words on the film and its characters.

Note, embedding was disabled on the video, so you'll have to watch it on YouTube here.

Monday 14 November 2011

Short Fry Clip

With the release of Disney's The Muppets edging ever closer, after recently premiering, (although it, annoyingly, doesn't open until February over here in the UK), Disney and Pixar are looking to promote the Toy Story Toon that goes along with it.

Short Fry, the follow up to the Toy Story Toon, Hawaiian Vacation, (which showed with Cars 2) will be opening soon and, following on from some images and words from the short's director a few days ago, we now get a thirty-odd second clip. The short looks very funny and very good, as is to be expected from Toy Story and from Pixar; we also get our first proper look at Glee's Jane Lynch's character.

New Brave Images Emerges, New Trailer to Follow

Today, with Cars 2's home release having arrived in America and swiftly approaching here in the UK, Disney and Pixar begin the slew of roll-outs for Brave, starting with the above image, showcasing Merida and her family. The image, shared with the Associated Press over at Yahoo, comes complete with a few words from Brave director, Mark Andrews, on the image, the film and the first full length trailer - which is released tomorrow!

The image shows us Merida's family, who are (from left to right) Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), King Fergus (Billy Connolly), Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her triplet brothers; Harris, Hubert and Hamish. All of the characters look, as is the norm for Pixar, intricate, amusing and wonderful - rounded off by a brilliant voice cast - I'm sure they will make this brilliant looking film even better.

We also won't have to wait long to get our first proper look at the film, as previously mentioned, the first full length trailer for Brave is set to debut tomorrow. Mark Andrews, the film's director, also offered a few words on the film, it's characters and the trailer:

"She's your anti-princess," said "Brave" co-director Mark Andrews. "She isn't your typical princess. She doesn't wear nice clothes except in a couple of scenes when her strict mom, Queen Elinor, makes her do it for special functions. She's an active and action-oriented person. She wants to get out in the outdoors of the Highlands, escaping from castle life and exploring the woods.""


"Despite being the first Pixar film to focus on a female heroine, Andrews said "Brave" will be less about girl power and more about the oppositional relationship between mother Elinor and daughter Merida, likening the defiant red-haired princess to a scrutinized teenager who is forced to attend the same high school where her mother serves as the principal."


In the film's full-length trailer, out Tuesday, Merida's father tells of the 12-foot-tall beast with razor-sharp claws, a face scarred with a dead eye and "hide littered with the weapons of fallen warriors," that chomped off his leg while the rebellious Merida transverses a lush forest, ascends a mountain and lands a bull's eye at a tournament.


So, we anxiously await the trailer tomorrow and more Brave promotional images and videos to come, as the hype for Pixar's 13th feature film begins to take form.


Via The Pixar Blog, we are treated to another couple of images from Brave (above), courtesy of Empire. The image above image shows Merida with the mysterious blue wisps, and the one below that shows the three eccentric lords of the land: Lords MacGuffin, Dingwall and Macintosh.

Friday 11 November 2011

First Look at the Next Toy Story Toon

Disney's The Muppets, opening in cinemas very soon, is set to be preceded by the latest continuation of the Toy Story franchise, the Toy Story Toon, Short Fry. As such, Disney and Pixar have released a couple of images from the short film, giving us a flavour of its story, to promote Pixar Canada's first Toy Story short.

USA Today gives us one image (above), and Stitch Kingdom provides us with another (below). The plot of the short is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, when Buzz is accidentally swapped for his Happy Meal toy equivalent. The images also provide us with our first look at the pint-sized Buzz (voiced by Day & Night director, Teddy Newton, who also voiced Chatter Telephone in Toy Story 3) and Glee's Jane Lynch's character (the mermaid with her back to us below).

USA Today also has an interview with the short's director, Angus MacLane, who says, of the abandoned toys: "These toys' existence is about being really popular before the meal and then being totally forgotten about,".

MacLane also adds, of Buzz being Juxtaposed into the support group for these toys, that "There's something funny about having the action hero have to deal with something very mundane like escaping from an awkward social situation,". He also passes some comments on the short's voice cast and message.

Head on over there to read the whole interview. Thanks to The Pixar Times for the news.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Arthur Christmas Unwrapped Tomorrow

Aardman's latest feature, the Christmassy collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, Arthur Christmas arrives in cinemas over here in the UK tomorrow (whereas, US readers will have to wait until the 23rd), and, as such, Aardman and Sony have swamped us with clips.

Above, we have highlights of the star studded premiere of the film. In addition to the creative talent from the studio - director and writer, Sarah Smith, and Aardman head honchos, David Sproxton, Peter Lord and Nick Park - the premiere was attended by members of the film's cast including Bill Nighy (Grandsanta), Ashley Jensen (Bryony) and Outnumbered's Ramona Marquez (Gwen). In addition to some new clips of the film, the video also show's Nighy and Jensen helping to turn on the famed Regent Street Lights.

If this magical event encapsulates the film as a whole, we're all in for a treat when it hits cinemas tomorrow. But, speaking of clips, Sony also rolled out a plethora of new clips from the movie (below), but, be warned some clips are a little spoiler heavy.



I particularly loved that last clip, 'Elf Delivery', it was jaw dropping, both in the ambition of the story, and in terms of the beautiful animation. The film, from these clips at least, looks funny, gorgeous and touching. I can't wait to see Arthur Christmas (I'll be heading out to see it next weekend, so look out for a review around then).

Sunday 6 November 2011

The Oscar Race Begins - 18 Qualify

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently revealed the 18 feature films that have qualified for consideration in the Best Animated Feature Film category for the 84th Academy Awards - to be hosted by Eddie Murphy, the voice of Donkey in Shrek.

These feature films are (links lead to our reviews of the highlighted films):

  • "The Adventures of Tintin"

  • "Alois Nebel"

  • "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked"

  • "Arthur Christmas" (to be released on November 11, review to follow the week after)

  • "Cars 2"

  • "A Cat in Paris"

  • "Chico & Rita"

  • "Gnomeo & Juliet"

  • "Happy Feet Two"

  • "Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil"

  • "Kung Fu Panda 2"

  • "Mars Needs Moms"

  • "Puss in Boots"

  • "Rango"

  • "Rio"

  • "The Smurfs"

  • "Winnie the Pooh"

  • "Wrinkles"

  • Providing that at least 16 of these films make the necessary theatrical runs to qualify, then there will be five nominees for the prestigious award this year, as opposed to the three we saw last year.

    2011 has been a very good year for animated film, with all major studios (and some minor ones) bringing out brilliant films (personally, as it came out in January over here in the UK, and not November 2010 as it did it in the US, I also count Tangled as from this year). So, it's going to be a very competitive year, with the usual Academy favourite, Pixar, churning out, what was viewed as, a weak entry into their canon, it's likely that Cars 2 won't win this year, but, from the films I've seen so far, my five to be nominated would be:
    • The Adventures of Tintin
    • Cars 2
    • Rio
    • Rango
    • Kung Fu Panda 2
    With Tintin probably coming out on top; those predictions are based upon now and, not necessarily my personal opinion, but what I believe the Academy will choose. Also, this is discounting films not yet released and ones I haven't seen; also, it's hard to count out Aardman, so I wouldn't rule out Arthur Christmas yet (stay tuned for a review of that in two weeks).

    I guess we'll just have to wait and see, we're only at the start of the journey now anyway.

    Thanks to The Pixar Blog.

    The Corner - Week 5 - Luke Reviews Disney Universe

    Now that Disney Universe is out around the world I thought, that since I own the game it would be a good idea to review it in the first A113Animation console game review:


    I like the way Disney Interactive have tried to craft a story line, but, alas, it doesn't really show much in the game. The main storyline is about the Disney Universe being taken over by evil and you have to save different characters from major Disney/Pixar films. So, while the motivation is there, it just felt a bit lacking in the continuation of the story. Although it is fun to collect characters, I would have thought they would have given the user more than one character from each movie to start off with- I get the idea, it just comes across as a tad underdeveloped. Which brings me onto my next topic:


    The characters are part of the main story, you collect them as you complete each location. Unfortunately you have to play the levels twice to unlock every character. So, if you're a person who hates replaying the same level over and over than this game isn't for you. The look and quality of the characters is outstanding. They  really make the game feel like your in a Disney/Pixar movie and are just a joy to play as, making you really feel like part of the action. There are over 30 characters in the game and around 25 of them are to unlock.

    Cut Scenes

    Now I wanted to add this section in (rather than just including it in the story section) because the cut scenes are absolutely hilarious. Like any of the many LEGO game you have those stupid cut scenes that mean nothing to the game and are only added just to make the game seem livelier, and they succeed. They'll make the game better for the little kiddie target audience, but also sustainable for older users.


    WOW. One word to describe the beautiful sounding music in the game. it uses the music from the original Disney/Pixar movies and adds a modern up beat to it. It makes the game play more manageable, hearing some relaxing music even though I'm shouting at the TV screen because of those stupid mini games that make the game what it is.

    Personal Comments

    My personal opinion is that it's a good game, but that it can become frustrating to play after a while. I love the animation and the backgrounds which make the levels really stand out. The music is the best part of the game for me, but, overall, it's a fun game to play - you just have to be a patient type of person.

    Thanks for reading. Next time I will be reviewing Merry Madagascar.

    Friday 4 November 2011

    John Lasseter on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

    The CCO of Pixar and Disney Animation, John Lasseter, was finally honoured a few days ago, receiving his long overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The director of Toy Story and the creative heart of Pixar received this honour on Hollywood Boulevard, in front of the famed El Capitan theatre.

    The ceremony marks the 2,453rd star to be placed on the Walk of Fame, and the event (originally scheduled for next June, but likely bumped up due to Cars 2's impending home video release) was attended by many a star who've graced the doors of Pixar through the years; in addition to the Pixar Brain Trust, the ceremony included stars such as Owen Wilson, Don Rickles and John Ratzenberger.

    Lasseter undoubtedly deserves it, he's a true genius, a fantastic filmmaker and their are few that deserve it more. Congratulations John Lasseter.

    The Muppets Clips

    Disney and Muppets Studio have released a whopping five actual clips from their upcoming feature film, The Muppets. Embedded above and below you will find the videos, extracts from the film, which give us our first real look at how the actual film will feel, and of the newest Muppet, Walter. The clip, 'Showdown', is also the same one that was aired during The Muppets' appearance on WWE Raw this past Monday.


    In addition to being very funny, the clips give us an idea of how the film will compare to the high standard set by Jim Henson's creations.

    I can't wait to see The Muppets in cinemas very soon; The Muppets is released at Thanksgiving time in America and arrives over here in December.

    Note, the fifth clip, 'Shocking', won't play for me, however, if you want to try for yourself, head on over to The Muppet Mindset to give it a shot.

    Tuesday 1 November 2011

    The Final Muppets Parody Trailer (Probably)

    Disney and The Muppets Studio have unveiled what is to be (apparently) the last Muppets parody trailer; spoofing Paranormal Activity and the animated films: Happy Feet Two and Puss in Boots, as well as Twilight.

    The trailer is less parody and more comedy, whilst, at the same time, building to the ever approaching release of the next Muppets movie, which hits theatres in America this Thanksgiving, and arrives here in the UK in early December.