Wednesday 25 January 2012

"10 Things Looney Tunes Characters Would Tweet"

Just briefly, social networks have really taken over the Internet in the last half-decade, changing the way we think about things and the way we carry out our business on the Internet, its influence is all reaching. This post comes off the back of that and of this blog's new focus on cartoons as well as feature animation.

Live-In Nanny, a help site for nannies and raising your children, (somewhat of an unlikely source) has produced this very clever and witty article: "10 Things Looney Tunes Characters Would Tweet". It compiles a list of ten fictional Looney Tunes Tweets, asking what use the famous ensemble of cartoon characters would make of Twitter. It's doubly clever as it also acts as somewhat of a history of the famed shorts.

For more like this:

"“*Holds up sign* Ouch. #AcmeFail” – The taciturn Wile E. Coyote seldom speaks, instead preferring to communicate via sign. A loyal Acme customer, many of the Rube Goldberg-esque devices he creates in an (unsuccessful) attempt to capture the Road Runner backfire, causing him injury."

Head on over here.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

84th Academy Awards Nominations Revealed

Earlier today, the nominations for the 84th Annual Academy Awards (to be hosted by Billy Crystal) were announced. The reveal, as expected, saw a glut of nominations for Martin Scorsese's Hugo (11 nominations) and silent film (and Best Picture frontrunner) The Artist (10 nominations), however it also saw some controversial decisions, and the animation category was no exception.

The nominees for Best Animated film are:
  • A Cat in Paris
  • Chico & Rita
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Puss in Boots
  • Rango
Now, the Academy does often throw some lesser known, critical hits into the mix, so it shouldn't be too great a surprise that Chico & Rita and A Cat in Paris have cropped up. However, what is somewhat of a surprise, is the omission of The Adventures of Tintin. This isn't simply due to personal preference (although I think you all know by now how much I enjoyed Tintin) but Tintin recently took home the Golden Globe and the Producers Guild Award in the same category - as well as being nominated for the BAFTA - so the Oscar omission is somewhat bizarre. Also of note is the absence of a Pixar film on the list - the first time since the award's conception in 2001 that the Emeryville studio haven't snagged a nomination - and whilst it isn't too great a surprise to see Cars 2 missed off (although it would definitely have been deserving in my eyes), it is weird to not see Pixar as a frontrunner this year.

It now seems likely that Nickelodeon and ILM's Rango will take home the coveted prize, although I'd like to see DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda 2 get some recognition.

Also, in terms of animation, the nominations for Best Animated Short Film are:
  • Dimanche (Sunday)
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
  • La Luna
  • A Morning Stroll
  • Wild Life
Whilst it's a shame that the Looney Tunes short, I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat didn't make the cut, it's nice to see Pixar get at least some presence at the show.

Also, 'Real in Rio' from Blue Sky Studios' Rio is one of only two nominations for Best Original Song this year - competing with 'Man or Muppet' from Disney's The Muppets.

This year's Oscars will be broadcast from the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood on February 26.

Monday 23 January 2012

Tintin Wins Producers Guild Award

Yesterday, The Adventures of Tintin took home the animation award at the 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards. Producers Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy were awarded the honour, beating out other top contenders Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots and Rango.

Following on from the film's success at the 69th Annual Golden Globes last week, this certainly bodes well for Tintin's Oscar chances (nominations to be revealed tomorrow). The film, which won our very own 2nd Annual A113Animation Award for Best Animated Film, seems to be getting the recognition it deserves this awards season, and it look as if its main competition for the Oscar will be Nickelodeon's Rango.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Classic Cartoons #1 - What's Opera Doc?

To coincide with our first 'Bitesized Biography', dedicated to Looney Tunes legend, Chuck Jones, it seemed only fitting for the first 'Classic Cartoon' to be one of his. So, to launch our second new feature, I give you What's Opera Doc?. Arguably one of the greatest cartoons, possibly the best Looney Tunes cartoon, and definitely Bugs Bunny's finest, the devilishly clever, zany and witty What's Opera Doc? - a fantastic take on opera and of the normal Looney Tunes formula - was the first cartoon short to be inducted, in 1992, into the National Film Registry, proving that both Jones, and his work are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Bitesized Biographies #1 - Chuck Jones

"If Walt Disney was the first animator who taught me how to fly in my dreams, Chuck Jones was the first animator who made me laugh at them."
—Steven Spielberg on Chuck Jones, in Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist

To kick off the new A113Animation focus on cartoons and on the lasting legacy and influence of old, classic short films; there seemed no better way and no more fitting figure to base the first 'Bitesized Biography' on, than the legendary Looney Tunes director, Chuck Jones.

2012 BAFTA Nominations Revealed

The nominations for the 65th annual Orange British Academy Film Awards were revealed this morning. Silent film and Oscar front-runner The Artist leads nominations with 12, whereas British spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy follows with 11. In terms of animation though, the nominees for the BAFTA for Animated Film are:

  • The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
  • Arthur Christmas
  • Rango
It's unsurprising to see Arthur Christmas - from British giants Aardman - Globes winner, Tintin and awards favourite this year, Rango favoured by the BAFTAs; but it's a shame DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda 2 couldn't snag a nomination. We'll find out the results on 12 February on BBC One - hosted by Stephen Fry, the awards emenate from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. For a full list of nominations, click here.

Monday 16 January 2012

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol Review - High Octane, Action Packed Thrills Galore

In case you haven't been following news on the latest instalment in Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible series and its production, and before you die of shock at seeing a review of a live-action, spy film on a site about animation; allow me to elaborate:

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol marks the live-action directorial debut of Brad Bird, a CalArts alumni who worked to build up The Simpsons - directing the famed episodes 'Krusty Gets Busted' and 'Like Father, Like Clown' - later moving on to features animation, with the critically acclaimed, traditionally animated, The Iron Giant. However, where Bird is most widely recognised from, is in his capacity at Pixar. A member of the revered 'Brain Trust', Bird directed 2004's The Incredibles (for which he also provided the voice of superhero-fashion designer, Edna Mode) and 2007's Ratatouille. Now though, Brad Bird has pointed himself in the live-action direction, as he helms the fourth entry into the popular Mission: Impossible franchise. As there always are when an animation director crosses over to live-action, or vice versa - as visible in early comments Steven Spielberg directing The Adventures of Tintin, and fellow Pixarian, Andrew Stanton, directing Disney's live-action John Carter - there always some consternation and quiet concern that there skills in their first field may not translate to the latter format; however, there are no such problems here for Brad Bird, as M:I-GP is an awesomely action packed, fast paced rollicking ride.

Tintin Winwins at the Globes

If you can excuse my shameful pun one moment: yes, The Adventures of Tintin took home the Best Animated Feature Film award at the 69th Annual Golden Globes last night.

The high-octane, globe trotting film, based on the acclaimed books by Hergé, scooped the top A113Animation Award here a few weeks ago, and the HFPA clearly loved it too. Director Steven Spielberg (top) was on hand to collect the award.

This year's Globes marks the first time since the category's inception in 2006, that a non-Pixar film has won the award. Tintin is a very deserving film to unthrone Pixar, and it deserves all the praise it's getting.

Sunday 15 January 2012

New Madagascar 3 Characters Unveiled

It's a new year, and with it, the major film and animation outlets set their sites on promoting their 2012 releases. As such, we are progressively getting more and more details on DreamWorks' first release of the year, Madagscar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

A few weeks ago we saw the trailer for the third instalment in the Madagscar franchise, and now, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we get to meet 3 new characters. Joining the all-star voiced animal cast for the threequel are: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston), Gia the jaguar (Jessica Chastain), and Stefano the sea lion (Martin Short).

EW also catches a few words on the interesting new characters from the film's directors:

“The characters are like the three components of the circus’ attitude,” explains Eric Darnell (Madagascar), who directed the movie with Conrad Vernon (Monsters vs. Aliens). “Vitaly is this very conservative tough guy who doesn’t like any change or any outsiders coming into his world. Stefano is this hilarious comic character — he’s always bubbling with excitement and enthusiasm and is up for anything. And Gia is a little more thoughtful, and she’s beautiful. Alex can’t help but be swayed by her.” Adds Vernon: “Gia acts as a moral compass for the circus. She protects [her friends] but also opens them up to new experiences.”

For the full article - including an interesting snippet about the casting of the characters - head on over to

Tangled Ever After Stills and Clips

Although there's still no UK release date in sight, Beauty and the Beast 3D is currently playing on limited release in North America, and the newly revitalised Tale As Old As Time is being preceded by an all new animated short, Tangled Ever After.

As such, to promote both the short film and, therein, Beauty and the Beast 3D, Disney has released a couple of stills (above and below) and a video clip (top) from the short. These all give us a glimpse at the story, in which Maximus and Pascal attempt to capture the ringsd in time for Flynn and Rapunzel's wedding; horses don't make great ringbearers.

Via Big Screen Animation.

The Corner - Week 7 - Heather Reviews Balto: Wolf Quest

Awooooooo-nderful film? Perhaps not...

I suppose I have some explaining to do, on this one. One of the reasons I bought this film was because wolves are my favourite animals. Admittedly, I was not searching for this film when I got it; I was looking for ‘Alpha and Omega’ which is, by the way, a pretty darn cool film-watch it if you get the chance. When Alpha and Omega was not available, and after much cursing under my breath, I spotted this film, wedged under a pile of Polar Express-es and Nanny McPhee-s. It didn’t look as good as A&O, didn’t sound as good and I was certain it wouldn’t please me as much. However, I was craving a wolf-orientated film, and so I made an impulsive £6 purchase.

A brief synopsis: Aleu is part-wolf, part-dog, and the only one of her litter who looks more wolf-like than pet material. Of course, what ensues is her quest to find out who she really is- old-school stuff, to be honest. As the blurb of the DVD says, it has the right ingredients to become a “spectacular, heart-warming adventure of courage, self-discovery and excitement that will live in [your] hearts forever”. However, like a cake-gone-wrong, to stick to the cake-baking theme, something goes wrong.

The characters are loveable, and established well. Aleu particularly struck a nerve for me: a young person rarely knows what’s going to happen in the future, and as a wolf, she seems to feel the same things I feel every day. For all the parents, Balto feels anguish and worry that’s almost palpable, and displays all the reluctance to let his daughter go that any father or mother would feel. The characters are one of the things that save this film from going down the drain it teetering over the edge of.

Produced by Universal Studios, I couldn’t possibly be expecting something as beautiful as Despicable Me (2010) because that’s too recent. Balto was released in 2001. Shoddy animation, especially when the sea is shown- they alternate between decent-looking-waves and absolutely rubbish excuses for waves. Seriously, I was appalled. But I soon got over that, because the wolves were so pretty. Yeah, pretty. Leave me be. I happen to know everyone has a weakness: WILLIAM’S IS PENGUINS, but shhh.

Having indirectly slated this film, it must have done something right, because there are three films: Balto, Balto II: Wolf Quest (2002) and Balto III: Wings of Change (2004). I have half a mind to watch the other two, not just for my love of wolves, but because in spite of how cheesy and badly put-together it is, there is something about the storyline that does capture the attention. Something that does appeal to that youthful side of me… I know that they say curiosity killed the cat, but… I want to compare the three movies!

If you're a sucker for all that gooey heart-warming stuff, go for it. Watch it, and try to ignore how bad the animation and picture actually is - I managed to after a while. It's relatively short, so there isn't too long to endure. If you're not all for animal-happy-happy-fun-time then never watch this- it may be the end for you.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Happy Birthday John Lasseter!

55 years ago today, the course of animation and of film history would begin to be changed forever, as today marks the 55th anniversary of the birth of the genius that is John Lasseter.

Lasseter, an avid Disney fan his entire life, was determined to be an animator, and when his dream job at Disney didn't go exactly as planned, he decided to control his own future. John would hook up with Computer Science graduate, Ed Catmull, and begin the first incarnation of Pixar. Starting off directing short films such as Luxo Jr. and Tin Toy, Lasseter would soon go on to pioneer and direct Toy Story, the first computer animated feature film in history. From here on in, Pixar blossomed and its films grew and grew in critical and box office success, and a very large portion of this is due to the work, imagination and genius of John Lasseter.

So, today, let us pay thanks to the Walt Disney of our generation: Happy Birthday John Lasseter!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Finding Nemo 3D Trailer

Disney's animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, returns to theatres stateside this Friday, now in 3D, as the next in a long lineup of Disney 3D re-releases. The film will be preceded by the trailer for the following Disney 3D re-release, that of Pixar's Finding Nemo.

The Academy Award winning tale of clown fish father and son, Marlin and Nemo, returns to theatres on September 14 (America, no sign of UK release dates yet) and the newest trailer (above) will premiere in awe-inspiring 3D from Friday onwards with Beauty and the Beast 3D.

Via The Pixar Times.

Behind the Scenes of Aardman's The Pirates!

The British stop-motion giants, Aardman, are hard at work on their next feature film, a stop-motion collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation, The Pirates. As such, the publicity train is well and truly rolling and the film's official Facebook page has unveiled some behind the scenes images, showing the animators and crew interacting with the little clay cast of characters.

The images can all be viewed here, and are a great look at the production process at Aardman. The images here in this post show the painstaking approach Aardman take on their stop-motion films, to achieve the best outcome.

From the trailers and these images, The Pirates is going to have some truly awe inspiring scenes and set pieces; truly ambitious for the challenging medium of stop-motion. But director, Peter Lord, (pictured top with The Pirate Captain) clearly has faith in the diligent and hardworking animators at Aardman.

The Pirates sails into UK cinemas on March 30.

New Year Changes

I've been running A113Animation for just over a year now, and it's been better than I could have imagined. In my time running the blog, my interest in animation has developed and blossomed into an obsession and thereafter into a way of life. It's allowed me to talk to a co-founder of Pixar, famed animation directors and figures, to interview esteemed authors and to live as much of my dream as I ever conceived I could. Time was where I only really took much of an interest, animation wise, in Pixar and Dinsey, then it grew into a love and appreciation of all animated films, but more recently, my interests have grown again, and manifested into something that shall have a direct effect on this blog - as it's only now that I believe I can firmly say I have a full appreciation of the artform that is animation in its entirety.

Over time, I've added more and more features to the blog - reviews, editorials, second perspectives and more - yet, in the last few months, I've conceived more and more. Now, let me tell you somewhat of a story: growing up, long before I ran this blog, long before I even deeply cared about animated films - as a child - I still obsessed over animation, in the form of cartoons. Many of my early childhood memories are of sitting in front of a television, watching cartoons like Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones and The Simpsons, day and night. These cartoons are so deeply profound in ways they don't always get the credit for; they may be caricatured, they may be whacky, but the characters are as real and as beloved as any in all of film and indeed of literature. So, it's these cartoons that inspire me to write this today , as they have moved me and they have driven my life in as great a way and in as clear a direction as my love of Disney and Pixar have, and indeed in the same vein as pretty much everything else important. Yet, it's only very recently that I've realised that, the work of Hanna-Barbera, Matt Groening, Chuck Jones and animation pioneers like them, is akin to that, in the effect on my life and on animation, of Walt Disney or John Lasseter.

My epiphany came around Christmastime (as all the best epiphanies come then) when I received a Looney Tunes boxset from a friend - obviously bearing in mind my adulation of animation. It was this point, and the subsequent watching of them, that I remembered how much I loved watching the series as a child - and indeed now - this greatly reminded me of the brilliant effect of cartoons, how wonderful they are and how great those shows once were in my mind - and now are again.

So, this blog, which was hitherto solely feature animation based, will now have some overlay into the realm of TV animation - although don't go looking for news on every cartoon show about. This will be apparent through two new features on the blog, that will start up very soon: Bitesized Biographies and Classic Cartoons.

  • Bitesized Biographies - these will be reasonably concise and short, yet detailed and retrospective, looks at the lives and influence of key animators and prolific and prominent figures in the field of animation and cartoons. This won't be solely limited to cartoons, there will be Biographies of Walt Disney, John Lasseter and more, although most of them will be of key figures in cartoon history, such as Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Mel Blanc, Walter Lantz and more.
  • Classic Cartoons - these will be vintage video clips, from YouTube or other sites, of old, brilliant animated shorts and TV cartoons. These will include, amongst others, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, Pixar and Disney short films as well as old Simpsons shorts and original Family Guy shorts.
So, look forward to these features - a sidebar will be going up soon, also carrying links to reviews and our long running 'Aardman News' feature. I hope this will help to diversify the blog and, more than that, get over my dire love of animation to you, and get you to share your own.

Friday 6 January 2012

More For Your Consideration Adverts

As awards season heats up, what with Annie, Golden Globe and more nominations being revealed, and the 84th Academy Awards getting closer and closer, we are treated to more and more For Your Consideration Ads, promoting the year's best animated films.

Above and below, you can see, courtesy of Awards Daily, some of the latest For Your Consideration Ads for animated films, including ones for the Warner Bros. short film, I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat, as well as Blue Sky Studios' Rio, DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, and Aardman's Arthur Christmas.

For a full list of For Your Consideration Adverts, animated or otherwise, keep your eyes on Awards Daily.

Tangled Ever After Clip

Disney have unveiled the first clip (above) from their upcoming short film, Tangled Ever After. The short, which is set to precede Beauty and the Beast 3D, is set after the events of Tangled and shows us Rapunzel and Flynn's wedding day.

The story of the short revolves around the hilarious animal sidekicks, Maximus and Pascal, losing the wedding rings and chasing them all over the kingdom, leaving "a trail of comical chaos" behind them. The short looks very funny and seems to focus more on the beloved animal sidekicks from Tangled.

You can catch Tangled Ever After in cinemas with Beauty and the Beast 3D from January 13 onwards (North America, UK release date not known yet).

Via Big Screen Animation.

New Brave Image

Courtesy of USA Today, we get a new still from Pixar's next feature film, Brave. Pixar's 13th feature film, and its first to focus on a female protagonist, will slowly get more and more focus now that we've ticked over to 2012.
The newest image (above) shows the fiery young Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald), with her royal kin, including her father, the grand King Fergus (Billy Connolly), her disapproving looking mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and her triplet brothers, Harris, Hubert and Hamish.

Brave promises to be utterly brilliant; as is the Pixar norm.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

2011 Producers Guild Awards Nominations

The nominations for the 23rd Annual Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards were recently announced. The nominations for the theatrical animated feature category this year are below, with the respective producers noted.

Producers: Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

Producer: Denise Ream

Producer: Melissa Cobb

Producers: Joe M. Aguilar, Latifa Ouaou

Producers: John B. Carls, Gore Verbinski

The winners will be announced on January 21.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Corner - Week 6 - Heather Reviews The Lion King

I would like to begin by saying: anybody who has not seen The Lion King is deprived. Since a rather young age (we’re talking two or three years old), The Lion King has been my all-time, most-magnificent, favourite film. So, excuse me if this review is a little biased- although, in retrospect, all reviews are opinionated articles, are they not? I digress…

The story is set on the prosperous African land: Pride Rock. Enter a young lion cub, Simba, future king of Pride Rock and its surrounding lands, son to the revered current king, Mufasa. The story is essentially, a “coming-of-age adventure” (as says the blurb of the Diamond Edition box, which, for the record, sits proudly at the forefront of my DVD collection). An assortment of likeable friends, joviality and seriousness, and never-ending hilarity help Simba come to terms with his destiny, and, more importantly, himself.

I could waffle on about how amazing and encapsulating The Lion King is, and win a prize for it-or if there was no existing prize for waffling, I could invent one and win that. However, I doubt a siege of paragraphs hailing this movie would interest anybody except myself, and possibly my fellow A113-ers. Therefore, I am going to have to try and back-off and gain a moral high-ground. Says the person who was given a badge with a picture of Simba, and her own name on it, for Christmas. Nobody said reviewing was easy.

Character-wise, The Lion King thrives. There is, and of course there would be, a certain glee to be had from the friendship between a meerkat and a warthog. Timon (aforementioned meerkat), and Pumbaa (warthog) make quite a pair of comedians, who show themselves to be quite the help when Simba loses his way. Beneath all the jokes and witty comments, the two show what it is to be a friend: loyalty and the willingness to help each other. Soppy? No, they make all their help quite the opposite. Of course, as, in my opinion, there should be in every good film, there is a budding romance. From the start, the naiveté of a young king’s attitude to love is clear: what can be no more than a minute’s dialogue between Zazu (the king's right-hand hornbill-a bird. Yes, you would have thought he'd be eaten, yet apparently his annoying demeanour is a quality Mufasa admires) and Simba outlines how Simba is too young to even consider falling for his best friend, Nala. Cute.

The music, too, is something to behold. Written by the duo of Tim Rice and Elton John, the songs are catchy and quirky. Download them to your iPod or MP3 Player, for example, and you’ll have them on loop (yes, I am guilty of this). The score, likewise, is brilliant – written by acclaimed Hans Zimmer (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Inception, Gladiator). To pick out one particular instance: Timon and Pumbaa are being “live bait” at their future king’s insistence, and Timon performs a hula-dance. It’s rather hilarious, and one of the funniest bits of the film, in my opinion. However, I did show it to my younger sister the other night and I was almost lying on the floor laughing, yet she just stood there with one eyebrow raised… she just didn’t get it.

So: The Lion King. Now, to reign my enthusiasm in, and to sign off. The Lion King is a five-star film, for me. Full of music (so, if you don’t like music, perhaps not five-star, and more like three and a half- I really can’t go any lower), and jokes, and loveable characters, and a moral. Yes, a moral. It is impossible not to watch this film without cracking a smile, and once you have seen it a couple of times, it also becomes an obligation to sing along to the songs. Watching it more than once will not bore you, it will only become more enrapturing to you than the last time you watch it. I recommend it to all, with my highest endorsements.

Monday 2 January 2012

Upcoming Animated Films, 2012

2011 was a great year for animation, with a lot of fantastic films like The Adventures of Tintin and Kung Fu Panda 2 wowing us all; 2012 looks set to be a likewise fantastic year. So, now that we've arrived at the beginning of a new year, it seems only fitting to look ahead at these films. So, below is a list of some of the animated films we'll be seeing over the next 12 months, and where applicable there is a link to the latest trailer for each film.
  • Brave - Disney/Pixar
  • Frankenweenie - Disney
  • Hotel Transylvania - Sony Pictures Animation
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift - Blue Sky Studios
  • The Lorax - Illumination Entertainment
  • Madagscar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - DreamWorks Animation
  • A Monster in Paris - Bibo Films
  • ParaNorman - Laika
  • The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists - Aardman Animations
  • Rise of the Guardians - DreamWorks Animation
  • Wreck-It Ralph - Walt Disney Animation Studios
Admittedly, a couple of them look and sound non too great, but there are some utterly fantastic looking films in the field. I particularly can't wait for Brace, Frankenweenie, The Pirates, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph.

Also, let us here in the UK also not forget that The Muppets will FINALLY be hitting cinemas in February.