Thursday 31 May 2012

The Art of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Review - A Wild, Exciting and Fun Art Book

The kind folks at Insight Editions were generous enough to send me a free review copy of their latest book The Art of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, which is available now. Since last year when I reviewed another DreamWorks 'Art of' book, The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2, I have purchased several more and varying 'Art of' books and acquired a greater understanding and respect for the process undergone in the production of an animated film and a keener eye for reviewing such books. That said, The Art of Madagascar 3 is fantastic.

Now, I've never been that great a fan of the Madagascar films; the first one was decent and pretty fun, the second was a marked improvement - funnier and more emotionally considerate - and this latest instalment is getting pretty good reviews so far. Moreover, I wasn't that keen on its artistic style either, it always looked a bit shoddy and rough to me. However, this book has done three things for me: once again, as with The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2, impressed me with the depth of production that goes into films at DreamWorks; given me a newfound admiration for, what I now recognise as, a very stylised artistic look, and got me more excited for Madagascar 3.

Bob Peterson Talks About The Good Dinosaur

Pixar's upcoming slate is, for all its exciting premises, shrouded in mystery, with very little being known about anything past this summer's Brave. However, today, Bob Peterson (co-director Up, voice of Dug in Up and Roz in Monsters, Inc.) shed some light on his highly anticipated directorial debut, The Good Dinosaur.

The film, set for a 30th May, 2014 release, explores a world in which the asteroid that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct, never hit the Earth, and dinosaurs now share the planet with mankind. Speaking to the LA Times, Peterson, as well as the film's co-director Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy) and producer John Walker (The Incredibles) gave us some details on the film's inspiration, as well as whetting our appetite in terms of what we can expect to see in the film.

The LA Times says:

"Peterson, who served as codirector and writer on "Up," said the inspiration for the movie came from a childhood visit to the World's Fair where he was awed by some dinosaur animatronics."

With Peterson stating that "It's time to do a movie where you get to know the dinosaur, what it's really like to be a dinosaur and to be with a dinosaur".

Those of you that follow Bob Peterson's Twitter will know that he's been undertaking the writing of the film's script over the past few weeks, stopping at various spots around California in his car when inspiration strikes, and Walker says:

"So if there's a bunch of dinosaurs in a Whole Foods parking lot in this movie, you'll understand why,"

The Good Dinosaur sounds incredibly interesting, and I can't wait to see what Peterson does as a director!

Read the full story at LA Times.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Finding Nemo Blu Ray Due 4th December

Almost a decade after it first hit cinemas, Andrew Stanton's Finding Nemo is finally ready to appear on Blu Ray.  The release date is currently set for 4th December, likely about a month after we'll see Brave and Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2 released on home video, and the Oscar winning animated film (re-released in cinemas in 3D on 14th September) will likely prove a very popular Christmas present - I'll certainly be asking for it!

No bonus features have been announced as of yet, but expect it to follow in the tradition of recent Pixar Blu Ray releases; including the original DVD special features and a new round table discussion with the film-makers.

Via Pixar Talk and Pixar Post.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Queen Elinor Takes the Lead in New Brave Clip and Interview

Queen Elinor, mother to Brave's star Merida, takes the spotlight in two new promotional videos for Pixar's latest film, today. The Queen is touted as being very traditional in her views, that a lady should be a lady, and not, for instance, wield a bow and refuse to marry. The clash between Merida and her mother is the backbone of Brave's story and Pixar have honed in on that with their advertising for the film today.

Above, via Yahoo! Movies, you can see the clip (which has appeared in a few trailers) in which Elinor recounts her woes over Merida's stubbornness, to her husband, King Fergus. The scene is more sombre and resonant (in the same vein as Marlin and Nemo in Finding Nemo) than some of the more comic aspects we've seen in the past couple of weeks; with Fergus here to provide comic relief.

Emma Thompson (Love Actually, Harry Potter) the Oscar winning actress who lends her voice to the Queen also spoke to Australian morning television show, Sunrise, about the film and its own resonance for her. Thompson said of the film:

"It's a growing up story, but it's a growing up story for both parent and child. They both go on this incredible joruney together and it's exciting and funny and moving."

Great to see such enthusiasm for the film, check out the full interview above!

On a side note, I'm not very fond of everyone comparing Brave to The Hunger Games now everyone appears to have jumped on that bandwagon. Can no one shoot an arrow anymore without copying Hunger Games? I suppose Daryl in The Walking Dead is channelling Katniss?

Via Upcoming Pixar.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Another New Brave Featurette: Cutting Class

Disney and Pixar treat us to yet another featurette from Brave, this one is called Cutting Class. Cutting Class (above) features King Fergus giving Merida a "lesson" about the history of DunBroch. The King is absolutely priceless in his role here and the differing dynamics between the royal family looks to be one of the highlights of Brave when it hits theatres very soon!

Brave is due out in less than one month, on 22nd June, in America, whereas us unlucky fans in the UK have still got a few months until its 13th August release date here.

Friday 25 May 2012

Brave to be Dedicated to Steve Jobs

The Wall Street Journal's blog Speakeasy tells us that "One of the most emotional moments in the coming Pixar computer-animated film “Brave” happens during the end credits."

The reason for the emotional end-credits is that they sport a tribute to former Pixar owner and longtime friend and mentor of the studio, former Apple CEO, the late Steve Jobs. Jobs bought into the company in 1986, where he financed a spin-off of the Lucasfilm Graphics Group on 3rd February, to be called Pixar. Jobs mentored the studio and its financial well being until Disney purchased it for $7.4 billion in 2006, where he became the largest individual shareholder in the world's largest media conglomerate.

Alas, Jobs passed away, at the age of 56, on 5th October last year, after losing a battle to pancreatic cancer. Brave will be the first Pixar films since Jobs' passing and the first to pay tribute to him.

It's a fitting and very respectful tribute.

Via The Huffington Post.

New Brave Clip Introduces us to The Lords

The latest of a long series of Brave clips and TV spots (above) is titled "A Royal Bash" and gives us our most extended looks at the Lords to date. We've seen an awful lot of Brave's main character Merida and her family, so it's nice to get a look at three of the other characters that promise to be a great source of comedy in the film.

The three Lords: Macintosh, MacGuffin and Dingwall are voiced by Craig Ferguson, Kevin McKidd and Robbie Coltrane respectively and are absolutely brilliant in this clip! Look for the Lords to be a highlight of Brave.

Via Pixar Post.

Why Don't Aardman Films Do as Well in America?

Note the very British Blue Peter badge on the hat of the far-left pirate.

Aardman, for the few of you that don't know, is the studio that brought us Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run, Flushed Away and Arthur Christmas, four brilliant films that all received critical praise, with the former two being lauded as fantastic. And now their latest film, The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists, is out; it's been out for about two months over here in the UK, and about one month in the US. However, whilst the critical praise is (as we have come to expect with Aardman) high, the box-office returns are not so.

So far, The Pirates!, branded in the US as The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the big screen adaptation of Gideon Defoe's popular children's books, has grossed about $100,000,000 worldwide. Only a quarter of that amount was collected in the US, with the majority coming from other regions (it had a particularly strong box-office run here in the UK). As we reported a few weeks ago, The Pirates! was received with, despite the positive word of mouth, Aardman's weakest opening ever stateside, and hasn't drastically improved on that since. Admittedly, $100 million isn't to be sniffed at, it's more than double the takings of the likes of, the equally great, live-action feature Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but it's still disappointing for a film that has received such strong critical praise and a fairly good advertising campaign.

Unfortunately though, this is more the rule than the exception where Aardman films are concerned, despite an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 88% and a national following here in the UK, Aardman films average less than $170 million worldwide; largely due to none too strong performances in America. The question though is why, when they are such huge hits here in the UK?

Watch: Tangled Ever After

Quickly, above you can see the very funny short film, Tangled Ever After, that preceded Beauty and the Beast 3D in cinemas. The short film, a mini-follow up to Disney's 2010 (2011 here in the UK) animated release, Tangled, chronicles the misadventures of animal sidekicks Maximus and Pascal during the wedding of Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder.

The original voice cast, headed by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, returns along with directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno, and the short is pure fun! It may be somewhat on the short side, but it may also just be a testament to the great, funny characters crafted by Disney that it just doesn't seem long enough.


Pixar Short Films: Volume 2 Due in November

La Luna director Enrico Casarosa hinted at it a few weeks back in an interview with this blog, but now we have confirmation and a release date for the Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2. Enrico, whose directorial debut, La Luna, will be featured on the collection, said we could expect an announcement on the collection soon, and the above image - a German flyer - states a November 2012 release date for the DVD and Blu Ray release.

The first collection featured all the shorts from 1984's The Adventures of André and Wally B. up until 2006's Lifted, this collection presumably picks up where that left off, with 2008's Presto. We can also see from the front cover that Day & Night, Dug's Special Mission, the Toy Story Toon, Hawaiian Vacation, and Partly Cloudy will be featured on the set. Enrico told us that La Luna's going to be on there, and it's fairly safe to assume that BURN-E, the Cars Toon, Air Mater, and the Toy Story Toon, Short Fry, (after failing to appear on The Muppets' home video release) will all be on here too.

Look also for behind the scenes features on the shorts, as Enrico said that "[the commentary track for La Luna is]supposed to be on the DVD of the shorts, you know, there’s a new shorts [DVD], and that’ll be available soon.". Well, we now know when soon is, so expect other special features for the other shorts also.

Via Pixar Talk, who link the story back to us.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Madagascar 3 Interactive Promo and First Reviews

You can say what you like about DreamWorks, but they sure as hell know how to promote a movie. The above video will start for you an extended interactive look at DreamWorks' latest feature film, Madagascar 3.

The third film in the Madagascar franchise, subtitled Europe's Most Wanted, has been advertised pretty heavily as of late, and the above video comes via DreamWorks' official Facebook page. The video shows Skipper and his crack team of penguins inviting you to join in on the interactive experience, titled 'Furry vs. The Fuzz'. Once you've clicked on the link, you'll be taken to an interactive clip from Madagascar 3, which allows you to click and make choices to direct the popular animal group through the early stages of the film.

It's a brilliant idea for an advertising strategy which is very fun to play through and got me much more excited about the film than I was recently. However, be wary, it does contain a lot of footage that can easily be considered spoiler worthy.

It also features the newly released, and guiltily hilarious, 'Afro Circus' clip. The first reviews are also surfacing from the film's 18th May Cannes Film Festival premiere, and they seem rather promising, with (from an admittedly small number of reviews) a Rotten Tomatoes score of 80%. Consensus seems somewhat devided though, with Variety's Justin Chang saying "This is the rare animated property that has consistently improved on its ho-hum origins,", whereas THR's Todd McCarthy takes a markedly different stance, saying that "it’s dominated by the characters shouting over one another, repetitively reacting with alarm to anything that happens and overcompensating for largely unfunny material by overacting by about 300 percent.". Wait until more reviews surface I guess.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is released in the US on 8th June, and here in the UK on 19th October.

DreamWorks Animators "PUSH IT"

I really don't know what to say about the above video; other than that it's hilarious. Designed to keep the animators at DreamWorks in good spirits, particular comic highlights of the video are Jeffrey Katzenberg's hilarious cameos.

It's also nice to see that Pixar isn't the only place in the world that has a hoot making their films!


Via Cat Hicks' Twitter.

Interview: Alvy Ray Smith, Pixar Co-founder

Photo by Kathleen King.

Reading Big Screen Animation's Mike Bastoli's interview with Pixar co-founder Alvy Ray Smith reminded me of something: last year, I started writing a book on the history of Pixar, and interviewed Alvy for that, however, as I got snowed under with work, I scrapped the book, and nothing came of the interview. However, after reading Mike's interview with Alvy, I thought: why not post the interview here instead? I emailed Alvy late last night to check this was okay, he gave me the greenlight, so after the jump break you will find a series of questions from me and the answer's by a true visionary and one of the men who created the studio that I, and almost certainly you if you're visiting this site, love and revere, Pixar.

Somewhat less candid than Mike's interview, Alvy here gives us an in-depth insight into the origins of the most critically praised film studio on the planet, the challenges the team met and had to overcome, the general feel at Pixar in the early days, and, also, his thoughts on Steve Jobs.

I'd also like to take this opportunity very briefly to thank Alvy for his time and his kind help in the writing of my book and subsequent allowance of me publishing the interview here. Enjoy:

Lee Unkrich Speaks About the Untitled Pixar Movie About the Día de los Muertos

Out of CinemaCon last month we learned that Toy Story 3 director, Lee Unkrich, is working on a new film, about the Mexican Day of the Dead! The very unusual premise is certainly an interesting one, Toy Story 3 delved into dark territory and some aspects of mortality, but not until this film will Pixar have tackled death so explicitly in one of their films.

Speaking to L.A. Times yesterday, Unkrich acknowledged the great fanbase Pixar has in Mexico and that the studio wanted to give back to them in some way:

""Pixar movies do extremely well in Mexico," Unkrich said in mid-May, as he was waiting to offer notes to the filmmakers of the studio's next movie, "Brave," at a screening at the Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. "This will allow us to explore a really fascinating aspect of the culture there.""

Although the film, which is, like Toy Story 3, produced by Darla K. Anderson also, will likely explore sombre territory like Finding Nemo and Up did, Unkrich's next film will focus on "a very different view of death than the American one,", citing that "It's not spooky. It's celebratory."

We're a while off a release for the film yet, tentatively scheduled for a late 2015 release date, but we'll presumably be hearing more about it, as well as The Good Dinosaur and Pete Docter's Mind Film, once Brave is released this summer and advertising for Monsters University is underway.

On the subject of the, often harsh, Brain Trust feedback process, Lee said:

"The trick is, you have to be willing to contribute your own bad idea, so we can all get to the good ones,"

That seems to just about sum it up. Read the full story at L.A. Times.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

New Pixar Videos: Finding Nemo 3D Trailer and Brave TV Spot

Disney and Pixar continue to roll out the promotional videos for their 2012 releases: their latest feature Brave, and Finding Nemo 3D. Following on from the teaser trailer we got a few months back, Pixar have now unveiled the full-length theatrical trailer for the 3D re-release of Andrew Stanton's Academy Award winning 2003 release, Finding Nemo (above).

Well edited to focus on the parts of the movie that are sure to look great in Disney's solid 3D, as well as highlighting the beautiful, visceral animation that'll feel even more immersive, the trailer comes via Yahoo! Movies.

We're also treated to, yet another, video from Brave. The new TV spot (above), entitled "One Family", showcases the great family dynamic that is at the heart of Pixar's thirteenth feature film.

Brave hits US theatres on 22nd June, and UK theatres on 13th August. Finding Nemo 3D arrives in US theatres on 14th September (the day after my birthday) although who knows when it'll be released here in the UK; Beauty and the Beast 3D is only being released here now.

Monday 21 May 2012

Brave Soundtrack: Sounds of the Highlands

Disney and Pixar issues a press release this morning with some in-depth words on the soundtrack of Brave! Scored not by a Newman, nor Michael Giacchino, Pixar's first fairytale is scored by a newbie to Pixar, Patrick Doyle. Doyle scored Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as well as Marvel's recent box-office hit, Thor. Joining Doyle on the film's musical side are Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, British folk group Mumford and Sons, singer Birdy and Pixar's own Alex Mandel.

Pixar have also released another parody advert to promote Brave, Bag Pipe Greatest Hits (head to Pixar Corner to see this video feature).

Read the full press release after the jump break:

UPDATED: New 3D Simpsons Short to Precede Ice Age 4!

It was just announced last night that Maggie Simpson will star in her very own short film, "The Longest Daycare"! The short will show before Blue Sky Studios' (who're also owned by Fox) Ice Age 4 later this year. You can view a short promo for the short film above.

"The Longest Daycare" is touted as being in 3D, and hopefully this just means it will have stereoscopic 3D effects, and not that it's animated using CGI - it would just not look right for The Simpsons.

This is very exciting news for several reasons: it's Maggie's first starring role, it's the first Simpsons theatrical short film, and indeed the first Simpsons short film since 1989! If you weren't planning on seeing Ice Age 4 before, it's just became a must see.

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift hits cinemas on 13th July.

Via Cartoon Brew.


Entertainment Weekly's site sports a mini-interview with Simpsons Exec. Producer, Al Jean, about "The Longest Daycare", which gives us a sizeable about of information about the short.

Jean says:

"Jim Brooks thought we should do an animated short — a la the ones Pixar does before their features, a la the cartoons you used to see in the theater years ago — as a fun thing to give our fans. We just wanted to do this as a way of saying, ‘We appreciate how much people have stayed with the show and watched it for 25 years."

The EW article also tells us that the short sees Maggie returning to the Ayn Rand School for Tots (need reminded?) and that it'll be 4 minutes long and directed by David Silverman. It also seems that in the short (rather than as hoped above) the "3D" doesn't mean the film will be in 3D, rather that it will be animated using CGI. Meh, I'd rather see it animated in the normal Simpsons mould, but I suppose it will give it a different feel and it worked rather well for Looney Tunes.

Also, of note, Al Jean spoke briefly about the long speculated The Simpsons Movie 2:

“There are no immediate plans for a feature, although as you see with this, you never know. It certainly made us excited to think that if we did another feature, maybe 3-D would be the way to go.”

Be sure to read the full article here!

Update 2:

Pardon my misreading, the director of The Simpsons Movie and "The Longest Daycare", David Silverman, told us on Twitter "Nope! - its 3D not CG. Drawn like the show, but several levels of cleanup, using After Effects to create 3D."

Phew. Like I said, I'm sure it would've been good as CG, but it'll be so much better without!

Sunday 20 May 2012

Classic Cartoons #6 - Puss Gets the Boot

To go with today's Bitesized Biography of William Hanna, it seemed only fitting that today's Classic Cartoon is the very first collaboration of Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Puss Gets the Boot. The short (above), almost 10 minutes in length, acts as the introduction to the famous cat and mouse duo that is Tom and Jerry. Although not called that here (actually named Jasper and Jinx!), and though the designs of the characters are somewhat different from what we know the pair to be; the heart is there, the characters are there, the distinctive Hanna-Barbera soul is there.

Released in February 1940, Puss Gets the Boot received strong acclaim and praise upon its release, earning Hanna-Barbera and MGM an Academy Award nomination (Tom and Jerry would go on to win seven), and spawning two characters and a series of cartoons that is still beloved and watched today.

Bitesized Biographies #4 - William Hanna

Hanna (left) with Barbera (right) with two of their creations, Tom and Jerry.

A few weeks ago we ran a poll on our Facebook page asking you who you wanted our next Bitesized Biography to be about, the results were a 50/50 split between the two halves of Hanna-Barbera: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Hanna-Barbera, not that I need explain as I'm pretty sure everyone has seen some of their shows at some point in their lives - or you've led a deprived childhood - was the animation studio that created some of the most famed and beloved cartoon series of all time. The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Top Cat and Wacky Races are just some of the huge shows that Hanna-Barbera churned out during their over 30 year history, as well as later helping create shows like Dexter's Laboratory for Cartoon Network.

So to follow the order that the studio's name suggests, we're starting our poll influenced Bitesized Biographies with William Hanna.

Saturday 19 May 2012

If Pixar Made The Avengers...

Briefly, the above brilliant mash-up of the Pixar universe with Marvel's The Avengers has been making its rounds as of late. I particularly enjoy Horst as Hawkeye; Horsteye if you will.

Via Cartoon Brew.

Thursday 17 May 2012

New Brave Clip and Bloomberg's Visit to Pixar

After yesterday's high, it's back to business as usual today, and we have two new great Pixar videos for you. Firstly, above you can see the latest clip from Pixar's upcoming summer release, Brave - via AOL. Although a large portion of the footage you can see here has been seen in previous trailers, this is yet another straight-forward clip from the film; allowing us to get a feel of how the film flows. It looks pretty great, showing the deft blend of comedy and intensity that we've been promised for Brave.

And secondly, Bloomberg have a great mini-video chronicling their recent trip to Pixar and what they observed on what makes the studio great. In the video, we see the Pixar team (including Chris Wiggum, the kind gent that helped set up my interview with Enrico Casarosa), as well as a look at John Lasseter's office. The creative genius behind Pixar and Disney Animation recites his famous quote, "The art challenges technology. The technology inspires the art.", as well as sharing some touching words on the passing of Steve Jobs. The video doesn't seem to want to embed, so you can watch it here.

Via Upcoming Pixar.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Disney Screens Wreck-It Ralph

Disney held recent test screenings for its latest animated feature film, Wreck-It Ralph. We've heard a lot of hype as of late for the film, with it being touted that it "does for video games what Toy Story did for toys".

One group of lucky people who got to see some footage from the film are the guys at The Rotoscopers, who seem rather taken with the film. Saying particular points of enjoyment from the, unfinished, footage were the cameos from real-life video game characters (a la Barbie in Toy Story I imagine), and the focus on Ralph's character driven motivation in the film. The Rotoscopers awarded the footage 4 stars, and an assessment of "Very Good".

I also found the above video from D23 last year. It may be slightly dated now, but it shows a mock-up video game that Disney had on hand of Fix-it Felix Jr., the game in which Ralph is the villain. It gives some interesting insight into the world of Wreck-It Ralph.

It looks promising!

Via Blue Sky Disney.

Interview: Enrico Casarosa, Pixarian and La Luna Director

Yesterday, I had the chance to speak to the very talented, very kind and very friendly Enrico Casarosa via phonecall, from Pixar. Enrico recently directed the Emeryville based studio's latest short film, La Luna, which will be paired with Brave this summer, and is now working on Bob Peterson's film, The Good Dinosaur. Despite his very busy schedule, Enrico was kind enough to accommodate me for 20 minutes of interview yesterday.

I'd also just like to take this opportunity to send out a huge thank you to Pixar's publicity king, Chris Wiggum, the kind gentleman who helped to arrange this all for me. I've admired Pixar from afar (as I'm sure you all know) for several years, so to get the opportunity to interview someone from the studio was phenomenal and was definitely one of the highlights of my year so far! It meant the world and I'm extremely grateful to Chris, Enrico and anyone and everyone else involved.

Points covered in the interview include: the story process for La Luna, it's accompanying book, the Pixar Shorts Collection: Volume 2, The Good Dinosaur and the studio in general. Read the full interview after the jump break:

Monday 14 May 2012

Tintin 2: "You can expect to meet Cuthbert Calculus."

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Steven Spielberg's long gestating big screen version of Hergé's famed boy journalist stories, arrived in cinemas last year, and its success (my review here) is evident by the great news we've heard thus far from its upcoming sequel.

The original film, penned by the talented trio of Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat and Joe Cornish, was based on three Tintin books: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham's Treasure, but Tintin 2 is taking a slightly different direction. This time around the film, directed now by Peter Jackson, will be written by Stormbreaker author, Anthony Horowitz, and he today shed some light on what we can expect from the second Tintin film.

It was long rumoured that the second film would be based on the Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun stories, but this has since been denied (shame), and no other suggestions have been really confirmed. However, today, Horowitz told this blog on Twitter, that in Tintin 2 we "can expect to meet Cuthbert Calculus". The first film introduced us to Tintin (Jamie Bell), Snowy and Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), so Professor Calculus, the hard-of-hearing genius, is the last main big character we've still be introduced to.

So, given that we can now rule out Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun, and given that it's also very unlikely to pick up immediately where Secret of the Unicorn left off (effectively ruling out a continuation of Red Rackham's Treasure), the last obvious choice is The Calculus Affair. The Calculus Affair, one of the later Tintin stories, sees Tintin, Haddock and Snowy travelling across the globe to rescue an abducted Professor Cuthbert Calculus; with some fiddling with the story and continuity, this could act as a very effective introduction for the beloved character.

We've heard rumours of this in the past, but it's nice to have some more solid confirmation.

Oh, and yes, I am now a huge Tintin fan.

Friday 11 May 2012

New Brave Clip Released

Disney and Pixar have released a new 30 second clip from their latest feature film, Brave. Released via AMC Theatres's YouTube channel, the clip (above), entitled Tart Thieves, shows Merida's mischievous little brothers, Hubert, Harris and Hamish in action.

Much like the 'Eyes on the Pies' clip we saw the other week, the short extract from the film shows the troublesome trio trying to pinch some sweets. The triplets are said to be a constant source of comedy in the film, and with clips like this, you can certainly believe it.

Brave arrives in US theatres on 22nd June and UK theatres on 13th August.

Via Upcoming Pixar.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Brave: Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day hit a few months ago here in the UK, but it's fast approaching for our US readers, and today Pixar unveiled a new video clip (above) from Brave to help promote this. The video has a great message and it's very admirable of Pixar to promote the often undervalued holiday, but far more interestingly, from an animation standpoint, is the actual footage used.

The video  showcases a lot of new footage from Brave that we haven't hitherto seen. These new clips include footage of Merida as a child, learning to use her bow, and the strained, yet, at its heart, pure, relationship between mother and daughter; Queen Elinor and Merida.

Brave hits US theatres on 22nd June, and UK cinemas on 13th August.

And also, remember to get your mums something nice for Mother's Day guys - you can't overplay how brilliant they are.

Also, Brave has been given a PG rating due to "some scary scenes and rude humour". It is the third Pixar film to be rated as such. Full story on The Pixar Times.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

New Brave Featurette - Kilt

What we've seen from Brave in the past has been, with a few exceptions, very tense, very ominous, very eerie and very badass. However, what we're treated to today is a much more light-hearted, jovial advert for the film - a featurette satirising fashion adverts, selling Kilts. The advert may seem a little adult or low-brow for Pixar, but, in my opinion, this is a very needed move. As fantastic and exciting as Brave looks, up until very recently it's showed very little of its funny side - of the side that'll attract the majority of its audience: kids. Animation may be an art-form that perpetual children like myself enjoy, but the fact of the matter is, their key demographic is actual children, so comedy is an essential.

As it's Pixar, the film will undoubtedly be a deft blend of comedy, pathos and emotion, but it's a smart idea - marketing wise - to try and get that across in its advertisements.

The featurette (above) parodies the oftentimes ridiculous fashion adverts we're regularly subjected to; advertising the traditional kilts that populate Brave. It, as well as being very funny, features a decent amount of previously unseen footage - including a shot of Merida's father, King Fergus, fighting the demon bear, Mor'du.

Brave hits US theatres on 22nd June, and arrives here in the UK a couple of months later on 13th August (up slightly from its previous due date of the 17th).

Via iTunes Movie Trailers.

Monday 7 May 2012

Aardman News 8 - Wallace and Gromit in A Jubilee Bunt-a-thon

Before you get too excited, this isn't a new Wallace and Gromit feature film, nor is it even really a short film - what this is, is a "new mini animation" featuring the plasticine duo preparing for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The 1 minute long short film, more like the previous Cracking Contraptions series than the half hour TV specials, is being released by the National Trust at a series of events this summer - for a list of locations, visit the National Trust's website. The short film, entitled A Jubilee Bunt-a-thon, sees barmy inventor, Wallace, and his loyal pooch, Gromit, putting up the bunting to celebrate the Queen's big day and you can see a 30 second clip from it above.

There's also a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the production of Bunt-a-thon (below), showing the painstaking and wonderful process that stop-motion animation undergoes. The video features some words from the duo's creator, Nick Park, and from Creative Director, Merlin Crossingham (one of those fantastic names that makes you proud to be British) who said:

"To complete a minute of film, we have three animators, working flatout for 3 weeks."

It really puts into context the hard work that goes into, not just stop-motion, but animation in general! Look forward to this short film probably making its way online later this year.

The Corner - Heather Reviews The Avengers

Where can I start? Where can I possibly start? Starting at the beginning would require delving back to 2008, when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were released. These two films were the beginning of a Marvel-lous work of cinema. Following the aforementioned films came Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, also). This was the beginning of the Avengers… It was here the Avengers were to, indeed, assemble.

Directed by Joss Whedon (who helped write the Toy Story 1 script; produced hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and Firefly) meant that great things were expected. And boasting a cast of incredibly talented actors – Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man); Chris Evans (Captain America); Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk); Chris Hemsworth (Thor); Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow)… etc, put a lot of pressure onto what was already expected from this film: wonders. It definitely delivered. Another point worth making: so many superheroes. In a one-superhero film it seems perfectly… perfect, seeing them take the limelight. In The Avengers, so many heroes – who was to dominate? Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was interviewed by Empire Magazine and quoted saying “It’s not an easy mix. They [the characters] all have some friction”. However, Whedon pulled it off…

I must say, I expected action-action-action-serious-save-the-world. Instead, there were genuine moments in which the whole cinema-audience were laughing: the children, the teenagers, the grandparents… It was brilliant. Of course, even Whedon has the One-Liner illness, but it was very much appreciated in this case. Of course, being the witty, handsome, rich, ex-weapon-maker, Tony Stark (Downey Junior) was given most of these. The occasional “guys, I’m bringing the party to you” and “I don’t play well with others” was much appreciated. The Hulk, terrifying at times, also proved to be a character that could inspire hilarity to the point of hysteria – unfortunately, Loki found out the wrong way that the Hulk could indeed “bully” a God.

The camera work was stunning; the acting was stunning; the music was stunning. There is so much to praise.

 The Avengers follows another of Earth’s plights – honestly, will we ever not be the target of an alternate race?! – this time the product of Loki’s unwanted administrations. Loki steals the Tesseract (an object creating a portal from Asgard to Earth) and uses it to unleash an army unto Earth, hoping – in typical villain style – to conquer Earth with his army and allies. However, one thing Loki couldn’t possibly have foreseen: The Avengers. All of the superheroes gathered to make a team, a rescue-mission for Earth. Or, as The Hulk (Ruffalo) put it: “not a team, we’re a time bomb”. Sure, the crew have rough patches – which friendship groups don’t? Friendship groups. Yes. That’s what they are like: there’s the one who acts like a prat, and in doing so, becomes wittily charming – that would be Tony Stark (Downey Jr.). Then there’s the one who doesn’t get on with him – Captain America (Evans). Then you have the geek, who they use for science as well as credit – Hulk. The two assassins, which friendship group doesn’t have assassins? – those being Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Johansson). Then there is Thor.

Confession time: I love Thor. There we go. Deep breaths. I am limiting myself to that little smidgen of adoration. Be thankful.

And of course, the leader of this rag-tag gang? It could only be Nick Fury, played incredibly well by Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson has this character down to a ‘T’. He masters the brooding, commanding Fury, rocking the eye-patch all the while. It is hard not to appreciate acting like his, where he has obviously thought long and hard about his character, and it shows.

I’m going to stop ranting and raving now, because it could get out of hand, especially if I start on Thor again… He is wonderful, though. Acting skills, heroic-abilities and all. Sorry. I digress.

Ten out of ten. Nothing less. If there was an eleven, it would be that. Highly amusing, but not too much, filled with action, likeable characters – and legitimately unlikeable characters – brilliant acting and directing. High standard.

I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Classic Cartoons #5 - Steamboat Willie

I'm sure using this short film now will come back to bite me when I do my Bitesized Biography of Walt Disney and am in need of a short film to pair with it, but today's Classic Cartoon is the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, but the one that is often regarded as the mainstream debut of the famed mouse, the cartoon that put Walt Disney on the map - Steamboat Willie.

I'm currently amidst reading the biography of Walt Disney by Neal Gabler and what it stresses heavily, and what comes through when watching this short film, is how important this short film was to the early years of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Released in 1928, Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey cartoon to be distributed, and became a phenomenal success - much needed after a string of knock-backs and failures from the Disney studio; Willie provided them their big break. Steamboat Willie was the first Mickey to be synchronised with sound, and whilst that was surely a contributing factor in its success, another surely is the fantastic characters and timeless storytelling. Though quite the little sadist here, using animals as musical instruments, Mickey was and is a sign of the eternal optimism and childlike joy that Disney himself represented. The story, simple in premise, remains brilliant today, at 7 minutes, the short flies by and remains possibly the truest definition of a Classic Cartoon.

Inducted into the National Film Registry, to be preserved forever, in 1998, the starting sequence of the short is now widely recognisable for its prefacing of Disney animated releases. Steamboat Willie is the epitome of classic Disney storytelling.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Brad Bird to Direct New Film for Disney

Brad Bird, who rose to fame at Pixar directing The Incredibles and Ratatouille - after previously directing The Iron Giant - whose most recent film was the fourth instalment in the super successful Mission: Impossible franchise - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - has just been announced to be working on a mystery project for Disney.

Via Indiewire and Deadline, we have learnt that the Ratatouille director is now helming a film for Disney called 1952. Not to be confused with 1906 - the film Bird has been working on for a while about the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 - the script for 1952 is being penned by Lost and Prometheus scribe, Damon Lindelof.

Other than this interesting and exciting pairing, we know little about the film - possible scenarios include that 1952 was the year that the first hydrogen bomb was detonated, and a killer fog descended on London; but this is pure speculation. But here's hoping it bodes better than Andrew Stanton's John Carter did for Disney.

At any rate, Bird has never let us down, and I can't wait to hear more about this in the future!

New Brave Character Bios and Images

Throughout the many trailers and TV spots we've seen for Pixar's next feature film, Brave, a royal duo have featured very prominently: King Fergus and Queen Elinor. The monarchy of DunBroch, the parents of the film's antagonist, Merida, have been at the forefront of each and every trailer (apart from the teaser), particularly Elinor, and today /Film provide us with character descriptions for the duo as well as previously unreleased images.

The official character description for King Fergus, voiced by Billy Connolly, is:

King Fergus is a heroic warrior with a majestic bear cape, broad sword and a knobby peg leg – the result of his much-regaled skirmish with the demon bear Mor’du. His vendetta against the beast who took his leg makes Fergus a ferocious and determined bear hunter, evidenced by a home full of mounted trophies of every size. Protector of his kingdom and family, Fergus has a heart as big as his triplet sons are mischievous and boundless love for his wife, Queen Elinor. But his pride for his first-born daughter Merida is unmatched, and he has gifted her his great skill and passion for the sword and the bow.

And the description for Queen Elinor, voiced by Emma Thompson:

A vision of grace, wisdom and strength of character, Queen Elinor is fiercely dedicated to the well being of her family and kingdom. As the measured, diplomatic counterpoint to her more impulsive husband, King Fergus, Elinor carries the weight of the kingdom on her shoulders in order to maintain the fragile peace between the volatile clans. Elinor strives to instill in Merida the knowledge and manner of a royal, expecting complete commitment to Elinor’s standards. But her vision of her daughter’s future is at odds with Merida’s rebellious spirit and desire to forge her own path, which ultimately causes Elinor to face calamitous consequences.

Via /Film.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

New Brave Images Show Merida's Swordplay

Disney and Pixar have released two new images from their next feature film, Brave. These newest images both show the film's fiery-haired protagonist, Merida, practising her swordplay, but are polar opposites in tone. The first image (above) details a scene, presumably, from towards the end of the film, showing a tense, dramatic test of strength, with Merida standing centre, wielding a large sword.

The second (below) shows the very different relationships Merida has with her parents; showing jolly, fun-filled sword practice with her father, King Fergus, whilst her mother, Queen Elinor, lingers in the background, looking her over.

Be sure to click to see the enlarged high-res versions; Pixar never skimp on the detail.

Brave is due out on 22nd June in the US, and 17th August here in the UK.