Thursday 28 February 2013

The Art of Monsters University Gets a Bright New Cover

We've got a steady stream of information, clips and images from Monsters University over the past couple of weeks and one conclusion we can clearly and confidently draw from them all is this: it's going to be a beautiful film!

Given the vibrant colours, the hilarious character designs and the inventive worlds on display, The Art of Monsters University looks set to be a must-buy. Amazon today updated their listing for the art book - which will be released by Chronicle Books in June in the US and on 1st July in the UK - with some great new concept art from the film. I just love the cartoony, fun shapes and the wide mix of colours. Noteworthy: like the trailers and clips, this cover seems to put just a bit more focus on Mike than on Sulley.

The Art of Monsters University is written by Karen Paik (The Art of Ratatouille), with prefaces by executive producer John Lasseter and Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter, and a foreword by director Dan Scanlon. UK readers can pre-order it below.

Via The Pixar Daily.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Watch: New Trailers for Cloudy 2 and Planes

Yesterday was a big poster day, today is a big trailer day. Sony have just rolled out the first trailer for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 on Yahoo! Movies, and it's good. Cloudy 2 clearly retains the visual inventiveness and quirky humour of the first film, and if you like food-related puns, you're in for a treat.

Editorial: The VFX Dilemma

This is what most modern blockbusters would look like without

2012 was a great year for animation, we saw a plethora of exciting animated films and some of the most stunning computer-generated creations ever conjured up on-screen in big budget blockbusters like The Avengers, The Hobbit and Life of Pi. Yet, amidst the awe, between the breathless delight of movie-goers, the artists behind a large portion of these films are struggling. It's a tough market; the work has to be done superbly, it has to be done quickly and, as Oscar winning director Ang Lee hopes, it often has to be done cheaply. As such, the visual effects artists behind creations like The Hulk and Richard Parker often have to work exhaustingly long shifts for little practical reward.

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #7: The Three Caballeros (1945)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Continuing "The Good Neighbor Policy”, Disney’s next Latin American based film was The Three Caballeros. More of a companion piece than a sequel to Saludos Amigos, Caballeros features two characters from the previous film: Donald Duck from the U.S. and JosĂ© Carioca from Brazil and pairs them up with a new friend: Panchito from Mexico. More cohesive than Saludos but following the same pattern and style, (also featuring live-action footage) Caballeros is a more satisfying endeavour than Saludos. It’s less didactic and showcases bolder, funner segments; it also feels more like a unified film, rather than just shorts patched together. But, even if is better than Saludos, it still lacks a fully satisfying story and the last nonsensical act - at first promising, but later tiresome - fails to elevate Caballeros to a higher status. Rating: 3.5/5

Next Week: Animated Classic #8 Review: Make Mine Music (1946)

Trailer for Angry Birds Toons Series; Starts Next Month

A little later than originally planned, but Rovio's Angry Birds animated series is finally taking flight; a weekly Angry Birds Toons animated series will launch on the weekend beginning 16th March.

The series, as of yet, has no TV airing deal in the US or the UK, so will air online - not a bad thing given the billion views Rovio's YouTube videos have already amassed in total. The game-turned-series' blog broke the news, giving a brief synopsis too:

"Angry Birds Toons is an all-new animated series that throws the doors to Piggy Island wide open! For the first time ever, you can get up close and personal with your favorite characters. Join us every week starting the weekend of March 16th for a brand new episode featuring the latest adventures of the birds and pigs!"

This is presumably stage one in preparing audiences for the Angry Birds feature film coming in just three years. We'll keep you informed.

Via THR.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Appetising New Poster for Cloudy 2

Ahead of the big trailer reveal tomorrow, Sony Pictures Animation have rolled out a vibrant, packed poster for their upcoming sequel, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. The film's previous subtitle was Revenge of the Leftovers and you can get a sense of exactly what that's going to entail from this cool poster - which isn't entirely dissimilar in its approach to Pixar's new Monsters University one.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 hits US cinemas on 27th September, and UK ones on 25th October.

Via Yahoo! Movies.

Watch: A Bunch of New Clips and TV Spots for The Croods

DreamWorks' first film of 2013 is the prehistoric caveman comedy, The Croods. People have mixed feelings about it so far, but I am whole-heartedly excited! The clips we've seen so far are really funny, extremely inventive, utterly beautiful and - if the rest of co-director Chris Sanders' career has been any indication - the film will pack a lot of heart.

Pixar Bits: Brave Oscar Celebration Video and New Jam-Packed Monsters University Poster

Fresh of the studio's seventh Best Animated Feature Oscar win on Sunday night, Pixar had a rather boisterous celebration today. Co-director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian paraded the statuette around, celebrating with Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and what seemed to be the entire Pixar family! ABC7 News were present to record the proceedings and get a word or two from MAndrews.

Monday 25 February 2013

Oscar Results: Brave and Paperman Win

Directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman accept their Oscar. ©A.M.P.A.S.

Yesterday was the night of the 85th annual Academy Awards. Hosted by an animator, it was a big night for animation - yet also a rather bittersweet one given the current turmoil in the animation and VFX industry, highlighted by a protest in Hollywood just prior to the ceremony.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Disney's Big Hero 6 Adaptation Listed for November 2014 Release

2014 is gearing up to be a really good year for animation: Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, Laika's The Boxtrolls, possibly Henry Selick's The Shadow King, and now another exciting prospect from Disney. A while back we heard that Disney were working on an animated adaptation of one of Marvel's lesser known properties, the super-team Big Hero 6. Now it's official.

Today's reveal, courtesy of Bleeding Cool, backs up what we heard in June of last year: the film is being directed by Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh) and is due in 2014. The release date revelation comes via RentrakSpain, a reliable site, who are listing Big Hero 6 for a 21st November, 2014 release in Spain - which tallies up with Disney's usual animated release schedule. UPDATED - 20:25 (GMT), 24/02/2013: The US release will fall, presumably, on 7th November - we heard in October that Disney had slotted an unnamed animated picture for release on that date. Hopefully the UK release won't be in 2015.

Still no official word from Disney, but it seems to be a pretty sure thing at this point - expect to hear something at Disney's D23 event this summer. Until then, it's a really exciting concept!

Thanks to Benjamin Boekelaar for the tip off.

Saturday 23 February 2013

85th Annual Academy Award Predictions [UPDATED: And Winners]

The biggest night of the year on the film calender is nigh; the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony takes place tomorrow! Hosted by Seth MacFarlane and emanating from the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, this year's Oscars are close, very close. As such, it's time for me to let out my inner awards pundit and offer up A113Animation's predictions on what will be walking home with a golden statue at the end of the night.

Animation is a particularly close call this year; for months I was sure Laika's ParaNorman would take the prize, but the tide has turned, particularly after Disney's Wreck-It Ralph swept the Annies at the start of the month. Though Ralph is the best film of the five, it may well be Pixar's Brave that takes home the award, particularly after its swell of momentum at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and the Academy has always been fond of Pixar. Tim Burton's Frankenweenie had a lot of awards hype around it, but it doesn't seem to be a threat to Disney's other two offerings. It's great to see The Pirates! nominated, especially after getting so little recognition elsewhere, but it seems unlikely Aardman's latest will herald a second Oscar for them.

Short wise, it should be Disney's Paperman. Should be. But, personally, it seems more likely that Minkyu Lee's Adam and Dog will take the prize home, despite its lack of major advertising. Nonetheless, it's another close category. Life of Pi should and almost certainly will take home Best Visual Effects, a bittersweet win after Rhythm & Hues recently filed for bankruptcy.

On the live-action side, Argo seems a lock for Best Picture at this stage, and with the inexplicable omission of its helmer Ben Affleck from Best Director, the safe bet for that one is Spielberg. Most of the acting categories seem pretty sewn up (Daniel Day-Lewis is almost unbeatable at this stage, and a win will make him the only actor to ever win three Best Actor Oscars). Cinematography should be Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi - although Roger Deakins' work on Skyfall may well get the nod - and Best Original Song will definitely be Adele for "Skyfall". It's all really quite exciting!

Films we think should win are in bold, films we think will win are underlined; the winners will be highlighted in gold after the fact. No prediction indicates it's a category that I'm not knowledgeable about/haven't seen any of the nominees for.

Rio 2 Cast and Crew Revealed; Due for 2014

Blue Sky Studios, who will release Epic later this year, return to sequels in 2014, with a follow up to their 2011 Brazilian-bird film, Rio. Yesterday, details of the film's voice cast were revealed in a press release by the studio's parent company, Fox.

The original voice cast are returning, which includes Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and; added to the cast are Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies), Bruno Mars, Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and Pierce Gagnon (Looper), amongst others. Carlos Saldanha is returning to direct, as are producers Bruce Anderson and John C. Donkin. Sergio Mendes and John Powell are also returning to handle the film's music.

Blue Sky get a lot of flack sometimes - it is a fair point that they should stop casting bloody singers in their films - but Rio was a really good and really fun film, and with almost all of the original crew returning, I have no doubt the sequel can be just as good.

In terms of a release date "Twentieth Century Fox's international rollout begins March 20, 2014, followed by its domestic release on April 11, 2014".

Cloudy 2 Trailer Arrives on 27th

Sony Pictures Animation had commercial success last year with the Genndy Tartakovsky-directed Hotel Transylvania, they're surely hoping to replicate that this year, which will see them release two new films: The Smurfs 2 on 31st July and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 later (27th September, US/25th October, UK). The less said about the former the better, but Cloudy 2 has the potential to be a lot of fun, and we'll get our first practical glimpse at it on the 27th of this month!

SPA tweeted the above picture yesterday, promising a the first trailer for the sequel in five days - that has now ticked down to four. I wasn't a huge fan of Hotel Transylvania last year - the animation was magnificent though - but I am a huge fan of the first Cloudy film and am eagerly anticipating the second! We got our first look at concept art from the film last month.

Cloudy 2 sees the return of much of its original voice cast, including Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Neil Patrick Harris; Kristen Schaal and Terry Crews have joined the cast, with the latter replacing Mr. T as Officer Earl. Directing is being done by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn.

We'll post the trailer as soon as it's up.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Monsters University Character Posters and IDs

Pixar continued their roll out of advertising for their fourteenth feature film, Monsters University, yesterday, when Total Film unveiled a slew of new character posters and ID cards. As we've come to expect from Pixar, the designs are fun, inventive and look absolutely great!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Mickey Mouse and Roger Rabbit Could Co-Star in Animated Remake of The Stooge

Who Framed Roger Rabbit saw the biggest names in animation come together for a fun-filled cameo-a-thon, and it, ironically, made the titular rabbit rather a big name in animation too. A film recently proposed to Disney looks to take advantage of that, pairing Roger with a certain Mickey Mouse.

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #6: Saludos Amigos (1943)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Make Sure You've Read: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- War Period Introduction

When the US joined World War II, the government began launching strategies to reach out to their southern neighbours, in an effort to stop the spread of Nazism to other countries. In order to achieve this, they began creating anti-Hitler propaganda, and animation was a top contributor (Donald Duck’s Der Fuehrer's Face is a clear example of this). Saludos Amigos launched what was called “The Good Neighbor Policy”, attempting to strengthen the ties with Latin America. It's Disney’s shortest film to date and is partially live-action, partially short film and features Donald Duck, Goofy and other newly created characters. Unfortunately, even though it means well and has a nice educational approach (as a Latin American myself I found that charming instead of insulting), the film doesn't offer much replay value and certain aspects (such as the live-action footage) feel dated (even if it is good to see Walt and co. in the film). It's certainly worth a look for historical value and to enjoy some some charming moments, but on the whole Saludos Amigos feels lacking. Rating: 3/5.

Next Week: Animated Classic #7 Review: The Three Caballeros (1945)

Paperman Composer to Score Frozen

Disney are set to continue their love affair with Paperman, as Film Music Reporter tells us that Christophe Beck, who composed the delicately enchanting score for the Oscar-nominated short, has signed on to compose the score for the studio's next feature, Frozen!

Frozen is directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph), with the latter co-writing the film with Shane Morris; it's produced by Peter del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh) and John Lasseter. Original songs are being written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Winnie the Pooh). The film, based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, is certainly taking shape and Beck is sure to add a great deal to an already exciting movie. Beck also scored The Muppets and Pitch Perfect.

Frozen hits cinemas in the US on 27th November and UK ones on 6th December.

Via The Rotoscopers.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- War Period Introduction

By Munir Abedrabbo.

War Period: The Anthology Films (1943-1949)


After a far too short period of developing and innovating animation techniques and completely changing the animation industry with ambitious projects, World War II took its toll on the Disney Studio. Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi weren't as successful as Walt had hoped and, out of a need to keep the studio afloat during and after the War, he had to cut expense. Disney then released a series of inexpensive shorts, encompassed in various feature films. Universally known as the Anthology Films nowadays, this period is rather obscure for the casual Disney fan that tends to jump from the end of the Golden Age with Bambi to the Silver Age with Cinderella. Nonetheless, even if these films aren't widely known, and even if many of them offer uneven experiences to the audience, they are certainly worth a look and they’re an important part of the studio’s history during that difficult time.


Tomorrow: Animated Classic #6 Review: Saludos Amigos

Rumour Overload: Toy Story 4 Confirmed For 2015? [UPDATED: No, it's not.]

Treat this one as a rumour until strongly indicated otherwise: some Colombian news outlets are reporting that Disney and Pixar have officially announced the long rumoured Toy Story 4 for 2015!

Monday 18 February 2013

Take a Look Into Pixar and the Filmmaking Process Behind Brave

Pixar is the most beloved animation studio on the planet, and the most sought after. The studio, who most recently output the Golden Globe and BAFTA winning Brave, isn't open to the public, so, any little glimpse inside the illustrious halls of its Emeryville campus is always welcome - and here's another great one for you.

Nightline's Bob Woodruff visited Pixar, where he spoke to Brave director Mark Andrews (who engaged in a little sword fight with story supervisor Brian Larsen), producer Katherine Sarafian and executive producers Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter. It's another great little peak into how the cogs turn at Pixar, who, as this video points out, may take home their seventh Best Animated Feature Academy Award this Sunday.

The embed may be a bit dodgy, so you can check the video out here too.

William on the Scotty Jo Podcast Again: Wreck-It Ralph, Monsters U, The Boxtrolls and a Whole Lot More!

A few weeks back I went on the Scotty Jo Podcast to talk animation, and yesterday episode 7 of the podcast was released, with another animation-themed appearance by me! Far more extensive than my last visit, Scotty Jo and I discuss the last few weeks' super-exciting animation news (prepare for a link-a-thon): my thoughts on Wreck-It Ralph, the new Monsters University trailer, Laika's The Boxtrolls, the BAFTAs, the Oscars, the Annies, Finding Nemo 2DreamWorks' current woes, Illumination's upcoming slate, the recently released fake Frozen posters, The Good Dinosaur and even more! If you like animation and don't mind the sound of my voice, give it a listen!

You can listen to the episode here or subscribe to the Scotty Jo Podcast on iTunes. You can check mine and Scott's half hour-plus animation conversation out from about 7:15 on - but I recommend giving the whole show a listen; particularly if you like hilarious Daniel Day-Lewis jokes.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Beautiful Concept Art and Pre-Production Material from Scrapped The Legend of Tembo

It's a rough time for the animation and VFX industry as of late: DreamWorks are having to make massive cut backs; Rhythm & Hues, on the back of countless awards for their work on Life of Pi, including a BAFTA, have filed for bankruptcy. An earlier woe, though, came in September of last year, when Digital Domain ran into a whole host of financial problems, culminating in the shuttering of their animation division, Tradition Studios, and thus the unscrupulous demise of their first in-production animated feature, The Legend of Tembo.

Friday 15 February 2013

New Monsters University Promo: A Message From the Dean

Ah Pixar, you brilliant people...

A new promo's just been posted for Monsters University, designed as an advert for the university itself and narrated by Helen Mirren's Dean Hardscrabble. The animation, the music, the subtle humour, the nostalgic winks at Monsters, Inc.... this is going to be something really rather great.

Does this look kind of familiar to anyone else? Eek!

Related news: Monsters University Bits: New Clip, Characters and Casting

3rd Annual A113Animation Awards Results

So, it's that time of year again, time to present our A113Animation Awards, honouring the best of animation in 2012! 2012 was undoubtedly a very strong year for animated films, it was the first year in recent memory where there was no clear cut winner; rather, a slew of very strong, very exciting and very diverse animated motion pictures. Nonetheless, winners had to be decided, so check out the results below - winners in bold - and a breakdown of what and why afterwards.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

DreamWorks To Launch First Netflix-Original Kids' Series with Turbo: F.A.S.T

It's been a tough few months for DreamWorks: Rise of the Guardians underperformed, there's been release date chaos, films have been scrapped, people are being let go; but, they are still, for the most part, doing business as usual. Yesterday, news broke that DreamWorks were working with Netflix to produce the streaming service's first original children's series.

Videos of the Day: Live-Action Wreck-It Ralph in 60 Seconds and Chris Nolan Tribute

We've got a couple of really cool videos for you today... Firstly, for the Wreck-It Ralph fans out there, which should be everyone (check out our review here),  YouTuber MegaSteakMan has remade the Disney hit in live-action, in 60 seconds! Obviously, don't watch the video if you haven't seen the film (although it does actually leave out the biggest spoiler), but, if you have, enjoy the hell out of it! The level of detail in the video is astonishing; check out some great stills over at their Facebook page.

After that (via Animation Magazine), Vimeo user whoispablo has created this awesome animated tribute to the work of one A113Animation's favourite directors, the inimitable Mr. Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight, Memento, Inception: whoispablo is clearly a massive Nolan fan too. Check it out - the music's from the Looper soundtrack.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Monsters University Bits: New Clip, Characters and Casting

Pixar-hype season is gearing up again, and this one's going to be a doozie. Just yesterday Pixar unveiled the second trailer for their next release, Monsters University, and today, we get lots more cool stuff from the prequel!

Damien Presents Futurama: The Show That Just Won't Stay Dead!

By Damien.

Few people in the world have written more than one series finale. Ken Keeler did. He wrote three episodes that were designed to be the final ones. All of them for Futurama. And there's probably going to be a fourth.
Three times already, Futurama could've ended for good. It came pretty close the first time, when Fox decided to stop buying episodes after the 4th season.

Albert Brooks Set to Return for Finding Nemo 2

Brooks (center) with Willem Defoe and John Lasseter at the premiere of
Finding Nemo 3D.

Deadline is reporting that Albert Brooks, who so brilliantly lent his voice to father-clownfish Marlin in 2003's Finding Nemo, has signed on to reprise the role in Pixar's planned sequel. Finding Nemo is a source of unanimous praise, and one area that attracts significant adulation is its voice cast; in August we heard that Ellen DeGeneres was in talks to return to the role of Dory in the follow-up, so it's very reassuring to see that Brooks is back too.

Brooks was an absolute standout in an already brilliant film and, whatever direction Pixar take with the second film, - whether it be a sequel or a prequel - this is definitely going to help it be good. Brooks has taken a while to get pinned down to return though, likely affected by his recent bad-ass turn in 2011's Drive. It'll be interested to see - dependant on it being a sequel, of course - whether or not Alexander Gould, the voice of Nemo, (now 18) returns.

Who we do know, supposedly, is returning is director Andrew Stanton, who most recently directed controversial live-action film John Carter for Disney. Lindsey Collins (also John Carter) is set to produce and Victoria Strouse is handling the script. A 2016 release is being aimed for.

I'm more and more intrigued by Finding Nemo 2 as time passes, but I still can't quite escape the feeling it's just not necessary. But, at the end of the day, I trust Pixar, and I'm but a mere mortal, so if they want to make one, I believe they have ample cause.

Other Pixar news: Hilarious New Monsters University Trailer
Other voice cast news: Sandra Bullock Turning Evil for Despicable Me Spin-Off, Minions

Monday 11 February 2013

Sandra Bullock Turning Evil for Despicable Me Spin-Off, Minions

Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me spin-off based around the series' yellow henchmen, now seemingly titled Minions, just got its first voice cast member, America's Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock. The irony being that Bullock is following in Steve Carell's footsteps and playing an evil-doer in the film.

Wreck-It Ralph Review - A Retro Turbo-Tastic Classic!

*This review is largely spoiler free, but read cautiously if you haven’t seen the film yet*

It's been a long wait. It's been an arduously long wait. But Walt Disney Animation Studios' 52nd animated feature, and one of its most unanimously praised ones in decades, Wreck-It Ralph, has finally hit the UK. Disney landed the film with an uphill battle: die-hard animation fans (myself included) harboured resentment at the delay and casual viewers - including many a friend of mine - have given up waiting and pirated the film - we don't endorse that, but it is a cold, hard fact that Disney need to wake up to. So, the question I posed to myself as I walked into the cinema on Saturday morning was a simple one: is it worth the wait? And the answer I arrived at within minutes was a resounding yes.

Hilarious New Monsters University Trailer

Brave is picking up some serious awards steam, but now Pixar start planning for the future, as today Walt Disney Studios UK's YouTube channel unveiled a new trailer for this summer's Monsters University! We saw a new clip in the extended preview for the film a few days ago, but this trailer gives us our biggest indication as to the plot of Pixar's first prequel.

The trailer's embedded above and be sure to watch it in HD! The trailer itself is absolutely hilarious, Mike and Sulley are on top form and the new characters seem brilliant; Monsters U promises to be an absolute hoot - and a damn good looking film to boot.

Monsters U is directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, it opens on 21st June in the US and 12th July in the UK.

Sunday 10 February 2013

UPDATED - Brave Wins at BAFTAs!

Though the broadcast doesn't start until 9, the 66th annual BAFTA film awards are taking place right now, and Pixar's Brave just won the award for Best Animated Film! Seven BAFTAs have been given out for Best Animated Film, and this is Pixar's fifth win in the category - having lost to Happy Feet in 2006, and not bagging a nomination last year.

66th Annual British Academy Film Awards Predictions

Tonight's the biggest night of the year for British film, and quite a prestigious one for film in general. From 9 PM (GMT) on BBC1, the 66th annual British Academy Film Awards will take place - hosted by Stephen Fry - as BAFTA honour the best in film of the last year. As such, it's time for A113Animation to offer up our predictions (if you're interested in our own picks, check out the nominations for the 3rd annual A113Animation Awards).

How it works with our predictions is that the films I think should win are in bold, but the films that I think probably will win are underlined. Check them out, starting with animation, of course, below. If no prediction is offered, it's because it's a category I'm clueless about/haven't seen any of the nominees for, and the nominees are listed purely for informative purposes. The results will be highlighted in gold as and when they occur.

Saturday 9 February 2013

3rd Annual A113Animation Award Nominations

They've been delayed thanks to Disney's release schedule, but the time is upon us again, and I'm here today to announced the nominees for the 3rd annual A113Animation Awards! This year, we're introducing a few new awards; check out the categories, a few comments about what sort of criteria each category has where necessary, and the nominees who've managed to make the cut this year below.

Note, I haven't seen every single animated film of the year - the most notable omission is Tim Burton's Frankenweenie - and the awards are to be judged on what I have seen, as of today.

Watch and Discuss: Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

The Oscars are almost here, the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony will take place two weeks from tomorrow, on Sunday 24th February, and it's almost time to start fielding predictions. But, before that, it certainly helps to be well informed: as we are A113Animation, obviously, one of the main awards at the Oscars for us is the Best Animated Feature one; however, often overlooked is the Best Animated Short Film prize. So, given that the Oscar nominated shorts are now all available in their entirety online, I thought it time to offer up my thoughts on the offerings, and get yours.

Illumination to Continue CG Dr. Seuss Spree with The Grinch Remake

We found out almost a year ago that Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind 2010's Despicable Me and last year's Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, were going to continue their adaptations of Seuss's works - something that came about as a result of Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri's friendly relationship with the author's widow, which led to Horton Hears a Who! when he was still at Blue Sky Studios - with a film adaptation of The Cat in the Hat, as well as a live-action Dr. Seuss biopic. Today, news emerged that they've secured another Seussian property, and will be remaking How the Grinch Stole Christmas in CG.

Variety reports that Pete Candeland is set to direct, having previously worked on Disney's Aladdin TV series and Gorillaz music videos. The Variety article points out that, despite his lack of big film experience, Candelend may well be a good fit for Illumination, given their previous good track record with relative novice directors. No writers, nor a release date, have been named yet, but Meledandri is producing and Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, is executive producing.

I wasn't all too taken with The Lorax - it felt padded and unoriginal, though its heart was in the right place, and you can't argue with its animation - and Illumination's The Grinch is going to have a hard time living up to Chuck Jones' 1966 animated TV special (see top), but The Grinch is definitely one of Seuss's most fertile properties, and, if all things come together well, it could be a really fun film.

Illumination are also working on Curious George, Woody Woodpecker and Addams Family films, as well as a Despicable Me spin-off - Despicable Me 2 is released on 28th June in the UK and 3rd July in the US.

Via Cartoon Brew.

Monsters University Extended Preview Gives Us Plot Details and New Footage

The guys over at the great animation podcast Animation Fascination have got an awesome extended preview for Pixar's next film, Monsters University, for us! Be warned, it contains some moderate spoilers.

I really like the first 30 seconds or so, with the nifty little "from the makers of" bit, and it gets even better from there! The featurette, which is apparently the one that'll show up on the soon-to-be-released Monsters, Inc. Collector's Edition Blu Ray, is introduced by Monsters U director Dan Scanlon (Mater and the Ghostlight) and introduces the film's premise, beyond just the college theme we've been drip-fed so far, and shows off some new concept art and a great new clip! It certainly seems this prequel is going to be just as funny as the original.

Pixar are the greatest animation studio - and, perhaps, film studio in general - on the planet, who very rarely put a foot wrong, so it's always exciting to see whatever they've got up their sleeves next! Monsters U is particularly exciting, given it's their first prequel and the first follow up to the beloved 2001 original. Monsters University will also be preceded by a brand new short film, The Blue Umbrella - check out the first look here.

So, it's going to be great fun enjoying all the hype and promotion as we roll on towards its 21st June release in the US, and its 12th July one in the UK.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Laika's Next Film Is The Boxtrolls, Due 2014

Fresh off the critically acclaimed ParaNorman, Laika are looking to the future, and have just announced that their next film will arrive in October of 2014 and will be The Boxtrolls.

The Boxtrolls, per Laika's official press release, is "a 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid animated feature based on Alan Snow’s bestselling fantasy adventure novel Here Be Monsters." In our interview with Pete Oswald, a visual development artist who worked on ParaNorman, a few months ago, he mentioned that Laika's next film would be Here Be Monsters (which is now obviously going by The Boxtrolls), saying "While I was working on ParaNorman I saw some development art. It's fantastic." Check out one such instance of that development art down below.

The Art of Wreck-It Ralph Review - A Wreck-Tacular Art Book

I actually received Chronicle Books' latest accompanying Art of book when Wreck-It Ralph was released Stateside in November, but I thought it would probably prove useful to have something left to hype myself up for the film's inevitable UK release. And it has. So, with Disney's Wreck-It Ralph finally hitting UK cinemas tomorrow, I'm very happy to present a review of its wonderful, vibrant and quintessentially cartoony companion, The Art of Wreck-It Ralph.

Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #5: Bambi (1942)

By Munir Abedrabbo.

Last Week's: Munir's Disney Retrospective -- Animated Classic #4: Dumbo (1941)

When Bambi was released, the U.S. was already immersed in World War II and the European market was closed, so, like its predecessors (with the exception of Dumbo), it didn't make much money in its initial run. But, like with any true masterpiece, time has been kind to this film – and it’s fairly easy to see why. Bambi is a triumph in character animation and the level of detail in each animal is astonishing. You need just a glimpse to appreciate the leaps and bounds by which the animation had evolved since Snow White. To watch Bambi truly is to look at a work of art. However, even if it is beautiful to look at, without an interesting story it wouldn’t be of any use. Fortunately, Bambi not only delivers a very emotional story but also tackles complex themes like death, loss and maturity in a superb way that speaks to children and adults alike. More that 70 years have passed, but Bambis power and influence is anything but gone. Rating: 5/5.

Next Week: Animated Classic #6 Review: Saludos Amigos

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Brave Wins Big at VES Awards

At yesterday's 11th annual Visual Effects Society Awards, Pixar's Brave got some much deserved awards recognition, taking four of the prestigious awards home from the ceremony at the Beverly Hilton.

DreamWorks Woes: Mr. Peabody Pushed Back, Shadow Back in Development, Staff Cuts Coming

On the back of Rise of the Guardians under-performing (though it's still taken almost $300 million worldwide - hardly a failure), DreamWorks have a string of unpleasantness on the horizon, and none of today's developments are good news for animation fans.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Henry Selick's The Shadow King Happening After All

Months ago, we heard the sad news that Disney had halted production on the next stop-motion animated film from Coraline director Henry Selick. The film apparently wasn't on track to meet its release date - although deeper problems were thought to exist within the Mouse House - and Disney pulled the plug on the film, previously called Shademaker, now going by The Shadow King. Selick then tried to court Laika into taking on the project, but nothing came of that, and it seemed it was time to fear the worst. But life's a happy song, and it seems things are back on track after all.

New Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray Trailer

Monsters, Inc. 3D has been and gone, and now Pixar have begun hyping their new "Collector's Edition Blu-ray" set, available 19th February. As such, check out a new mini-promo for the release above.

Monsters, Inc. has been on Blu-ray for quite a while already, but this new release - as well as presumably some new bonus features - will include the hilarious Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex (check out my interview with its director here) and an exclusive new look at the film's impending prequel, Monsters University.

Any time you can return to Pixar's funniest film is a good one, check it out again in glorious high definition two weeks from today!

Cool Logo For Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

Briefly: Pixar News received an anonymous tip that the above logo is being used for Up co-director Bob Peterson's solo-directorial debut, The Good Dinosaur. Pixar Post confirms that the logo is legit - or at least was being used in November of last year. It's a nifty little logo that goes well with the quirky story The Good Dinosaur has - I can't wait to hear more from this film when Monsters University's almost out later this summer.

The Good Dinosaur is co-directed by Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy) and produced by John Walker (The Incredibles), it's released on 30th May, 2014 in the US and 18th July, 2014 in the UK.

Sunday 3 February 2013

40th Annual Annie Awards Winners: Disney Wins Big

Last night, ASIFA-Hollywood handed out this year's Annie Awards, honouring the best of animation for 2012; the evening was hosted by animation and film historian Leonard Maltin. The Annies are self-touted as animation's highest honour, and last night the highest honours went to Disney.

Friday 1 February 2013

UPDATED: New Frozen Posters Give Us a Look at its Main Characters

Argentinian movie blog Cine 1 has got three cool (pun intended) new posters for Disney's next animated film, Frozen. The posters are nice and hi-res, but un-nice and scrawled with the site's logo (though a great poster resource, Cine 1 are notorious for watermarking everything).

In addition to the nice title poster above, Cine 1 have two posters which show off the sisters at the heart of Frozen: Anna and Elsa (both below). At the time of writing, Cine 1 has just taken the posters off their site (Disney is apparently emailing round getting people to take them down, so check them out while you can).

First Trailer for The Little Mermaid on Blu-ray

The 3D re-release plans may have been scrapped, but the Blu-ray release is still on track; Yahoo! Movies have released the first trailer for the Blu-ray release of their 1989 animated classic, The Little Mermaid!

It's a fantastic trailer that rekindles the lifelong love of the film that I've had - a love that has unfortunately slumped slightly in recent years because of that most wretched of things, the Disney Vault. The trailer highlights the film's great story, characters, music and the magnificent visuals that are sure to look breathtaking in high definition.

You can take home the film that officially started the Disney Renaissance again from 1st October. We'll be counting down the days.