Animated

Scooby Doo

According to Variety, Warners is ready to answer the age-old question, “Scooby Doo, where are you?” The studio is prepping an animated feature for the world’s most famous sandwich-eating dog with the same producers that worked to bring the 2002 live-action/CGI hybrid to life. Charles Roven and Richard Suckle will be producing from a script from Matt Lieberman who recently wrote the Short Circuit reboot. The studio isn’t revealing the concept, but they won’t get away with it if the meddling internet has anything to say. The character has been through a ton of incarnations (the best, of course, involving the Harlem Globetrotters), but anytime someone plans new Scooby Doo, there’s a potential for goofy greatness. Naturally it’s difficult to see new stuff without Don Messick voicing Scoobs, but maybe there’s a great vocal talent that can do the character justice. Neil Fanning was passable in the live-action movies, and there’s a chance a CGI Doo was going to be alienating no matter what, but there might be someone even better out there. If they can nail that down and come up with a fun mystery, this could be a good one. Glad to see there’s still interest in the gang.

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Why Watch? With a clever use of suggestive shapes, this animation from Eoin Duffy is a little dessert for your lunch break. It’s a small bite, but it’s enormously effective in telling a story – one that should make all of this think twice before getting super drunk in the woods. It’s cute in a way that mother might approve of, but it’s really disgusting if you think about how it would look live-action. There’s a few seconds where all you can think is, “What’s that…what’s that bear going to do to that guy? Oh, man, what’s he doing??” And then he does it. What will it cost you? Only 1 quick minute. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? If this is just a thesis project, Phillip Simon and Alyse Miller have an excellent career ahead of them. In this animated short, a goth girl summons up a demon from hell to kill her bubbly blonde nemesis with fire-breathing. What she gets, is the most adorable demon in the Nether Realm. Very cute, very funny, this short is the kind of thing you could see DreamWorks placing before Despicable Me 2 (or even expanding into an entire feature). The short version? It’s pro-level work from a strong group of amateur storytellers. The people demand more. No wonder io9 featured it. Hat tip to them as well. What will it cost you? Only 4 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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It is possible for family films, like any other film genre (or, for that matter, any other entertainment medium), to play to the cheap seats. It’s just that in the case of family films, those seats are brightly colored, made of molded plastic, and help little Jimmy see over the lady in front of him at the theater. When a filmmaker resigns himself to aiming the core of their movie low enough that only the tiniest of funny bones will be struck, story and character development take an unfortunate back seat. This issue has been raised and examined in many reviews on this particular site, and often due to the fact that the family film under review is guilty of sacrificing craft for a demographic-pandering layup. ParaNorman also calls to mind this issue, but quite fortunately, that’s only because it stands as a sterling example of a film that exists free of that compromise. ParaNorman is the tale of a boy named, unsurprisingly, Norman, who has been blessed/cursed with the ability to converse with the dead. This ability, as one would expect, leads to his being ostracized by his peers, mocked by his sister, and even resented by his father. Norman’s typically benevolent visions of the other side become increasingly sinister and foretelling of a horrible fate facing his community. Are the sins of Blithe Hollow’s past threatening to destroy its future? Is Norman the only person equipped to halt the impending Armageddon? Will saving his town finally get the […]

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? This is absolutely breath-taking work featuring stop-motion mastery and an entrancing story. In Juan Pablo Zaramella‘s Luminaris, a young man who makes light bulbs just like he’d blow up bubblegum plots a plan he can’t execute by himself. It’s stunning work that puts smiles on faces like it was its job. With a whimsical score and a grounding creativity tied to a little light romance, it’s a must-see. What will it cost? Only 5 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Boiling Point

John Carter lightly transported itself into theaters this past weekend, securing a relatively meager $30m opening domestically, though it managed to secure another $70m internationally. While I will eventually make a defense of the economics at play here, it is hard to argue that John Carter isn’t a domestic failure, considering it came in second to The Lorax, which debuted a full week earlier. On top of that, John Carter has a suspected $250m budget with marketing costs guestimated in the $100m range, for a total investment of around $350m. The critics have been somewhat kind to the civil war veteran’s debut – while the average review seems to be “it’s alright,” there have certainly been some hyperbolic highs and very few hyperbolic lows. Consensus is you’ll probably think the movie is okay, but you might want to wait for DVD. Scattered among those are bold claims that film will live on with your children as a classic, which are probably a bit off the reservation. There is little doubt that in at least several ways John Carter failed, ways that were easily avoidable and ways that make me fairly angry with the system.

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Whereas Pixar has dominated the category in recent years, the sense that Cars 2 isn’t a shoe-in for awards season is offering a spotlight to a wider field. In fact, it’s also a wider field that will beget more nominees – if there are 16 eligible in the given year, 5 nominees will make the short list. If the numbers stay steady, this would mark the third time since the Best Animated Feature‘s inception in 2001 that there are more than 3 films up for the big prize. According to The Wrap, the list of films that have been submitted for consideration include: The Adventures of Tintin, Alois Nebel, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Gnomeo & Juliet, Happy Feet Two, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Kung Fu Panda 2, Mars Needs Moms, Puss in Boots, Rango, Rio, The Smurfs, Winnie the Pooh, and Wrinkles. Just because they’ve been submitted doesn’t meant they’re all eligible. Several haven’t done qualifying runs in Los Angeles theaters, and many are questionable because of their use of motion capture or live-action blend. In the mo-cap cases of Tintin, Happy Feet Two and Mars Needs Moms, filmmakers have been asked to discuss their methods and intentions with the process in order to prove eligible. The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks are also animation/live-action hybrids, so their fate is unclear at this time. Without them, and without, say, the Czech Republic’s rotoscoped Alois Nebel, the […]

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Why Watch? Because great art can be thought-provoking and delicious. Animation gets a bad reputation as being “something for kids,” but this noir-esque short demanded to be animated. Drawn and painted art play a direct role in the plot in this story about an art thief who does something very unusual with his ill-gotten works. The execution is a jaw-dropper of clever turns which all lead to an end that’ll keep eyes wide. Plus, it’s all carried by an intricate, jazzy score. Delightful, clever and peculiar – it’s a must-see. What does it cost? Just 7 minutes of your time. Check out Dripped for yourself:

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When the CGI cat slaps its own forehead, you’ll finally find a character in this trailer you can sympathize with. Despite its best efforts to mock the cartoon series it’s based on, The Smurfs still looks about as dumb as a sack full of blueberries. Watch as Gargamel gets hit by things! Revel in the splendor of Smurf Village! Let your jaw hit the floor at the slapstick tragedy of it all! Bear witness to a trailer that can’t even take its own movie seriously:

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Why Watch? Because you have to experience it for yourself. Twitch featured this yesterday, and it was so damned good, that the schedule was rearranged to showcase it today. Crafted painstakingly with uncompromising visuals, this brilliant short is a masterwork of animation. What’s truly inspiring is that it takes something as simple as a moth getting caught in a spider web and proceeds to dissect each moment through detail and beautiful danger. The look is something like medieval nature film by way of a Tool music video. It’s blend of hyper activity and ballet-like movements are jarring but highly effective. In short, this short is incredible. What Will It Cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out Loom for yourself:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with The Hangover Part II screenwriter Craig Mazin and continue the screenwriting/sequel theme with Kung Fu Panda 2 writers Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger. Plus, Katey Rich from Cinema Blend battles Jordan Raup of The Film Stage in the Movie News Pop Quiz Arena of Death. The result? You’ll have to listen to find out, but we end up talking about the bad week that 3D has been having. Reject Radio brings it on home this week, so kick off you shoes and stay awhile. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Why Watch? Because sometimes a waste of time can be beautiful and hilarious. This beat poem from Tim Minchin tells the story of a dinner party where a young stranger gets the author’s goat by claiming the goat has supernatural spiritual powers. It’s the tale of one man, drunk on wine, rhyming his way through arguments about psychics and science, deep belief and debunking. It’s animated in a minimalist style that works really well and gives the story another dimension. Plus, it’s an exercise in fun futility. What Will It Cost? Just 10 minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Check out Storm for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because a hybrid of manga, live-action and WTF is exactly what you need to get you through the day. This outstanding short delivers a visual experience where people live inside the pages of a Japanese comic book that seems inspired by Noh Theater and little orange pills. A young girl named Junko lives with her shamisen-playing grandfather who is killed while she’s playing in the woods. Accompanied by her stop-motion fox friend, and inhabiting a stage world lorded over by a narrator and his band, Junko must find a new path at the edge of a knife. What Will It Cost? Just 10 minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Check out Junko’s Shamisen for yourself:

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. The management of this theater is proud to suggest this movie for every member of every family everywhere. It’s fascinating to think of how dark and frightening this movie is despite all the musical interludes, the trademark Disney animation, and all the fairies prancing around making mops do their cleaning work for them. Yes, it’s the story of Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, and a kiss that can break a coma. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Okay, check out this voice cast for DC’s upcoming animated version of “Batman: Year One”. We’ve got Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dushku, Katee Sackhof, and Alex Rocco bringing Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel about Bruce Wayne’s first days in the Bat costume to life. For years comic fans (or maybe just myself) wondered why the big two companies never produced animated versions of some of their classic storylines, and then DC finally started hammering away at it a few years ago, often with impressive results. Their last go at a solo Batman story, an adaptation of “Batman: Under the Red Hood” was especially adult and cool, and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to come up with now that they’ve got their hands on some Miller work. Classic Miller, mind you; back when he was gritty but not totally bat-shit crazy.

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Jaws didn’t mean to do it, but Summer has become the biggest business in movie-making. This summer, we’re getting a new batch of movies that the studios are hoping to be gigantic, but thankfully for us, they fit into 6 handy categories. Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius have worked tirelessly (except for five or ten naps) in order to break these movies down and present them to you. What will you be watching this summer? What excites you the most? What do you have the highest hopes for? These films all have the potential to bust blocks, but will it be your block they’re busting? Here they are, the six types of films coming out in the following months.

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Why Watch? The use of old Dick and Jane cutouts makes for the basis of a very odd story about greed, death, and getting what you wish for. This might be the most sinister the childhood pair have every been portrayed, but it works perfectly – blending the familiar imagery with a discordant fantasy story about an idol they cut out of a rabbit who can turn houseflies into things they can sell. See Dick and Jane Get Greedy. What Will It Cost? Just 8 minutes of your time. Does it get better any better than that? Check out Rabbit for yourself:

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This is a question that speaks to the very core of our humanity. How is it possible that trailers have been made that are even worse, more moronic, awkwardly craven, and less funny than the brutal marketing assault that hit us during Operation Yogi Bear? Who would do this to us? What did we do to deserve this? How do we make it stop? Why is it going after our children? Cynicism and sarcasm aside, this trailer for The Smurfs might be the single worst piece of film marketing I’ve ever seen in my life. No hyperbole. Not only do jokes not land, they hang in the air begging to be noticed. The events in it are nonsensical to the point that we should all be medically concerned for whomever cut it together. It just all looks so lazy and low-rent. What’s worse, they’ve made Neil Patrick Harris do some exceedingly lame physical comedy that looks like it’s aimed at dog-levels of intelligence. Filmmakers, feel free to dumb things down if you must, but at least keep it inside the species. The horror, the horror…

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I know what you’re thinking: they’re making a sequel to Legend of the Guardians? There. I proved I’m psychic. James Randi owes me a million dollars. The answer, though, is no. They aren’t. Rise of the Guardians is simply a confusingly-titled also-animated also-children’s movie that Dreamworks is prepping for 2012. Apparently the book’s title “The Guardians of Childhood,” was too good for the movie version. Fortunately, the story is a contemporary slant on Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost as a heroic foursome. According to Variety, Alec Baldwin will be voicing Claus, Hugh Jackman will be voicing The Bunny, Isla Fisher will be voicing the Fairy, and Chris Pine will be voicing Jack Frost as played by Captain Kirk. The heroes will be battling the demon Pitch (voiced by Jude Law) in what is most likely a plot to destroy the magic of childhood. I came up with that using ESP as well. The strong cast  is complimented by screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) delivering the script for an expected release at the end of November 2012. It sounds like a huge adventure and a continuation of Dreamworks’ continued growth in the quality department (even if they pushed the release date to avoid sparring directly with Monsters Inc 2…). The most important thing? Alec Baldwin as Santa. You’ve been daydreaming about it already, haven’t you?

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For years, scientists have known exactly how the continents got their shape and placement on the Earth, but they’ve kept it hidden from us because the truth is a bit too shocking. It’s also the cause of the dead birds and fish, the missing single socks in laundromats, and why the moon keeps turning you into a werewolf. Fortunately, the fine folks behind the Ice Age movies have just released a fantastic short featuring their beloved Scrat – the Buster Keaton of pre-historic rodents. Watch, learn and laugh:

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