Animated Features

studio-ghibli

It’s long been rumored that legendary Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli, was working on two new film, one each from its two founders, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, but today the studio went ahead and made the rumors into official announcements [via SlashFilm]. Not only is Princess Mononoke director Miyazaki set to bring us a new film called The Wind is Rising, which is said to be something of a biopic for the designer of a famous Japanese fighter plane, and not only is Grave of the Fireflies director Takahata set to bring us a new film called The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which is said to be a re-telling of the old folktale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” but both films are actually set to be released on the same day. This is kind of a throwback to when Miyazaki released My Neighbor Totoro and Takahata released Fireflies on the same day 25 years ago. Which was kind of a big day for animation.

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Brave

In just a few months, a team of holiday warriors, an orange environmentalist and 19 other animated hopefuls will battle for an Oscar. Of course by then the number will have been whittled down to a handful (probably 5), but the astounding fact remains that this year features more award-submitted animated features than ever before. There are widely-released, popular entries like Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman and Pirates! (THR has an excellent run-down of the entire list), but the large and diverse queue once again raises the problem inherent in having an animated category: animation is not a genre. While most of the films are aimed squarely at the young and young at heart, there’s also the wildcard Liar’s Autobiography which uses 17 different animation styles to tell the story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. That dark horse is awkwardly shoehorned into a category that might also be called “Best Family Film” at this point.There’s also Hey Krishna, an entry from India that tells about the childhood years of the dairy-loving God, and “Best Talking Animal Animated Film” could be its own subcategory this year (although it’s unclear what species The Lorax is). Since the category has cemented its own importance (and arguably achieved the goal of placing a spotlight on animated work), we have to ask every year whether it’s time for this style of movie to stand on its own in the “regular” categories. With Toy Story 3 being nominated for Best Picture at the 2011 broadcast and an undeniably […]

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Peanuts

At 65 years of age, you would think that lovable loser Charlie Brown and his not-so-loyal pup Snoopy would be looking a bit long in the tooth, but the truth is that these two kids couldn’t possibly look any more spry, so what better way to celebrate their 65th birthday than by having them star in their own big screen feature? It was announced in a press release today [via ComingSoon] that Blue Sky Studios (the studio behind Ice Age and Rio) is going to be making another Peanuts movie. This will be Charlie’s fifth chance to get put down by Lucy on the big screen, as creator Charles Schulz’s characters have previously appeared in films called A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Come Home, Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!). Seeing as how Charles Schulz passed in 2000, you might be wondering who would be willing to step into his legendary shoes and make a new Peanuts feature. As it turns out, Schulz’s son, Craig Schulz, his grandson, Bryan Schulz, and a writer named Cornelius Uliano have all collaborated on the script, and Ice Age: Continental Drift director Steve Martino is set to helm. Sounds like as qualified a team to carry on a legacy as any…but there still isn’t any word on who will be providing the melancholy jazz music.

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Looney Tunes

Given the shoddy treatment Jim Henson’s Muppets characters got through much of the ’90s and the ’00s, last year’s refresher of their property, The Muppets, was welcomed as a huge breath of fresh air. Finally somebody with true affection for these beloved characters gave them a big screen vehicle that skillfully treated them with the respect they deserve. Things are arguably looking worse for Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes franchise than they ever did for the Muppets though. The last time these characters hit the big screen was in 2003’s already-forgotten Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and the last time they felt remotely relevant was when they appeared in Space Jam in 1996. Here is a stable of characters that was beloved for decades, whose earliest animated works are still held up in knowledgeable circles as being enduring pieces of modern art, and we can’t even get them a decent Space Jam sequel? What gives? Hopefully all this is about to change, because the brothers Warner are putting together a new feature for Bugs, Daffy, and crew, and it sounds like they’re taking the The Muppets approach that resulted in that property enjoying newfound relevance. What are the similarities here? Well, according to THR [via Slashfilm], the studio is looking outside the insular animated world and giving the job of putting this film together to people who are known for doing other things, but still have a deep, abiding affection for animated weirdness.

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Now that the last film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, has finally hit theaters and been seen by everyone, comic book nerds all over the world thought that they would have a chance to cut back on the Batman talk and stop mistakenly referring to the film as The Dark Knight Returns. Why did we keep calling the movie by the wrong name? Because its title was annoyingly close to one of the best-loved Batman stories of all time, Frank Miller’s gritty, 1986 limited series about an elderly Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement, “The Dark Knight Returns.” There’s good news for fans of Nolan’s look at an older, more beat-up Batman, as the Miller-penned story that somewhat inspired his final go-around with the character is now being put out by DC as an animated feature, and its first trailer looks pretty good. The bad news, of course, is that we’re all set to once again get tongue-tied and misunderstood when trying to keep these two stories straight.

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Chances are that you stumbled upon a video recently where Disney paraded their animated films from 1 to 50 in celebration of the release of Tangled. You might have marveled at the pristine quality of Snow White or clutched at your chest in childlike wonderment at the Lion King’s roar. You might have even had a flood of childhood memories wash over you like the sun on a cold day. There’s something to be applauded in creating their 50th animated feature film, but Disney is celebrating a little bit late because there’s one movie that’s missing from that video roster.

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Tarik Saleh’s animated Metropia delivers some stunning footage and a few images that will give you giant-eyed, bone-thin nightmares.

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A little company called Pixar has a new poster Up on the web. Get it? It’s a pun because that’s also the name of the movie. Clever, we know.

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