Tag Archive: animated


Well this week’s news is all about sequels (some wanted, some not) and scriptwriters being hired. We’ll start with the news that a sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp (as the Mad Hatter, not Alice), has finally started moving. I don’t say finally because I’ve been waiting ages for a sequel as a fan of the film, but because despite its mixed reviews Alice in Wonderland is the twelfth highest grossing movie of all time so it’s amazing that in a sequel heavy cinema scene that it has taken so long to get off the ground. Linda Woolverton is the woman apparently writing the script, which fits seeing as though she wrote the first film, and hopefully the sequel will be as good as her earlier works: The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan.

 

Wreck-It Ralph absolutely smashed the box office when it was released over in America and fast became a hit with audiences and critics alike. Disney have been fast to get a sequel rushing ahead with their animated feature. Despite the fact that Wreck-It Ralph was full of cameos from very famous video game characters there was one very obvious omission, everyone’s favourite Italian plumber (because how many do you really know?) Mario! Well with the sequel Disney are trying to find an organic way to implement him into the story saying they will put him in if they can find him something good to do, so good news for video game fans and movie fans alike.

 

Columbia are working on a remake of the children’s classic film Jumanji. The 1995 original was a tale of kids who have to deal with the dangers of the jungle when the titular board game starts unleashing animals and more as they play. Although there is no director or stars attached to the project Columbia have now hired a writer and that is Stranger Than Fiction scriptwriter Zach Helm. Although Stranger Than Fiction was well received his only attempt at family films so far, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, was not so well received.

 

Earlier this year it was announced that Fantastic Four was set to receive a reboot directed by Chronicle director Josh Trank. Well it has now been announced that the release date for Fantastic Four will be March 6th 2015. This, in my view, is a horrible move being as though some big ‘geeky’ franchises are also set to continue in 2015: The Avengers 2 and Star Wars: Episode VII are both set for release that year. Long awaited Ant-Man also has a 2015 release date; the Justice League movie is slated for a release in 2015 although I highly doubt that will come to fruition. Point is, the superhero market is very liquidated in 2015 with bigger films than the Fantastic Four reboot and after the shambolic original two films will anybody care about this attempt at a reboot when The Avengers 2 hits screens?

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Warner Bros. have this week announced their intentions to push The Dark Knight Rises forward in hope of getting a few Oscar nominations. The Dark Knight won two Oscars and received another six nominations although none of these were in any of the ‘big five’ categories. Disney have decided that they are not going to push The Avengers for Oscar nominations and instead will concentrate on their animated features: Brave, Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph. On the surface of it this seems a strange choice as The Avengers became one of the highest grossing movies of all time and is one of the most well loved films of this year! Have Disney made the right choice?

Acting

There are four categories at the Oscars for acting: Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. After you decide who in The Avengers is adjudged to be the Lead Role and who is Supporting then you have to think does anybody really deserve a nomination? Mark Ruffalo came out of The Avengers really well, as did Clark Gregg but none of these really did anything to warrant an Oscar. Before it’s release I was touting Robert Downey Jr as a potential Oscar candidate but I wasn’t blown away with his portrayal like I was in Iron Man. As for the female characters Scarlett Johansson put in a good performance but nothing Oscar worthy. Tom Hiddleston is considered by many to be the best actor among the cast but I think there have been better performances than his in other Oscar-worthy films.

Ruffalo and Hiddleston get along much better off screen!

Direction

Joss Whedon made himself a God among geeks with The Avengers but how good was his direction? He told a fantastic story and put together some incredible set pieces including the unforgettable continuous shot during the final battle. However, his technique came under fire from cinematographer and long time Christopher Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister as his camera angles apparently didn’t make much sense in terms of telling a story. Unfortunately, there won’t be any recognition for Whedon’s direction here.

Best Picture

As I mentioned earlier The Avengers became the third highest grossing film of all time and nobody could avoid the huge superhero mash-up this year. I gave it a 10 out of 10 in my review because it is everything that I could have hoped for, it was easily among the best films of the year! However, it seems to be that more often than not, Oscar winners for Best Picture are usually more serious film and you can see that The Avengers was made to be fun and enjoyable. You could say that, much to its credit, The Avengers was made for comic book fans rather than the critics and that could damage it’s hope of a nomination here, especially seeing as how The Dark Knight didn’t even get recognition in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

For me, this is the most likely category that The Avengers will feature in. Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer for television and now he has shown that he can tell wonderful stories on the big screen too. Whedon’s writing was what made The Avengers what it is and his dialogue, character development and interaction was fantastic. I think it is a much more well written film than a lot of what we have seen this year (including The Dark Knight Rises) and I do hope that it does receive a nomination here.

So they’re the biggest categories discussed and my opinions on The Avengers‘ chances. Of the rest I don’t think a nomination is out of the question in categories such as Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design or Best Visual Effects but at the end of the day, who remembers the winners of those awards? I think Disney made the right call not to make a serious push for The Avengers‘ Oscars chances.

A VERY happy Mr. James Marsden

James Marsden is a recognisable face in the world of movies. Marsden has been in some very popular films of a couple of genres so it strikes me that he is not more famous than he is, but there is a very good reason (or very bad, depending on how you look at it) as to why his career hasn’t quite reached the heights that I thought it would earlier in his career. This reason is the cause of the title for this post and all will become clear in a few minutes.

James Paul Marsden began acting in the 1990s and his career began like so many others, with bit part appearances here and there in a number of, what can only be deemed unsuccessful, television shows. Luckily, in 1996 Marsden landing a lead role in family drama TV series Second Noah and this ran for two seasons, with a further three final episodes being commissioned after fan campaigns. After the shows cancellation Marsden moved into films; after a couple of made for television movies he appeared in Disturbing Behaviour alongside Katie Holmes (the film didn’t do very well) and then Gossip which only made half of its budget back and again failed. After this start it’s a wonder Marsden made it as big as he has done, but he could have been bigger. Here’s what happened…

In the year 2000, after the success of Blade, a movie was being made out of another popular Marvel property. It was of course, the best superhero team of all time, the X-Men. And James Marsden was cast in the role of Scott Summers, or as he is more popularly known Cyclops. This SHOULD have propelled James Marsden into a huge Hollywood star, should being the most important word here. Anyone who knows anything about the X-Men knows that Cyclops is the rightful leader of the X-Men. However, this was a characteristic drastically overlooked during the X-Men films (although this was the only real complaint I have about the first two films, the third is a different kettle of fish altogether). So really, Cyclops and James Marsden should have taken centre stage in one of the most successful trilogies of all time and would have rightfully become a household name; the unfortunate truth is that unless you take a real interest in the X-Men films or make a habit of watching romantic comedies, you probably won’t know who he is. Why? Simple.

Wolverine. The popularity of Wolverine among comic book fans is very rarely matched by another character and it is for this reason that in all three of the X-Men films featuring James Marsden Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine took centre stage. This forced the character of Cyclops into the background and he became a bit of an unimportant character, seemingly his only function was to marginally get in the way of Wolverine and Jean Grey’s romance and he didn’t even do that well. You can’t blame James Marsden for taking the part as leader of the X-Men but surely he would have hoped for a more heroic role in the films before tragically being sort of (I still don’t believe he actually died) killed off in X-Men: The Last Stand.

The reason for Cyclops disappearing in X-Men: The Last Stand was because James Marsden had taken a part in Superman Returns, another film in which he had a relatively small and unimportant part, there again to have his on screen ruined by the main hero of the piece (he does get a bit of bad luck this James Marsden chap) and of course Superman Returns disappeared into comic book movie obscurity rather unsurprisingly as it was very dull. But aside from comic book movies James Marsden has mainly stuck to romantic movies. He had a role in arguably one of the most popular films of all time – The Notebook. He has also starred in romantic comedies such as 27 Dresses and Sex Drive; the musical Hairspray; the fantasy half animated-half live action Enchanted and a film some critics called the worst of all time The Box.

This year, Marsden made a successful move back to television with a role in comedy 30 Rock although his time on television this time looks set to be short lived with 2013 having quite a few films slated for release with James Marsden attached. There’s dramedy As Cool As I Am, thriller The Loft, Enchanted 2 is in the pipeline to be made in the next couple of years. Perhaps the most exciting movie James Marsden is attached to at the minute though is something I am very much looking forward to and is a shoe-in for a few Oscar nominations when it is released. This is The Butler about the life of Cecil Gaines who served as White House butler to eight American presidents over three decades. The cast is full of real Hollywood stars and emerging talent: James Marsden, Forest Whitaker, Alan Rickman, Robyn Williams, Alex Pettyfer, Melissa Leo, Minka Kelly, John Cusack,  Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber and Lenny Kravitz. James Marsden will be playing the great John F. Kennedy himself.

With The Butler, James Marsden has the chance to get the recognition he deserves and reach the heights of fame that he should have done a decade or so ago. If the films had been more true to the comic books with the X-Men then James Marsden would already have achieved so much more than he has. Of course, this isn’t to say that his career has been a washout because he has still had it pretty good; but if X-Men didn’t focus so much on Wolverine it could have all been so different for James Marsden. He never looks disappointed though, I’ve never seen a picture of him without a smile on his face!

James Marsden on set as John F. Kennedy – he’s either blinking or sneakily checking out Minka Kelly… you decide.

UK Release Date: 12th July 2013.

Monsters University is the upcoming prequel to the brilliant Pixar hit Monsters Inc. and while it may be over a year away from release, here is the first teaser trailer showing all your favourite monsters in their college days.

Monsters University is a look at the relationship between Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends. Other characters are also set to return such as Randall (Steve Buscemi), Fungus (Frank Oz) and The Abominable Snowman (John Ratzenberger).

This is the first prequel that Pixar have ever done and they have chosen some very popular characters to do it with so they’d better get it right and let’s be honest, this is Pixar. About 95% of the time they get it spot on! The teaser does just that; it teases the audience with what to expect from their two heroes with a hilarious trailer and guarantees that things will be different to Monsters Inc. 

Pixar has Brave coming up later this year however anticipation for that film is not as high as some of Pixar’s previous releases and their previous offering of Cars 2 seemed to miss the spot with a lot of people but hopefully this is just a blip on their form and Monsters University will take Pixar back to being the undisputed kings of the animated film world.

Amy Adams has just entered into negotiations to star in Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s critically acclaimed novel Dark Places. Adams provides an example of a modern day actress with a fantastic ability for acting as well as looking incredibly beautiful at the same time and has been nominated for three Oscars throughout her career.

Amy Adams got her first film role in comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous and this was the start of what would become a fantastic career. After this Adams spent a couple of years working on television, appearing in episodes of Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville and The West Wing before, in 2002, appearing in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can alongside the brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio. Spielberg even said that Adams’ performance in Catch Me If You Can should have launched her career, yet still it stalled.

It was in 2004 that Amy Adams got her next film role in The Last Run as well as bagging regular roles in television series’ King of the Hill and Dr. Vegas, then her career really gained speed. After The Wedding Date was released Amy Adams starred in indie flick Junebug, a film for which Adams herself received critical acclaim and she was getting the recognition she deserved everywhere, including being nominated for an Oscar for her performance.

Not many comedy actors or actresses get recognised as talented actors as well as people who make us laugh, but this didn’t sway Amy Adams from appearing in more comedies as she attempted to crack mainstream cinema. Adams appeared in Talladega Nights, The Pick of Destiny and The Ex and then, in 2007, she made herself known to a wider audience than ever before. Enchanted, the part animated/part live action modern Disney fairytale, cast Adams in the role of the princess and the film was a huge commercial success and prepared Adams for the success that was to come.

Amy Adams then starred alongside Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War, Emily Blunt in Sunshine Cleaning as well as making Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, all three of which were well received by audiences. Doubt was released in 2008 and it was this performance that saw Amy Adams nominated for her second Oscar.

Leap Year, Julie & Julia and Night At The Museum 2 followed before Amy Adams put in one of the best performances of her career in The Fighter and was rightly nominated for her third Oscar so far and arguably should have won it but it went to her co-star Melissa Leo. More critical and commercial success followed with Jason Segel’s reboot of The Muppets where she showcased her vocal talents.

With several projects in the pipeline there is no doubt that Amy Adams, one of the most versatile and well respected actresses working today, is set to achieve even more success. This year she will be appearing in the hotly anticipated and long-in-making film On The Road. Trouble With The Curve and The Master follow before what could become the defining and most important role for Adams to date: she is to take on the role of Lois Lane in Zack Snyder’s Superman tale Man of Steel, produced by Christopher Nolan.

Hopefully, Adams will continue to work in films for a long time to come and maybe one day she can win the Oscar that she quite rightly deserves.

UK Release Date: 30th November 2012

This is one of the best trailers I have seen in a long time; Rise of the Guardians looks as though it is going to be brilliant if it is as good as the trailer. Rise of the Guardians is the latest film from Dreamworks Animation and is based on the ‘Guardians of Childhood‘ book series. If this films does well it will no doubt spawn a series of films for Dreamworks.

Rise of the Guardians revolves around a group of Guardians from childhood folk tales: Tooth (the tooth fairy), E. Aster Bunnymund (the Easter bunny), North (Santa Claus), Jack Frost and the Sandman. These Guardians join forces when the Boogeyman attempts to overrun the world with total darkness by inspiring nothing but fear into the hopes, beliefs, and imagination of children all over the world

The voicing talents in this animated adventure film are very high quality. We have Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fischer and Alec Baldwin playing the good guys to Jude Law’s villain.

The trailer, as I mentioned, looks incredible. I think that this will definitely peak the interest of children all over the world and a lot of adults too. It seems like there is something for everyone. The trailer introduces the characters perfectly and the story, it does exactly what it needs to. The animation also looks superb; sometimes I feel that Dreamworks’ animation looks weak compared to Pixar but that can not be said here.

I can not wait to see this film and have very high hopes that I hope Rise of the Guardians exceeds.

Madagascar 3 Trailer

UK Release Date: 19th October 2012

Here is the trailer for the third chapter of Dreamworks’ brilliant Madagascar series. After escaping to Africa the animals (Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippopotamus) are on the run from authorities as they become Europe’s Most Wanted.

We pick up with our animal friends still trying to get back to their home in New York and their journey has brought them to Monte Carlo looking for the penguins. Their plan inevitably goes wrong and Alex and the rest of the gang have to go on the run. Fortunately, they find the perfect cover and begin travelling around Europe’s biggest cities as part of a travelling circus act. The circus is suffering until our heroes reinvent the act, Madagascar style.

Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer all reprise their roles from the earlier films and they are joined this time, most notably, by Sacha Baron Cohen and Bryan Cranston.

This is a really enjoyable trailer. It captures the humour of the films perfectly and to be honest, it is one of the funniest trailer I have seen for a long time. The jokes are sometimes clever, sometimes obvious, but it really appeals to audiences and will definitely get a lot of people excited about seeing if their heroes can make it back to New York.

UK Release Date: 6th July 2012.

This is the first full trailer for Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth instalment of the Ice Age series.

Continental Drift takes place several years after Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Here, Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift thanks to Scrat’s pursuit of his acorn. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.

All of the original voice cast are back: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary with the additional talents (for want of a better word) of popstars Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj and the rapper Drake (the latter two being very questionable casting choices indeed) but also Nick Frost is a new addition to the cast.

The Ice Age series has always done well. The first film offered something different and something very enjoyable, the second film succeeded in being a GOOD sequel despite not being as good as the original and Dawn of the Dinosaurs (even though personally, I wasn’t really a fan) achieved success commercially too.

From the trailer it looks as though this film will do the same as the first three. The trailer reassures audiences that all their favourite characters are back along with the charm that the first three films brought, particularly featured in Sid and Diego’s relationship. Being funny at all the right times, the trailer is sure to attract young audiences and fans of the original trilogy and achieve commercial success undoubtedly, but I find it hard to believe it will bring in new fans to the franchise, despite their being a bit of humour for people of all ages in the Ice Age films.

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

 

No matter what they do, it seems as though Dreamworks will always be working in the shadows of Pixar in terms of animation, film quality and story but their 2012 effort, How to Train Your Dragon, is a fantastic outing from them which is just as enjoyable as most Pixar films.

How to Train Your Dragon tells the story of Hiccup Haddock III (Jay Baruchel), the son of the Viking leader (voiced by Gerard Butler) who aspires to be just like his father and learn to kill dragons with him. That is until a meeting with one of the most feared dragons of the time, a Night Fury, leads to the forming of an unlikely friendship where Hiccup learns that there is more to the fearsome creatures than meets the eye.

This is not a typical children’s film when it comes to story; the focus of the film does not lie within it’s morality of good versus evil, in fact the villain does not really appear until more than halfway through the film. Instead, How to Train Your Dragon prides itself upon it’s character and it’s spirit. It is a story that blurs the line between interpretations of good and evil respective to the dragons in particular and shows true triumph in it’s portrayal of family values and the real meaning of friendship.

The character’s really come to life and the friendship between Hiccup and Toothelss, as the Night Fury is named, is very believable and at times incredibly touching. The voice acting is pretty standard although why the Vikings tend to have Scottish accents rather than Scandanavian accents is baffling.

Dreamworks’ animation is top notch and it is clear they took a lot of time in making the film look aesthetically pleasing. Visually, the film is perfect. In particular, the final act where the young vikings are riding the dragons makes you realise how much effort has gone into the animation. There are clues all through the film about the final act and the dragons in the final act all resemble their riders. This is something that I did not realise until late on but was really impressed with.

Unfortunately, there are some scenes where the action or dialogue is below par and at times it seems to drag a little and on occassion I did become bored. There are some silences as Toothless does not talk and at times the silence is effective and you get a lot of information just from eye movement and body language but when used too much it makes the film boring.

Overall, How to Train Your Dragon is a fun film with a good heart but it idn’t quite have enough to sustain my interest 100% over the hour and a half which it lasts. Saying that, though, I would definitely watch it again.

My Rating: 7/10