They’ve done it again. The 2010 hit “Despicable Me” offered up a kind of family-friendly entertainment that only a cold-hearted cynic could actually despise. Its “Looney Tunes”-like slapstick offered light and lovable counter-programming to the visually stunning and emotion- filled animated films of the big studios such as DreamWorks and Pixar. In “Despicable Me 2,” […]
A little before 2000, Disney began to phase out its animated movie musicals. It wasn’t that people stopped wanting enchantment at the movie theater, but rather a cold, hard fiscal decision: the films continued to gross less and less and newer ideas for family entertainment were capturing audience attention and dollars.
Aardman Animations has probably been more consistent than Pixar, especially of late, yet the stop-motion powerhouse doesn’t get half the attention. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” didn’t buck the box-office trend, but it proves that even with the most generic of premises, Aardman knows how to appeal to a diverse audience.
The incredible visual quality of CGI-animated films these days has been hiding from no one. With a blank canvas, Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios and others have been able to spark the imagination in ways live action films have yet to manage (outside of “Avatar”). “The Croods” is the latest DreamWorks offering to impose its […]
Ever since “The Nightmare Before Christmas” there has been an inexplicable connection between stop-motion animation and horror motifs. Tim Burton has been responsible for most entries in this small but noticeable canon, but Laika has found an equally quirky yet more mainstreamed alternative in Chris Butler’s “ParaNorman.”
For at least a decade now, the first name in animation has been Pixar, with the Disney half of that combination generally omitted. Pixar’s dedication to the best storytelling in both written and visual form as well as incredible creativity and cleverness has generally gone unparalleled, but plain old Disney Animation show it’s catching up […]
Disney is no stranger to the fairy tale (understatement of the last century), but princesses, curses and kingdoms are definitely new forays for its partner, digital animation powerhouse, Pixar. John Lasseter and company have always been more preoccupied with breathing life into inanimate objects and giving vocal cords to animals, so a film with humans […]
Animated sequels have yet to disprove that timeless adage about movie sequels, but they’re giving it a real go. DreamWorks Animation hasn’t always gotten the formula right (the “Shrek” movies got worse and worse), but even “Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa” had entertainment to offer. “Kung Fu Panda 2” marks the studio’s third try at […]
Never underestimate Martin Scorsese. Just because “Hugo” lacks in F-words doesn’t mean the master filmmaker is so out of his element that he couldn’t possibly put his stamp on this family-friendly film. In fact, “Hugo” might be the most personal of the director’s catalog.
Forget former child stars and D-list celebrities, The Muppets needed a comeback more than any of them. Heck, we needed them. We live in glum times, people. Optimism seems about as trendy as boy bands these days. Maybe that’s why Jim Henson’s beloved creatures disappeared in the first place: The world disregarded the sense of […]
There’s little rhyme or reason to anything in the “Happy Feet” universe. If it sings, dances, looks cute and enhances ethnic diversity, it flies. Except penguins of course — penguins can’t fly, everyone knows that. But that doesn’t mean they can’t creatively problem solve through self-determination, tap-dancing and passionate arias. Okay, so nothing makes sense […]
The Pixar library stands as modern animation’s most impressive by far, partly due to both the studio and Disney’s belief that sequels should only be made with the right artistic reasons in mind, namely a good story. That’s why, to date, we have just “Toy Story 2,” “Toy Story 3” and … “Cars 2” … […]
Never underestimate robot boxing. Despite reaching for nearly every cliché in the family-oriented sports underdog drama handbook short of titling the film “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots,” DreamWorks delivers a undeniable crowd-pleaser with “Real Steel.”
Animated talking-animal films since the dawn of CGI have gotten much more prolific. Now that animals can be illustrated with ease and superb realism (namely in textures such as fur, feathers and scales), the supply can meet the demand and almost every major movie studio has either its own animation division or a relationship with […]
It seems to have taken until the eleventh hour, but Disney has finally found a way to make its classic fairytale stories work in the 21st Century. Thanks to longtime Disney animator Glen Keane (serving as producer) and directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard (“Bolt”), the film stays true to Disney’s long line of rich […]