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.”
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 [...]
We all face an existential crisis at some time or another, just usually not when we’re seven, which will likely be the mean age of children watching this newest non-Pixar non-DreamWorks animated feature. No, “Rango” won’t challenge kids to contemplate their role in the cosmos, but that’s precisely the predicament of its main character, a [...]
It’s always nice when a movie surpasses expectations. It’s even nicer when that better-than- expected film negates the potential title-related puns that critics could have used to lambaste it. In other words, there’s nothing despicable to say about “Despicable Me” other than the title’s overall irrelevance and potential roadblock to making more money.
No matter which way you shake it, “Shrek Forever After” amounts to nothing more than a way to capitalize on a profitable franchise for a fourth time. Many fans will see this as proper closure to the franchise, but that’s the closure *they* need, not that the films needed. “Forever After” feels much more like [...]
Watching “How to Train Your Dragon” on DVD, I had my first (and what could well be my last) case of 3-D regret. Watching the young viking Hiccup soaring on the back of his new pal Toothless the dragon made me seriously wish I’d seen the film in theaters and yes, in 3D, a medium [...]
It will always remain a mystery as to what took so long for just a good old computer animation version of a Dr. Seuss story. “The Grinch” and “The Cat in the Hat” had their entertainment value, but the confines of the real world simply don’t reflect the towering imagination of one Mr. Theodor Geisel. [...]
Pixar has taken the animation genre literally to infinity and beyond in the 15 years since “Toy Story” first changed the game forever. So when the ground-breaking production company decided to return to an old friend in 2010 after three straight years of cutting-edge family film-making, you had to know there was a compelling reason [...]