In an unprecedented move, Pixar Animation Studios today announced that they have acquired the Animation Fascination podcast and website. The venerable podcast will become the official podcast of Pixar and co-founders Marc Vibbert and Matt Quest will join the staff of Pixar Animation Studios.
Disney has made exciting announcements today about the upcoming production of Frozen 2, the sequel to the most successful animated film in the universe, Frozen 1.
News broke recently from Nintendo that they are partnering up with fellow Japanese company DeNA. They will be developing games on smart phone platforms based on Nintendo properties such as Mario and Donkey Kong.
I prefer bad news first, so let’s begin with Frozen Fever. This 7 minute short that precedes Kenneth Branagh’s masterpiece retelling of Disney’s 1950 animated classic, Cinderella, is just annoying. Pandering, cheap, ridiculous premise (Elsa sneezes and snow babies pop out of her), cliché song and overall, just an obvious attempt at selling some new Frozen merchandise in the form of teeny stuffed snowmen and an Elsa dress that’s the same–but now in green! I pray this short is not indicative of what Frozen 2 is going to look like, but if the snowshoe fits…run away. Luckily, this brief, gratuitous sequel is not 90+ minutes long (yet) and the film that follows it is magical enough to almost make you forget Elsa singing, “a cold never bothered me anyway” (Get it? Cause she’s got a cold! And that’s also a line from “Let it Go.” Get it? Insert gun emoticon.) Almost.
It may be unfair to rank animated characters from television on the same list as those from film. A long running cartoon series has so much more time to develop the character. This character has had over fifteen years, four hundred episodes and two full length feature films in which to pique our fascination. However, I believe that SpongeBob Squarepants won this spot on the top ten most fascinating characters from the first moment we met him in episode one, “Help Wanted,” which aired on Nickelodeon on May Day of 1999.
Finally, the Walt Disney Studios is releasing Aladdin on Blu-ray and Digital HD on October 6th, 2015. We’ve been waiting way too long for this, so it’s very happy news that the U.S. will at last be getting this perennial favorite released in high-definition.
We’ve all read the stories–DreamWorks Animation recently restructured its management team, reduced its workforce, and revamped its film slate. Sure, the news is depressing. It’s never fun seeing talented people lose their jobs. Sending promising films back into development could mean that we animation fans may never get to see them at all. Even with all of the bad news, the dream is still alive at DreamWorks Animation and, fingers crossed, the future looks promising.
So far (and for most of the rest of the list) males have dominated as most fascinating original characters in animation. One reason for this seems to be that most female protagonists who are interesting have been derived from literature, so I nixed them in accordance with my rules for this series. A few examples of girls I absolutely love from Disney would be Alice, Rapunzel, Tiana and Ariel. However, today’s character wasn’t imagined by Hans Christensen Anderson, Lewis Carroll or a Grimm brother, but by a man with one of the most imaginative artistic styles in all of animation history.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 54th animated motion picture Big Hero 6 is now available on all major digital download platforms. I got a copy on iTunes and watched the film and the bonus features using the Disney Movies Anywhere app on my iPhone 5S. I’m happy to report that the film is still just as great on the small screen as it was on the big screen (my original review is here) and the bonus features, although a bit sparse, are beautifully produced, entertaining, and informational.
Aardman Animations‘ new feature-length film of Shaun the Sheep made its U.S. debut this past week at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. I had a chance to see the film a few days after its premiere at a festival screening in Salt Lake City and I’m happy to report that it’s a delight from start to finish. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.