Winter 2015 is here and animation studios from around the world have bestowed upon us a very unique set of films to start off the year. From traditional hand-drawn (Song of the Sea), to live-action CG hybrid (Paddington), and everything in between, there are lots of great animated features to enjoy this season. Here’s our preview (along with some personal opinions from yours truly). Let us know what movies you’ve seen or are planning to see in the comments below.
Song of the Sea
Studio: Cartoon Saloon
Director: Tomm Moore
Release Date: December 19th (limited release in New York and Toronto only; more cities to follow in Winter 2015–check the film’s official Facebook page)
Official Summary: Song of the Sea tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse – the last Seal-child – who embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land.
Voice Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt
Fascination Meter: High – It appears to be another hand-drawn winner from Cartoon Saloon.
Studio: Heyday Films/StudioCanal
Director: Paul King
Release Date: January 16th
Official Summary: Paddington tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined – until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Cast: Ben Whishaw (last-minute replacement for Collin Firth as the voice of Paddington), Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Nicole Kidman
Links: Website, Facebook
Fascination Meter: Medium Low – Paddington is such a cute character, but the film looks awfully Smurfy to me…we’ll see if it’s any good.
Studio: Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic (same team that created the fantastic Rango)
Director: Gary Rydstrom
Release Date: January 23rd
Official Summary: From the mind of George Lucas, Strange Magic is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.
Voice Cast: Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredeth Anne Bull, Alfred Molina, Elijah Kelley, Bob Einstein, and Peter Stormare
Fascination Meter: Low – The art direction and character designs look less than appealing and it’s suspicious that this film was snuck on the release schedule very late in the game.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Studio: Nickelodeon Movies/Paramount Animation
Directors: Mike Mitchell, Paul Tibbitt
Release Date: February 6th
Official Summary: SpongeBob goes on a quest to discover a stolen recipe that takes him to our dimension, our world, where he tangles with a pirate.
Cast: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Roger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence, Antonio Banderas, Slash
Links: Website, Facebook
Fascination Meter: Medium Low – The 2D stuff looks great as always; it’s when the characters get the 3D (and superhero) treatment in the human world where things look like a big bowl of wrong.
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Directors: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Release Date: March 13th; plays in front of Disney’s new live action retelling of Cinderella
Official Summary: On Anna’s birthday, Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever, but Elsa’s icy powers may put more than just the party at risk.
Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff
Fascination Meter: Medium High – Disney Animation is getting the band back together for, hopefully, a fun and entertaining romp. Includes a new song written by the Frozen songwriting team of Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Director: Tim Johnson
Release Date: March 27th
Official Summary: When Earth is taken over by the overly confident Boov, an alien race in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated while all Boov get busy reorganizing the planet. But when one resourceful girl, Tip, manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov named Oh. The two fugitives realize there’s a lot more at stake than intergalactic relations as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime.
Voice Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez
Links: Website, Facebook
Fascination Meter: Medium – I’m still in recovery from that awful teaser trailer that DreamWorks put in front of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, although having Steve Martin in your movie is always a good idea. Fingers crossed…
Underdogs (a.k.a. Metegol)
Studio: Prana Studios, et al.
Director: Juan José Campanella
Release Date: April 10th
Summary: An English-dub version of 2013 CG animated hit film co-produced in Spain and Argentina hits the U.S.A. in April. The film tells the story of a foosball team that is trying to get reunited with each other.
Voice Cast: Rupert Grint, Rob Brydon, Peter Serafinowicz, Stanley Townsend, Anthony Head, and Darren Boyd
Link: Spanish Website
Fascination Meter: Medium – Looking forward to learning more about the film.
So what films are you looking forward to seeing most this winter? Let us know in the comments below!