Current and upcoming animated films (2021-2022)
I've been pretty quiet here lately - my life got turned upside down last year, and I've not had much time for fandom. That includes my interest in animated films! Still, I thought I'd throw together a selection of titles, both recent and possibly up-coming.
I suspect there are many more I've probably skipped over. (I'm avoiding the really popular ones, they've already received plenty of attention.) For example, Aardman is working on another Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit film. And of course there are lots of TV series, like Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles in the works.
I really wanted to put in more international films, but it's difficult to find out about those in advance. In any case, hopefully these all have some kind of talking animal critter in them, regardless of quality. If you've seen any of the released titles, post your impressions in the comments - or write us a full review!
Princesse Dragon (2021) (trailer)
From France. A feral girl raised by a dragon sets out to discover the human world? Also has an evil frog-witch of some sort?
Ainbo (2021) (trailer)
I was poking around on the Annecy Film Festival website and stumbled across this one. A Netherlands / Peru / US collaboration. "The epic journey of a young hero and her spirit guides, a cute and humorous armadillo and a goofy oversized tapir, who embark on a quest to save their home in the spectacular Amazon Rainforest."
Even Mice Belong in Heaven (2021) (trailer)
Originally a Czech production? Stop-motion animation. "A film about two mortal enemies - a little mouse and a fox, who after an unfortunate accident, meet in animal heaven. They lose their natural instincts and become best friends. Their wish to stay together after they return to Earth comes true, but they are reborn into opposite roles. Thanks to the power of friendship, they can even overcome what seems to be impossible."
Little Eggs: An African Rescue (2021) (trailer)
From Mexico, this is the 4th film in the Huevos franchise, so I assume there's an expected familiarity with the characters. "Toto and his friends must rescue his egg children after they're taken away for a gourmet food event in Africa."
The Ape Star (2021) (trailer)
Scandanavian. "Joanna is a feisty young orphan who wants to be adopted more than anything. But when her potential new mom drives up to the orphanage, she gets a big shock when the door opens and a gorilla steps out! The ape and girl quickly overcome their physical differences. But will their newfound love survive the scheming of a local bully who's out to separate the two?"
(Ok, let's return briefly to slightly more familiar animated territory.)
Rumble (2021) (trailer)
Paramount's combo of giant monsters and wrestling!
Vivo (2021) (trailer)
Vivo the kinkajou is on a personal quest to travel from Cuba to Florida. I wonder if there are any shout-outs to Chico & Rita? Anyway, don't expect to see more of the black musician from the trailer. (For reasons...) Sony's fascination with characters wearing really big glasses continues.
Seal Team (2021) (trailer)
A South African production. A squad of misfit seal recruits are brought together to stand up to sharks.
Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (2021) (trailer)
An unexpected revival of a Spanish-backed anime television series from the early 1980s.
Arlo the Alligator Boy (2021) (trailer)
To find the father he never knew, Arlo leaves his swamp for New York City. A musical adventure.
Belle (2021) (trailer)
The latest anime film by Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast). Suzu is a shy high school student in a rural village. When she enters a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a popular singer. And where there's a Belle, there's a Beast! Originally titled 竜とそばかすの姫, Ryū to Sobakasu no Hime, "The Dragon and the Freckled Princess".
The Absurd, Surreal, Metaphysical and Fractured Destiny of Cerebus the Aardvark (2021) (clip)
For many years, Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark series was the poster child for successful, independent comic book publishing. It started off as a Conan parody, making fun of numerous comic book and adventure tropes. It blossomed into a complex socio-political adventure, and there was some really strong story-telling going on! Then it nose-dived into self-indulgence and took a hard right into becoming a vehicle for the author's new-found toxic misogyny. Anyway, a group of volunteers have adapted some of the comic's early parody issues into an animated film, which took them over fifteen years on a minimal budget.
Mavka: The Forest Song (2021) (trailer)
Ukrainian. A forest spirit falls in love with a human musician.
Riverdance: The Animated Adventure (2021) (trailer)
An Irish boy and a Spanish girl travel into a mythical world of walking, talking (and dancing) giant Irish elk. Watch out Cartoon Saloon, someone else is pushing into Irish culture!
Back to the Outback (2021) (trailer)
A group of animals escape from an Australian zoo.
Unicorn Wars (2022?) (trailer)
A war is going on between between teddy bears and unicorns. This is from Alberto Vázquez, the same guy who did Birdboy: The Forgotten Children. I'll be giving this one a pass; Birdboy was dark and depressing, which is fine - but it danced around vague and cliché dystopian messages about the decay of civilization, never committing to anything specific or meaningful, while it threw in gratuitious shock content. This new trailer is reminding me of it all over again.
Extinct (2021) (trailer)
Two flummels, an extinct and improbable donut-shaped species, find themselves transported from their island home in the year 1835 to modern-day Shanghai.
There's been a weird resurgence of Pinocchio adaptations lately. A Russian one in 2021; Disney's working on a live-action version; there was an Italian live-action one back in 2019; and now Guillermo Del Toro is stepping up with his own take.
Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness (2022?) (trailer)
The main character is a clumsy half-chicken half-hare, obsessed with becoming a respected adventurer like his adoptive father, the king. The trailer mentions it's produced by the same company that made Bigfoot Family, while conveniently not mentioning they also made The Queen's Corgi.
Finnick (2022?) (trailer)
(Sorry Zootopia fans.) Originally Финник in Russian, this is about a rotund house spirit who's more interested in pranks than taking care of their house. Weird events begin to happen in the city and he teams up with a teenage girl to figure out what's going on.
Odd Taxi: In the Woods (trailer)
A movie adaptation of an anime television series. In an animal world, Odokawa is a middle-aged walrus taxi driver whose interactions with his customers entangle him with the disappearance of a girl.
(The rest of these films may or may not come to fruition. The animation industry is like that. Some haven't released any screenshots. It's nice to see that a lot of book adaptions are happening, and Netflix is increasingly becoming a supportive platform.)
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile
Sony, live-action with superimposed animation? A musical comedy; Lyle is a nice crocodile who lives with a family in New York City, but is disliked by a neighbor. Based on a children's book.
Paramount. This has been bouncing around since 2015. Inspired by Blazing Saddles, a dog with dreams of becoming a samurai ends up as the sheriff in a town of cats.
The Amazing Maurice
Sky Cinema, based on the children's book by Terry Pratchett. A cat, a boy, and a group of rats travel from town to town, pulling a Pied-piper scam. But in one particular town, things are... not right.
Cinesite. From Bloom County's Berke Breathed, a pig bounty hunter goes after an escaped elephant. A road trip film. Cyberpunkish?
Under the Boardwalk
Paramount. Under the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, a land crab falls in love with a sea crab tourist. They get swept out to sea and must travel home.
My Father's Dragon
Cartoon Saloon. Based on a children's book. "Elmer Elevator searches for a captive dragon on Wild Island and finds much more than he could ever have anticipated." They're keeping a surprisingly tight lid on this one, in comparison to their other films.
The Sea Beast
Netflix. "A legendary sea monster hunter's life is turned upside down when a young girl stows away on his ship and befriends the most dangerous beast of them all."
Wendell and Wild (teaser clip)
Netflix. Two demon brothers escape from Hell and want to start up their own amusement park (with good intentions), but must face off against a nun and a pair of goth teens who are out to get them. Stop-motion animation from Henry Selick, (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) in collaboration with Key and Peele.
TAT Productions (France). An adventurous mouse sets off to battle dangerous creatures in Ancient Greece, including Poseidon.
Escape from Hat
Netflix. Based on a children's book. "A desperate rabbit rallies an unexpected band of allies to help him escape from inside a magician's hat and return to the human boy he loves."
High in the Clouds
Netflix. Based on a children's book. "A squirrel embarks on a journey to find an animal sanctuary."
Perlimps (teaser trailer)
From Brazil. Two agents from enemy kingdoms must overcome their differences and combine forces to face the dangerous giants and save the forest from being swamped by green slime.
Apple and Skydance. Sam[antha?] Greenfield is the unluckiest person in the world. When she discovers the Land of Luck, she must unite the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. Directed by Peggy Holmes.
The Tiger's Apprentice
Paramount. Based on a book. "Tom Lee, a Chinese American boy discovers that he is part of a long lineage of magical protectors known as the Guardians. Tom finds that in order to have a fighting chance against the evil forces that threaten the world, he must first bring the estranged Zodiac animal warriors back together as a unified team."
Ok, with all that put together, I'm gonna go lie down for a while. Lots of potential material for Saberspark!