Since Dronon recently posted the trailer for “Bigfoot Junior” on Newsbytes, it seems like a good time to take a deeper look into nWave Pictures. Their main animation studio is located in Brussels, Belgium, while their regional office in Burbank, California has been working diligently to get its pictures distributed theatrically in English in North America for the past decade. They do get theatrical releases in much of the rest of the world-- but usually have to settle for them going direct-to-DVD as "kid’s cartoons" in the United States. Despite being “family” movies, they’re good ones, and they do feature talking animals. Let's take a look at their history in the animated featured film business to date.
nWave was founded by director Ben Stassen in 1994. Its first animation projects were for amusement park attractions and video games. Their first theatrical feature, “Fly Me to the Moon”, which was about housefly astronauts, was released in January 2008.
Wes Anderson, the writer/director best known in the furry fandom for his 2009 movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, will be returning to the stop-motion talking animal genre for his next movie Isle of Dogs, whose poster and release date (of April 20, 2018) was announced via Twitter on April 25.
The bare bones premise announced so far is that the movie will feature a Japanese boy searching for his lost dog. Though this premise isn't necessarily anthropomorphic, an earlier video posted by Anderson confirmed the dogs will have speaking roles. Though hard to make out, it has also been pointed out that some of the dog characters on the poster also appear to be wearing clothes.
The cast for the movie, listed on the poster, has been previously confirmed. It includes many recurring actors in Anderson's movies. Newcomers include Bryan Cranston and Scarlett Johansson, as well as multiple Japanese actors, including Yoko Ono.
Isle of Dogs will be Anderson's ninth feature, and only his second animated feature, after Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Ursa Major award as well as an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. In addition to the Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination, Anderson has been personally nominated three times for Best Original Screenplay and once for Best Director at the Oscars. All but the latest of his movies have also been added to the prestigious Criterion Collection, and his film Rushmore was added to the National Film Registry last year.
This has been a long time coming.
The movie? No, not the movie itself, but my review of it. To people who are only reading this review to get to my thoughts on the movie, I suggest skipping my little prologue. For those that would like some context, then read on.
Rock Dog has been on my radar for well over a year, potentially two years, though it's kind of hard to pin down the exact date. I saw the original trailer when it leaked at around the end of 2015 and was immediately interested.
The film was directed by Ash Brannon, a co-director of Toy Story 2 and the underrated masterpiece that is Surf's Up. I grew up with the latter film and was curious of this new project since Ash hasn't done a ton in the animation field since 2007.
I was so hyped for the film that I felt that it would surpass Zootopia. This belief had caused debates with many of the avid fans the film had garnered in the fandom. While my stance has softened on the Disney film, I still stand by some of the grievances I had with it. That being said I have decided that despite my desire to compare the two films, I decided to purely look at Rock Dog as it's own film and judge it on its own merits.
If you were around in 1961, you may have seen an obscure animated feature titled Alakazam the Great, about three friendly monsters – Son Goku (monkey), Sir Quigley Brokenbottom (Pigsy), and Sandy – escorting Prince Amat from China to India.
This was part of the first wave of Japanese animated films, known as anime, to enter the United States. The other two features in that wave were Panda and the Magic Serpent and Magic Boy. They were box-office failures at the time, and because of this the anime film genre is still fighting to enter the American theatrical market.
Alakazam the Great was also America’s first cinematic introduction to the ancient Chinese story Journey to the West or Monkey King, as it is better know in America. This legend is over a thousand years old in the oral form. It was written into a novel, probably by the scholar Wu Cheng’en in the 16th century. The first Oriental animated feature, the Chinese Princess Iron Fan (1940), is an adaptation of part of Journey to the West. Alakazam the Great, more specifically, is a movie adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s 1952-59 My Son Goku manga version of Journey to the West.
We covered animated feature The Nut Job thoroughly upon its release in January 2014. If you enjoyed it, I have good news: a sequel is coming August 18, entitled The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.
The Nut Job was about a group of anthropomorphized city wildlife led by Surly Squirrel raiding an out-of-business nut shop while a gang of bank robbers are using it as a cover for their heist. The movie is semi-famous for having been almost universally reviled by the critics before its release – it got a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – then getting a very favorable audience when it came out.
It was produced by ToonBox Entertainment in Toronto, and mostly financed by South Korean investors. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of the Republic of Korea got a credit. They even threw some love by having the animal cast plus an animated Psy, the popular South Korean singer-dancer, break into “Gangnam Style” over the closing credits.
Compared with their competition at Disney and Pixar, Illumination relies less on strong storytelling and instead leans more heavily towards pure charm to make their movies successful. In the past, they've accomplished this with cute and colourful characters, and a child-friendly sense of humour.
With that history in mind, The Secret Life of Pets continues its studio's charm offensive, compensating well for a bland and forgettable story.
The Secret Life of Pets [trailer] is Illumination Entertainment's latest CG animated film offering, released on July 8, 2016. It's an entertaining comedy that's been doing quite well at the box office. I went to a weekday early evening screening, and the theater was packed with about an equal mix of adults and kids. Everyone seemed to enjoy it!
The story starts in an apartment building in Manhattan. Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is a terrier who adores his owner, a young woman named Katie. One day she brings home a second dog, a huge, shaggy brown Newfoundland named Duke. Max and Duke don't get along at all. Their conflict results in them getting lost in the city, avoiding animal control officers and a gang of abandoned pets led by an insane white rabbit named Snowball. Meanwhile, the other pets from the apartment building embark on a quest to find them, led by Gidget, a white pomeranian.
April and the Extraordinary World [trailer] is the English dub of a 2015 French animated film, originally titled Avril et le monde truqué. There was a limited North American theatrical release in April 2016.
Furry-wise, it's borderline: a likeable talking cat sidekick, plus a little extra anthropomorphism that I can't discuss without spoiling. Its main appeal is for steampunk fans. If that's your thing, it's definitely worth a look!
Monster Trucks. Do the trucks become anthropomorphic, or do the trucks become inhabited by anthropomorphic monsters? It’s hard to tell from this first trailer; but the movie, coming on January 13, 2017, does look like something that anthro fans will enjoy.
All of the information is in this Cartoon Brew article, so just read it there.
If there is a difference between anthro fans and furry fans, this movie may make it clearer. The monsters in Monster Trucks aren’t furry at all.
The new Chinese 100-minute animated feature Big Fish & Begonia now has a music video as well as a trailer for promotion. Directed by Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun, and produced by their B&T Studio, the hand-drawn/CG hybrid feature will be released July 8 throughout China. No word on a U.S. release yet.
There's nothing unique about being a Disney fan. It's very easy to say you like something that was obviously meant to have mass appeal. So in my everlasting attempt to stand out, I decided that rather than become the billionth sale for Disney's big furry flick of the year, I'd try and vouch for the underdogs – those dark-horse films such as Rock Dog, Sly Cooper, and what we're discussing here: Angry Birds.
It's a lot harder to make a case for a movie when no-one has any expectations for it. It was like fighting a losing battle, but I was happy to at least give these some attention.
And now, the first of these films which I championed has been released! I was fortunate enough to see it on release weekend and I can say that the theater was definitely packed. Was this film the embodiment of perfection or did it leave something to be desired? Let's see.
We came across this announcement from Screen Daily: “Kaleidoscope Film Distribution (KFD) is handling world sales on animated feature Danny Diamondback, which Aardman Animation alumni Darren Walsh (Shaun The Sheep TV series) will direct. It’s the story of a young rattlesnake with a musical talent in his tail. The film is based on the children’s novella of the same name, first published by Harper Collins and written by illustrator and production designer Barry Jackson (How The Grinch Stole Christmas). Jackson has written the script and will be heading up production design on the project. Siege Train Studios’ Curtis Augspurger (Valiant), Matthew Hampton, and Cora Palfrey will produce the film alongside Jackson. Bibo Bergeron (Shark Tale) will serve as executive producer.” That’s one heck of a lotta veteran anthropomorphic talent on one project. No word yet on if the film is to be CGI or claymation. Guess we’ll find out after they give us a projected release date!
Padak, a 2012 South Korean CGI feature, is coming to America – but not to theaters. EigoMANGA, a San Francisco-based media publisher, has announced that it has been acquired from Lionsgate to be distributed beginning on June 6 on Linux, Mac, SteamOS, Windows, and all other online Steam-supported platforms.
The 78-minute feature, directed and written by Lee Dae-Hee and produced by the E-DEHI studio, will be released with the original Korean voice actors including Kim Hyeon-ji, Si-Yeong-joon, Ahn Yeong-mi-l, Hyeon Kyeong-soo, and Ho-san Lee, and subtitled in English. It was first shown at the Jeonju International Film Festival on July 25, 2012, and has also been shown at international film festivals in Warsaw, Dallas, Melbourne, Vladivostok, Seoul, and other cities, winning awards at many of them.
Okay, here’s another stealth movie.
Billu Gamer, a 90 plus minute live-action/animated Hindi comedy-fantasy feature from director/producer/writer Pankaj Sharma at Astute Media Vision, coming in India in May 2016. Sharma says that it’s slightly over half VFX and 3D animation.
Patty is a live-action teenage boy at a school where a lot of Bollywood-style singing and dancing goes on. When he’s depressed from being bullied, the animated Billu from his favorite video game comes to life to be his best friend. Everything seems great, until the video-game villains follow Billu into the real world. Patty and Billu have to team up in the video world to win. The first half of the trailer is live-action; then the animated Billu and some dog-headed humans appear, and there are an animated tiger and an angry elephant. There’s more information at The Hans India.