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Animation: Nine anthropomorphic features coming in 2014

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The Cartoon Brew has a preview roundup of 22 animated features announced as coming in 2014. Fourteen are American or will be released in America; eight are foreign with no current plans to be distributed in America, although this could change.

At least nine of them feature anthropomorphic animals, bugs, Lego blocks. planes, marshmallow soldiers, or other things that we ought to be interested in. (We’re still arguing over whether the dragons in How to Train Your Dragon are anthropomorphic or not.)

Animation: The 'Boonie Bears' are coming from China

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Boonie Bears Amid Amidi reports on the Cartoon Brew website that China’s first CGI feature, the 70-minute Boonie Bears: Homeward Journey, is coming to the U.S. on January 6.

Didn’t China already produce a CGI feature, 2011’s Kung Fu Panda ripoff Legend of a Rabbit? Apparently nobody wants to talk about that. (Totalitarian nations are very good at rewriting their history.)

If three days sounds like very short notice, it’s because Boonie Bears: Homeward Journey will not be a theatrical release. It’s coming direct-to-DVD. What’s more, this was not even a theatrical release in China. It was a Chinese TV special last Spring.

Raccoon in Space!

Welcome to 2014! Today, Disney/Marvel released the first official publicity photo from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film, and it features the clearest view yet of Rocket Raccoon that you don’t have to still-frame to get. They also put out the following synopsis for the movie: “An action-packed epic space adventure, Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora, and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.” Those of you who have followed the Guardians comic book may recall that Rocket Raccoon develops a close bond with Groot the tree-guy through the series. We’ll see what happens here. Guardians is blasting off in theaters this August.

Spellsinger: The Movie?

Here’s another one that somehow slipped through the cracks: A group of fans have been working on their own to try and create a movie adaptation of the Spellsinger series of fantasy novels, having secured the rights from writer Alan Dean Foster in 2011. Live action? Animation? Their web site isn’t very clear on that. It also hasn’t been updated since June of 2012, but they do have some interesting development artwork to show. What, you haven’t heard of Spellsinger? Go check it out — and its numerous sequels — right away! It’s one of the most influential furry-themed fantasy series ever created. Trust us.


image c. 2012 by Chris Wahl

And with that, we wish you all a happy and safe New Year. Stay Furry!

Monkeys of Different Tribes

A brand new trailer is making the rounds for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, coming to theaters in July of 2014. It seems that the virus revealed at the end of 2011′s Rise of the Planet of the Apes did not in fact wipe out Humanity, though it gave it the old college try. Now the remaining humans and the tribe of evolved apes (lead, of course, by Caesar) have gone to war, and then formed an uneasy truce. That peace is fragile though, and war seems like it is always just on the horizon. Once again, Caesar the CGI chimp is modeled by the multi-talented actor Andy Serkis. Taking over the reins for Rise’s director Rupert Wyatt this time is newcomer Matt Reeves, perhaps best known as the director of the “reality monster movie” Cloverfield. Currently 20th Century Fox’s official site for the film only has the trailer up, but that will probably be added to as we swing into the new year.  See what we did there?


image c. 2013 20th Century Fox

A Bird in the Jungle is Worth…

There’s a new trailer making the rounds for Blue Sky’s Rio 2, coming this April to theaters everywhere. This time we get to see a lot more of the plot this time around: Our heroes Blue and Jewel (and their kids) discover that they are not in fact the only blue macaws around — there’s a whole flock of them living in the wilds of the Amazon jungle. Guess where our city-bred bird who just recently learned to fly is headed next? Meanwhile, the villainous cockatoo from the first film returns too, this time with a doting poisonous amphibian at his side. It’ll all make more sense (possibly) if you watch the trailer yourself on YouTube. This new animated sequel is once again directed by Carlos Saldanha.


image c. 2013 Blue Sky Studios

Teaser trailer: 'Mr. Peabody and Sherman' (also in Russian)

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At the moment, this story just repeats information already in last year’s “Animated Anthropomorphic Features in 2013” story and its followup comments. But it is time for Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the DreamWorks Animation feature directed by Rob Minkoff, based on the TV feature by Jay Ward, now due for a March 7, 2014 release, to have its own story.

The first theatrical teaser trailer was released on October 25. DreamWorks has also released a Russian trailer that is totally different. Too bad it is only available in Russian. [YouTube's attempt at English translation of the automatic captions is, however, hilarious.]

The Bear and Mouse Come To America

Big news from our friends over at Cartoon Brew, especially if you’re a fan of traditional animation: “Indie animated feature distributor GKIDS has announced that the highly anticipated hand-drawn French film Ernest and Celestine will open in New York and Los Angeles on March 14, 2014. That will be followed by national expansion to all major US markets. GKIDS has qualified Ernest and Celestine for the Academy Awards this year in the film’s original French language with subtitles. The American release, however, will be dubbed with a voice cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, and Nick Offerman. The small New York-based distributor has experienced fantastic success at the Oscars during the past five years by countering the big studios with quieter, more personal hand-drawn fare. They have earned nominations for three of their features: The Secret of Kells, A Cat in Paris, and Chico & Rita.” Check it out next year.


image c. 2013 GKIDS

 

 

Anthropomorphics Reading List: November 17 update

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Ursa Major AwardsThe Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association, which administers the annual Ursa Major Awards, has updated the 2013 Anthropomorphic Reading List to include the titles recommended by furry fans through November 17. This list is often used by fans to nominate in the next year's Awards.

There are two months left to add your favorites of the year to the List. All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, short fiction, other literary works, graphic stories, comic strips, magazines, published illustrations, websites, and games) first published during 2013, if they are not already on the list.

Send in your recommendations. Read the List to see what other fans have recommended. Have you seen all nine published illustrations, for example? What have you been missing?

Animation: 'Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure'

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Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure Oh, goody! Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure. For all of you who couldn’t wait for a sequel. Available direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray as a Walmart kiddy exclusive.

Well, no; it’s also available as a digital download on iTunes and Google Play [tip: Blindwolf8], and as a video-on-demand. Sort of the equivalent of vanity-pressed novels.

Is there a tag for “bad CGI”?

How much do you think they spent on these trailers? $1.00? 50¢? 25¢?

I am not sure which is worse; the title pun, the music, or the animation.

See more (if you dare): The Making of Alpha and Omega 2 [Higgs Raccoon]

We Should Not Forget the Elephant

Straight from the folks at Animation Scoop: “Gnosis Moving Pictures CEO Darius A. Kamali and Whisper Pictures CEO George Merkert announced today that the companies are partnering on the animated feature film Tusk: Hannibal’s Favorite Elephant. The project, which was co-written and will be directed by Whisper Pictures’ Oscar-winning Chief Creative Officer Tim McGovern (Tron, Total Recall, As Good as it Gets and currently, Sin City 2), is a family-friendly epic adventure that tells the story of legendary military strategist Hannibal and his favorite elephant Surus, as they seek justice from the Romans. The project, set in 218 B.C., follows Surus and Hannibal as they lead an army of men and 37 African elephants over the Alps, and the deep connection that develops between a man and animal bound by shared hope and common loss. ” Really now. No word yet on a projected release date, but keep your ears spread.


image c. 2013 Gnosis Moving Pictures

Review: 'Gusko Budori no Denki' ['The Life of Guskou Budori']

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Gusko Budori no Denki Gusk? Budori no Denki (The Life of Guskou Budori) is a 105-minute anime film released in 2012. The story had been previously adapted into anime in 1994, however the 2012 version did it with anthropomorphic cats - largely identical to the cats in the 1985 anime film Night on the Galactic Railroad. Not coincidentally, both films were directed by Gisaburo Sugii, and both were based on stories written by Japanese author Kenji Miyazawa, published in the 1930s.

The 2012 Life of Guskou Budori is visually rich, but has an incredibly dull narrative. Full spoilers ahead! Budori, his parents and his younger sister have an idyllic life in a forest by the mountains, but two years of sudden cold weather leads to the death of his parents and everyone leaving the local village. Oh, and his sister is taken away by a mysterious entity. To paraphrase:

Supernatural cat: I'm here to save you from famine. You're good kids, but that won't help you. Hey girl, if you stay here, you'll starve. Come with me.
(Budori's sister goes to him, seemingly in a trance.)
Supernatural cat: Well, bye! (vanishes)
Budori: ...Hey! You thief!

A Dog and His Boy, with Glasses

Dreamworks Animation released the first set of stills from their upcoming feature film Mr. Peabody & Sherman in a recent article in USA Today. Cartoon Brew reprinted the images as well. The film (about a time-traveling dog and his young human assistant) is of course based on the original series of short cartoons that was part of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. This new CGI version is directed by Rob Minkoff (he of The Lion King and the Stuart Little movies), and it’s set for release in March of 2014. There had been rumors going around for some time that the Mr. Peabody movie was going to be done live action, with a real kid playing Sherman and Mr. Peabody being a CGI-enhanced real dog. That idea did not go over very well with classic animation fans, but fortunately it turns out that Dreamworks is making it much more traditionally — just with a computer.


image c. 2013 Dreamworks Animation

Guess Who??!

According to Animation Scoop, veteran director Bill Kopp (known for Eek! The Cat, Schnookums and Meat, Dan Vs., and more) has been tapped by Universal Pictures to revive none other than Woody Woodpecker — in his original manic glory. In the article Mr. Kopp says that currently an animated feature and a new short cartoon are in development. Long a mascot of Universal Pictures, Walter Lantz’ most famous creation originally appeared in cartoons from 1940 until 1972. According to Animation Scoop, “A new Woody Woodpecker feature was first announced two years ago by Illumination Entertainment, then developing the film with co-writers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky – who were planning to ‘modernize the character for contemporary audiences’. ” That didn’t sit well with classic animation fans — including Bill Kopp, who has insisted that these new cartoons will feature Woody in his original silliness.


image c. Universal Pictures

Animation: 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 1/8'?

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The Cartoon Brew has a critique by Amid Amidi of Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 hybrid CGI/cartoon 6’46” short, “Earl Scouts”, in which Barry the strawberry and one of the pickle foodimals humorously(?) try to kill each other.

Did you know that there were any Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 short cartoons? I didn’t, but the whole “Earl Scouts” is on YouTube. Seeing is believing … well, not that foodimals are real, but that “Earl Scouts” is. Officer Earl is at the beginning and the end, but most of the short features the two anthropomorphized foodimals. Does Sony Pictures Animation plan any more shorts like this?