Animation


Sept. 05, 2014 | 7:45 a.m.

‘Book of Life’ spins colorful folk-art fantasy tale

Zoe Saldana voices Maria, a woman who is wooed by Manolo and his longtime best friend Joaquin, in the movie "The Book of Life." (Twentieth Century Fox/Reel FX)
Animated characters are often inspired by animals, toys or fairy-tale princesses. But in “The Book of Life,” an animated fantasy due Oct. 17, writer-director Jorge Gutierrez found his muses in an unexpected and vibrant new place — the world of Mexican folk art. The Mexico City-born Gutierrez, best known for creating the Emmy-winning Nickelodeon series “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” with his wife, Sandra Equihua, sets his story during the Mexican Day of the Dead, when it’s said that spirits can pass between worlds. Best friends Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum) battle for the affection of Maria (Zoe Saldana), and two spirits, the motherly La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and fearsome Xibalba (Ron Perlman) bet on who will win. Gutierrez, making his first feature film with the help of producer and mentor Guillermo del […]
Aug. 04, 2014 | 6:05 p.m.

‘Star Wars Rebels': Watch seven minutes of new animated series [video]

Excited to see “Star Wars Rebels”? Tonight, you can watch the first seven minutes of the first episode online. Set about five years before the beginning of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” the new animated series follows the adventures of a group of heroes desperately trying to combat the all-consuming might of the Empire, the fascistic government arisen from the ashes of the Old Republic in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Although the story will recount the formation of the Rebel Alliance, the group that Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo would eventually lead to defeat the evil Empire, at the outset of the show the organization is little more than a ragtag band of aliens and a Jedi Knight in hiding, Kanan (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.), who engage in minor skirmishes with Imperial […]
July 26, 2014 | 3:51 p.m.

Comic-Con 2014: ‘Boxtrolls’ creators want you to know ‘This ain’t DreamWorks’

Travis Knight, the chief executive of stop-motion animation studio Laika wanted to be clear about something while presenting the upcoming feature “The Boxtrolls” to the fans in Hall H on Saturday. “No farts,” Knight said of the script to the film. “This ain’t DreamWorks.” Indeed, the animators responsible for “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and now “Boxtrolls” made a point of showing just how much their work was a labor of love. The sizzle reel shown at the beginning of the panel spent ample time showing animators hand-crafting the sets, props and puppets used in the film. The film is based on British author Alan Snow’s 2005 children’s novel, “Here Be Monsters!” And Knight spoke to how the source material spoke to him. “It had whispers of classic literature,” he said. “Roald Dahl, Monty Python and Dickens.” The story is set in Victorian […]
July 15, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

Animation pioneer Jerry Rees to direct Marvel Experience

Concept art for the touring attraction The Marvel Experience. (Hero Ventures / Marvel)
Animation pioneer Jerry Rees will lead the creative team developing the Marvel Experience, a theme-park attraction expected to tour the U.S. and Canada later this year. A film director and producer known for his animation work in “Tron” and his 1987 milestone short film “The Brave Little Toaster,” Rees has directed 16 Disney theme park attractions around the world in California, Hong Kong, Florida and Paris. Rick Licht, the CEO of Hero Ventures, the live entertainment company that partnered with Marvel to create the touring attraction, said in a news release issued Tuesday that “Jerry Rees brought a lifetime of creativity to the table and took the Marvel Experience to places well beyond our imagination.” The touring dome complex, which will span two acres and reach more than six stories high, will offer superhero fans a 4D motion-based ride featuring an […]
July 07, 2014 | 2:17 p.m.

Anime Expo 2014: A chat with Fuminori Kizaki, director of ‘Bayonetta’

"Bayonetta: Bloody Fate." (Sega/Gonzo)
“Bayonetta” is well known among gamers and those who attended this past weekend’s Anime Expo, but the Japanese franchise doesn’t enjoy much mainstream popularity in the U.S. The action game-cum-movie could get a boost with the stateside release of the animated adaptation “Bayonetta: Bloody Fate,” due in October on Blu-ray/DVD. A mix of magic and gunplay, the feature-length film is based on the video game’s original story about a witch who awakens after a centuries-long sleep. Outfitted with magical hair and gun-boots, she tries to piece together her history while battling creatures of light and dark. The film originally debuted in Japan theaters in November 2013 and a few months later on Blu-ray/DVD. Fuminori Kizaki, director of “Bayonetta”and other anime favorites like “Afro Samurai: Resurrection” starring Samuel L. Jackson,  was happy to lend his vision to the film. “Originally, I was […]
July 05, 2014 | 8:09 a.m.

‘Animaniacs’ creator tackles fairy tales with ‘The 7D’

DOC, BASHFUL, GRUMPY, SLEEPY, SNEEZY, DOPEY, HAPPY
Outside of certain circles, Tom Ruegger may not be a name that is synonymous with animation. But throw out the titles on which he was executive producer and helped create — “Animaniacs,” “Tiny Toon Adventures” and “Pinky and the Brain” — and images of really smart and fun cartoons come to mind. The multiple Emmy Award-winning Ruegger is heading up a new cartoon that launches on Disney XD on Monday called “The 7D” that hopes to capture the fun spirit of some of Ruegger’s other shows. “The 7D” is, as its name might suggest, about the tales of the Seven Dwarfs — 30 years or so before their fateful run-in with Snow White. Living in the Enchanted Forest in the kingdom of Jollywood under the rule of Queen Delightful, the dwarfs are the area’s “most trusted” heroes, righting the wrongs […]
June 27, 2014 | 8:00 a.m.

Saturn Awards: ‘Gravity,’ ‘Iron Man 3,’ ‘Her,’ ‘Walking Dead’ win big

Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone in "Gravity." (Warner Bros.)
Accepting “The Walking Dead’s” prize for best syndicated/cable television series, executive producer Scott Gimple, surrounded by cast members past and present, told the crowd, “You have to be a geek to do this. We’re proud to be geeks.” That was the prevailing sentiment orbiting around the Castaway Starlight Ballroom in Burbank on Thursday during the 40th Saturn Awards, a celebration of genre entertainment. It was a celebratory evening for AMC’s zombie saga smash hit, as it won a total of three competitive awards and saw one of its top creative forces receive an honorary one. The blockbuster space-survival film “Gravity” was the night’s biggest winner, claiming five of the eight categories it was nominated in, including best science-fiction film, best actress for Sandra Bullock and best director for Alfonso Cuarón (who has said the film isn’t science fiction, but a […]
June 23, 2014 | 1:57 p.m.

Transformers: Five things learned at Botcon 2014

Cosplayers dress up as Autobots. (Jevon Phillips / Los Angeles Times)
For 20 years, robots have never had to be in disguise at Botcon – the annual celebration of all things Transformers that took place at the Pasadena Convention Center last weekend. Botcon isn’t necessarily a hype machine for the June 27 release of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” — the convention began in 1994, long before Michael Bay took the helm of the film franchise —  but it does transform nicely into one. Overall, though, it is geared more toward the group of stalwart fans that have the same sensibilities that helped rocket the mechanical aliens to popularity some 30 years ago when it began as a Hasbro toy line in 1984. ———— For the record: In an earlier version of this post, it was stated that Pirate Clone Pounce and Pirate Clone Wingspan were Autobots. They are, of course, Decepticons. […]
April 25, 2014 | 1:57 p.m.

‘Star Wars’ Expanded Universe: Lucasfilm reboots, adds ‘Legends’ label

star-wars-promo
“Star Wars” obsessives got some good news and bad news Friday when Lucasfilm officially announced the fate of the “Star Wars” Expanded Universe, the loosely interlocked series of books, comics, video games and other ancillary products that have served to fill out the imaginary universe George Lucas established in his six original films. First, the bad news: Fans can forget trying to decipher the future of “Star Wars” from the hints of the past. Lucasfilm is officially writing off all Expanded Universe properties that have been produced to date. While many of the books and stories will remain available, they now will be labeled with a “Legends” banner. Despite the popularity of the Timothy Zahn-authored novels set in the years after “Return of the Jedi” or the “Dark Empire” comic books, those stories will have no bearing on what happens […]
April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

Batman 75: Jim Lee, Kevin Conroy, Ralph Garman’s days with Bruce Wayne

Batman75LeeConroyfeaturedimage
Batman’s 75th anniversary celebration kicked into high gear at WonderCon in Anaheim last weekend with an all-star panel that included superstar artist and DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, definitive Dark Knight voice actor Kevin Conroy and voice actor/writer/Adam-West-“Batman” super-fan Ralph Garman. Before heading upstairs to entertain a capacity crowd in a Bat-cavernous room, Lee (“Batman: Hush,” “All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder”), Conroy (“Batman: The Animated Series,” “Batman: Arkham” video games) and Garman (co-writer of the upcoming “Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet” comics miniseries) sat down with Hero Complex to talk about getting in Batman’s head, memorable adventures in their years with Bruce Wayne, and the powers of the artists drawing Caped Crusader comics now. Hero Complex: The three of you have worked or are working on quite different versions of Batman. For each of you – to […]
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