Animation


Dec. 05, 2014 | 8:58 a.m.

Holiday gift guide: ‘Hobbit,’ Batman, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ more

Hero Complex Holiday Gift Guide 2014
Ho, Ho, Ho(dor)! It’s the time of year for geek-friendly holiday shopping. Whether you’re shopping for fans of “Game of Thrones,” “Star Wars,” Batman or Captain Marvel, the annual Hero Complex holiday gift guide has you covered. This year’s selections include some family-friendly video games for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U; gorgeous hardcover books celebrating the anniversaries of Marvel Comics, Batman, the Teen Titans, “Alien” and Hello Kitty; a Godzilla toy that’s probably bigger than your dog; and a quadcopter camera drone, among other selections. Click through the gallery above for a peek at our selections. Items are listed below, sorted by cost. Under $25 “Living Language Dothraki,” $3.99 app, $19.99 audiobook, $30 online course: Athchomar chomakaan! The Khal or Khaleesi in your life must command the Dothraki language before commanding the troops, and thanks to Living Language’s new course (offered as an app, CD and guide […]
Nov. 11, 2014 | 10:36 a.m.

‘Strange Magic': Lucasfilm musical based on ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Bog King (Alan Cumming), Griselda (Maya Rudolph) and Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) are part of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps in "Strange Magic." (Lucasfilm)
“Strange Magic,” a musical animated feature film inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is coming to theaters in January, Disney announced Tuesday. The news comes after much speculation that the film would be a sequel to Disney’s record-breaking blockbuster “Frozen.” The rumor mill appears to have gotten it wrong, with nary a snowman in sight. Instead, the project — from Lucasfilm and Touchstone Pictures — is inspired by Shakespeare’s magical comedy and based on a story by “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, and will feature modern-day pop songs (Electric Light Orchestra, anyone?). Here’s the official description from Disney: “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 […]
Nov. 07, 2014 | 4:06 p.m.

‘Big Hero 6′: Writing group Man of Action recalls Disney movie roots

The four writers of Man of Action are, from left, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau, Steven T. Seagle and Joe Casey. (Man of Action)
“Big Hero 6,” Disney Animation’s latest theatrical feature, is a classic superteam origin story. But what’s interesting is that the characters’ original creators function as a kind of superteam themselves. The writing collective known as Man of Action is credited on screen with the characters of “Big Hero 6,” but in reality the group consists of four individual writers: Steven T. Seagle, Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey and Joe Kelly. They have distinct points of view, but together they share everything: both the glory and the workload. “We have a very socialist business model,” says Seagle, who co-created the “Big Hero 6″ characters with Rouleau for Marvel back in 1998. “It shocks and appalls a lot of people. At first we were all skeevy about it, whether that would work in Capitalist America, but it’s really panned out pretty well.” The […]
Oct. 02, 2014 | 1:18 p.m.

‘Phineas and Ferb': Romero, Pegg, more drafted for Halloween special

romero-phineas
“Phineas and Ferb” is getting into the Halloween spirit this weekend with a “Night of the Living Dead”-inspired special called “Night of the Living Pharmacists.” Among the star-studded cast are horror heavyweight George Romero and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, reprising their characters from Edgar Wright’s beloved zombie sendup “Shaun of the Dead.” In this latest episode, Doofenshmirtz’s newest “-inator” machine accidentally turns the citizens of Danville into contagious Doof-zombies. Phineas, Ferb, Agent P and others must work together to save the city. In the exclusive clip above, reporter Don Adaded (voiced by Romero) falls victim to the Doofenshmirtz disease. The show has been on a roll with its special projects of late. “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof provided the plot for “Phineas and Ferb: Lost in Danville,” which aired Monday. Earlier this year, creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” […]
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 […]
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