Sept. 05, 2014 | 7:45 a.m.
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 […]
April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.
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 […]
April 07, 2014 | 1:12 p.m.
The second installment in Hayao Miyazaki’s memoir is out Tuesday, offering a glimpse into the legendary animation director’s career of more than three decades, and Hero Complex readers get an exclusive sneak peek. “Turning Point: 1997-2008,” from Viz Media, traces the Japanese director’s most successful years, which saw the release of “Princess Mononoke,” the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo.” During this time, Miyazaki’s work received critical acclaim and began to garner an international audience. The 452-page tome includes Miyazaki’s essays about Japan’s animation culture, the differing perspectives of children and adults, and his memories of youth, among other topics; interviews with various publications and panels, including one with Roger Ebert; illustrations for Studio Ghibli holiday cards and films; and even poetry, written to aid composer Joe Hisaishi. “Turning Point” is the companion second volume to 1996’s “Starting Point: 1979-1996,” which […]
Feb. 25, 2014 | 1:42 p.m.
The Emmy-nominated third season of “Adventure Time” is out on Blu-ray and DVD today, and Hero Complex readers get an exclusive first look at a video clip from the bonus features. The massively popular Cartoon Network series, created by Pendleton Ward, follows Finn, a human boy, and Jake, his magical shape-shifting dog, as they fight monsters and rescue princesses in a whimsical, post-apocalyptic candyland called the Land of Ooo. The third season’s home video release includes episode commentaries for all 26 episodes, an interview with Ward and an alternate show introduction, not to mention a custom slipcase which transforms the video box into a figurine of BMO — Finn’s sentient video game system, camera, alarm clock and, of course, loyal friend. Hero Complex readers get an exclusive look at a bonus video clip (watch it above), featuring storyboard artist and […]
Feb. 20, 2014 | 1:16 p.m.
“The Wind Rises” opens in select U.S. theaters Friday before an expanded release next week, and a new clip has been released, spotlighting a scene from what legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki has said will be his last film. The Studio Ghibli film, which is up for an Academy Award next month, tells the story of real-life Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who designed the Zero fighter plane. Inspired by the work of Italian aeronautical designer Caproni (Stanley Tucci), Jiro grows up dreaming of flying and designing beautiful planes. After his nearsightedness keeps him from realizing his goal, he instead becomes one of the world’s most innovative airplane designers. The tale follows Jiro through key historical events including Japan’s devastating 1923 earthquake, a tuberculosis epidemic and economic troubles that preceded the nation’s plunge into World War II. […]
Oct. 04, 2013 | 1:20 p.m.
Guillermo del Toro’s couch gag for “The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIV” is nothing less than a love letter to the horror genre. Del Toro directed the show’s trademark opening sequence for this year’s Halloween special, and he pays homage to more horror franchises than we could count. Among the references in the opening, which runs just under three minutes, are tributes to Alfred Hitchcock, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe and more. In addition to Cthulhu, Godzilla and a horde of zombies, Klaatu from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Nosferatu’s” vampire Count Orlok make appearances. In one scene, Bart Simpson scrawls, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” the proverb made infamous in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Attentive viewers will spot the house from “Psycho,” the winged attackers from “The Birds,” Frankenstein and […]
June 19, 2013 | 1:39 p.m.
In Disney’s upcoming animated musical “Frozen,” fearless protagonist Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) teams up with mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) to find Anna’s Snow Queen sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has trapped their kingdom in endless winter. As epic as their journey may be, the first trailer focuses instead on a comedic battle between reindeer Sven and snowman Olaf over the latter’s carrot-nose. “Frozen,” out Nov. 27, features songs by “The Book of Mormon” composer Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez. The film is directed by Chris Buck (“Tarzan”) and Jennifer Lee, a screenwriter for “Wreck-It Ralph” and, with “Frozen,” the first woman to direct a feature at Disney Animation. Buck first pitched the idea to John Lasseter, Disney Animation’s chief creative officer, in 2008, proposing an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen.” “One of […]
May 09, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.
Walt Disney Animation Studios is announcing its first movie inspired by a Marvel comic Thursday, an adaptation of a lesser known crime fighter series called “Big Hero 6.” Directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and due in 2014, the CG-animated movie will center on a robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada and his robot companion BayMax, who join a team of superheroes in a high-tech city called San Fransokyo. (For a closer look at the city of San Fransokyo, see the video above). Even die-hard comic book fans may have trouble recalling the Marvel series, which was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau in 1998 and is something of a whimsical love letter to Japanese culture. Characters in the original comic include a samurai, an agent who invented a nanotechnology-based Power Purse and a monster born from a […]
May 08, 2013 | 2:24 p.m.
In the 2001 Pixar movie “Monsters, Inc.,” Mike, the one-eyed green orb voiced by Billy Crystal, takes his scaly, snake-haired girlfriend Celia out for sushi at a local haunt called Harryhausen’s. The name of the restaurant was a nod to a man who influenced “Monsters, Inc.” director Pete Docter — special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who died Tuesday in London at age 92. Before the kind of computer animation pioneered at Pixar became Hollywood’s standard tool for crafting its fantasies, Harryhausen used the methodical, frame-by-frame technique of stop-motion animation to place dinosaurs in New York City in 1953’s “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” to pit Jason against an army of skeleton warriors in “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963), and to release the kraken in the 1981 version of “Clash of the Titans.” It was an approach that captured the imaginations […]
May 07, 2013 | 7:10 p.m.
Model animator Ray Harryhausen, who brought monsters and dinosaurs and all manner of critters to life, frame by frame, in feature films from “Mighty Joe Young” (1949) to “Clash of the Titans” (1981), died Tuesday in London at the age of 92. Inspired by Willis O’Brien, who animated “King Kong,” he was himself the stated inspiration for generations of sci-fi and fantasy filmmakers. And he scared a lot of little kids, which I know for a fact. It’s not quite right to call his passing the end of an era, because Harryhausen’s era predeceased him by some time, buried in an avalanche of increasingly sophisticated computerized special effects from which the actual hand of man has been all but erased. To be sure, it was his own goal to make his effects invisible, to seamlessly mate his miniatures with the […]