Animation

Jan. 29, 2015 | 8:00 a.m.

‘Tales from Earthsea,’ ‘Porco Rosso,’ ‘Pom Poko’ out on Blu-ray Feb. 3

Sparrowhawk in a scene from "Tales from Earthsea." (Nibariki - GNDHDDT)
Studio Ghibli fans can add three new films to their collections. Walt Disney Studios is releasing “Tales from Earthsea,” “Porco Rosso” and “Pom Poko” on Blu-ray on Feb. 3. “Tales from Earthsea,” based on the fantasy book series by Ursula K. Le Guin and directed by Goro Miyazaki (“From Up on Poppy Hill”), is set in a mythical world thrown out of balance. Crops are dwindling, humanity is descending into chaos, and dragons have reappeared. The story follows master wizard Sparrowhawk (voiced by Timothy Dalton) and troubled Prince Arren (Matt Levin) as they search for the mysterious force that threatens their world. The dub also includes the voice talents of Mariska Hargitay, Willem Dafoe and Cheech Marin. The Blu-ray release features bonus material, including the original Japanese storyboards, trailers and TV spots, and behind-the-scenes featurettes. Tuesday’s release marks the first […]
Jan. 08, 2015 | 10:21 a.m.

Exclusive ‘Song of the Sea’ images tease magic, folklore

A scene from "Song of the Sea." (Cartoon Saloon / GKids)
“Song of the Sea,” an animated film inspired by the Irish legend of the Selkies, arrives in Los Angeles theaters on Friday. Hero Complex readers get an exclusive first look at some images from the film, the sophomore release from the creators of 2009’s Oscar-nominated film “The Secret of Kells.” In gorgeous, hand-drawn animation, “Song of the Sea” tells the tale of the last seal-child, Saoirse, and her brother Ben, who must race against time on a journey to awaken Saoirse’s powers and save the magical spirit world. Though not a sequel to “Kells,” which offered a magical origin story for Ireland’s treasured Book of Kells, “Song of the Sea” is a sort of spiritual follow-up, director Tomm Moore has said. The idea for the film was born during production on “Kells” on the west coast of Ireland, where Moore […]
Dec. 11, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Kingdom of Dreams and Madness’: Watch a clip from Studio Ghibli documentary

Hayao Miyazaki working on "The Wind Rises" in a scene from the documentary "The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness." (Dwango / GKids)
“The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” a documentary that offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the famed Studio Ghibli in Japan, is out on digital platforms this week. Hero Complex readers get an exclusive first look at a scene from the film, which depicts the inner workings of the animation studio behind the acclaimed films “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke” and the Academy Award winner “Spirited Away,” among others. In “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” director Mami Sunada (“Death of a Japanese Salesman”) follows legendary director and Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki (“The Wind Rises”), co-founder and director Isao Takahata (“Grave of the Fireflies”), and producer Toshio Suzuki over the course of a year. Sunada documented the studio’s rush to complete Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” and Takahata’s “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” both released in 2013. The exclusive clip […]
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 […]
Oct. 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

San Fransokyo architects built a new world for Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’

The San Fransokyo cityscape in "Big Hero 6" is an urban mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. (Disney)
Before the directors of the new Walt Disney Animation movie “Big Hero 6” settled on their story, they created the world in which it’s set: a jammed, vibrant place called San Fransokyo. A mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo set in the not-too-distant future, San Fransokyo is a dense, hilly city with cable cars and cherry blossoms, Victorian row houses and glittering neon billboards. The filmmakers’ idea — never stated in the film — is that in a parallel universe after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the city split off and an influx of Japanese immigrants helped rebuild it. San Fransokyo is a quintessential example of the craft of world building, the process of constructing a wholly imaginary universe for films, television, video games and other media, that involves creating the look of everything from buildings, vegetation and vehicles to […]
Oct. 20, 2014 | 10:57 a.m.

‘Moana’: Disney unveils first look at South Pacific animated feature

Concept art for "Moana," an upcoming feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios. (Disney)
Walt Disney Animation Studios has revealed a first look at “Moana,” an animated feature slated to hit theaters in late 2016. Billed as an “epic comedy-adventure,” the CG-animated movie will transport Disney fans to the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, where spirited teenager Moana sets sail in search of a fabled island. “Moana” is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the filmmaking duo behind “The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “Aladdin.” The tale follows Moana, a born navigator, and her hero, the legendary demigod Maui, as they set off on an impossible mission to fulfill Moana’s ancestors’ quest. Along the way, they encounter enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore, according to Disney. “Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself,” Musker said in a press statement. […]
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 […]
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 […]
April 07, 2014 | 1:12 p.m.

Exclusive: Miyazaki memoir features ‘Princess Mononoke’ proposal

San in Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke." (Miramax Films)
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.

‘Adventure Time’ exclusive clip: Adam Muto on the show’s evolution

BMO is Finn and Jake's roommate, loyal and protective friend, camera, alarm clock and video game system. BMO is genderless, speaks with an East Asian accent and pretends to be human when nobody else is around. (Cartoon Network)
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 […]
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