Animation

Feb. 20, 2014 | 1:16 p.m.

‘The Wind Rises’ video: Hayao Miyazaki’s final film opens in U.S.

“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 ‘Simpsons’ couch gag pays homage to horror

The Simpsons, Guillermo del Toro (featured image)
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.

‘Frozen’ trailer spotlights comedic characters in Disney feature

Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff) rides Sven in "Frozen." (Disney)
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.

Exclusive: Disney Animation announces first Marvel movie, ‘Big Hero 6’

This concept art for “Big Hero 6” showcases the Bridge to San Fransokyo. Credit: Disney.
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.

Ray Harryhausen: Pixar’s Pete Docter on the monster king

Characters in Pixar's "Monster Inc." dine at Harryhausens. Credit: Pixar
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.

Ray Harryhausen: A tribute to the king of featured creatures

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 […]
Feb. 20, 2013 | 12:42 p.m.

Oscars 2013 host Seth MacFarlane: ‘I’m the wrong guy’ for the job

Academy Awards host Seth MacFarlane (Credit: Getty Images)
Academy Awards host Seth MacFarlane has a message for the Oscars: Be careful what you wish for ’cause you just might get it. The raunchy-minded creative genius behind TV’s “Family Guy” and “American Dad” and the summer box office hit “Ted” says the 85th annual Academy Awards on Sunday will be “a very thin-skinned room” for his ribald sense of humor. “It’s a really bad match,” MacFarlane told CNN. “I’m the wrong guy to do this.” Oscars 2013: Complete coverage What do you think? Is MacFarlane a good match for the Oscars? Will the Academy Awards regret turning over the reins to him? Will he push the envelope? MacFarlane was joking, of course, in his comments to CNN. Or was he? Let’s not forget MacFarlane’s surprising appearance at the announcement of the Academy Awards nominees last month. (MacFarlane is the only […]
Feb. 08, 2013 | 9:21 a.m.

Nemo the monster: Powerful blizzard named for cute fish rolls in

Nemo-and-shark
Powerful blizzard Nemo — predicted to be the biggest winter storm in a century in some cities — was bringing heavy snow to the Northeast on Friday morning, interfering with travel and school and basically causing chaos. Wait. Nemo? Isn’t that the cuddly Disney/Pixar fish? The Weather Channel chose the name, and its website helpfully defines it. “Nemo: A Greek boy’s name meaning ‘from the valley,’ means ‘nobody’ in Latin.”  But to the rest of us, Nemo is the adorable clownfish with the overprotective single dad. PHOTOS: Snowpocalypse and more Only outside the Nemo zone do people have time to ponder this blizzard name. Friday morning brought a beehive of activity to the Northeast, according to media reports, as residents stockpiled supplies and tried to get where they wanted to go before mass transit was suspended. Flight Aware reported thousands […]
Feb. 05, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.

Studio Ghibli’s ‘Poppy Hill’ trailer: Love, secrets in a bygone era

A scene in "From Up on Poppy Hill." (Studio Ghibli / GKids)
Studio Ghibli fans can get a glimpse of the Japanese animation studio’s latest film “From Up on Poppy Hill” in a new trailer released Monday. “Poppy Hill” follows high school students Umi (voiced by “Once Upon a Time” actress Sarah Bolger in the English-language version) and Shun (“Star Trek Into Darkness” actor Anton Yelchin), who find love when they team up to save a historic building from demolition in 1963 Yokohama. The film deals with nostalgia for a bygone era and hope for a modern future, as the country heals after World War II and prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. The film is based on a 1980s manga by Tetsuo Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi. Studio Ghibli’s co-founder Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and his son, Goro, directed. “Poppy Hill” was a box office hit in Japan and went on to win […]
Jan. 30, 2013 | 7:10 p.m.

‘Paperman’: Oscar-nominated Disney short takes a page from classics

Disney's Oscar-nominated short film 'Paperman'
If you missed it in theaters, Disney’s Oscar-nominated romance “Paperman” is now online, in time for Valentine’s Day. The animated short film screened before “Wreck-It Ralph” in theaters last fall and debuted on YouTube Tuesday, already garnering more than 26,000 “likes.” “Paperman” is about a young office worker in midcentury New York who meets his soul mate while waiting for the train. The train arrives and the girl is gone, but he gets a second chance at a meet-cute when he looks out his office window and sees her in the skyscraper across the street. Cue the paper airplanes. It’s a love story rendered in gorgeous black and white, harking back to the days of hand-drawn animation — which is exactly what first-time director John Kahrs was aiming for. When Kahrs served as animation supervisor on Disney’s “Tangled,” he worked […]
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