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 […]
Feb. 20, 2013 | 12:42 p.m.
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.
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 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.
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 […]
Jan. 28, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.
Frank Miller’s genre-shaking graphic novel “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” is getting the movie treatment. The second installment in the two-part animated adaptation premieres Monday evening at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. The premiere includes a panel discussion moderated by filmmaker and geek personality Kevin Smith, featuring director Jay Oliva, dialogue director Andrea Romano, executive producer Bruce Timm and screenwriter Bob Goodman. The panel will be live streamed from PaleyCenter.org beginning at approximately 8:30 p.m. The film — which doesn’t stray far from Miller’s classic 1986 story — features the voice talent of Peter Weller (“Robocop,” “Dexter”) as a time-worn (and probably psychopathic) Bruce Wayne who becomes so disturbed by Gotham’s worsening crime that he decides to come out of retirement against the wishes of local and national government. The president turns to none other than Superman to […]
Jan. 11, 2013 | 9:40 a.m.
From Betty Boop to the Little Mermaid, young female characters in animation nearly always share the same silhouette — an exaggerated hourglass shape. But Eep, the prehistoric teenager voiced by Emma Stone in the Dreamworks Animation movie “The Croods,” sports a decidedly different physique. More Olympian than pinup, Eep has the shoulders of a swimmer, the legs of a gymnast and the strength and speed to survive the apocalypse — or at least some major continent shifting. The Crood family — including Eep’s dad, Grug (Nicolas Cage), mom, Ugga (Catherine Keener), and brother, Thunk (Clark Duke) — live in a fictional time period called the “Croodaceous Era,” when the Earth is populated by exotic, dangerous creatures and the most useful animal instinct is fear. It’s when Eep meets Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a lanky loner from a more highly evolved, Homo […]
Jan. 09, 2013 | 1:25 p.m.
A rainy twilight sets the stage for two umbrellas to fall in love in a clip from “The Blue Umbrella” — a short film set to debut before Pixar’s “Monsters University” this June. Pixar has become nothing short of a hit machine, churning out many of Hollywood’s most popular and critically acclaimed animated features over the last 15 years. But equally beloved are the Pixar Shorts — the animated short films that have accompanied each Pixar theatrical release since old Geri played a game of chess against himself in “Geri’s Game,” which debuted before “A Bug’s Life” in 1998. The shorts have become known for originality and charm, and have garnered three Oscar wins plus seven nominations collectively, including a nod for “La Luna,” which screened before last year’s “Brave.” “The Blue Umbrella” looks to follow suit, if the adorable […]
Dec. 26, 2012 | 4:02 p.m.
Gerry Anderson, the British creator of the TV series “Thunderbirds” renowned for his original and influential use of marionettes on TV, has died following a lengthy battle with mixed dementia. He was 83. Anderson’s adult son Jamie made the announcement, according to the Associated Press. He said that his father died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday at a nursing home in Oxfordshire, England. Anderson was widely known for his “supermarionation” technique, which uses marionettes controlled by ultra-thin wires. He developed the technique for a number of British TV series in the 1960s, including “Thunderbirds,” about ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his sons combating evil with advanced technology and the Thunderbird planes. Other series Anderson created using the technique included “Supercar” and “Fireball XL5.” The technique proved to have a lasting influence, as demonstrated by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and […]
Nov. 20, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.
Santa and the Easter Bunny are constantly one-upping each other, the Tooth Fairy feels overworked, Jack Frost is a perpetual adolescent and the Boogeyman is having an identity crisis. These are the workplace dynamics of the childhood characters who populate the new DreamWorks Animation fantasy-adventure film “Rise of the Guardians,” which opens Wednesday. The idea to unite the different folkloric figures in one narrative began more than a decade ago with children’s author and illustrator William Joyce, who wanted to write a series of picture books and novels called “The Guardians of Childhood” that told the legends’ origin stories much the way that comic books unspool the back stories of Spider-Man and Batman. Joyce was inspired by a question his 6-year-old daughter, Mary Katherine, had asked him — are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny friends? With movie studios hungry […]