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 […]
May 07, 2013 | 1:49 p.m.

Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz who wowed a generation

Ray Harryhausen, the beloved special effects wizard known for his pioneering efforts in stop-motion animation, the painstaking technique that requires animators to manipulate a puppet’s movement frame-by-frame, died Tuesday in London at the age of 92. Born in Los Angeles in 1920, Harryhausen began crafting his own versions of prehistoric creatures as a young boy. The pastime turned into a profession, and with films including “Mighty Joe Young” (1949), “Jason and the Argonauts” (1963) and “One Million Years B.C.” (1966), Harryhausen brought wild creatures to life in adventurous worlds, mesmerizing a generation who would be inspired to make their own films, both live-action and animated. One ardent admirer was a young Tim Burton, who told Hero Complex earlier this year that as a boy, he knew the work of Harryhausen before that of Orson Welles. “I remember seeing ‘Jason and the […]
Feb. 15, 2013 | 11:10 a.m.

Tim Burton reflects on ‘Frankenweenie’ box office, plots his next step

It was only Wednesday, but sitting at a small table in the restaurant at the Chateau Marmont, Tim Burton looked a little defeated by the week, and not simply because of the sling supporting his arm. A fall in London in December fractured his shoulder — a nasty injury that he said will likely limit his range of motion for about a year — but it was a recent bout of Hollywood glad-handing that had the filmmaker most excited to return to his home in England. Two days earlier, Burton had attended the Oscar nominees luncheon – his most recent film, “Frankenweenie,” is up for the Academy Award in the animated feature category. That evening, he’d appeared at the American Cinematheque for a screening of the movie, a black-and-white love letter to Universal horror films and his Burbank youth, along […]
Feb. 07, 2013 | 1:02 p.m.

‘The Boxtrolls’ is the next film from ‘ParaNorman’ animators

The creative weirdos/geniuses at Laika — the Portland-based animation studio that brought you “Coraline” and “ParaNorman” — have just announced their next feature film: “The Boxtrolls.” The film is based on “Here Be Monsters,” a children’s fantasy novel by Alan Snow, and will open in theaters in October 2014. It will tell the story of the people of the Victorian-era town of Cheesebridge, who are obsessed with stinky cheese, and the shy, troll-like tinkerers who live beneath the streets. The trolls are called Boxtrolls because they cover themselves in cardboard boxes, the way a hermit crab covers itself with a snail shell. Ben Kingsley will voice the villainous Archibald Snatcher, a pest exterminator who is trying to eliminate the Boxtrolls as his ticket to Cheesebridge society. Isaac Hempstead-Wright, last seen playing Bran Stark in “Game of Thrones,” will play Eggs, a […]
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