Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh/ dir. Stephen Anderson & Don Hall/ 2011 


On the second to last day of the Seattle International Film Festival, I sit in a theater awaiting the North American premiere of Winnie the Pooh. To my left, my partner of about a year and all around me I am surrounded by an almost full theater of smiling parents, anxious kids, and general fans of animation (well at least the folks that can make it to an early morning showing on a Saturday). After the parade of speakers and thank yous, the lights go dim, and Winnie the Pooh comes on. Amidst the occasional laughs from the small children around me, my eyes are affixed on the screen, hanging on each beautifully animated frame while I reminisce of the days when I first met the round lovable bear known as Winnie the Pooh. Days after I’m still collecting my thoughts, reflecting on all the changes that have occurred in and around me in not only the 5 months since I last wrote, but also the 2 years since I took my first baby steps into the animation world. All this brought about by a mere children’s movie.  So after a very lengthy hiatus, I figured I should write something…

Winnie the Pooh is not your traditional “modern” animated feature. It’s doesn’t offer any flashy effects or well planned out action sequences. There is no magic, no plot twists and no added adult humor or pop culture references to entice the older audiences. No, Winnie the Pooh is an old fashioned Disney 2D/ hand drawn animated film through and through. It knows its core audience and it’s an effective film for 3 reasons: simple storytelling, a subtle yet powerful moral message, and a creative imagination. All these add up to something that gets lost in today’s films of CG, big action sequences, grand sets, and manufactured emotions… Innocence. Continue reading

Evangelion 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone

Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone/ Hideaki Anno/ 2007/ Japan

I thought it would be fitting to review Evangelion 1.11 on 1/11/11. How many times do you get the chance to do that? a

Evangelion 1.11 is a special DVD/ Blu Ray edition of Evangelion 1.0, which in turn was a reboot of the classic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Confused? Well that’s the point. Anime is sometimes known for its convoluted stories, intricate plot twists, and techno-babble dialogue, and the poster child of this generalization was the original 1996 Neon Genesis Evangelion Series. Evangelion 1.11 is the reboot… err… well, its more of a facelift, as it seems the scenes were ripped straight out of the original series. Is it any good? If you like the OG series, you’ll like this film. If you’re looking for a fantastic in-depth, artistic, and stylistic look into the fragile psyche of a teenager abandoned by his father then this is the film for you. If you also like big mech robots fighting huge monsters, then this film is for you. Be warned, you may get lost in its confusing plot and its many allusions to religion. But if you give it a chance, you’re in for a treat.

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Best Animated Features 2010


Let’s put a bow on 2010 and wrap it with Art of the Cartoon’s Best Animated Features of 2010. I’ll be honest, 2010 was an an okay year in animated features, not great, just okay. I enjoyed 2009’s offering of animated goodness better than 2010, but still I have to commend all the animation studios for putting out some quality work in 2010 (by the way studios, I’m looking for a job as an animator *wink wink*). I only have a top 3 this year, so let’s go over some ground rules first:

  • I have to have seen the movie! (Yes I’m looking forward to seeing Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, too bad it wasn’t released stateside in 2010, so I haven’t seen it. So it is OUT! )
  • If the animated movie was widely released in 2010, it counts!
  • I (obviously) have to have enjoyed the movie. Technical merit counts (animation, sound, etc…) but its the sum of all parts, so if I’m not entertained for the duration, then you’re not making the list.

Let’s do it! Hit the jump for the Best Animated Features 2010…

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2009 in Review

It’s been awhile since I posted something on here. Animation has kept me pretty occupied, but some 4 months into 2010, I think it’s finally time I reveal my best animated features of 2009. 2009 was an outstanding year for animation. Seeing that there were 5 nominations for Best Animated Picture at the Oscars, and beyond that there were quality animated films this year that may have been considered in lesser years. Anyway before I get to the best, I wanna go over my ground rules for best of 2009:

  • I have to have seen the movie! (Secret of Kells, even though nominated for an academy award for best animated picture, is OUT! Just because I haven’t seen it! But I want to!)
  • If the animated movie was widely released in 2009, it counts! ($9.99 was made in 2008, but was widely released in 2009, so it’s in contention)
  • I (obviously) have to have enjoyed the movie. Technical merit counts (animation, sound, etc…) but its the sum of all parts, so if I’m not entertained for the duration, then you’re not making the list.

Without further delay, hit the jump to see the Best Animated Features of 2009… Continue reading

I Kill Giants

I Kill Giants/ writer: Joe Kelly/ art: JM Ken Niimura/ 2009

Another year come and gone and another birthday. I guess it’s time to reflect…

Getting older and wiser, I start to notice more things. Obstacles and struggles in life in general can become a little more daunting. Work can suck if you have a job, looking for work can suck if don’t have one, school can drag-on, love life at a stand still, finances swirling in the toilet, health going wrong, etc… Add to that the seemingly unending injustices and human rights violations out there and things can start to get really bleak. But that’s why we have inspirations, things that keep us going, keep us moving forward.

On the day of my birth, I present to you one of my many inspirations. In my opinion, one of the best, if not THE best graphic novel/ trade paperback of 2009. A book that everyone should read. Even though there really is no social commentary or political context involved in this book, it is one of the most poignant, genuine, and touching stories I have seen in a graphic novel. And its message and theme is as “in your face” and obvious as it seems, a metaphor waiting to happen…

I KILL GIANTS! Continue reading

9

9/ dir. Shane Acker/ (short film) 2005/ (feature length film) 2009

There are some things in life that seem marvelous, brilliant, and perfect when in the abstract, or in theory, but when it comes to fleshing it out in real life, in the actual world, it falls flat and fails to live up to its perceived greatness and magnitude. Shane Acker’s 9, begrudgingly falls into this trap. The short film of the same name was an Academy Award nominated animated short in 2005. In only 11 minutes, Shane Acker’s 9 (2005) presented an eerie and frightening post apocalyptic world, complete with climatic action scenes, and tense moments all without dialogue. Its main character, a sentient burlap sack doll, and its main antagonist a mechanical cat beast, along with the dark colors, heavy use of shadows and a steam punk style all seemed very Tim- Burton-esque. So when it was announced that Tim Burton had decided to produce the feature length version of the short, while retaining Acker to help write and direct, it seemed like a natural progression, a perfect blend. But as written before, some things are better in the abstract than they are in the real, and while Shane Acker’s feature length film 9 wasn’t bad, it wasn’t nearly as effective as the short it originated from. Continue reading

Avatar

Avatar/ dir. James Cameron/ 2009

“Wait! YOU haven’t seen Avatar! … I can’t believe of all people, YOU, haven’t seen Avatar!”

And that’s the sentiment I hear every effing time I mention to folks that I haven’t seen Avatar. EVERY EFFING TIME! C’mon people, I have school, animation shots to work on, work, other animated films, shorts and series to see, more comics and books to read, artwork to do, things to write, people to see, people I’m trying to get with =P, video games being neglected, etc… so please excuse the fact that I have not seen the film… Until Now. I finally gave in to peer pressure…

I have to admit, I was a little leery to see this movie because of all the conflicting comments/ analysis from folks I know. I know some animators who worked on the film and I have heard rave reviews. At the other end of the spectrum, I have other folks screaming of “the great white hope/ white guilt” movie disguised as “pretty to look at” sci-fi flick. So where does Avatar fall? Was it a “white savior” movie in an elegant package, or was it something more deep, a movie that deserves its Oscar nomination of Best Picture?

Well… Even though Avatar is a familiar story, it was made more grandiose because of spectacular designs, effects, environments and animations. These grand effects and animations offer a glimpse of what an animated film can strive to be and what messages animation can convey to the masses that aren’t bringing in kids to see cute cuddly characters. And make no mistake, Avatar IS an animated movie! Too bad, its message is a re-hash of stale ideas combined with Hollywood giving itself a pat on the back. Continue reading