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

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs/ dir. Phil Lord & Chris Miller/ 2009

A cooky inventor creates a machine that turns water into food. The machine ends up in the sky somehow, and it rains down food…

Did you just roll your eyes? I know I did when I first heard the silly premise of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. And yes, it IS a silly premise. Loosely based on the 1978 book of the same name, the directors, writers, animators, etc. obviously had fun with this premise of food falling from the sky, as there was little bits of slapstick all over the place, sometimes too much, and many times, WAAY overdone. However, a silly premise does not necessarily mean bad movie. In fact, underneath all the comedic bits, overacting, food falling from the sky, and outrageous action scenes lies a pretty decent animated film. Actually Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is more than decent, with subtle sophisticated social commentaries, a fun supporting cast, a genuine telling of a strained relationship of a father and son,  it’s a really deep and engaging movie. Continue reading

Filipin@s: Ricky Nierva

Speaking of the First Quarter Storm, I thought this would be an appropriate time to bring back my Filipin@s post. This time I would like present Ricky Nierva. Yet another Pixar important person, he was a story artist on Toy Story 2, the character designer for Monsters Inc., the art director for Finding Nemo, and the production designer for Up.

Click here to hear the Spline Doctors podcast with Ricky Nierva

So the best run of animated movies since the 90s Disney movies and a Filipin@ is involved in much of the look and design… hmmm….

First Quarter Storm: 40 Years Later…

Yesterday marked the 40th Anniversary of the First Quarter Storm in the Philippines, which was a series of protests against a corrupt and unjust Marcos Regime. The significance of which was the catalyst that eventually started the People Power Movement and the ousting of Ferdinand Marcos.

Now how does this relate to animation, comics, and cartoons? Well, the First Quarter Storm also produced a creative spark that artists have been feeding off of for the past 40 years. I know its inspired me, and has also other more well renowned artists. And its something I WE keep in the back of my OUR mind(s) as something that drives me US as I WE progress (slowly) through my OUR (neverending) process of learning animation…

For now, I present to you a video of a poem by Carlos Bulosan called “If You Want To Know Who We Are.” Produced and voiced by Ron Antonio (yes the same dude from here)

I have talked with many folks who feel that its best if politics stay away from art/ animation/ cartoons/ etc. NOT ME, as far as I’m concerned, no matter what, politics is always involved, and that makes the art that much more powerful. But you know what, I’m always down for dialogue.

Will Draw For Food: Compare Your Life To Pixar

In this current world of iPhones, reality TV, instant streaming, and basically instant gratification, I think many of us forget that the things we want to accomplish in life take time and perseverance. I think fellow artist Josh Mirman nailed it on the head with this animated piece:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I think its time to do some work! Check out his site and artwork here.

Thanks to the homie, Aimee, for pointing out this video to me.

Astro Boy

Astro Boy/ dir. David Bowers/ 2009

Astro Boy, a character created from the mind of Osamu Tezuka (aka the godfather of anime) back in the 1950s, is one of the most famous manga/ anime characters ever. For those of us who remember watching the reruns of the 1960s anime series back in the 80s or 90s, or for those of us who are fans of old school manga/ anime, Astro Boy, much like Mickey Mouse, and Bugs Bunny, is a timeless character. I, personally, forget about his origin as Dr. Tenma’s attempt to replace his deceased son, but what I DO remember is the fantastic fights he had against other robots and alien invaders. So when I heard that a remake of Astro Boy in glorious CG was going to come out in 2009, I was a little excited. Then I thought about the idea a little more… then I came to a realization that no matter what, Astro Boy would not live up to expectations…

And yeah, I was right. However, that doesn’t mean that Astro Boy isn’t a decent movie. The story does its best with the “what does it be mean to be human” theme crossed with a psuedo “upper class” vs. “lower class” vibe, with bits of other sci-fi cliches strewn in. It’s pretty entertaining, but in the end it just wasn’t Astro Boy. Continue reading

MLK Day: A Message to Animation Students….

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I got many hits for my previous Bootleg Classic post about it. Well, I decided that I had to say a message to not only animation students, but anybody else that wants to listen about the importance of yesterday, and the vital dialogue and work needed to fully realize Dr. King’s OUR dreams.

I kept it vague, and I probably could’ve added more of my own commentary, but I think folks are smart enough to have their own opinions…

I only hope that folks are listening…

Set the VCR: The Death of Maes Hughes…

I’m going to start off this post with a passage from Bill Simmons’, aka the Sports Guy, (one of my favorite writers) column on the 13 Levels of Losing:

Level III: The Stomach Punch
Definition: Now we’ve moved into rarefied territory, any roller-coaster game that ends with A) an opponent making a pivotal (sometimes improbable) play, or B) one of your guys failing in the clutch … usually ends with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can even move at all … always haunting, sometimes scarring …

In my opinion, “The Stomach Punch” (and all levels of losing actually) can apply to more than sports, and can be a nice analogy for many of these things we go through in life. I think many of us can think of time  in life when we felt that “stomach punch” and yes, those times are “always haunting” and  “sometimes scarring.” So for this Set the VCR moment, I focus on a great “stomach punch” moment that led to one of the saddest sequences ever in an anime series.

Fullmetal Alchemist (anime)/ dir. Seiji Mizushima/ Episode 25 “Words of Farewell” / 2004

Hit the Jump! Continue reading

Adidas Originals x Star Wars

Anyone else as excited as I am?

Let’s see, David Beckham, Snoop Dogg, Calle 13, Daft Punk, and a great cameo by DJ Neil Armstrong!

Oh and don’t forget Darth Vader!

What does this have to do with cartoons and animations?

EVERYTHING! I’m so inspired now!