Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reel Ambition: Reel FX Amps Up Their Slate

Two films in, the Texas-based animation house is already ramping up their pipeline...

Reel FX scored a modest success in fall 2013 with Free Birds, and then scored a critical success with the visually stunning, groundbreaking The Book of Life. The Book of Life's visuals being a thing in American CG feature animation truly excites me, because we do need more variety when it comes to our features and the whole copying of Pixar's naturalistic photo-real style... Well... The style gets kind of old after a while, not that it's bad, but we definitely need more CG films that look different.

The Book of Life, on top of being a personal project 14 years in the works for director Jorge Guiterrez, was exactly what we needed. Early on I was psyched about it, calling it the next Rango, and for good reason... It pretty much was in many ways, but in many ways it wasn't. For all its quirkiness and edginess, Rango was still very photo-real. In fact it looked a little too real at times! The Book of Life is just like the film in one way; it goes for its own unique look and aesthetic, but it's also a real 180 from Rango because it doesn't go for hyperrealism. Instead, it takes advantage of the fact that it's animated and it embraces the unreal-ness of the medium. Blue Sky's The Peanuts Movie and Sony Animation's Popeye look like they'll being doing the same thing...

So what does Reel FX have in the works? Well, before now, we did hear about projects like Beasts of Burden and W.I.S.H. Police, both of which sounded really cool. Now, Guiterrez is set to make more films for them, and his next film looks like it'll be another all-out, way cool kind of flick... It's an untitled Kung Fu Space Western. Some are suggesting it should just use that for a title!

The concept art is really, really imaginative and different. Since The Book of Life aimed to look like a piece of concept artwork come to life, I'd imagine this film would do the same, making for a real visual treat. In short, I'm pumped!

The plot? Animation Scoop has it!

"The Untitled Kung Fu Space Western - which I personally hope the studio will retain as the films ultimate title - centers on one of the galaxy’s most charming outlaws, the leader of a funny, ragtag crew of rebel bandits that are put on a collision course with a legendary villain to determine the fate of the galaxy. Jorge Gutierrez added, “Our heartfelt film will be a funny mash-up of some of my favorite influences: ‘90s Kung Fu films, Spaghetti Westerns of the ‘60s, and the epic Space Adventures of the ‘70s, ‘80s and today."

Do I have anymore reasons to say I'm excited for it?

Other projects on Reel FX's current slate include Monster on a Hill (based on what seems to be a pretty unique children's book) and Giant Girl (an original story). W.I.S.H. Police is still on the docket, but no word on Beasts of Burden... I hope it hasn't been scrapped! Out of all those projects, Beasts of Burden seemed like it was going to be a more adult-oriented feature, given the source material. I also wonder if they plan on making a traditionally animated film, since they don't want to spend more than roughly $55 million on their films.

That's another thing I love about the studio. The Book of Life proves that you don't need $130 million+ to make one heck of an animated feature. In fact, the lower the budget, the higher the risk! I don't think any studio would spend $130 million or more on something like The Book of Life, and if they did, it would probably be watered down. Rango cost $135 million to make, but I reckon Paramount and those who green lit the film were feeling lucky that day, and it's a good thing they did.

Anyways, this is an exciting slate to say the least, and Gutierrez's film in particular sounds like it'll be another game changer!

What do you think? Sound off below!

1 comment:

  1. I'm excited, but nervous too. The outer-space adventure genre isn't known for delivering animated hits (Titan A.E. and Treasure Planet are two examples of notorious flops in this genre). It also sounds a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy, and while that's not a bad thing it might have a lot of people saying "ripoff!" and avoiding it. All the same, I wish them luck--they're going to need it.