Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cannes Coverage: More Disney Animation and Pixar Details

Lots of Disney Animation and Pixar goodness was revealed at Cannes recently!

I was rather shocked at how much was revealed at Cannes yesterday from Walt Disney Pictures. I was thinking they'd save previews like the ones they have shown for Annecy next month, but attendants got first looks at Zootopia, Moana, The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory, and even some words about Toy Story 4!

The Good Dinosaur footage was met with really good marks, Variety says that the footage was "like a cross between Tarzan and Lilo & Stitch"... Whoa, a Pixar film that feels like those two films? Sign me up! The article goes on to reveal a few major plot points, some of which I won't spoil here. Let's just say that one of the spoilers concerns that "traumatic event" that shakes Arlo's community of apatosaurs. Another explains how Arlo gets separated from his home: He's stunned after getting hit by a rock whilst being carried away by a raging river. The review also confirmed what we already seemed to know, the boy Spot is like an animal and doesn't speak, but also... Arlo stands upright. Interesting, in some of the concept pieces he was walking on all fours...

There will also be a trio of T-rexes in the film, along with a pterodactyl and a feathered velociraptor. The raptors, with their "shaggy" hairdos, were said to have been modeled after famous soccer/football players. If you were quick, you got a glimpse at the very T-rex trio yesterday. If not, take a close look at the board game based on the film that was shown at the New York Toy Fair.

A lot of praise went towards the animation as well, apparently it'll be Pixar's most realistic film to date. Though I may have an issue with animation studios chasing hyper-realism, I liked how Pixar handled their brand of it in Monsters University. Thankfully Inside Out's brain world is much more cartoony and colorful, so this will be a nice contrast to that.

Over at Collider, they got a tidbit from director Pete Sohn. He said the film will be "striving for a very unique tone, unlike any animated film made."


Finding Dory's footage revealed some cool things and also confirmed things we already knew...

Instead of taking place a year later, this sequel takes place six months after the original. As we knew before, Dory is with Nemo in school and has a flashback that convinces her to go find her family. Marlin and Nemo accompany her on her journey. Pixar is making sure that the sequel isn't a rehash of the original, so Dory isn't being taken away and they don't have to find her. That's one thing that Pixar certainly does right with sequels, even if you're not big on the last sequels they put out.

The adventure will take the gang to an area of dumped shipping containers, and a kelp forest, the latter of which should make for a visual knock-out. They'll also encounter a giant squid, an encounter described by Variety as "frightening". New faces include an octopus - according to Deadline - named Hank, who is a guide in the Californian marine biology institute where I presume a good chunk of the film will take place. Dory's parents were shown during the presentation too, along with a gang of loons, whom Lasseter described as this film's equivalent of the hilarious seagulls in the original. Let's hope they aren't too alike!

But why did Variety's writer feel the need to ask at the end of his review "But will it be better than Cars 2?"

Toy Story 4? No footage. Just Lasseter saying what was said by Pixar President Jim Morris: It won't be a continuation of the main story, it's its own thing, etc. etc.

Moving on to Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Some Zootopia footage was shown, though there wasn't much commentary on how the animation itself looked, and I know shots have been completed. Maybe it was mostly storyboard stuff?

Variety spills more details on the plot itself. Lt. Judy Hopps is a cop, but she's "sidelined" and is now taking up a rather boring job as a meter maid, all because she's the first ever rabbit on the police force. This ties into the themes of prejudice that have been hinted at quite nicely, what with animals of different species living in the film's titular metropolis. It seems that some ideas from the oldest synopsis have definitely been kept. Hope the conspiracy angle is kept too!

Not much else was said aside from some gags, including one set at a DMV staffed with sloths! A particular exchange with one of the sloth character was said to have been really funny, getting howls from the crowd. Variety's writer seemed a bit dismissive to me when it came to this film, giving the footage a B- overall (why grade a few mere minutes of footage when it would probably work even better in context in the actual film?) and saying "But the story is still a question mark: it could be great, or it could be something out of Disney Afternoon’s DuckTales or Darkwing Duck."

I think that applies to many films: Will the story be good?

And what's exactly wrong with something that's similar to those two classic shows? As long as it feels like them in a good way and ultimately has good, smart writing, I don't think there's much to worry about.

Moana also made quite the splash.

Apparently its opening musical number will be epic and huge, and will begin the film with a real bang, no different from The Lion King's 'Circle of Life'! Wow!

More plot details? One's kind of a spoiler, unless Disney outright says it in a trailer, but Moana has more than one animal friend. Earlier, we heard reports of her bringing her pig (now named Pua) along for the ride, now we know she's bringing a rooster named Hei with her. They'll probably be the Maximus of the film, or the Sven. Non-speaking animal friends. Hopefully the comic relief scenes with them are done right. Then again I shouldn't be asking that, Maximus and Pascal were hilarious and not out of place in Tangled, unlike - in my opinion - Flit, Meeko, and Percy in Pocahontas.

No word on the talking tiki sidekick that was rumored earlier, though.

Another plot detail? Moana sets sail against her father's wishes, and ends up another island, where she meets the demigod Maui (who will be voiced by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson). No word on other voices, or who is writing the songs, or anything else...

No comments were made on Moana's except rendering of the ocean, which was described as a character in itself, and that the renderings got a real reaction! I presume animation work on this film hasn't even begun...

All in all very exciting stuff! I'm sure we'll hear more about some of these projects at Annecy next month, all in preparation of what will probably be a knock-out presentation at D23 in August. Zootopia and Moana sound more and more awesome, Finding Dory's looking better, and The Good Dinosaur sounds amazing!

'Tis a good time for Disney Animation and Pixar, I say...


  1. Zootopia theory: 1. they mentioned theyre doing a missing mammal case, so maybe animal trafficking like Pinocchio? which fits nicely into the prejudice/slavery of sorts
    2. they also revealed Maui's powers: tattoos that can come to life, and magic sea hook
    3. kinda disappointed they make her 16 now instead of 14, which means she's prime for romance (Maui the likely candidate)

    exciting stuff tho!!

  2. Hopefully Moana's sidekick animals are female or at least one of them. There has not been one named female animal sidekick in a Disney movie yet. And I hope she was made 16 because Anna and Elsa were so popular with teenage girls (and older like me), not because she will have a love-intrest.

    Zootopia can be a bit more cartoony like the Darkwing Duck or DuckTales. Emperor's New Groove was cartoony and it worked well. Of course it was a comedy and if Zootopia wants discuss prejudices seriously it could be a problem.