Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bits Journal #52


... And more bits...

With The Good Dinosaur getting closer and closer, Pixar has finally unleashed some footage from the accompanying short film Sanjay's Super Team...


I already heaped a lot of praise onto this short, from its exciting mixing of different animation styles to its subject matter, not to mention its main stars being people of color. The film is also a personal, autobiographical piece for its director, Sanjay Patel. I also love the short's main animation style, as the human character design is a step in a new direction for Pixar.

So this clip did satisfy in the visual department, and it's good to know that it'll probably be silent for the most part...

I feel that this is going to be the best Pixar short since 2010's Day & Night (which was attached to Toy Story 3), though that's not a jab at the shorts that were made in the last few years. I just feel that this one will really be something special, on top of being innovative much like Day & Night, which blended CG and traditional animation into one seamless gem.

Once again, my excitement levels are high. This is Pixar, after all...


After a few years of waiting, a proper trailer for the animated Ratchet & Clank film is finally here. Keep in mind, the film was completed a while ago, as it was shown at Cannes earlier this year and it also got its rating not too long ago...

However, the film isn't opening until April 29th, because no distributor had picked it up. I think right after Cannes was when Focus/Gramercy got their hands on it...


So... What do I think? To start off, I'm looking forward to this movie because I want to see more animated movies based on video games. I actually haven't really played any of the Ratchet & Clank games, a sin I'll redeem one day. But, from what I've seen of the games over the years, I think the series is ripe for a feature animation adaptation. The world it takes place in, the creatures and all the designs, etc. I think it's perfect for animation, and it's good to see that the film is sticking to the games' visual style.

With its PG rating and such, I wonder how much of the humor from the early, then T-rated games will be kept. Not saying that jokes like that make a film better or more mature, but that kind of humor is a staple of the game series (to my understanding), so I think they should keep it to some extent. But yes, the film itself looks like all kinds of giddy, imaginative fun. It simply looks bonkers, visually and story-wise. It's meant to coincide with the series' full-on rebooting next spring, and before then, I plan to get the games and actually play them. Yes, yes, I know, I'm very late to the party...

I will say, however, that I did play a series of games that were similar back in the day: Naughty Dog's awesome Jak & Daxter trilogy. Naughty Dog and Insomniac (the Ratchet team) were buddy studios since the PS1 days, and both the Jak and Ratchet series have hidden references to each other. I would actually love to see a Jak & Daxter movie get made, as that series interestingly went from your typical family-friendly fantasy adventure to dark, totalitarian sci-fi epic that mixed platforming, Grand Theft Auto, and a whole host of other things. Like Ratchet & Clank, it's set in a very imaginative world that I think lends itself to an animated feature.

I just personally want to see more animated features that are set in other worlds, rather than earthbound stories. Especially if they're good, because sometimes we get things like Escape from Planet Earth, Strange Magic, and Delgo...

So yes, rambling aside, bring on Ratchet & Clank! I hope it's something of a success, despite its dodgy release date. I hope it helps kick off an animated video game movie boom.

Next up... Could it be?

A 2D, American, adult-oriented animated film is in the works? That is so. What's the film called? It's called Malevolent...


First off, this film completely slipped under my radar. I actually had no idea it was a thing until this story had popped up. Apparently it has been in development for a little while, it's being directed by a man who directed episodes of the animated sci-fi web series Starpocalypse, it has a tiny $1 million budget, and it has had a cast locked for a little while. Now, William Shatner is part of the cast, he'll be the Overseer - the film's narrator...

What is it about?

"Malevolent follows the story of four siblings who are called upon when their evil, estranged father finds out he is dying. He announces to his children that he plans to set out his will, but the will is a guise to get them together so that he may exact revenge on his offspring. The father's plans go awry when intergalactic gamblers take an interest in the situation, waging bets on the family's in-fighting."

So a mix of horror, family drama, and some sci-fi elements? All in a traditionally animated film? Wow! Judging by the details and the poster above, this will probably easily get an R rating. The big question is... Will it hit theaters? If it does, will it be an independent release? Or will a big distributor pick it up?

As I mentioned in the previous article on here, we're seeing quite a few American adult-oriented animated features crop up these days. Films like Hell & Back, Sausage Party, Anomalisa, Superbago, and Nerdland. Ralph Bakshi is finally releasing a segment from his long-gestating anthology film Last Days of Coney Island online in a few weeks. Now we can add Malevolent to the line-up, as it might even come out next year.

I can only hope that all of these features are made, because the American feature animation scene is mostly family-friendly and franchise-oriented. There's nothing wrong with a great G/PG-rated animated film that anyone of any age can enjoy - whether it's from Disney Animation, or Pixar, or DreamWorks, what have you - but that's not the only thing animation should be used for. Animation is a limitless medium, and we need to get past this weird phase this country is in when it comes to adult animation.

It seems like the most successful "adult" animation in America is stuff that's simply edgy, naughty, and/or raunchy. My theory is that it catches on because animation is mostly regarded as kids' stuff here. The idea of a "cartoon" having swearing or characters doing inappropriate things is like gold to someone who outgrew animation, and unfortunately a lot of people in this country outgrow animation. However, open-minded adults like a lot of this stuff because some of it works. South Park, for example, has more to offer once you get past the fact that it's a cartoon and it's rated TV-MA. Something like a more recent episode of Family Guy or a failed Comedy Central/Spike series? Not so much.

Like I said earlier, though, adult-oriented animation is more than just that. Where's our Akira? Where's our Princess Mononoke? Where's our Plague Dogs? Our When the Wind Blows? Our Watership Down?

Hell & Back is a raunchy comedy, Sausage Party will be a raunchy comedy, Nerdland is said to have gratuitous amounts of blood n' guts n' sex n' drugs, but Anomalisa is the anomaly here. From the details we've heard on the storyline, it sounds like it's an adult animated feature that's actually mature and doesn't rely on the tricks. Malevolent appears to be the same, though I'm sure it's going to be very violent, but I have a feeling the story will call for its R-rated content. If that's so, I'll be excited.

That all being said, another hurrah for adult-oriented feature animation here in America...

3 comments:

  1. A $1 million budget, huh? If they can get this into theaters, I can definitely see it being successful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The best animated film made for an adult audience (and not based on a TV show) is
    the great Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Check this out
    http://variety.com/2015/digital/news/pixar-outdoes-itself-good-dinosaur-outpacing-megahit-inside-out-1201617758/

    ReplyDelete