Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Next Step: 'Moana' First Look Reveals Film's Painterly Look


Next year, for those who don't know, Walt Disney Animation Studios will be readying two feature-length films.

This is the first time they have done this since 2002, and the two offerings in question are the action-packed buddy cop film Zootopia and the epic musical adventure Moana. Moana, for those who aren't in the know, is the new film from Ron Clements and John Musker. Ron and John were instrumental in bringing Disney out of its mid-80s doldrums with the energetic and fun The Great Mouse Detective, and three years later they gave us the majestic The Little Mermaid, which truly rocketed Disney Animation back to the top. From there, they continued to write and direct solid films: Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog.

For many years, it was rumored that Moana would be a sort-of "Paperman/Feast in movie form" type of picture, something that would mesh traditional animation and CG. However, an early look at the film itself from earlier this year (pictured above) gave us the opposite...

However, a new image revealed yesterday - quite the epic Christmas gift for any Disney fan - shows that the film's CG will be unlike what Disney has previously done with the medium... And it looks gorgeous...


This, to me, is something of a culmination of Disney Animation CG's upward climb. This is something they've been trying to perfect since Bolt was in production: Bringing a truly painterly look to CG. Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia had taken it to the next level. Some of the features had a 2D underbelly to them, despite being all-CG films. This image shows just how far it's come. It may not be Paperman or Feast, but it's still beautiful to look at nonetheless! Look at that background! Look at the water! I feel like I'm looking at a fine painting, not CG puppets and objects.

We've seen CG being taken exciting new directions by other studios lately. Reel FX made a feature that looked like "The Art of..." books come to life, with their impressive The Book of Life. Blue Sky gave us painterly, 2D-looking Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and & co. in The Peanuts Movie. Sony Animation was going to do something similar with Popeye, it's unknown whether it'll still look that way or not, given that they removed director Genndy Tartavosky from the film. (For shame.)

I'm excited to see the film in motion. From what I've heard, it's in the really early stages of production, so I reckon we won't get an idea of what it'll feel like until the teaser comes out. (Presumably before Zootopia in early March.) On top of all that, the story sounds epic and a nice twist on the usual 90s Disney routine. I mean, an Oceanic setting? Demigods? Supernatural creatures? Stuff involving the elements? Water being something of a character? Disney is also looking into someone else to do the music: Lin-Manuel Miranda (I have yet to listen to Hamilton, seems like a huge deal right now) and Opetaia Foa'i, rather than familiar faces like Alan Menken or the Lopez duo. Sign me up!

What do you think of this image? When do you think we'll see a teaser for the film? Sound off below!

12 comments:

  1. You know, I am starting to see painterly look of the ocean just a little bit, and I hope this movie will give hand drawn animation a little more boost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't bet on it. You're going to be EXTREMELY disappointed if you hope for MOANA to have that kind of effect.

      What I WOULD recommend doing instead is supporting upcoming projects like Bluth's DRAGON'S LAIR, James Lopez's HULABALLOO, and DAWGTOWN. A LOT of independent animated movies are being made, and arguably deserve more attention. It's your call if you want to do it or not, but to me, MOANA looks just like more of the same, CGI-wise that we've seen from Disney, and I object to Eric Goldberg reduced to creating shadows. The man deserves better.

      Delete
  2. I like the fact that the tattoos are going to be hand-drawn animated, not to mention the film actually does look like a painting rather than just a CG animated movie. As I said before, I think Disney snuck in some hand-drawn animation in the movie to show Alan Horn that, yes, they do want to see 2D in theatres. Iger is more hands off, but I am NOT a fan of Horn. He's just your typical arrogant Hollywood exec who is not friendly to filmmakers just like Tom Rothmans at Sony.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really. Is he worst than Bob Iger?

      Delete
    2. According to Kyle, he's nothing more than a yes man. Mr. Iger at least cares about the animation unit.

      Delete
    3. "I like the fact that the tattoos are going to be hand-drawn animated"

      Well I don't. I think this is a waste of time for Eric Goldberg; a talented animator who created lots of wonderful animated characters reduced to this? Give me a break. It's a woefully tragic fate for such a talented animator.

      Also, sorry, but "Moana" looks the same as any other CGI feature I've seen: soulless, plastic, and depressingly mechanical. Computers CANNOT replicate hand drawn animation. I appreciate Disney using Meander for PAPERMAN and FEAST, but I still disapprove of their move to CGI, and I have no intention of giving any cent to their movies until I see another movie from them in the classical style again.

      " As I said before, I think Disney snuck in some hand-drawn animation in the movie to show Alan Horn that, yes, they do want to see 2D in theaters."

      LoL!!!!! If only I could believe that.

      Delete
  3. Has anyone taken into account the fact that this movie will be coming out in late November? I ask this because Disney is going to be releasing another Star Wars movie next December--a standalone feature called Rogue One.
    Considering how The Force Awakens might have impacted The Good Dinosaur, could Moana be in danger from Rogue One?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 'Moana' will be just fine. I think 'Rogue One' is going to be pretty big, but not 'Force Awakens' big, given that it's a spin-off story taking place prior to the events of 'A New Hope' (rebels stealing the Death Star plans), one that has an ending we all know. That might lower the incentive for some to see it right away. (Right now I'm thinking it opens with about $90m) But I could be wrong.

      As long as 'Moana' is backed by a strong marketing campaign and opens well above, say, $50m for the three-day weekend, it should be fine. I have a feeling Disney will pull out the stops with the 'Moana' marketing.

      Delete
    2. Um...I think the second Star Wars movie comes in 2017.

      Delete
    3. The big concern I have is that Rogue One will siphon away all the young males who would want nothing to do with a "girly" movie like Moana.
      Frozen was able to be as successful as it was because for most of its run it had essentially no competition, plus a memorable marketing campaign, so both boys and girls went to see it. But given a choice between Moana and Rogue One, most boys are probably going to pick Rogue One.
      So, unless Disney does the unthinkable and markets Moana as the adventure movie it is, rather than just another fairy tale, it might underperform.

      Delete
    4. @ TsWade2 - He's referring to the standalone film 'Rogue One', that's coming out December 2016, not 'Episode VIII'.

      Delete