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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two Animated Films

My new favourite website is Trailer Addict. it's like YouTube, but it's all movie trailers, and they're all hi-res and in their proper aspect ratios. it's cool. And a couple of trailers just went up for two animated films coming out in 2009. They're not going to be the biggest animated films, but they're definitely the ones I'm most curious about.

First up, Coraline. Based on the children's novel by Neil Gaiman...brought to stop-motion animated life by Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and Giant Peach. Selick has been working on this for a long time...Selick himself bought the movie rights back in 2003...a year before Coraline was published! Gaiman was also involved in the script stage...not deeply involved, but always offering Selick his notes and input.

About the only thing that I don't like about this is when I read the history of the animation studio that made it, Laika Animation House. If you didn't buy Nike before, this'll really turn you off. Laika Animation House was originally Will Vinton Studios, the home of Will Vinton, who's patented Claymation process was quite famous in the late 1980s. But then, Phil Knight, founder of Nike, wanted to get into the animation biz. Knight bought Will Vinton Studios in a hostile takeover and fired Vinton. Vinton then sued Knight to get his name taken off the studio. I think Vinton's feelings can be summed up in the name of his new animation studio: Will Vinton's Free Will Entertainment.

Knight then hired Selick to be the new resident genius, and Coraline got to be their first project.

Dakota Fanning voices Coraline, Teri Hatcher voices the succubus-like Other Mother, and Keith David is the Cat.

Next up...one of the world's most beloved anime and manga franchise comes to computer animated life...Astro Boy. This is the second film to be put out by Imagi Studios. Imagi's first film was the computer animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Astro Boy looks to be in a similar mold...while the animation isn't mindblowing from a technical standpoint, it'll be quite faithful to the source material.

The creative genius behind this one is David Bowers. Bowers started as an animator in the UK, working on such cult-classic toons as Danger Mouse and Count Dukula. He then became a storyboard artist for Dreamworks, where he worked on Prince of Egypt, the Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. He then went home to the UK and to work for Aardman Studios, where he was a storyboard artist on Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and making his directorial debut with Aardman's first CGI film, Flushed Away.

The celebrity voice cast includes Freddie Highmore as Astro, Nicholas Cage as Dr. Tenma (the scientist who built Astro), Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films) as Dr. Elefun (the professor who raises Astro after Tenma's death), and, in roles that haven't been revealed yet, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Donald Sutherland, and Eugene Levy.

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