Posts Tagged ‘Animation’

13: I Remember When There Were 151

January 8, 2013

1. Apple Making A Low-Cost iPhone?

We’ve been hearing this for years, that Apple is going to make a cheap version of the iPhone for people who can’t afford the version with premium components. That’s a mistake in my mind, as Apple doesn’t have a tendency to create stuff that its executives wouldn’t use personally; a cheap iPhone would fall into that category.

If Apple is making a “cheaper” iPhone, it would be an iPhone nano. Much smaller, thinner, lighter, fully aluminum and available in a variety of colors. $99 off contract and highly ideal to pre-paid buyers. Think of the current iPod nano but with some phone components built-in.

2. Overkill

The next Human Centipede flick will feature a chain of 500 humans connected via orifices. This franchise is becoming so absurd that it isn’t even an insult to cinema anymore.

3. Warner Bros. Embraces Animation

While Warner Bros. has produced animated flicks in the past — Happy Feet Two, that Owl movie, etc — it hasn’t attacked the genre as other large studios have. Starting in 2014, however, expect to see one animated flick from Warner Bros. per year.

Given its history, however, don’t think that this means that Warner Bros. plans to churn out good animated flicks.

4. Pokemon X And Y

One day Nintendo will make a MMORPG “Pokémon World”. Until then, though, the trailer for the upcoming Pokémon games, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, makes me want a Nintendo 3DS. The gameplay looks pretty incredible* and I’d wager that Nintendo has another winner on its hands.

Pokémon X and Y will be released worldwide sometime in October.

*I have, as of this writing, watched the trailer five times.

5. 500 Days In A (Simulated) Mars Mission

While it’s disconcerting that a 500 day simulated mission to Mars causes sleep problems, it’s fascinating to wonder when we’ll make the actual journey.

6. Nokia Open To Android

It’s good that Nokia is keeping an open mind about alternative platforms, but it seems to me that the reason Nokia is even slightly relevant is that it’s Microsoft’s premier partner with Windows Phone. Giving up that position to be just another phone manufacturer could be unwise.

7. Dish Wants Clear

Dish Networks is offering to purchase Clearwire for $5.15 billion. Unfortunately, Clearwire has a strong partnership with Sprint which basically kills the entire idea of a buyout. But this is certainly fun to think about.

Disclaimer: I used to be employed by Clearwire, although I did almost nothing for the company.

8. Who Woulda Thought: Robert Pattison And Kristen Stewart Like Mexican Food!

You have to love the gossiping media.

via @cambio on Twitter

9. Virtual Assassins

I’m not sure if this is good parenting or bad parenting: Instead of taking away his son’s computer, a Chinese man hired expert gamers to assassinate his son in the online games that he plays to discourage him from playing.

More or less a WTF of the Day.

via @sidewaysburnout on Twitter

10. Age Appropriate

One of the silly arguments which I got into on Twitter a while ago was whether or not it’s socially acceptable to like Pokémon as an adult. My argument: Hell to the yes. His argument: Hell to the no. With the Pokémon X and Y announcement, it’s appropriate to revisit that discussion.

So is it socially acceptable for adults to pick up Pokémon X or Y in October?

Hell to the yes.

Most of my fondest gaming memories involve the Pokémon games. While I haven’t been to one in a few years, I’ve attended Pokémon conventions as a little kid and as a young adult, and the audience at the conventions I’ve attended range from pre-teens to middle-aged adults.

Pokémon — be it the video games, trading card games, or TV shows — transcends age. As it’s okay to like Cinnamon Toast Crunch as an adult it’s okay to like Pokémon as an adult. Fun things aren’t restricted to minors and the idea that it’s not socially acceptable to have fun is absurd.

Review: Cars 2

June 25, 2011

In many circles, Cars is regarded as Pixar Animation Studio’s worst feature film – Not bad, but not up to par with the remainder of the studio’s titles. Having seen every Pixar film except Cars, this is not a point I can verify, but a subject I can add to. If you wander over to RottenTomatoes.com you might assume that Cars 2, the sequel to Pixar’s least loved film, is abominable, and I have never been as disappointed in the mainstream critics as I am today. Perhaps I haven’t done this shizzle long enough to become an egotistical snob, but I fricking love Cars 2 and here’s why.

As the story goes… In a world populated with living cars instead of people, Lightning McQueen (Voiced by Owen Wilson) accepts an invitation to race against the world’s fastest cars in the very first worldwide Grand Prix. Tow Mater (Voiced by Larry The Cable Guy), who is Lightning McQueen’s best friend, tags along for support but stumbles upon a conspiracy by Big Oil, and per the usual, chaos ensues. Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer co-star, among others.

From the opening Toy Story short to the final scene of the feature, Cars 2 kicks butt and takes names, with a soundtrack that keeps the film perfectly paced. I could comment on how amazing the animation itself is, but I can’t say enough to do the animators justice. Additionally, the voice acting is perfect and, while this may be painful to read, Larry The Cable Guy did a good job as Tow Mater, something I never imagined saying. Michael Caine & his character Finn McMissile kick serious amounts of ass, and I could watch a spin-off film based around him alone.

Back on Larry The Cable Guy, it should be noted that this film surrounds his character. Fortunately (fortunately) his obnoxious style of comedy is kept to a minimum, and I counted two jokes in the entire film that had to do with bodily functions. The filmmakers at Pixar aren’t dumb, and they wouldn’t write Larry The Cable Guy’s comedy into any animated flick, so I reiterate, you need not fear Tow Mater’s leading role in Cars 2.

Scene to scene, Cars 2 is beautiful in both style and substance. You would be doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this if you enjoy animated flicks, or just want a good time at the movies. To put my money where my mouth is, I will be seeing this film a second time. Tho not in 3D – While the 3D in Cars 2 is fine and one of the better implementations of the technology, it isn’t a necessary moviegoing experience if you want to save a few bucks.

I struggle to think of anything wrong with Cars 2, which is why its ratings issued by the critics make no sense. This film has a highly obvious anti-oil message, which might tick off some Republican critics. Some critics might not be able to stand the idea of Larry The Cable Guy in a good film, even just his voice and without any of his ridiculous comedy. I know there exist people who have a disturbing desire to see Pixar make a bad film, with their minds made up prior to entering the theatre.

But according to my Twitterfriends, Cars 2 is receiving negative ratings because it isn’t as good as Toy Story 3, which to me is absurd logic. If we compared every film to Toy Story 3, almost every release would be garbage, and I would hope the critics judging Cars 2 with this reasoning go back and update their reviews for every animated flick they’ve reviewed. Every film should be judged on its own merits, and if you don’t judge one film that way, then you should judge no film on its own merits.

My general reaction to the critics’ reviews for Cars 2 [YouTube link]

3D is the Future, Animation is the Key

May 30, 2011

Disclaimer: This piece is my opinion solely. I have not read any article alluding to my following prediction. Take everything said here as food for thought.

I am not an avid supporter of 3D cinema. I have seen many 3D films, and I understand the concept enough to discuss it. I think for the most part 3D cinema is useless (Kung Fu Panda 2), I think it sometimes is repulsive (My Soul To Take 3D), but there are some instances where I love it (Piranha 3D). There are people that believe that 3D cinema is a fad that will pass, some think it is the end of cinema as we know it, and others eat it up as the gimmick it is.

And, for better or worse depending on perspective, I firmly believe that a time will come where almost, if not every, wide release film requires special glasses for viewing. The question is, how? Editing live action flicks for 3D viewing has proven to be a difficult and time consuming process, and filming using 3D-enabled cameras, in my experience, adds little to films and is on the pricey side. For live action, 3D is not sustainable because of these things. But movie studios love 3D because they can make a killing off of it, and they won’t give up easily. The key to a 3-Dimensional future is obvious if you think about it: CGI Animated films.

Every wide-release animated flick I can think of, at least recently, has been released as a 3D film. I assume the reason for that is ease of conversion and cost. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s easier to make animated films in 3D than it is with live action. Animations on file are easily editable—Real objects on film are not. If I’m right, eventually every wide-release film will be animated. But don’t fear, even if my theory is correct, theatres will not be overrun with kids flicks. Turn back the clock to 2007, two years before Avatar allegedly popularised 3D cinema. Enter the justifiably PG-13 rated Beowulf 3D.

Beowulf 3D is, in my opinion, the film that set the landscape for 3D cinema as we know (and will know) it. It’s the CGI animated feature that left audiences puzzled, wondering why it hadn’t been filmed as live action. It could’ve been, and it arguably should’ve been, but it didn’t have to be. Even animated, Beowulf 3D looked almost realistic. Not quite there, but almost. And why was it distributed as a 3D flick? Because making it 3D was easy. Being highly profitable was just the icing on the cake for Paramount.

To the best of my understanding, there are games playable on XBox 360 & PS3 that look stunningly realistic, and that is amazing considering that “free roam” gameplay is dynamic. The proof is in front of our eyes: Live action cinema is nearly irrelevant due to the advancements in animation. And the amazing thing about animated flicks is that quality of acting is primarily dictated by the animators, who have control over every movement of every character and every object.

CGI Animation itself at the moment is a time consuming process, but that will change as time passes. And when time is no longer a hurdle, and video cameras become worthless, animated films & 3D cinema will rise. My opinion on this outcome is neutral, and I’m sure reaction to this would be immensely polarised. And if I’m proven wrong, then we can all live happily.

We’ll see.

Edit: Also, don’t forget, much of Avatar was animated. ;-)

Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

May 28, 2011

The weekend of May 27th, 2011 will be remembered as the weekend where the only two wide release films to hit theatres are sequels to films that never warranted them. Faced with the dreadful choice of The Hangover Part II or Kung Fu Panda 2, I of course put my money on Jack Black as an animated panda in 3D. I think I made the right decision.

It was Summer 2008 when the first Kung Fu Panda hit theatres, and it ended with no hint of a sequel. Additionally, I didn’t like it as much as I could have, so when I saw the trailer for Kung Fu Panda 2 at a MegaMind showing, my reaction was a yawn. Fortunately today I can retract that yawn, as Kung Fu Panda 2 is awesome in more ways than one. This film is directed by Jennifer Yuh and here are my thoughts.

Kung Fu Panda 2 continues the story of Po (Jack Black), a chubby panda who was thrust into the legendary position of Dragon Warrior in the first installment. Returning are his teammates, the Furious Five (Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and Angelina Jolie as a tigress. Rawrrrrr…) and together they must save China from an evil Peacock, Shen (Gary Oldman) & his army of wolves. Hilarity, sadness, and (as always) chaos ensue in a ninety minute runtime that goes by way too fast.

The animation is beautiful. It isn’t up to par with most Pixar flicks, but it’s gorgeous to look at. It’s set in China and the array of colors artfully crafted are a visual feat. Perhaps it’s easier to create stunning imagery using animation than it is to capture it with a camera, and that is a valid argument to make. But, even through cheapo 3D glasses, I had a blast watching every scene and I think it’s fair to say that other people will too. Further, Kung Fu Panda 2 is more than just a visual treat, the story is very capable of standing on its own.

An observation I made in the theatre is that almost every audience member was an adult. I counted five kids total, which is stunning considering Kung Fu Panda 2 is supposed to be a kids flick. But in my opinion and from my observation, this film has a great deal of adult appeal (heck, a group of adults even cheered the film when it ended), but not in any type of crude sense—More philosophical, if I may use that word. This film is entertaining to kids and adults can find an understanding in the messages conveyed. If you’ve crossed Kung Fu Panda 2 off of your “watch” list thinking that it’s for kids, please reconsider.

Jack Black does not have a solid track record of films under his belt, particularly lately. It’s easy to watch School Of Rock, and then watch him as a loud drug addict in Tropic Thunder and wonder to yourself “What happened?” Black has talent, but in recent years he’s been handed next to nothing but purposefully annoying roles. I hate saying it, but in my opinion, he should stick to animated roles or fire his agent. Jack Black is genuinely good as Po the panda, he’s calm, funny, and endurable for more than five minutes. It’s a genuine shame that doesn’t translate into his live action roles.

Setting aside Jack Black, the remainder of the voice cast does a very good job. Notable people I haven’t mentioned are Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Danny McBride, and Michelle Yeoh, all of which are excellent in their roles. Just a thought, I have to wonder when (when, not if) animated films become the mainstream over live action. Every year animation itself advances, and voice acting techniques are becoming a skill that filmmakers are mastering. And, to your dismay (potentially), animated films are easy to turn 3-dimensional. Hint, wink. ;-)

In conclusion, why are you still here? Get out and see Kung Fu Panda 2 and if you already have, see it again! I do my best to avoid opinions of films until I see them, but it’s been impossible to avoid the hate-stream The Hangover Part II has received. Whereas, to the best of my understanding, Po the panda is getting lots of well deserved love. :-)

Edit: And nope, you don’t need to have seen the first Kung Fu Panda to see this one. It doesn’t hurt for the backstory, but Kung Fu Panda 2 works standalone and is a superior film.

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