Tag Archive: Animation


Sometimes Toronto surprises me. The city has a reputation of being fairly uptight, self-satisfied and more than a bit arrogant. But every now and then a little something shakes loose and we get a glimpse of something really wonderful beating behind the Hogtown façade. This is one of those things:



I’ve been by Type (883 Queen Street West) a few times but haven’t had a chance to stop in. I’m thinking it’s about time I do, especially if I can manage to hide out until after closing time.

The Adventures of TintinThe Adventures of Tintin – 3D

Studio: Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Toby Jones
Rating: Rating System!Rating System!Rating System!/ 5 Handbags

I wanted to love this movie. I really, Really, *REALLY* wanted to love this movie. I had seen the mixed reviews, but I was hopeful. I figured The Adventures of Tintin might have been too European for North American tastes. But no, I was wrong. It wasn’t a *GREAT* movie. It was a good movie, don’t get me wrong, it’s not horrible, but the magic just wasn’t there.

You have to understand, I grew up on Hergé (Les aventures de Tintin), Goscinny and Uderzo (Astérix et Obélix), Peyo (Les Schtroumpfs) and Chaulet  and Craenhals (Les 4 As) – yes, I read them in French. As a matter of fact, I remember getting in fights because some idiot guy would try to take them away from me. Girls weren’t supposed to be interested in such things, at least not good Catholic school girls.

A black eye and a bloody nose took care of that misconception.

At any rate, I was really looking forward to sharing this movie with my kidlets, particularly 5 year old Goober who loves all things pirates.

The movie starts out with a clever conceit, a young man in a market place is having a portait done of himself. Oh look, it’s Hergé and he’s drawn Tintin in cartoon form. Yes, how cute, chuckles all around.

Tintin thanks the artist for the drawing and begins to meander through the crowd, spotting an old model ship, which he buys from the salesperson for half the asking price. This sets off a bidding war between two men who simply *must* have the model. Tintin politely, but firmly declines, taking his model ship home with him. The result is an escalating series of episodes involving dire warnings, break-ins, shootings, kidnappings, a car chase, cows, break-outs, escapes and plane crashes.

So why is it all so boring?

Yes! You heard me! BORING!

*SIGH* Unfortunately, I have to lay all this at the feet of Thomson and Thompson, the two incompetent detectives from Scotland Yard. The Thom(p)sons are in “hot pursuit of a wily pickpocket named Silk, and their escapades interrupts  the flow of the mystery swirling around Tintin and his new friend Capitain Haddock. While the interlude works well in the book, and is quite entertaining, it only slows down the action in the movie. And while those familiar with The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackam’s Treasure are probably happy to see a familiar face, to those who have had limited exposure to Tintin’s universe would probably find the action horribly, horribly contrived. Omitting The Thom(p)sons would be akin to an act of heresy, however I’m sure that the entire plot device could be wrapped up in such a way as to not drag down the action all the while allowing Thomson and Thompson the opportunity to make an appearance in Bagghar in time to save the day.

Once this thread is dealt with, the pacing of the movie improves exponentially. When you finally get the back story of what happened between Captain Haddock’s ancestor, Sir Francis  and Red Rackam does the movie finally pick up steam and move to a satisfying conclusion. The sea battle between the Unicorn and Red Rackam’s ship is definitely worth the price of 3D admission and is as thrilling as any I’ve ever seen.

Technically the film is gorgeous, everything from the color palette, to the design details are, in a word, sumptuous. Nothing has been overlooked, including the scene wipes which rank up there with my favorites from Brotherhood of the Wolf and Highlander. The world that these characters inhabit is so rich and exquisitely rendered that you feel you can reach out and really touch what’s on the screen.

As great as the 3D and CGI are, The Adventures of Tintin does suffer for the technology on occasion. There are a couple of scenes in the movie that I swear are included only because the movie is shot in 3D. I HATE that. 3D should serve the story and enhance the experience, not the other way around. If at any point in a movie, the viewer is taken out of the story to think: “Oh hey! Cool 3D effect”, the director has failed as a story teller. Thankfully,  this only happens briefly once or twice in the movie, but it is an unfortunate faut pas.

The truth of the matter is I can sit back and nitpick this movie to death, but it won’t change the fact that Goober, my little 5 year-old adrenaline junkie sat through the entire 107 minute runtime. Once The Adventures of Tintin was over, he walked out of the theater proclaiming: “This is the best movie ever!” and is now curled up, snug and cozy in his bed with a copy of The Secret of the Unicorn tucked under his pillow where he thinks I won’t find it.

And at the end of the day that’s probably all that Peter Jackson and Steven Speilburg are going to care about.

Me too for all it matters.

It’s Just Some Random Guy posted his 100th VIDEO this week.

If you haven’t seen any of these before, the videos started as a spoof of the PC/Mac commercials using Marvel and DC characters. These shorts evolved into two serial movies, After Hours and Happy Hour. In the serials, the action centers around the adventures of all the major DC and Marvel heroes and villains as they kick back and relax at Stan’s Place, a super hero bar owned by Stan Lee. The characters also comment on the state of their movie franchises and parody other popular summer movie offerings.

What’s so surprising about these videos is the amount of emotional depth IJSRG is able to generate using nothing but action figures. I dare anyone to to watch Twas the Dark Night Before Christmas and not tear up just a little.

When not making parody videos, It’s Just Some Random Guy and Girl are creating promotional videos for various Comic Cons (and the Ontario PGA Golf Merchandising Show – HUH?).

If you are a comic fan, it’s worth the time to sit down and watch these videos. These are great stories filled with stellar character moments – my favorite being  Green Goblin busting out singing Summertime. Even if comics aren’t your thing, pop some popcorn and settle in for a great ride. I promise you will bust a gut laughing.

I hope the series goes on for a long time. Keep up the good work and again, congratulations!

The action continues with Zero Hour.

Talk about making one feel old! PacMan turns 3o today! I remember playing it when PacMan just came out! I remember it as being ‘revolutionary’! Heck the whole concept of Ms. PacMan was revolutionary at the time. A video game starring *gasp* a girl?!?

PacMan for Google


Happy 30th Birthday PacMan!At any rate, Google decided to mark the occasion with a doodle as they’ve been doing since 1998 to commemorate special occasions. But WHAT A DOODLE!

The PacMan Google Doodle (try saying that 3 times fast!) is actually interactive. Launched at 11:oo AM today,  Google has swapped out the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button with an ‘Insert Coin’ button which starts the game if you don’t want to wait for it to automatically start after 10 seconds. You then can use either the mouse or the arrow keys to navigate your way through 256 levels of PacMan. That’s right, they didn’t just do one screen, they did all 256 levels of the original game, including the garbled kill screen.

Designers built the doodle using a combination of Flash, HTML JavaScript and CSS.

There’s even an easter egg. Let me know if you find it.

The doodle is available for 48 hours only and can be played on your PC as well as the iPad (surprisingly given the current situation between Adobe and Apple) and some smart phones, including Apple’s iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre.

Have fun.

Movie F/X don't rot the brain, really!I am a self-described special effects geek. I have been known to go to see movies simply for the FX (Transformers) or the explosions (Independence Day).

Nick Nunziata from CHUD (who I would really love to be when I grow up) has taken it upon himself to compile a list of the most cheese-tastic CGI ever put to film. His first installment is a brilliant choice, the infamous Scorpion King sequence from The Mummy Returns:

I’m at times a very staunch Stephen Sommers defender, but use of CGI is not his strong suit on his best day. This is his worst day. The character looks like he’s about forty stages from the “approved” phase with features and facial animations that Andrea Bocelli can spot the ineffectiveness of.

OUCH!

It’ll be fun to see where Nick takes us. What cheesy FX do you think should rip to shreds next?

Keep up with the list at CHUD.com.

Frank Frazetta - 1928 - 2010

RIP: 1928 - 2010

Noted fantasy artist Frank Frazetta passed away today in Florida. He was 82 and still painting.

Frazetta will probably be best remembered for his artwork for the Conan the Barbarian novels, although he also created iconic covers for both Tarzan and the John Carter of Mars series. He never read any of Rice Burroughs novels, saying instead:

“I didn’t read any of it… I drew him my way. It was really rugged. And it caught on. I didn’t care about what people thought. People who bought the books never complained about it. They probably didn’t read them.”

Frazetta worked in multiple fields, creating art for comic books (Shining Knight), daily comic strips (Lil’ Abner, Flash Gordon), movie posters (What’s New Pussycat, The Gauntlet), album covers and even an animated movie, Fire and Ice, released in 1983.

Conan the Conqueror - Frank FrazettaWorking commercially mainly in oils, Frazetta also painted in watercolour, pen and ink or simply sketched with pencils. His cover art for Edgar Rice Burrough’s “Escape on Venus” sold at auction for $251,000 in 2008. His work reached the $1 million mark in 2009 when his painting “Conan the Conqueror” sold to a private collector in 2009.

In later life, Frazetta was plagued by health challenges, a thyroid problem and a series of strokes diminished his manual dexterity, making it difficult to paint. Undaunted, Frazetta switched to his left hand, and continued painting until his death.

I’ve never read any of the Conan books, or Tarzan for that matter, but when I think of those characters, the image in my mind’s eye is invariably one painted by Frank Frazetta. You couldn’t spend the amount of time that I did in the Fantasy section of the local book store and not be influenced by his work. I was always fascinated by his use of light and shadow. It lent a heaviness to his work that suited what I knew of those characters, they were dangerous, unpredictable and raw and his images captured that perfectly.

I also have to admit to wondering how the heck those little metal bikini’s stayed on those busty women.

Frank Frazetta influenced so many modern day fantasy artists including Boris Vallejo and Yusuke Nakano, the lead artist for Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda video game series . The field may not be as thriving as it is today if it weren’t for him.

He will be missed.

Vampirella - Frank FrazettaWhat's New Pussycat - Frank FrazettaThe Brain - Frank FrazettaJohn  Carter of MarsTarzan - Frank FrazettaGollum - Frank Frazetta

Via: Associated Press

In news only slightly less shocking than finding out that Twi-hards and their moms are excited about the latest Eclipse trailer, Dreamworks has announced that the sequel to the mega-popular How to Train Your Dragon will hit theaters in 2013.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 - Coming in 2013Do you need some help picking yourself off the floor?

Given that HTTYD had grossed $375 million dollars since it’s release date on March 26th, $15 million just last weekend alone, it only makes sense for Dreamworks to build this into their latest kid friendly franchise

“2010 is off to a strong start, thanks in large part to the performance of How to Train Your Dragon, which – having grossed nearly $375 million to date in worldwide box office – has become DreamWorks Animation’s next franchise. We plan to release the sequel theatrically in 2013,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “3D continues to have a tremendous impact on the industry at large and we are now looking forward with great anticipation to bringing Shrek Forever After, the final chapter in our beloved Shrek series and the first in 3D, to audiences across the globe next month.”

The Shrek franchise netted Dreamworks roughly billions of dollars, it looks like their banking on HTTYD to be the Nightfury that laid the golden egg, and take it’s place as resident money-maker. So long as Chris Saunders & Dean DeBlois are onboard, I’m there for at least one sequel.

What do you think?

Via: Movieweb

The first trailer for the latest installment of the Resident Evil franchise – Resident Evil: Afterlife  is out.

I find it interesting that their main promotional hook is that it’s filmed using the same fusion camera system that James Cameron used for Avatar. Are people really going to see this because the 3D is as good as Avatar?

Remember a few years ago, when Disney’s traditional animation house was closed because the big wigs decided they weren’t going to make hand drawn animated movies anymore. The reason given at the time was that computer generated movies were doing so well at the box office, Disney wanted to focus exclusively on getting that specific piece of the pie.  Then their computer animated flicks underperformed, because who needs great stories, intriguing dialogue, engrossing character development when a computer can bounce a ball across the screen? Then along comes John Lasseter as head of Disney Animation, he places the focus back on the story being told, not the means and BAM! The Princess and the Frog comes out, it’s a hit and classical animation is hot again.

I predict the same is going to happen with 3D and it’s going to start with Resident Evil: Afterlife. Not that I think this will be a bad film, especially not with Paul W.S. Anderson back behind the camera and adding Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller to the mix. And I don’t think a studio is going to pull a Disney and insist that every film be in 3D.

3D FilmsI do think we’re going to start to see more movies coming out in 3D for the sake of being in 3D. That’s going to result in a decline in the earnings of 3D films as every George, Peter and Stephen jumps onto the bandwagon. Movie makers are going to get lazy, and depend on 3D to bring in the bucks and forgetting that 3D is just a tool that is supposed to serve the story, not the other way around.  The novelty is going to wear off, and movie returns are going to suffer as a result.  Because of the decrease in audiences and revenue, the industry is going to start wringing its hands and wonder where it all went wrong.

Resident Evil: Afterlife opens on September 10th, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon - 3D

How to Train Your Dragon – 3D

Studio: Dreamworks
Starring: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Rating: Rating System!Rating System!Rating System!Rating System!Rating System!/ 5 Purses

Go see this movie.

I can’t make it any plainer than that.  It is a movie that I will be recommending to people that they *have* to see, even more so than Avatar.  It is that good.  It is that fun.

I took Sprout and Elfkin out for a Girls Night Out to see HTYD on Friday night and it’s the first time we’ve walked out of the theater with both kidlets thanking me profusely for taking them to the movies.  And these are polite kids.  On the drive back home, the girls were calculating if they have enough money to buy the BlueRay when it comes out.  They are even counting down the number of weeks until the disc is released (usually it’s about 17 weeks post theatrical release).

The story is simple, we’ve seen it hundreds of times before.  Hiccup, the town misfit, is the son of the great chief  Stoik the Vast.  As if being the nerdy son of a viking chieftain isn’t hard enough, his village is under seige by marauding dragons. Slight and smart, Hiccup isn’t exactly brawny dragonslayer material, but he’s a wicked weapons designer, becoming the only viking on his island to ever catch the mythical and deadly Nightfury.

But how deadly is a creature that loves chin scratches and regurgitating fish tails?  As Hiccup quickly finds out, not very once you know and understand these animals.  They are powerful yes, but when all is said and done, these are nothing more than overgrown, scaly, house cats with a propensity to belch fire. Now he has to convince his father, who is hell-bent on their extermination.

Yup, it’s an all too familiar story, but where the sheer joy comes in is how the film makers, Chris Saunders & Dean DeBlois, cram this movie to the rafters with smart imaginative narrative and visual touches that breathe life into the tale.  All the characters are fleshed out, but never devolve into caricatures of themselves and they all have a believable story arc.

The biggest emotional payoff comes from the evolution of Hiccups and Stoik’s relationship.  Hiccup is the odd man out, he doesn’t fit the image his father of him and Stoik struggles with accepting the son he has.  It’s clear how much he loves his son, but he’s painfully aware of Hiccups limitations. Stoik does what he can to protect Hiccup and to give him purpose by apprenticing him to Gobber the Belch, the village blacksmith and trainer. You can imagine his delight when he comes home from another failed attempt locating the secret dragon hideout to find out that his son is tops in his dragonslaying class. Finally, they’ll be to relate! And when Hiccups relationship with Toothless the Nightfury comes to light, his disappointment is palatable. His inevitable acceptance of his son never feels trite or routine, even though you expect it in the end, it feels well and truly honest.

As for Hiccup, he struggles with who and what he is.  Early in the movie, Gobber tells him to accept himself, that he’ll never be a great dragon slayer, but the limitations don’t sit well with Hiccup and he struggles and fights against it.  He knows he can be so much more than what he is and it’s great to see him applying his considerable brains to the problems at hand without succumbing to the ‘Poor Misunderstood Me’ syndrome.  I think often as parents we want to be accepting of our children, but never think of what that acceptance means.  I remember a scene from the Cosby Show where Theo, trying to explain his poor school performance to his dad by giving a heart warming speech about understanding  that he really isn’t that brainy and that a loving father would learn to accept his son as he is.  Cliff looks deep into Theo’s puppy dog eyes and with a straight face tells him that his posturing is an unmitigated load of crap and to pull up his socks. There’s a fine line between accepting a child for who they are and giving them an excuse for being lazy, and this movie really demonstrates the difference.

All the characters are a lot of fun, and it’s hard to pick out just one, but I think my favorite was Fishlegs Ingerman, the lovable but brainless lout who’s memorized dragon guide front to back and quotes it like a nerd quoting D&D’s Monster Manual.  The characterization is so perfect it brought me back to my Game Club days and warmed the cockles of my natural D20s.

How to Train Your Dragon is going to draw two obvious comparisons, the first to Shrek and the next to Avatar.  HTYD, like Shrek is a Dreamworks film with all the beautiful visuals that come with it, but that’s where the comparison stops.  The Shrek films rely on pop culture references to generate its humour, while  HTYD does not.  All the humour is character driven without relying sly self referential gags.  As a result, it’s going to age far better than Shrek and will stay much more relevant.

Comparing Avatar to How to Train Your Dragon is actually painful.  HTYD is everything that I hoped Avatar would be.  Both movies tread familiar ground in terms of narrative, but while HTYD treads an unexpected path in terms of characterization, Avatar is an amalgam of all the same old tired tropes that we’ve seen hundreds of times before. In terms of the aerobatics, Saunders and DeBlois completely school Cameron in how to shoot a flying scene. Both films featured heart stopping aerobatics, but HTYD infused the experience with so much joy and energy that the superiority of these scenes over the ones in Avatar cannot be denied.

Another added bonus is the score.  Written by John Powell (Kung Fu Panda, Xmen: Last Stand), the music is magical and plays such a role in transporting you to the god-forsaken rock in the middle of the ocean.  Blending Celtic influenced melodies with big orchestra themes make it a must have for my music collection.  It is big, it is dramatic and I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a movie soundtrack since Howard Shore did the music for Lord of the Rings. It is fantastic and well worth a listen.

How to Train Your Dragon is simply great.  It’s so good that I’m actually considering buying a 3D television just so that I can experience it all over again at home.  I’d recommend it for kids 5 and up.  The two girls were fine with it, but the Big Bad at the end could be a little overwhelming for a younger child.  I’m not sure that The Goob, at four could have handled it.  If you are going to take little ones, I would suggest the normal version over the 3D simply because it might be a little overwhelming.

Enjoy!

Sprout and Elfkin are really excited about How to Train Your Dragon.  We’ve been following the trailers since Dreamworks started releasing them in December.  The latest one just continues to build on the excitement.

And you can’t go wrong with swords, dragons, fires, and Scottish brogues.