The Art of Animation: The Best of 2015
- THE GOOD DINOSAUR An absolutely enchanting animation film that will capture your heart! In an alternate timeline in which Earth was never hit by an asteroid and dinosaurs never became extinct, a young Apatosaurus named Arlo loses his father in a tragic accident. One day, Arlo falls into a river and gets knocked out by a rock, finding himself far away from his home. While trying to find a way back to the Clawed-Tooth Mountains, he befriends a human caveboy that he names Spot. Director Bob Peterson and Peter Sohn started working on The Good Dinosaur in 2009, when Peterson came up with the idea. The filmmakers want to explore what dinosaurs represent today, and how they are represented in stereotypes. Peterson said: “It’s time to do a movie where you get to know the dinosaur, what it’s really like to be a dinosaur and to be with a dinosaur.” Peterson said the inspiration for the movie came from a childhood visit to the 1964 New York World’s Fair where he was impressed by some dinosaur audio-animatronics. Exclusive Feature: The Good Dinosaur Rules
- INSIDE OUT An absolutely magical experience! Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by light-hearted optimist Joy, whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear heads up safety, Anger ensures all is fair and Disgust prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else. The 2D Blu-Ray has some great features: Riley’s First Date? (In-Home Exclusive Animated Short Film) – Riley, now 12, is hanging out at home with her parents in San Francisco when potential trouble comes knocking: a boy shows up at the door. Can Mom and Dad’s emotions handle “Riley’s First Date?” LAVA (Theatrical Short Film) – Inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, LAVA is a musical love story that takes place over millions of years. Paths to Pixar: The Women of Inside Out – Inside Out filmmakers, from voice actors to animators to production crew, talk about their paths, their goals, the challenges they’ve faced and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Mixed Emotions – Inside Out’s filmmakers talk about how they decided which emotions to focus on in the story and how they went about creating each one’s distinct personality and visual identity. And Audio Commentary from directors Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen, and producer Jonas Rivera. Feature: Go behind the scenes of Inside Out
- STRANGE MAGIC The totally zany and super spectacular animated musical Strange Magic is an enchanting creation from George Lucas and Lucasfilm, featuring a princess who has sworn off love, a vulnerable villain, a slightly nutty Sugar Plum Fairy, a tenacious and big-hearted elf, a mischievous imp, and a knight who is no Prince Charming. “I wanted to do something fun and happy yet unexpected,” says executive producer George Lucas, whose story was adapted by screenwriters David Berenbaum (Elf), Irene Mecchi (The Lion King, Brave) and director Gary Rydstrom.You have never experienced a fairy tale like this, with fairies turning into heavy rockers and singing their hearts out. Producer Mark S Miller says the story is inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “It’s a farcical fairy tale with characters and creatures of all shapes and sizes falling in love with the most unlikely candidates.” The totally zany and super spectacular animated musical Strange Magic is an enchanting creation from George Lucas and Lucasfilm, featuring a princess who has sworn off love, a vulnerable villain, a slightly nutty Sugar Plum Fairy, a tenacious and big-hearted elf, a mischievous imp, and a knight who is no Prince Charming. “The point of the film is that everyone deserves to be loved,” says Lucas. “And true love goes much deeper than infatuation or looks. Love happens in the most unlikely places with the most unlikely people. “It’s a story about love and how the most unlikely people fall in love. It’s about finding true beauty in someone’s soul regardless of how they look.
- BIG HERO 6 From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph, comes this delightful original action-comedy-adventure about a robotics prodigy and a plus-sized inflatable robot, who develop a special bond on a quest to solve an unsettling mystery.”Hiro Hamada’s older brother Tadashi has created a cutting-edge robot, Baymax, who’s designed to take care of people,” says director Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh). “Baymax’s one programmed desire is ‘How can I help?’ He’s filled with compassion. And Hiro is a teenager who has lost his way–their personalities play off each other in a way that is both funny and heartwarming.”When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his brilliant fellow nerds: adrenaline junkie GoGo Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called Big Hero 6.”There’s a mysterious masked villain who is up to no good,” says director Chris Williams (Bolt). “Hiro takes it upon himself to find out who this guy is and what he’s plotting to do. Hiro intends to stop him–no matter what. “It’s really a hero’s journey,” Williams continues. “The friendship Hiro forms with Baymax opens his eyes to what it really means to be a hero.”Producer Roy Conli (Tangled) says that family–the kind that you’re born with and the kind you find–is at the core of the movie. “It’s a powerful theme that audiences relate to,” says Conli. “The nuances of the relationships in deeply emotional films like ‘Bambi’ or ‘The Lion King’ are so interesting. There’s something about these stories that can really touch people.”
- SHAUN THE SHEEP Written and Directed BY Mark Burton and Richard Starza, following the remarkable success of Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep TV series. Shaun is a clever, mischievous sheep who lives with his flock on Mossy Bottom Farm, under the nominal supervision of The Farmer, and Bitzer, a well-meaning but ineffectual sheepdog.Despite Shaun’s best efforts, life on the farm has got into a bit of a rut, and Shaun concocts a cunningplan — to have a day off.But be careful what you wish for. Events rapidly escalate out of control and Shaun’s mischief inadvertently leads to the hapless farmer being taken away from the farm.With the flock’s help, Shaun must leave the farm for the first time and travel into the Big City in order torescue The Farmer — and failure is not an option.But how will the sheep survive? Can they avoid being recognised as sheep? And thus avoid the clutchesof a fearsome animal catcher? In the course of an action-packed adventure they experience a host of wild,funny mishaps.And Shaun meets a little orphan dog called Slip who makes him realise that having a home and a family is not something to be taken for granted.
- THE LITTLE PRINCE At the heart of it all is The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy), who’s being prepared by her mother (Rachel McAdams) for the very grown-up world in which they live – only to be interrupted by her eccentric, kind-hearted neighbor, The Aviator (Jeff Bridges). The Aviator introduces his new friend to an extraordinary world where anything is possible. A world that he himself was initiated into long ago by The Little Prince (newcomer Riley Osborne). It’s here that The Little Girl’s magical and emotional journey into the universe of The Little Prince begins. And it’s where The Little Girl rediscovers her childhood and learns that ultimately, it’s human connections that matter most, and that it is only with heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. Feature: The Little Prince is one of the biggest animated films of 2015
- KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET Inspired by the beloved classic, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is a richly-animated tale of an unlikely friendship between a young, mischievous girl and an imprisoned poet. Interwoven with Gibran’s lyrical and inspiring words on the true nature of love, work, freedom and marriage, the film is written and directed by Roger Allers with stunning “chapters” from a host of award-winning and renowned international artists and musicians including Tomm Moore, Michal Socha, Joan Gratz, Nina Paley, Joann Sfar, Bill Plympton, Mohammed Saeed Harib and Paul and Gaeton Brizzi. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’s journey to the big screen began more than a decade ago when executive producer Steve Hanson embarked on an eight-year quest to license the rights to the Lebanese author’s timeless bestseller. The beloved book, which has been translated into 40 languages, has sold over 100 million copies and has never been out of print since it was first published in 1923. Producer Clark Peterson, who previously produced gritty crime dramas including Charlize Theron’s Monster and Woody Harrelson’s police-corruption thriller Rampart, says the filmmakers realized early on that the book’s timeless lyricism could best be captured through animation. “We believe animation is, in a way, the closest cinematic form to poetry,” he explains.
- MINIONS Fun is upgraded with zany Minions joviality in a well-deserved ‘biopic’ that vividly answers a questions fans have been asking since their superstardom in the Despicable Me series: Where do the Minions come from? It’s a joyful journey with tons of laughs into the origins of these adorable happy-face yellow creatures that begins at the dawn of time where they started their animated life as single-celled yellow organisms, and evolved through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. The three chosen yellow stooges destined for fame embark upon a thrilling journey with some wonderfully original histrionic and hysterical moments that shows how they were responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, the demise of Count Dracula, ignited Napoleon’s fury and unleashed Pharaoh’s wrath.
SPECIAL NOTE: There may be no two more opposite forms of filmmaking than documentaries and animation. Documentarians grab a camera on the fly and shoot real life as it unfolds. Animators on the other hand work with a slow, painstaking way, line by line, bit by bit to paint an alternate view of reality. Despite their differences, when these two forms unite it has produced moving audience experiences. Davis Guggenheim turned to animation in He Named Me Malala for a distinct storytelling purpose: to let audiences see Malala’s memories, something that otherwise would have been impossible.In part, Guggenheim was looking to bust stereotypes. “So often, when we a see a report here about Pakistan, it’s something harsh or scary. But when Malala and Ziauddin tell the story of their past, it’s something wonderful. The way they spoke, their memories felt like a storybook to me. So I chose to use animation to portray the part of the Yousafzai’s lives before the Taliban in the way they themselves remember it: as something beautiful and charming, like a fairy tale. Animation means time and money. But I had the instinct that it could help tell Malala’s story in a very profound and touching way.” Guggenheim knew he would need a skilled, imaginative collaborator. He partnered with Jason Carpenter, a young filmmaker who had impressed him with his award-winning student short THE RENTER, which, despite using modern digital techniques, had a rough-hewn, organic look that rendered its story of a boy’s experience at a daycare center as atmospheric and emotional as a painting.