The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists" in the UK, this is the latest animated film from Aardman Animations and was produced in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation. The film is Aardman's first feature-length, stop-motion work since 2005, when they released "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The plot involves various pirates vying for 'Pirate of the Year' award and looks to be a hilarious seafaring adventure!
[ August 17, 2012 ]
In 2009, animation studio LAIKA made a dashing debut with the release of their hit film, "Coraline." The film garnered universal acclaim and was nominated for Best Animated Feature but lost to Pixar's "Up." The studio was originally structured to produce both a CGI and stop-motion film concurrently, but in late 2009 LAIKA laid off a number of staff members in order to focus solely on on the latter format. Lost in the shake-up was "Coraline" helmer Henry Selick, acclaimed director of stop-motion favorites, "The Nightmare before Christmas" and "James and the Giant Peach." (All is not lost, however, as he has now been snapped up by Disney/Pixar and will open a small studio under their banner called 'Cinderbiter Productions.' The first stop-motion film from him, "Shademaker," will be released October 2013.) "ParaNorman" tells the story of a boy whose town is under attack by Zombies and only he can communicate with them. He also takes on witches and ghosts. This otherworldly flick sounds like the perfect follow-up to a story about a girl who discovered an alternate dimension behind the wall of her living room.
[ October 5, 2012 ]
In 1984, a young Tim Burton was funded by Disney to create his infamous short film, "Frankenweenie." When executives previewed the final product, they were irate and fired Burton immediately. They felt the film was too quirky and scary for mainstream appeal and Burton had wasted their money. Ironic how the tables turn as now, 28 years later, Disney is once again funding Burton in this stop-motion re-make. Many people mistakenly believe Tim Burton directed "Coraline," "James and the Giant Peach" and "The Nightmare before Christmas" when, as stated above, his companion Henry Selcik was at the reigns of those features. Burton's only other stop-motion film to date is 2005's "Corpse Bride" (which lost to 'Curse of the Were-Rabbit' for Best Animated Feature.) The story is of a boy named Victor who re-animates his Bull Terrier, Sparky, after an accident. Hilarity ensues with the subsequent reactions of friends, family and neighbors at this reincarnated canine. It will be interesting to see Aardman and Burton undoubtedly pitted against each other once again at the 85th Academy Awards in early 2013.
4. "Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe"
[ release date TBA, distributed by Buena Vista International - a Disney subsidiary ]
Now for the underdog of our group. "Selkirk, el verdadero Robinson Crusoe," as it's titled in its homeland, is the first feature-length movie by Uruguayan stop-motion short film director Walter Tournier. The film is a co-production between Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The plot: After squandering all his earnings from privateering, Alexander Selkirk (better known as Robinson Crusoe) is abandoned on an island where he must learn to fend for himself. It is not confirmed if Buena Vista International will distribute this stateside, but the overseas release is scheduled for February 2012.
This concludes my preview of four excellent stop-motion features releasing in 2012. I, for one, could not be more excited that this medium is retaining its bravado against its flashy CGI brethren. While hand-drawn, cel-shade animation has gone the way of the Dodo in North America, it's great that we still have an alternative to the increasing number of computer and motion-capture animated features making their way to cinemas. Which one of these four most piqued your interest? For me, 'The Pirates!' has really caught my eye and I am looking forward to its swashbuckling antics. Although, all four of these look top class!