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Anna, one of the one characters in the movie.

Last week I went with a friend to see Disney’s much acclaimed ‘Frozen’ in theaters. It was only several days after it had been released, so needless to say it was jam packed with people and children. But, they all had good reason to all want to go to this movie.

Honestly, I feel it was one of Disney’s strongest in a very long time. ‘Frozen’ presented a surprisingly mature story about love, responsibility, and the connection two sisters have that can break through magic, turmoil, and death. Through amazing songs, complex characters and great drama, ‘Frozen’ takes the viewer on a chilly journey that ends up leaving you feel warm inside.

From the commercials, I really didn’t expect this. I don’t know who was working on Disney’s marketing team for this movie, but they did a terrible job at depicting what the movie was about and what it had to offer. Most of the TV spots I saw focused on the ‘actiony’ parts of the movie, and the lovable but strange snowman Olaf’s one liner jokes. But, they left out arguably one of Disney’s most complex, compelling characters in a long time, Elsa, who becomes the Snow Queen in the story. If you’d like to see a trailer, I beg you to look at the longer ones they have on youtube and not the 30 second slap stick humor spots they play on television.

Here’s one that I think does a good job of describing the movie.

With every Disney movie, you expect there to be great music, whether sung by characters or glowing from the background during drama and action. This movie had both and exceeded anything I could have imagined. ALL the songs were good, even the silly one sang by Olaf. The movie was much like a broadway musical (with Idina Menzel, even more so) , with sweeping arias that encompassed the feelings of both Anna and Elsa as they explored their rocky relationship. Many of the songs has traditional Scandinavian flair, which might not be for everyone but I personally love it when Disney gets in touch with the story’s heritage.

My favorite song was ‘Let it Go’, which is sung by Elsa near the middle of the movie. I don’t want to give many spoilers away, but I will give you a link to the song sequence if you want to listen to it. It is a gorgeous song on it’s own but in the context of the movie it is so much more.

Idina Menzel’s broadway voice was perfect for it! The movie was jam packed with songs as strong as this one. If you are a music lover, ‘Frozen’ will probably end up in your car after you buy the soundtrack.

Drama and humor. This movie has both of these. There were few jokes that I didn’t find personally funny myself as a 20 year old, and whenever I laughed I heard lots of children laughing in the audience, too. That is the mark of a good movie, where both adults and children get enjoyment. For every high, joyous point in the film there is also deep, dramatic sequences that are chilling, and uncomfortable. (There was a twist within the plot and I gasped SO loudly!) Spoiler free note: Disney takes a stereotype it created itself, and destroys it. That is why I say it’s an incredibly mature movie on Disney’s part because a lot of the things you ‘know’ happen in a Disney movie end up not becoming so.

If you need any more persuasion, here’s what I say: I love Tangled, and Brave, and I think this movie is better than both of those. ‘Frozen’ is one of the best movies to come out of Disney for a long time, and is a great experience on a big screen.
Ending note: I saw it twice.
Sources: Myself, hahaha.

Videos from youtube.



I was poking around the animation news of the week and found a particularly harsh but unsurprising review of Fox Animation’s “Free Birds”, an animated tale of two turkeys going back in time to prevent Thanksgiving from having a tradition of eating them. Many critics have slammed the movie for “shamelessly tapping in” on the holiday line up of movies, which I agree with. As soon as I saw the trailers I knew it would be a disaster.

From the source article, here is what the Daily Nebraskan writer Vince Moran thinks of it:

If this plot sounds overstuffed, it’s because it is. There are about three different stories attempting to establish themselves in the first 10 minutes of the film before it finally settles on the time-travel plot line. When the time-traveling birds arrive in the past, they encounter their ancestors, dressed in Native American garb and war paint, clearly drawing a comparison between the white man’s genocide of the Native Americans and the current state of animal cruelty and factory farming. While this comparison is awkward in itself, this juxtaposition seems like it could be daring and controversial. However, “Free Birds” chickens out, and instead of delving into these topics, glosses over them, problematically ignoring the very themes it raises.

The review continues to call the film sloppy and misguided, as it doesn’t do much in a comedic atmosphere and the whole “adventure” side of it has been rehashed over and over again. A lot of talented actors, such as Amy Poehler and and Owen Wilson, were put into the voice roles but it doesn’t do much. This whole movie makes me frown, just from the sense I’m given in the review. I really, really don’t want to have to sit through the real thing.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts released their list for the contenders for Best Animated Feature. These nineteen films, some that are familiar and some that aren’t, will compete to make the cut for the five films that will make it to the actual Academy Awards Ceremony. Then, the winner will be selected out of those five.

From the source article, here are the films:

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

The Croods

Despicable Me 2


Ernest and Celestine

The Fake

Free Birds



The Legend of Sarila

A Letter to Momo

Monsters University

O Apostolo


Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie — Rebellion

Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury

The Smurfs 2


The Wind Rises

Not all of them may be ones you’ve heard of, but since I’m actually excited about some of the more obscure ones. I would rather see The Wind Rises beat for a spot than the atrocious movie Planes or Smurfs 2…but enough about that! You will also see that the big Pixar and Dreamworks Films, The Croods and Frozen are on there. Frozen has not been released yet, but it will be in time for the Academy Awards come early next year. I will have to see it for myself to determine how it measures up against the other films, but I have a good feeling about it.

Another thing about this list is that not all films submitted qualify for the Academy’s expectations. Smurfs 2 is not 75% animation and has a LOT of live action, so it probably won’t qualify. If Smurfs and several others don’t qualify, we won’t get 5 films to make it to the Awards.

The number of movies nominated in the animated feature category is dependent on how many films qualify for Oscar consideration: If at least 16 films qualify, the category will have five films; if fewer than 16 qualify, the number of nominees drops to 3.

It was a tough year for animation, but I sure hope that doesn’t happen.


A minion from Despicable Me.

Chris Meledandri, CEO of Illumination Animation and creator of such movies as Despicable Me, was interviewed recently by The Holly Wood Reporter. He answered the tough questions about his failures, successes, and where he thinks the market of animation is heading. He included some harsh replies, including his perspective that the animation market is essentially killing itself by releasing too many things too soon.

From the source article:

Addressing the volatile state of the industry, he warned that the animation community “releases too many films and there’s not enough room. They are going to cannibalize each other; we are already seeing that. We are also competing against the big live action films.”

He also talked about how the box office bomb, Titan A.E. released in 2000, helped shape his career over time. He lost 100 million with the movie and almost lost his job, but he says that it determined where he is now.  He claimed that “My faith in my film making changed on the heels ofTitan. It allowed me to pursue things that I previously would have questioned.”

A lot of people don’t really know about Titan A.E., but being the nerd I am of Don Bluth and animation, I am extremely familiar with the movie. In fact, I loved it. Chris took a hard hit with the movie when it underperformed in the box office, and perhaps it changed his perspective with how he thinks the Animation market is ‘cannibalizing’ itself. I really hope it isn’t true.

Poster from Titan A.E.’s release.


The 2014 ceremony of the British Animation awards has announced the newest categories for judging this year. Some of the newly added categories include best Voice Performance, Best Animation in Visual Effects, and Best Motion Graphics.

From the source article, here is the full list of regular categories that will join these new ones:

Best Student Film
Best Short Film
Best Children’s Pre-school Series
Best Children’s Series
Best Mixed Media Children’s Series
Best commercial: 2D
Best Commercial 3D
Best Film/TV Graphics
Best Animation: Long form
Best Commissioned Animation

The British Animation Awards will be held on March 7th, 2014 at the BFI in South Bank, London. The purpose of it is to celebrate animation including short films, motion graphics, and even music videos (my favorite!). It is held every 2 years since 1996, and this year the BAA director Jayne Phillips, says things will be special.

BAA Director, Jayne Phillips, said: “With the dramatic upsurge in production following the recent tax-break changes and various other new initiatives to develop production potential, infra red structure and training within the UK, we plan to make BAA 2014 a truly celebratory occasion.”

I think it’s really cool that they’re adding the new categories. Computer animation is all consuming these days!


Director Paul Frieg announced that the rumors of him producing a “Peanuts” Film come 2015 are true. The Director, who is known for Bridesmaids (one of my favorite movies, ever) and The Heat (haven’t seen it but looks funny) will join with Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox to make a movie based on the film strips by Charles Schultz.

From the source article:

The news may be a surprise to fans of Feig’s adult comedies, but it’s a dream come true for the filmmaker. “Growing up, Peanuts was my Star Wars,” he told Deadline. “Charles Schulz’s characters influenced everything in my career, especially Freaks And Geeks.” It will be Feig’s first animated project.

While I am not the biggest fan myself of Peanuts, I recognize it’s influence on comic strips and even Holiday themed specials on television. Charlie Brown is iconic and I’m sure many people will be excited for this movie.

Charlie and his beloved dog, Snoopy.


Beginning October 25th to November 3rd, the 10th annual London International Animation Festival begins for this year! Animation festivals are really cool things that I hear about and I’ve always wanted to go to them. I read up a little bit about LIAF and it seems like it would be so fun to go to. There are lots of things that can spark your interest, no matter if you’re into gorey, scary animation or simple children’s animations.

There is an opening Gala where you can meet up with filmmakers, chat over fine food, and see the highlights that this festival will feature. From the source article, here are some of the things you can plan on:

Start with the best. To celebrate 10 years of the festival, three special screenings will share the top 10 comedy, sci-fi and horror (on Halloween, of course) animations from the first decade of the festival. You can also dip into themed sessions: Abstract Showcase, Animated Documentaries, Late Night Bizarre and Music Videos. There are Amazing Animations for little kids (0-6) and Marvellous Animations for slightly bigger ones (7-15).

Seems like there is something for everyone. It’s so nice to see these types of things happening, where people come together to celebrate the wonderful mediums CGI, 2-D and 3-D animation can bring us.


Guillermo Del Toro is one of my favorite Directors and artists. A bunch of celebrities are signing up for his newest feature, an animated comedy movie called the Book of Life. Those who have given the thumbs up to join include Christina Applegate, Channing Tatum, and Zoe Saldana.  The movie is being produced by 20th Century Fox and Reel FX animation.

I’ve always been a Del Toro fan. He made a lot of CGI and live action movies including Pans Labyrinth, Hellboy 1 and 2,  as well as the 2013 box office destroyer Pacific Rim. From the source article, here is the plot to Book of Life:

Book is described as the journey of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart.  Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds, where he must face his greatest fears.

The movie will have a unique visual style and the studios are promising a fresh take on popular pop songs. The original score and songs will be composed by Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel), who is currently touring with the popular Argentine band Bajofondo, which was just nominated for a Latin Grammy.

Looks like a  lot of cool names are going to be involved with this movie. I am so excited to see Del Toro take on a more comedic film– his artistic flair will make it both beautiful to look at but with the comedy theme it will be more lighthearted than his usual films (probably!)

The lines between what is a live action movie and what is a computer generated 3-D movie are becoming more blurred by the year.

Before I jump into this blog post, I want to invite the reader to take a look at this video, a “before and after” compilation of scenes from  The Great Gatsby Movie released in 2013, a remake of the popular novel.

If you were going into this movie with no idea how much CGI was used to create it, would this clip surprise you? Filmmakers piece together the action they have from live actors and in post production they create fabulous mansions, exquisite gardens, glowing 1920’s city scenes that didn’t even exist. CGI effects are even placed on actors, sometimes to enhance their complexion, and make their eyes seem to sparkle. Disgruntled youtube users comment “wow, this movie is like 90% CGI” and “you sit on a throne of lies!”.

Leonardo DiCaprio stands in front of his gorgeous estate: an estate that will be completely CGI

But, The Great Gatsby  movie makers aren’t the only one doing this. Live action movies are increasingly filled with computer graphics to create scenes that production companies were never able to make until the 21st century.  Some directors say that they almost feel pressured to do so to wow audiences with large explosions, scary monsters, and the like, others see CGI as a valuable tool in their movie making.  In an interview with the Directors Guild of America, director Christopher Nolan described his thoughts on CGI.

“The thing with computer-generated imagery is that it’s an incredibly powerful tool for making better visual effects. […] There are usually two different goals in a visual effects movie. One is to fool the audience into seeing something seamless, and that’s how I try to use it. The other is to impress the audience with the amount of money spent on the spectacle of the visual effect, and that, I have no interest in.”

You can find more highlights from the interview here:

Hollywood heads may be the ones who make the movies, however what does the average movie goer think about the current state of CGI in movies? I interviewed 20 year old college student Dylan Hunt to see what she thinks when she sits under the silver screen.

“I’m sure that it’ll get so overdone that there are CGI scenes in Romantic comedies, but I hope not. I would like to see it used more strategically in movies.” Dylan Hunt said in our October 8th interview. “…[But] There have been a few movies, that combine CGI and real life in a great way. I think a lot of horror movies do it really well.”

It seem as if both the director Nolan and your typical college student have the same idea: using it strategically and for storytelling is the best way to go with CGI, over doing it for flash and pizazz makes a movie fall flat.

Sources: Interview with Dylan Hunt, conducted October 8th, 2013 in Fort Collins, Colorado.



I am not the biggest fan of Angry Birds, nor am I bursting at the seams awaiting the movie’s release, however I can appreciate those who are joining the project.  Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly have signed on to be co directors of the 2016 Angry Birds movie.  

Both of them have some good projects to boast about.

From the’s article:

A 19-year Disney employee, Kaytis recently worked as the animation supervisor on the likes of Tangled and was an animator on Wreck-It Ralph, for which he also oversaw the film’s end credits. He served as an animator on the studio’s upcoming Frozen. At Sony since 2003, Reilly has served as storyboard artist on the likes of Hotel TransylvaniaCloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and its sequel, as well as head of story at Sony Pictures Animation.

Rovio, the original designers for the Angry birds app which made them billions, started discussing the production of a movie as early as 2011, and now their dream vision is becoming reality. In addition to working on a movie, they have also started an animated TV series.

I’m glad experienced hollywood animators and storyboarders are on the job; maybe, if they design the movie well enough I’ll be excited to see it. However, I would have liked something a little more artistic..