It’s been a big day for awards, as the New York Film Critics Circle kicked off awards season, handing out the first accolades for achievement in filmin 2012. (Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln were the big winners.) Now here are the nominations for the animation-specific Annie Awards, and these might make people happy who were puzzled by the NYFCC award given to Frankenweenie as the best animated film of the year. Those tallying numbers here might want to see more noms for Wreck-It Ralph, but in general the year’s releases are well represented, with the expected nods towards Brave, Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman, and more.

Get the full list below. Read More »

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It’s tradition for Pixar to run an animated short ahead of their theatrical features, and said short usually comes packaged with the full-length movie in the DVD / Blu-ray release as well. For Brave, however, Pixar is including not one but two short films. The first is La Luna, which we already saw when it played in front of Brave in theaters, while the second is an all-new movie titled The Legend of Mor’du. Get a first look after the jump.

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As comics have been embraced by Hollywood as the new go-to pasture for grazing on established properties and characters, film writers have occasionally tackled comics as well. Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon, and J. Michael Straczynski are among the most high-profile talents who have gone from film and TV to comics. Now Chronicle writer Max Landis is making the jump to the printed page thanks to DC and the first Action Comics annual to come out of the “New 52″ reboot.

Action Comics Annual #1 is by writer Sholly Fisch and artist Cully Hamner, and it also features an 8-page backup story from writer Max Landis and artist Ryan Sook (Wednesday Comics; Jonah Hex; Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Check out a preview of the Fisch and Hamner pages below. Read More »

Editor’s Note: The initial version of this story said that Disney was “suing” Brightspark, which is not yet the case. They have actually only taken the first legal step of contacting the company to stop selling their film. Those changes have been made in the headline and body below.

Who hasn’t been in a supermarket, walked past the discount DVD rack and done a double take? Is that really the latest Hollywood blockbuster? No, it’s some cheap, imitation knockoff meant to fool consumers who don’t know better. Most of us think, “How can they get away with that?” The answer, we’re finding out, is they can’t. A few months ago, Universal sued Asylum over their obvious Battleship knockoff and now Disney could possibly sue Brightspark Production Ltd. over Braver, a film that’s in no way related to Disney/Pixar’s hit film Brave. It just has an oddly similar title and eerily similar poster.

Which is likely the case, too, for Brightspark’s other titles Tangled Up (nothing to do with Tangled), The Frog Princess (obviously different from The Princess and the Frog) or Little Cars (it’s not Cars, it’s smaller). Read more after the jump. Read More »

Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow will be sharing the multiplex this weekend with another red-haired heroine making a last-minute push for box office dollars. Disney’s doubling down on old releases for Labor Day, giving Pixar’s Brave a one-week-only wider opening.

The animated adventure has dwindled to just 450 theaters by last weekend, but will be bumped up to a 1,700-theater wide release for this weekend. The film will play on both 2D and 3D screens. More after the jump.

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VOTD: Every 3D Movie is the Same

Watch enough movies, and you’ll find that you occasionally walk out of the theater sometimes with the vaguely disappointing feeling that you’ve just shelled out $14 to see a movie you’re already seen before. Sometimes, it’s no surprise that a film looks derivative — did anyone really expect Underworld: Awakening to wow us with its originality, for example? — but even great movies fall prey to old habits sometimes. The Avengers was exhilarating, but Lord knows we’ve seen the dear old Big Apple demolished more than a few times before, and often in very similar ways at that.

The Funny or Die folks point out the most familiar repeating shots and motifs in a video titled “Every 3D Movie is the Same.” Unfortunately, it seems their theoretical fact-checkers were dozing on the job, since a handful of the movies they cite were not, in fact, released in 3D. But even so, their point stands. Perhaps they should’ve just retitled it “Every Studio Action Movie is the Same”? Watch it after the jump.

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Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Easter Eggs Revealed

We love discovering the hidden easter eggs that Pixar hides within their movies. We’ve been collecting the easter eggs for some time now, having extensive write-ups of all the hidden secrets in Ratatouille, WALL-EUpToy Story 3, Cars 2, and even the short film Day & Night. When it was announced that Pixar would be released a film set in the highlands of 10th century Scotland, many fans wondered how they’d be able to sneak in some of the contemporary staples like the Pizza Planet truck or a character from their next film (in this case, Monsters University). But early on, director Mark Andrews assured us that all the fun easter eggs would be included one way or another. Where is the Pizza Planet Truck? Find out for yourself, after the jump.

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Watch ‘The Sound of Brave’

Sound is an essential element for almost any film, but animated films in particular benefit from stellar audio design. Most of the featurettes we’ve seen from the Soundworks Collection have been focused on live-action films (or mostly live-action films, such as the Transformers movies) but now we’ve got one that looks at the production of Pixar’s Brave.

One interesting aspect of the audio work for Brave is that, as has been the case for some animated films in the past, some of the work was done prior to the animation — I won’t specify which bits, in order to avoid spoilers, but the fact that I don’t want to spoil anything should indicate just what parts of the film were done in that manner, for those who’ve seen the film. It’s also fun to learn that some sounds done for War Horse ended up in Brave.

Check out the look into Brave‘s sound design below. Read More »

Ranking the Best & Worst Pixar Movies

How is it that a movie studio that produces kid’s films can be responsible for so many of the best films in cinema?

Twenty years ago, that question would be directed at Disney. Now it’s more likely to refer to Pixar, Studio Ghibli, or even Dreamworks of late. What is it about children’s entertainment that has, time and time again, managed to capture the hearts and minds of adults as much as it has their offspring?

Perhaps it’s a result of these films rekindling our lost sense of childlike wonder and naively adventurous spirit. Perhaps it’s their universally accessible narrative simplicity, always ready to charm away our worries with the awe-inspiring visual splendor through which these tales are so often told.

Whatever the case may be, with thirteen films under their belt, the Pixar formula is one that’s proven itself to leave a lasting impression, transporting us to spectacular, gorgeously rendered and thoughtfully defined worlds — second only to the passionately heartfelt and funny stories of family and friendship embedded within.

What’s more, Pixar is able to achieve this mixture while emboldening children to think for themselves; to challenge the status quo; to recognize their true potential, as well as their limitations. As fun and charming and pretty as Pixar’s films are, it’s the complex ideas and emotions they explore that makes them truly special, affording youths the opportunity to confront the realities of the world around them in a way they can understand and cope with. While everyone else is content to pander to kids, Pixar knows that the best way to communicate with children is to treat them as equals.

But equality is not a trait shared by the current roster of Pixar films. Despite the technical virtuosity on full display with every production, it takes a lot more than stunning animation to make a film great, and that’s not a balance that Pixar always strikes — at least not recently. At one point it may have seemed like the studio could do no wrong, but that was a short-lived romantic notion, and hardly one that merits much deliberation. No, far more instructive would be to scrutinize their missteps in conjunction with their successes, and try to determine what exactly it is that makes any one of their works richer than the other. After all, what better way to understand what makes a story great than to study the best? Read More »