cage reynolds

Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds in will headline the voice cast for DreamWorks Animation’s 3D computer animated film The Croods. Lilo & Stich helmer Chris Sanders and Space Chimps helmer Kirk DeMicco are co-directing the caveman comedy, which was formerly titled Crood Awakenings when it was set up with Aardman Animation.

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dragon_lovers

I’m one of the biggest critics of Dreamworks Animated films, and a self confessed Pixar fanboy. Kung Fu Panda is the only movie released from Dreamworks Animation that I’m proud to own on my DVD shelf, and I’ve found most of their other productions to be  filled with unfunny pop culture-infused jokes and uninspired designs/story. And while I was impressed by the concept art for their latest film, How To Train Your Dragon, the teaser trailer left me disappointed (something just didn’t gel with the voice acting).

Ain’t It Cool head geek Harry Knowles has seen a very early cut of the film, in 3D, and says that the movie is “every bit as emotional, thrilling and fun as KUNG FU PANDA” but at the same time, “completely different.” And he assures us that is it “very much a story over gags film, with no potty humor.”

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dragon_lovers

I can understand Pixar trading on the legacy of the Toy Story films, Monsters Inc. and so on – even Cars, which I know many critics aren’t so kind on  – but Dreamworks Animation trying to draw hype out of their back catalogue? Admittedly they’ve put the weight on the more successful Shrek and Madagascar franchises, as well as the actually-rather-good Kung Fu Panda, and not such cine-excrement as Shark Tale or Bee Movie, but isn’t the consensus that the Dreamworks branding on a toon is best taken as a warning, not an encouragement?

Ah well. They’re proud anyway, and so they’ve stitched together a few legacy clips and a self-aggrandising voice over of spurious exaltation for the top of the new How to Train Your Dragon trailer, which you can see after the break. It seems to be a leak, and not an official release so catch it while you can.

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DreamWorks Animation Announces 2009-2012 Releases

DreamWorks Animation Logo

DreamWorks Animation has announced plans to release five feature films every two years, up from their previous two films a year schedule. The company cites their “three very successful franchises” as one of the reasons to produce an extra film every other year. Apparently the plan is to release one or two sequels a year, as well as an original project, all of which will be produced in digital 3D. Check out the full schedule after the jump.

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how to train your dragon

Animatoons has the first official promotional image for DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon. The image also gives us our first real plot synopsis:

“Meet Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, heir of the Viking chiefdom, but a boy with one very big problem: a hero he is not. “How to Train Your Dragon’ is the riotous story of Hiccup’s quest to hunt down the fiercest dragon, bring it into submission, and—hopefully—pass his initiation. Instead, he ends up with the smallest, most ornery dragon—it’s even toothless! Thus begins the hijinx of the world’s most lovable, unlikely hero and a most reluctant “beast.” Packed with energetic drawings and plenty of action, this boisterous tale is just right for fantasy fans or anyone with a spirit of adventure. Based on the book by Cressida Cowell.”

Directed by Chris Sanders, and featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the film is scheduled to hit theaters on March 26th 2010.

Bolt Teaser Poster

I hear that the teaser trailer for Bolt will probably be attached to Pixar’s WALL-E, which hits theaters next week. Disney has just released the first theatrical teaser poster (as opposed to the teaser poster which has been on display at Disneyland) for the movie, which makes this that much more likely. But before you see the teaser trailer, lets take a look back at the project’s troubled history.

Originally titled American Dog, Chris Sanders was attached to write and direct. But Sander’s vison of the animated movie was a little “too bold”. His early concepts featured a one-eyed cat and an oversized radioactive rabbit (see the publicly released concept art below). Disney was supposedly looking for something a bit more “mainstream”. Funny, considering that Sanders is responsible for Disney’s last popular non-Pixar character/movie, Lilo & Stitch. Sanders was replaced by Chris Williams and Byron Howard, and the film was rewritten and retitled Bolt.

american dog

American Dog

And this is what Bolt looks like…

Bolt

Bolt

One must remember that Brad Bird replaced Jan Pinkava on Ratatouille, which was went through rewrites, and look how that turned out. But on the other hand, Ratatouille had Brad Bird, Bolt has Chris Williams, who was a writer on Mulan and The Emperor’s New Groove, and Byron Howard, who was a Supervising Animator on Chicken Little and Brother Bear. The characters look very generic, at least at first glance. Also, the casting of Miley Cyrus doesn’t instill confidence (click here to watch Miley explain her character and see a bit of unfinished footage from the film). I’m very interested to see the teaser trailer. With John Lasseter in charge as Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation, you have to put a little faith in the decision to take the project in a totally different direction.

Bolt Logo

The official plot synopsis follows: For super-dog Bolt (voiced by John Travolta), every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue – at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the canine star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet – a cross-country journey through the real world. Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and with the help of two unlikely traveling companions – a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman), and TV-obsessed hamster in a plastic ball named Rhino – Bolt discovers he doesn’t need superpowers to be a hero. Miley Cyrus (“Hannah Montana”) brings her vocal talents to the role of Penny, Bolt’s human co-star on the television series.

Bolt will hit theaters on November 26th, 2008 in Disney Digital 3-D™.

contributing sources: IMPAwards, blogspot, AICN, Animation Nation

Toy Story 3 Announced for 2009

Toy Story 3

Good news and bad news.

The Good News: Disney has announced that Pixar will release Toy Story 3 in 2009. And the Oscar nominated screenwriter behind Little Miss Sunshine is hard at work on the story.

The Bad News: Toy Story and Pixar mastermind and all-around animation god John Lasseter won’t be directing.
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