THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP
In 2017, the Japanese anime film Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! was released, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the popular “pocket monster” franchise. The movie, which was directed by Pokémon movie director veteran / anime director Kunihiko Yuyama followed the adventures of young Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum, Pikachu (Ash’s first Pokémon), and the adventures they have and share together; meeting new friends, enemies, and learning about the legend of legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh. I Choose You! is the first of new line of Pokémon movies, setting up an alternative continuity timeline to the main series and acts as a very loose retelling of the original Kanto League (Indigo League) saga of the series / show. The movie was released in Japan during the summer of 2017 and (partnering up with The Pokémon Company International and Fathom Events) received a limited theatrical special engagement screening across the US in November 2017 as well as be released in other international territories (UK, Australia, and France) following the US release. The film was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans / moviegoers, with many torn about the idea of the feature’s setting placed outside the already established Pokémon TV series timeline, while other praise the film’s nostalgia of the classic Generation I Pokémon (of which populate majority of the film). In the end, I Choose You! was able to profit from its theatrical release, making $38 million at the box office worldwide. Now, a year later, OLM / Wit Studio and director Tetuso Yajima present the next chapter in the super popular Japanese anime franchise with the movie Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us. Does this Pokémon movie find its stride or does it fail to find a “connection” in the popular franchise? Read more
Get ready to go back inside the minds of our “pets” as Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment releases the first character trailer for their upcoming film The Secret Life of Pets 2. View trailer below. Read more
NOT EVERY LEGEND IS A TALL TALE
In today’s cinematic world, animated features have become commonplace, with some of the major studios (and a few smaller ones) releases one or two titles a year; garnishing opportunity to tell colorful kid-friendly tales as well as to cash on the box office market of children’s entertainment. While Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Illumination Entertainment are the more prominent / juggernaut animation studios (that are currently out there), Warner Animation Group (WAG), the feature animation division of Warner Bros. Animation (as well as a subdivision of Warner Bros. Pictures), is quickly on the rise. Established back in January 2013, Warner Animation Group has become famously for The LEGO Movie back, which garnished huge critical and commercial acclaim back when it was released in 2014. Since then, the studio has built a franchise around The LEGO Movie, with releasing the two spin-off features (The LEGO Batman Movie and The LEGO Ninjago Movie) in 2017 as well as releasing a sequel feature (The LEGO Movie: The Second Part) being released in 2019. As WAG moved forward with their LEGO movie franchise, the studio has also continued to create other animated features, with the film titled Storks, which was released back in 2016. Now, the Warner Animation Group and directors Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Resig releases the second standalone feature for the studio with the movie Smallfoot. Does this second non-LEGO movie animated movie strike a chord with its targeted audience or is it simply a bland and boring cartoon film? Read more
A FUN (YET SLIGHTLY
In 2012, animated director / writer Genndy Tartakovsky (along with a story by Todd Durham) released the cartoon movie Hotel Transylvania. The film, which starred the voice talents of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, and many others, told the story of Count Dracula’s daughter Mavis and how she finds an unexpected love interest when a human finds his way to her father’s hotel for legendary monsters of legend, causing unrest with Dracula himself. While the film faced mixed reviews from critics, moviegoers (especially the demographic target) found an interest in the animated monster tale, cultivating in a box office number of roughly $358 million against its production budget of $85 million. Given the modest success it found, its sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 was released in 2015, which continued the misadventures of those motley monster gang (and Dracula’s growing family) and saw the return of many (if not all) voice talents returning to their posts. Much like the first film, Hotel Transylvania 2 was met with mixed thoughts and criticisms, but was still able to achieve a box office sum of $473 million (roughly) against its $80 million budget. Now, after three since the release of Hotel Transylvania 2, Sony Pictures Animation and director Genndy Tartakovsky release the second sequel in the franchise with the movie Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. Does this monster-filled threequel adventure finds its stride on the animated high seas or does this “summer vacation” installment fail to find its “monster groove”? Read more
New destinations, new threats, and a whole new “monster” adventure as Sony Pictures Animation releases the official trailer for their upcoming sequel Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. View trailer below. Read more
YOU BETTER BULL-IEVE IT!
While the powerhouse giants of Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Illumination Entertainment jostle with the yearly releases of animated features, Blue Sky Studios is somewhere trailing behind them; caught in their dusty cloud smoke of racing to the “success” finish line. Originally connected to 20th Century Fox as their parent studio (which is probably now owned by Disney since their recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox), Blue Sky Studios, after doing several small projects and TV commercials, released their first animated film Ice Age in 2002. The film itself, which starred the voice talents of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, and John Leguizamo, was generally well-received by the both critics and the general moviegoing public as it somewhat launched the studio into a contender in children’s animation motion pictures. Unfortunately, while trying to build an Ice Age franchise brand, its subsequent sequels (i.e. Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and Ice Age: Collision Course) were subpar to its original, lacking a wholesome narrative and feeling derivate to other animated film projects out there. Additionally, with the Ice Age franchise failing to be their flagship franchise, Blue Sky Studios did other animated features, including the more successful The Peanuts Movie, Rio (and its mediocre sequel Rio 2), Robots, Horton Hears a Who, and Epic. With the exception of The Peanuts Movie, most of Blue Sky Studios Non-Ice Age films were faced with mixed reviews and received a mediocre return at the box office, placing the animation studio behind the curve against its competition, which were producing either superior cartoon endeavors. Now, after a year of solid animated films (i.e. Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, and Coco), Blue Sky Studios (and 20th Century Fox) and director Carlos Saldanha present their newest animated film Ferdinand; based on the beloved children’s book by Munro Leaf. Does Blue Sky Studios make their mark on the 2017 year with their latest animated movie or does it fail to make a lasting impression? Read more
SEIZE YOUR MOMENT!
Pixar Animation Studios has been hailed as one of the premiere animated studios in all of Hollywood. Known for their popular big hits like Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Up, and Inside Out, Pixar has gain the reputation for its high quality of cartoon feature films that have gone beyond the standard status quo of children’s animated movies. From its gorgeous and intricately detailed animation, to the colorful cast of characters, to its thematically and heartwarming signature of a story and / or messages, Pixar has proven that (time and time again) that their animated features, while aimed for kids, are wholesome entertainment for both the young and the young at heart. Unfortunately, while Pixar’s creativity has always been fascinated and well-founded with each and every film they release, the past decade has seen the studio return to its popular hits and used them as “brands” for follow-up sequels with films like Toy Story 3, Monsters University, Finding Dory, and most recently with Cars 3. While there’s nothing terrible wrong with this (finding many of these features to be well-received by critics and moviegoers), it somewhat dulls the sharp originality that made Pixar what stand out from its competition. Now, set to release its second 2017 film, Pixar Animation (in association With Walt Disney) and director Lee Unkrich (as well as co-director Adrian Molina) present the nineteenth feature film from the powerhouse studio with the movie Coco. Does this newest Pixar film find a home within its illustrious predecessors or does it falter in capturing the studio’s signature magic? Read more
Get ready for a “monster vacation” as Sony Pictures Animation releases the official teaser trailer for their upcoming animated sequel Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. View trailer below. Read more
Family is forever (in this world and the next) as Disney and Pixar Animation Studios presents the final theatrical trailer for the upcoming animated feature Coco. View trailer below. Read more
FOR BRONIES ONLY
During the 80s, several comics and / or popular toy-based products evolved from their physical form and became cartoon television series, including Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universes, The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. One such byproduct soon emerged from this era, with the creation of My Little Pony. Created by Hasbro, My Little Pony was a toy line for girls, which became popular and eventually spawned a cartoon series titled My Little Pony. In a nutshell, the show followed adventures of the “Little Ponies” in Ponyland, a mystical land that plays home to all kinds of magical creatures. My Little Pony, which originally ran from 1984 to 1987, lasted for two seasons (65 episodes) and was even popular enough for a movie titled My Little Pony: The Movie to be theatrical released in 1986. Several years later, My Little Pony returned to the animated small screen with My Little Pony Tales, a new iteration of the popular toy horse-based brand. Originally airing on Disney Channel in 1992, the show, which lasted one season (26 episodes), showed its various cast of ponies in a more contemporary environment, seeing the pones characters (more anthropomorphized than the previous series) live in a town and doing daily things (i.e. going to school, run businesses, taking vacations, etc.). After that, while there were a few more animated installments (most of which were direct-to-video releases between 2003 to 2009), a new My Little Pony cartoon iteration eventually formed in 2010 with the series titled My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The show, which is set in the fictional land of Equestria, follows the adventures of the unicorn pony Twilight Sparkle and her friends (Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy) as the help others around Equestria while working out problems that arise within their own friendship. Surprisingly, the show was a massive success, with the show currently (as of 2017) in its seventh season (166 episodes) and cultivating a large fanbase, with some being adult fans of the show who have been officially dubbed as “Bronies”. Now, Lionsgate films (as well as Allspark Pictures and DHX Media) and director Jayson Thiessen present the theatrical movie to the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series, which is simply titled My Little Pony: The Movie (not to be confused with 1986 movie of the same name). Does this full length animated feature find its “friendship is magic” on the big screen or is it only for its “Bronies” fan base? Read more