Animated Feature Watch

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An animated week at the movies.

Meet The Robinsons and TMNT are expected to be #2 and #4 at the nation’s box office this weekend. More than one animated film in the top five is always pleasant surprise – and a good sign for the industry.

Two other highly anticipated animated feature films, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon and The Simpsons Movie, are nearing their release dates.

The readers at Ain’t It Cool News seem to generally agree with me about the qualities of the upcoming Aqua Teen movie.

Meanwhile, Nikki Finke has posted some details from a work-in-progress/test screening of The Simpsons Movie held in Portland last week. I’ll happily wait to see the finished film before jumping to conclusions, but that one sounds like a winner to me.


  • http://mitchworks.blogspot.com Mitch Kennedy

    I got to see TMNT this weekend. Despite the terrible story and cliche human designs (April = generic feature female, Jones = Tarzan, Baddie = Mr. Incredible), I think it’s awesome that this American CG film is darker and more intense than the other films out there. Instead of little fuzzy mocrapped animals, there’s big slimy animated angry violent emotional fighting animals! It at least points CG features into a direction that can lead to more dramatic films, hopefully for a more mature audience.

  • http://doubleben.blogspot.com/ Emmett Goodman

    I have just seen MEET THE ROBINSONS. I think it is a good movie, but not a great movie. I can definitally see John Lasseter’s input in the movie.

    There were two trailers for animated features before the movie. First there is SURF’S UP: another movie about penguins which I have no interest in. Then RATATOUILLE: Pixar’s newest venture with Brad Bird, which already looks to be a fantastic piece.

    I have no immediate interest in TMNT, although having it and ROBINSONS on top of the Box Office is always exciting for us animators and animation enthusiasts. The AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE movie I need some time to decide, but the SIMPSONS movie is bound to make some big news, no matter what.

    All in all, that makes six animated features for this year so far, which is already a note of excitement, even if some of the movies are not up to everyone’s expectations.

  • Bill Field

    Jerry – Do you know if Adult Swim is actually going to air the movie tonight or is it just an elaborate April Fools Joke? My money’s on it being a Fake Out.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com jerry

    Mitch – I saw TMNT this weekend (at the Asifa Hollywood screening) and maybe because I had such low expectations for it, I ended up enjoying it more than I thought. It’s a good comic book movie – nothing more – and nothing to be ashamed of.

    Bill – You win the bet. The ATHF stunt on Adult Swim tonight is an April Fools prank. They plan to start showing the film and the picture will gradually get smaller and smaller, until 15 minutes later, the screen will go black. Honestly, that will be better than the film itself.

  • Bill Field

    Jerry, I’ve gotten 4 folks that were going to see it to think twice – why waste 8 bucks? I like the series as a whole, but in all these years, you usually find something redeeming about a series or feature or short. Your reaction to this film tells me “Be Afraid – Be Verrry Afraid”!
    You oughta keep a tote board of folks you save from this abomination.

  • http://www.ghiblicon.blogspot.com Daniel Thomas MacInnes

    It’s nice that more animation films are cracking the box office. Now let’s see some movies with real quality. These are little more than corporate products, and their audiences are drawn on the strength of name-branding. Wouldn’t it be nice to see something that didn’t exist to sell toys?

    The continued success of animation at the multiplex could open doors for a wider content, but it could also solidify the stodgy, stale formulaic tripe the major studios are sacking us with today. Thank goodness for the animation shorts, which are proving to be far more creatively fertile.

    As far as the Ninja Turtles supposedly going “dark,” well, that’s more wish fullfillment than anything. Painting a CGI cartoon in XBox-styled greys and silvers and blacks does not a “dark, adult” movie make. These are still glorified toy commercials aimed at 12-year-olds. To pretend otherwise is absurd and childish. When an American animation film approaches the territory of, say…Horus, Prince of the Sun, then we’ll definitely be getting somewhere.

  • http://coyotecoyote.livejournal.com/ David McGuire

    Thinking the ATHF movie is a bad movie isn’t the same thing as agreeing with your review!

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com jerry

    David – uhh, yes it is.

    The AICN readers said the film was “Awful”, “sub-par”, and “it would have been nice if the movie had made at least a little bit of sense”. And these are people who are apparently fans of the show!

    I think they are agreeing with me.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    I’d even call 300 a half-animated movie, ala Roger Rabbit. I think the Motion Picture Academy is going to have to rewrite their guidelines regarding what is an animated movie and what isn’t.

    Somehow I didn’t make it out to see TMNT this weekend, possibly due to being over 40.

  • http://toonamir.blogspot.com Amir

    One thing that bothers me in many CG films: Details (Textures, simulation, lighting) jump to your eyes before the performance and expression. In TMNT Splinter’s fur stands out much more than his eyes, and the turtles’ shells bend more than their faces when they emote. Environments intended to provoke emotion (Like a Dark Alley) end up being eye candy, due to how crisp the texture and lighting look.
    Other than that I liked the flick.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    The darkness of TMNT doesn’t come from it’s pallette.

    SPOILER

    There is a sequence where Raph fights Leonardo. At first, it looks like it’s all in good fun, by at the end of the sequence, it looks as though Raph might really want to kill Leo, or at least stab him a few times. That was way darker than anything in any of the animated or film incarnations of the Turtles to date.

    To the Brew readers, PLEASE don’t write off the TMNT film without seeing it. It is much more than a toy commercial. Dismissing it as such without actually seeing it is a disservice to the artists involved in it’s creation. I saw “TMNT” and “Meet the Robinsons”, and I actually enjoyed “TMNT” more.

  • http://bellsouthpwp.net/l/a/lara6281/intro.html Inkan1969

    Not exactly, Jerry. They’re showing the whole movie, but when they finished the opener ( with them fighting the poodle, which has been online for a while ) they shrank the movie to thumbnail size. Maybe somebody can blow the picture up and put it on youtube. :-) I’m an ATHF fan and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie in theaters. Jerry may be spot on about the movie, and the last couple of seasons have been uninspired, but I’d like to see for myself. I thought the poodle scene was amusing at the least. :-) So long as Adult Swim never makes “Perfect Hair Forever: the Movie”…

    I saw TMNT this week. I’ve NEVER seen a Ninja Turtles anything before: no manga, no cartoon, nothing. Even so, I found the movie entertaining fluff, better than its reviews. The two big fight scenes were well staged, and I liked the moral ambiguity of the villains. It played exactly like a Toonami Marvel Comics movie: all gloom and doom ( not as much humor as I was expecting ). But April O’Neil really needs to see somebody about her anorexia problem. :-P

    I’m seeing “Meet the Robinsons” on Easter.

  • http://bellsouthpwp.net/l/a/lara6281/intro.html Inkan1969

    Oh, I forgot to say what I originally wanted to say: Over at rec.arts.anime.misc there are STILL people who think the movie doesn’t exist, that it’s an Adult Swim hoax, and that Jerry was in on the comspiracy. Can you believe it? :-)

  • http://mitchworks.blogspot.com Mitch Kennedy

    Floyd Bishop — Yea yea that’s what I’m talking about the movie being darker! That scene was awesome and had some natural acting!

  • James Kormann

    I saw TMNT this past Thursday and have to say that I definitely enjoyed it. As far as the Aqua Teen movie goes; I think I’ll pass on this one. I do like the show, however the movie just seems to be just a way for them to do the show with more swearing and violence. I’ll just wait for the DVD release and borrow it from somebody.

  • http://benbalistreri.blogspot.com Ben Balistreri

    I saw “Meet the Robinsons” in 3D and it’s beautiful! I felt like I was looking at an old 3D Viewmaster reel. They also show a 50′s Donald Duck cartoon before the film in 3D. Seeing Eyvind Earle backgrounds in 3D is freaking crazy!

  • Bill Field

    The one Adult Swim series that could make the leap to the big screen,
    because of its expansive plot, which moves well, amid some of the funniest dialog- is……Metalocalypse. The funniest aspect is this 5 member band is destined to become the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse. The Vatican, The Military and The Senate are all watching the situation as the band Dethklok, cluelessly makes anything a hit record– EVEN a coffee jingle. ATHF started the feature ball rolling-lets hope the ball keeps going, even if this first attempt is less than stellar.

  • http://hitlersbrain.deviantart.com R

    Props to Bill Field! A Dethklok movie would be awesome, but I doubt that would happen..

    I saw TMNT soon as I could (tho I’m a turtle geek so I guess my opinion counts for little), and I wasn’t disappointed other than with April’s weird design and the somewhat mellower Casey Jones than usual.

    Meet The Robinsons looks annoying- as a BBC review said, anybody over the age of ten is likely to find it loud and irritating. Fair enough. I can sort of see how they’ve tried to improve it, but Snidely Whiplash using a dinosaur to capture that kid from Stuart Little doesn’t interest me.

  • http://siskavard.blogspot.com Corey

    Just saw Meet the Robinsons & was impressed, but I was most excited about the classic Mickey short before the movie, which caught me totally off-guard. I’m not old enough to remember seeing Disney & Warner shorts in theaters so this was such a delight for me. I hope they plan to do this for every release.

  • Matt Wilson

    Adult Swim’s prank was funny — not as funny as interrupting Saturday’s programming with poorly subtitled VHS bootlegs of one of their original series — but definitely amusing to watch the aftermath. They also thrive off of negative publicity so if you want to thwart the Aqua Teen movie you probably should just avoid bringing attention to it.

    I saw Meet the Robinsons. I’m still looking for the 20 minutes that are inexplicably missing from the film. Act 2 felt about as short as a B plot in a television sitcom. Looked real nice, but was a chaotic mess of a film.

    It’s funny because it’s the type of film that Pixar would love to make, and you can really tell the difference between a Pixar film and a Disney film. Something just seems off about the movie the entire time, whether it’s the inconsistent pacing, the forced exposition, or the complete abandonment of character for the sake of “moving forward.” The quote at the end made my eyes roll so far they fell out of my head.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    What have they done to April O’ Neal in TMNT? I was a Turtles fan as a kid, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought April was hot in the original series. In this new film she looks anorexic and her hair is all tied back. What happened to the curvy babe she once was? Now she looks like a Incredibles reject. Boo!

    Otherwise, I haven’t seen any of these films yet. I’ll wait for DVD rentals. The Simpsons, however, is most likely gonna be a event that I can’t miss out on.

  • http://bellsouthpwp.net/l/a/lara6281/intro.html Inkan1969

    Imagine: “The Venture Brothers: The Movie!” :-) I think that’s the Adult Swim show ( It’s NOT made by Williams Street, right? ) that would work best as a feature film. It’s the AS show that has the characters with the most depth. Plus its artistic style is detailed and eyecatching. It would look great on a big screen.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    GagaMan: You do know that TMNT was based on a comic-book (which I have), right? Though I have yet to see the movie (I’m already glad to hear that this is a more accurate portrayal of its original comic-book roots), I like how April looks in the film. (Yeah, I kinda have a fetish for skinny girls.) Despite the “anorexia,” this is a closer portrayal of the original “cosmopolitan” April. (The cartoon version, as pretty as she was, was nothing like the comic version.)

  • Hooper

    I want to catch “…Robinsons” this week sometime. But I dunno. That shot of the herky – jerky, plastic – looking, weightless, moves – too – fast dancing grandma is exactly what I can’t stand about the (curiously similar) old lady from “Madagascar”, and what “Hoodwinked” looked like from its trailer and commercials(I’ll admit to not seeing the movie). And that’s what I hate about *most* CGI in general (to reiterate: herky – jerky, plastic – looking, weightless, moves too fast).
    “TMNT”…like “Hoodwinked”…just looks more like a video game than a feature film.

  • photoginit

    I would love to see a Venture Bros. movie. I think out of all the AS shows that would make the best film. The series has great character design and they have created really cool characters with interesting back stories. The 2nd season finale was amazing. I think they could def. come up with an awesome story for a movie.
    I saw Meet The Robinsons over the weekend and I liked the movie. It was a step in the right direction. However, the 2nd act did seems sorta rushed. Did anyone notice the new Disney Animation logo?

  • Kelly Tindall

    I think my favorite thing about TMNT was the ratcheted-up emotional intensity between Leonardo and Raphael. I have serious doubts that there’s any resolution to their bad feelings, even towards the end of the film.

    I’m very glad there was that drama in there, because nobody (not even the ‘villain!’) does anything evil the entire time. Lots of action, no violence.

  • Bill Field

    You all make good arguments for the Venture Brothers, it is the one AS series I’ve bought regularly on Itunes, the 2part season finale was a mini-feature to me- they cram so much story into each show 30 minutes are like an hour of anything else. I loved the Tick– which is the previous history of Publick and Hammer’s TV resume, but Venture Brothers has lonnnng cleared that hurdle of greatness…
    How about an AS double feature ala Grindhouse? both shows lend themselves to that gritty horrific thrill concept.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    John Paul Cassidy: Yeah, I’m aware of the comics, but I’ve never read them. I just have fond memories of the old cartoon, even if it was a lot more unfaithful to the comic than the new stuff is. Oh, and meeting them at Disney World.

  • http://chrisblogs.wordpress.com Chris

    “Oh, and meeting them at DisneyWorld.”

    Michelangelo used a stamp to sign my autograph book… I remember feeling disappointed by the ninja that could not handle a pen.