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GOULDTHORPE | Stayin’ Alive (and Terrible)

In 1951, Walt Disney Pictures released Alice in Wonderland, a tale of absurdity and surrealism that wonderfully demonstrated the unlimited realities that animation can create. In 2010, Walt Disney Pictures released Alice in Wonderland, a live-action film that is kind of a sequel even though it doesn’t follow Through the Looking Glass. It transformed the Mad Hatter into an emotionally tortured Johnny Depp, crammed Alice into a cliched “chosen one” journey and tried to insert politics, war and worst of all real life into a world where fantasy is supposed to dominate. Needless to say, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 2010 remake, and it currently sits at 5.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. Nevertheless, it made enough money to warrant the remake of several Disney animated classics into live-action films. In the past six years, these remakes have included Cinderella, Maleficent and The Jungle Book (note that the 2016 Tarzan movie is not a Disney film, but a Warner Bros.

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg

GOULDTHORPE | DreamWorks Dreaming

One of my favorite animated films of all time is DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt, and one of my favorite animated sequences of all time is the opening song “Deliver Us.” Right from the beginning the movie delivers a powerful and visceral experience, adapting one of the most famous Biblical stories in a sincere way that captures its heart and essence. With beautiful music and visuals, it holds a special place in my heart. That’s why it pains me to admit that I have mixed feelings about DreamWorks Animation: I admire a lot of work that they’ve done, and I feel like they’ve impacted the industry in beneficial ways. At the same time, their missteps have been many, and I feel like they’ve been losing their edge for a long time. Given the fact that they’ve been making the news lately, I want to take this time to meditate on DreamWorks and their importance.

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A Shipwreck of a Film

The Wild Life, alternately titled Robinson Crusoe, is an animated film coming from Belgium. Illuminata and nWave Pictures produced it, while Studiocanal and Summit Entertainment distributed. As its Belgian title suggests, it’s loosely based off of the classic book Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I emphasize “loosely.” I must make clear that I’m not opposed to adaptations in principle if they’re done well. Heck, even the old Disney movies, which are infamous for botching up their source material, were at least good films in themselves that also acted as segues for people to experience the real stories later on.

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GOULDTHORPE | How the Sausage is Made

For those not aware, Sausage Party was produced by Nitrogen Studios and released August 12 that made history as the first CGI-animated feature to be rated R. My last column already laid out my thoughts about the movie, and I won’t bore you with spelling them out again. As a brief summary, I liked more than I thought I would… but it’s certainly not the kind of film I would normally watch, and I have no desire to see it again. That being said, I had hopes that the film would end up setting a new standard for the animation industry. Unfortunately, that hope has turned into fear as more details of the production have come out. First, my positive expectations.

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GUEST ROOM | Fish to Fur to Frankfurters: Animation in Summer 2016

The summer box office is the cinematic equivalent to a gladiator battle. Studios put out their best work and compete for millions of audience dollars. It is no different in the animation realm. Over the course of the past few months, we have seen a vast offering of animated releases from both major and minor players. Each studio took their best shot and put out some great movies … and some real stinkers.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAIKA STUDIOS

2016’s Animation Surge: Kubo and the Two Strings

First things first, I absolutely adore animation. In my eyes, it’s the most creative and culturally diverse medium in the film industry today, and if 2016 has proven anything to us, it’s that animated films are on a roll with hits like Zootopia, Finding Dory, Sausage Party and the upcoming Moana. Animation works so well for fictional stories because it’s able to make anything believable. It takes just as much time and money for an animator to draw a man walking down the street as it does for them to draw a dragon fighting a giant octopus. The only limits are the filmmakers’ imaginations.