Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Inside Out" Releases Designs and That's About It

Disney-Pixar's official Youtube released short videos of each of Inside Out's 5 main characters being their emotional selves, but it's done nothing to make me excited for this film.

Inside Out could be a great film, but Pixar's marketing strategy for the movie about the personification of emotions has been fundamentally flawed on several levels.

First, the teaser for the film spent very little time on the actual film and most of the time playing the "It's Pixar so it will be great!" card. This might have worked before controversial films like Cars 2 (which I personally liked as a silly "popcorn film") and Brave (which felt lackluster and overly hyped by the feminist film community), but now it feels like a plea for trust that Pixar hasn't earned the rights to lately. Overall, Pixar has one of the finest track records in the industry, but in more recent years Dreamworks and Disney Animation have been stepping up their game tremendously. Saying "It's Pixar!" has begun to feel outdated and desperate.

The other problem is that the characters just aren't enough to be a lovable marketing force in and of themselves. Films like WALL-E and the more recent Big Hero 6 were able to use a character as a main selling point because they were both likable and unique from anything we'd seen before. If you're been around animation for a while, you've seen personifications of emotions/the mind before in shows like The Fairly Odd Parents and Spongebob Squarepants.

Inside Out may be a great film, and I have high hopes for it with Pete Doctor at the helm, but Pixar hasn't shown us anything so far besides a plot that's been done before, one-dimensional characters, and "It's PIXAR" to go off of. Pixar's marketing strategy is to hold themselves up as the saving grace of the animated world when they just aren't anymore. Sooner or later, they'll have to realize they need to return to their roots by selling each film as its own work.

Story may be king at Pixar Animation Studios, but someone needs to make sure marketing gets the memo.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Peanuts" Trailer Looks Gorgeous

Few phrases can make a traditional animation fan more nervous than "CGI remake", but the trailer for Blue Sky's Peanuts film looks like the perfect homage to the classic cartoon strip.

The trailer showcases a style much like 2.5D platforms video games. We mostly see Snoopy and Woodstock walking along a flat plane, modeled similarly to the original drawings. The limited animation and perspective is charming, and the moments where the overall feel is broken benefit the story rather than feeling lazy.

Blue Sky is clearly out to honor Peanuts with the work they've shown so far. If the final product remains this charming throughout, we've got ourselves a real treat coming in 2015.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adventure Time: Bitter Sweets is a Mouthful

Tie-In Comic Review

Adventure Time: Bitter Sweets OGN

Adventure Time's ongoing line of original graphic novels makes the shift from a screen-toned, black and white work to a full-color book with its fourth installment. "Bitter Sweets" centers around Princess Bubblegum and her pyromaniac assistant, Peppermint Butler, as they go from kingdom to kingdom to recharge a set of gems that keep the Candy Kingdom alive and well. Just as things are going along swimmingly, PB finds out some of the kingdoms are keeping secrets from her that make her question her own capabilities as a princess.

"Bitter Sweets" expands greatly upon the Land of Ooo, featuring several new lands and princesses. In fact, it's a little too much for one graphic novel with large panels and little dialog. The story feels rushed more often than not, and you don't get much chance to connect with Princess Bubblegum's woes at the level the story wants you to. You're far too busy being thrown from one location to the next as the story progresses.

While "Bitter Sweets" fails to hit the emotional level its striving for, it has several laughs throughout. Peppermint Butler steals the show with his creepy demeanor and desire to set everything on fire. I could have read an entire book from Peppermint Butler's perspective as PB goes about her royal duties, and I may have had more fun if that had been the case. We've already seen Bubblegum going about her royal business in the show proper, and Adventure Time already has such an extensive world that putting the regular cast - even minor princesses - on the bus in favor of her characters takes up precious pagespace in what could have been an epic story if handled a little differently.

Also, while I'm aware this is very subjective, I prefered the black-and-white art style of the previous OGNs, especially alongside the manga-esque lineart that "Bitter Sweets" continues to use. It had a more unique vibe than the more generic shaded color in this piece.

With an awkwardly paced story that may have served better for Adventure Time's first original prose novel, "Bitter Sweets" is the weakest installment in the OGN line to date. That isn't to say it's bad, but it lacks a certain charm the previous volumes had.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Big Hero 6's Baymax Press Interviews Masterpost

Disney invited various press organizations to interview Baymax from Big Hero 6, under the proviso that they do so completely in-character; mentioning the film or mentioned Big Hero 6 as a work of fiction was prohibited. 

The result is a pile of hilarious videos scattered across the internet that I've been trying to bring together into one playlist. Descriptions of what I've found so far are available after the jump. Feel free to drop any others you know of in the comments.

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