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Dinosaur schminosaur. So this is where all the animals came from? Check out this funky, amusing, creative animated short film titled Shmevolution below. Made by Chicago-based animator Nolan Downs as his final graduation project from DePaul University, the short plays with the concept of evolution showing how creatures change into different forms. The story follows the life of one strange little organism as it evolves through an even stranger land. I also like the subplot of the black death being transferred by the mosquito, killing off a few creatures. I'm now a fan of Downs' work, I hope he continues to make more shorts. Dive in.
"Shun adores baseball. Only eggs defeat him." Here we go! Japanese animation house Studio Ponoc has debuted three 30-second individual trailers for their new short films as part of their first Anthology feature. These short films will be released in Japan later this month together in one extended feature, Ponoc's latest offering since Mary and the Witch's Flower. This new series is titled "Ponoc Short Films Theatre", and this first set is titled Modest Heroes. Ponoc recruited three of Ghibli's finest veteran animators to make these three short films - Kanini & Kanino directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Life Ain't Gonna Lose (aka Samurai Egg) directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, and Invisible directed by Akihiko Yamashita. The trailers finally give us a better glimpse at the stories & characters in these shorts, and I'm still crazy excited to watch them. The Invisible short looks like the best, in my opinion, but they all have some serious charm.
"There's way too much injustice in the world… together we can fix it!" Netflix has debuted an official trailer for an animated sci-fi adventure comedy titled Next Gen, the first feature film made by filmmakers Kevin Adams & Joe Ksander. Next Gen is about how a friendship with a top-secret robot turns a lonely girl's life into a thrilling adventure as they take on bullies, evil bots, and a scheming madman. Sounds like a good time. Featuring Charlyne Yi as the voice of Mai, along with the voices of John Krasinski, David Cross, Michael Peña, Jason Sudeikis, and Constance Wu. I wasn't expecting much out of this, but dang, this really looks great. The animation is excellent, and the story looks cliche but very enjoyable to watch anyway.
"This girl can drive!" Disney has revealed a new 60-second sneak preview (aka TV trailer) for the animated sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. The footage introduces us to the "Slaughter Race", and the character of Shank, the gritty, leather-clad street-racing star voiced by Gal Gadot, of course. John C. Reilly returns as the voice of Ralph, the "bad guy" who is really a good guy, from the first Wreck-It Ralph released in 2012. This time he follows Vanellope, voiced again by Sarah Silverman, into the internet and there they meet the "netizens", getting in all kinds of trouble and, as the title says, they wind up breaking the internet. The full cast features Taraji P. Henson, Kelly Macdonald, Kristen Bell, Mandy Moore, Alan Tudyk, Jane Lynch, Idina Menzel, Jack McBrayer, and Jodi Benson. This trailer also has a fun moment with Princess Merida, the main character from Pixar's Scottish fairytale Brave. Buckle up.
"Who are you? Where are you?" Another lovely short film to watch when you have a free moment. Contact is an animated short made by Katy Wang, who designed, directed, and animated the entire film. Wang just graduated from Kingston University's School of Art last year, and this is her final graduation project, now available online after playing at numerous festivals in 2017. Contact is about a lonely, stranded astronaut who finally makes contact with another person. It's yet another touching parable about love and loneliness and connection. I really dig the animation style and the simplicity of the film, one of my favorite discoveries.
"We're going to be safe here, nice and warm." Warner Bros has debuted one final, official trailer for their animated movie Smallfoot, arriving in theaters this fall. The story follows a "bright, young" Yeti whose life changes when he discovers something that shouldn't exist—a human. This discovery throws the simple Yeti community into an uproar over what else might be out there in the big world beyond their own snowy village, in a story about friendship, courage and the joy of discovery. Channing Tatum stars as the voice of Migo; the cast includes Zendaya, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Jimmy Tatro, Ely Henry, and LeBron James. This seems like a fun movie, but the story looks similar to every other story about overcoming differences & learning to be friends (e.g. How to Train Your Dragon). Still might be good.
"You can't trust people you meet at night." GKids has released an official US trailer for a wacky, super fun Japanese anime titled The Night is Short, Walk On Girl, which premiered at film festivals last year and is getting a US release this August. The film is the latest from Japanese filmmaker Masaaki Yuasa, who also made the musical Lu Over the Wall opening this year as well. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl is set over the course of one weird, "insanely long" night in Kyoto, following a teen girl only known as "The Girl with Black Hair" (or "Otome") as she experiences the nightlife. She's also pursued by a boy named Senpai, who comes up with awkward ways to bump into her. The Japanese voice cast features Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, Ryuji Akiyama, Kazuya Nakai, Yuko Kaida, and Hiroyuki Yoshino. I'm not the biggest fan of this animation style, but this just looks like so much amusing, happy fun. Enjoy!
"Am I crazy, or is your brother indestructible?" Netflix has launched the first official trailer for an animated adventure comedy titled Duck Duck Goose, which is a play on the name of the children's chase game also known as "Duck Duck Goose". The story is about a pompous bachelor goose who is forced to accompany two little lost ducklings as they journey south for the winter. Jim Gaffigan stars as the voice of Peng, joined by Zendaya, Lance Lim, Greg Proops, Reggie Watts, Natasha Leggero, Diedrich Bader, Stephen Fry, Craig Ferguson, Jennifer Grey, Rick Overton, and Carl Reiner. This looks cute and slightly amusing, but definitely for kids. Plus we all know how the story will play out and all the lessons he'll learn.
"For 53 years, Christmas has brought me nothing but misery. I know just what to do…!" Watch out for that Grinch! Universal & Illumination have debuted another fun new international trailer for Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, their new animated take on the classic Christmas story about the lovable green grump the Grinch. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch. The rest of the voice cast still hasn't been revealed yet. "The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl's generous holiday spirit." The exact same classic Dr. Seuss story as we've seen told many times before. They're still selling this with all the extra goofy footage and cheesy Illumination humor, but hopefully it's much more entertaining beyond all that. The only thing about this movie that excites me is Cumberbatch voicing the Grinch, that's all. But maybe I'm just being a Grinch… What about everyone else?
"Wonderland is now open!!" Paramount Animation has released the very first teaser trailer for their latest creation, an animated adventure movie titled Wonder Park taking us to a magical amusement park called Wonderland. There aren't many details released about the story, other than it involves a "wildly creative girl named June" who brings this amusement park to life, somehow. This seems like it's a mash-up of Zootopia and Tomorrowland, with the magic park and that world, plus all these talking animals. Brianna Denski voices June, and the primary cast includes Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, John Oliver, Mila Kunis, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Norbert Leo Butz, and Ken Hudson Campbell. I will admit that this looks very cool, but I'm still not sure what the plot even is. We'll know more soon, I'm sure. Enjoy.
"He's got more teeth than brains." Netflix has debuted an official trailer for the animated White Fang, an updated take on the classic Jack London novel. This "animated feature film is a touching, adventure-filled tale about the life of White Fang, a wolf dog who's life unfolds from being a puppy in the wild to dog-fighting in Fort Yukon." The film is made by a Spanish-Luxembourgish filmmaker and it originally comes from an animation company in France, which is why the original release title is Croc-Blanc. This US release from Netflix features an English-speaking voice cast with Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Paul Giamatti, and Eddie Spears. And it's already available now to stream if you want to watch it. The watercolor-esque animation style for this works well for animals, but it makes the humans look so jagged. Still might be good.
"You'll be carried away by these modest heroes." Oh my goodness!! Studio Ponoc, the animation studio in Japan that is essentially the spiritual successor to Studio Ghibli, has released the first official trailer for an animated anthology of short films. These short films will be released in Japan this August, their next offering since making Mary and the Witch's Flower (which just opened in the US earlier this year and is available now on iTunes). This new series is titled "Ponoc Short Films Theatre", and this first set of three shorts is titled Modest Heroes. Ponoc recruited three of Ghibli's finest veteran animators to make these three short films - Kanini & Kanino directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Life Ain't Gonna Lose (aka Samurai Egg) directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, and Invisible directed by Akihiko Yamashita. In addition, Japan's Kaela Kimura performs the Modest Heroes theme song, which plays at the end of the anthology feature. Ahhh! This looks amazing, I love everything about it, and I can't wait to see these shorts for myself.