Features
Animated wonders


Date Posted: 04 April 2011

The initial days of hand-drawn traditional animation popularised by Walt Disney Studios in the early 1920's, has gone fairly a long way since. With the breakthrough of computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology, the world of animation was changed forever in 1995 when Pixar made "Toy Story", the first ever feature film done completely with CGI. The rising numbers of CGI animated films over the years, stands as proof as a world of visionary cinematography and endless possibilities were unleashed. Fortunately 2011 does not serve to disappoint animation fans, as it promises to be great a year for a slew of animated movies, especially with the 3D theatrical line-up this year that comprises of highly anticipated sequels, or much buzzed about originals.


Comedian Russell Brand voices the mischievous bunny E.B., while James Marsden plays Fred, an unemployed slacker in "H

1. Hop (March)
Starring: Russell Brand, Hugh Laurie, James Marsden, Laurie Metcalf, Kaley Cuoco, David Hasselhoff, Hank Azaria and Mel Brooks

Blending state of the CGI animation with live action, "Hop" is a fun comedy about the teenage son of the Easter Bunny, E.B. voiced by Russell Brand ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall"). On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves Easter Island for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. He encounters Fred (James Marsden), an out-of-work slacker with his own lofty goals, who accidentally hits E.B. with his car. Feigning injury, E.B. manipulates Fred into providing him shelter at his family home and Fred finds himself stuck with the world's worst houseguest. With Russell Brand's British rock star persona, and James Marsden proven comedic capability in "Sex Drive", it seems that the pairing of the duo for this animated feature will be far from disappointing.


The colourful characters of "Rio" set against the lush backdrop and vibrant culture of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2. Rio (April)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jemaine Clement, Leslie Mann, Tracy Morgan, Will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, Jane Lynch, Robin Thicke and Neil Patrick Harris
From the makers of the popular "Ice Age" movies, comes "Rio" from 20th Century Fox that tells a tale of a rare blue macaw named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), who discovers that he is not the last of his kind when he learns that a female macaw, Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway), is living in Brazil. Adventure ensues when Blu leaves his comfy cage in Minnesota to meet Jewel, but it is far from love at first sight between the two when they end up kidnapped instead. This 3D feature looks like it could be a big family favourite this April with its impressive all-star cast that also includes Jamie Foxx, George Lopez and Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am, to name a few. The movie marks "The Social Network" star Jesse Eisenberg's first trip into the recording booth and a more experienced Hathaway, who has lent her voice to 2002's "The Cat Returns" and 2005's "Hoodwinked". Carlos Saldanha of the "Ice Age" franchise was trusted to direct this animated feature that is said to be more musical than his usual comedy-infused style.


Hayden Panettiere will be replacing Anne Hathaway as Red for this 3D sequel of the classic story.

3. Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil (April)
Starring: Hayden Panettiere, David Ogden Stiers, Patrick Warburton, Glenn Close, Andy Dick, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, Brad Garrett, Bill Murray and Jack Black
From the team that brought you "Hoodwinked" in 2005, this slapstick portrayal of Red Riding Hood, finds our heroine, Red (Hayden Panettiere), training with a mysterious undercover group called the Sisters of the Hood. Red is forced to cut her training short when she gets an urgent call from Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), who returns as head of the secret Happily Ever After Agency, aka the HEA. Turns out, a wicked witch (Joan Cusack) has abducted two innocent children, Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler), and Nicky desperately needs Red for the rescue mission. This sequel will see Granny (Glenn Close), and the rest of the gang including the ever clueless Wolf (Patrick Warburton) along with his over-caffeinated little partner, Twitchy (Cory Edwards), joining Red to restore the peace of the forest. This re-imagined 3D fairytale with pop culture references and good-natured glee will bring viewers on a hilarious swashbuckling adaptation of the classic tale.


Aside from the all-star cast, also look out for Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michelle Yeoh in this martial arts action feature.

4. Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom (May)
Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Gary Oldman

Following the huge success of the first movie, the much beloved pot-bellied panda is back in this sequel which will once again feature the voices of Jack Black (Po), Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Dustin Hoffman (Shifu), Jackie Chan (Monkey), Seth Rogen (Mantis), Lucy Liu (Viper) and David Cross (Crane). The story follows Po who is now living his dream as the Dragon Warrior along with the Furious Five. But it is not long until chaos ensues with the emergence of a formidable villain (a peacock voiced by Gary Oldman) who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China. It is then up to Po and the Furious Five to journey across China to face the threat and vanquish it. The previous movie was very well received by China and praised by critics for its accurate martial art depiction and well developed characters. We won't be surprised to see this 3D animated feature being a hit yet again just like its predecessor that brought in a whopping gross revenue of US$631m worldwide.


Watch Pooh bear and his pals go on an exciting new adventure in Hundred Acre Wood.

5. Winnie the Pooh (July)
Starring: John Cleese, Jim Cummings, Tom Kenny, Craig Ferguson, Travis Oates, Bud Luckey

Disney's theatrical animated feature of 2011 is "Winnie the Pooh", a reboot of the story that uniquely uses traditional animation to bring this endearing classic back to the big screen. The last time Disney used traditional animation was for "The Princess and the Frog" in 2009 which was critically acclaimed, earning the movie 3 Academy Award nominations. This feature is also expected to please audiences that remember the honey-loving bear and his friends in Hundred Acre Wood. The movie is an adaptation of five of the original books by A. A. Milne and features all the favourite Winnie the Pooh characters including Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo and Christopher Robin.


Lightning McQueen teams up with his best friend Mater for an international adventure as they go up against the world's fastest cars.

6. Cars 2 (August)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Issacs, Joe Mantegna, Tony Shalhoub and Bruce Campbell

Also releasing a sequel this year is Pixar, with "Cars 2" zooming onto cinemas. Although a follow-up to one of the studio's least popular entries, this CGI movie (also in 3D) is still sure to be a huge hit at the box office. Pixar has never made a bad movie and this time race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) travels overseas with tow truck Mater to compete in the World Grand Prix. Along the way, they get caught up in an international spy mission through Europe and Japan and meet new characters, including Finn McMissile (Michael Caine). In typical Pixar fashion, there will also be an animated short attached to "Cars 2" and this will feature the characters from "Toy Story 3", including Woody and Buzz Lightyear.


This would be the first ever Smurfs movie that's a hybrid of CGI and live-action since its appearance in 1958 as a comic strip.

7.The Smurfs (September)
Starring: Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, Katy Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Sofía Vergara, Jayma Mays, Kenan Thompson and Jeff Foxworthy

Audiences everywhere are in for a good time as the Smurfs make the leap from comics and television to the big screen in this CGI/live-action hybrid adaptation. The story begins in the Middle Ages, when an evil wizard named Gargamel (Hank Azaria) discovers the Smurf's village. He chases them into a sinister looking forest that houses a magical portal, which transports them into Central Park in New York at present day. Confused and mischievous, they take shelter with a married couple (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays) and try to find a way back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down. This 3D feature will also see pop-star Katy Perry playing the blond Smurfette in her debut voice role.


A spin off from the "Shrek" series, "Puss in Boots" will follow the adventures of Puss voiced by Antonio Banderas.


8. Puss in Boots (November)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris

From Dreamworks studio, comes a "Shrek" spin off that will trail the wide-eyed ginger cat that charmed audiences with his first appearance in "Shrek 2". "Puss in Boots", will star Antonio Banderas once again as the title role and Salma Hayek as Kitty, Puss' love interest. Swords will cross and hearts will be broken in this fairy tale adventure that has a dash of "Zorro" to its flair. It is a swashbuckling ride through Puss's early years as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and the street-savvy Kitty to steal the famed golden-egg-laying Goose. This 3D animated film is directed by Chris Miller of "Shrek the Third" and will be produced by famed Mexican visionary Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy", "Pan's Labyrinth").


"The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn" is the first in the series of 3D motion capture films based on the iconic character.

9.The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (November)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Tony Curran

Thrilling and wildly funny, the original Tintin stories chronicle the escapades of a junior reporter who has a nose for a good story and a talent for attracting trouble, which more often than not imperils his life. This 3D motion capture animation is directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings"). It stars Jamie Bell ("Jumper", "The Eagle") as Tintin, the intrepid young reporter and Daniel Craig ("Quantum of Solace"), who leaves his Bond persona aside as the nefarious Red Rackham. The movie will follow Tintin and his friends on a wild treasure hunt after discovering directions to a sunken ship commanded by Captain Haddock's ancestor. With big Hollywood names involved in this big screen adaptation, the product is anticipated to be a huge success as it is already confirmed to be the first of a planned trilogy that will follow the iconic character created by Georges Remi in 1929.


Elijah Wood and Robin Williams reprise their roles in the upcoming "Happy Feet" sequel. Also joining them is pop-star Pink who plays Gloria.

10. Happy Feet 2 (November)
Starring: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Pink, Elizabeth Daily, Carlos Alazraqui, Johnny A. Sanchez, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon

5 years after its predecessor, the 3D sequel for the Academy Award-winning animated smash hit, "Happy Feet 2" will bring audiences back to the magnificent landscape of Antarctica, reuniting us with the adorable tap-dancing penguin, Mumble (Elijah Wood), the love of his life, Gloria (Pink), and their old friends Ramon and Lovelace (Robin Williams). Brittany Murphy was supposed to reprise her role as Gloria before her untimely death in 2009, however producers then brought on pop-star Pink to voice Gloria and to contribute an original score for the movie. The story will follow Mumble and Gloria who now have a son of their own, Erik (Elizabeth Daily), who is struggling to find his own particular talent in the Emperor Penguin world. But things are not as peaceful as they seem as new dangers are looming ahead, bringing the penguins in for another adventure that will be sure to tickle the audience's funny bone.

 

Writer: Naseem Randhawa




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