Posts Tagged ‘animated short’

REVIEW – Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

December 4, 2018 Leave a comment
Directed by: Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers
Produced by: Roy Conli
Screenplay by: Jac Schaeffer
Edited by: Jeremy Milton, Jesse Averna
Cinematography by: Alessandro Jacomini, Cory Rocco Florimonte
Music by: Christophe Beck, Jeff Morrow
Songs by: Elyssa Samsel, Kate Anderson
Starring: Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Chris Williams, John de Lancie
Year: 2017

So, for Christmas this year, I decided to do something a bit different. Instead of Christmas films – the like of which I feel I’ve exhausted all good possibilities over the past 7 years – I’m going to be reviewing… Christmas shorts! Easier, quicker, and, for the most part, uncharted territory on this blog, with a couple exceptions. Read more…

REVIEW: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

October 19, 2013 3 comments
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownDirected by: Bill Melendez
Produced by: Bill Melendez; Lee Mendelson (executive producer)
Written by: Charles M. Schulz
Edited by: Robert T. Gillis
Camera by: Nick Vasu
Music by: Vince Guaraldi
Starring: Christopher Shea, Peter Robbins, Sally Dryer, Kathy Steinberg, Gail Defaria, Ann Altieri, Lisa DeFaria, Bill Melendez, Glenn Mendelson
Based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
Year: 1966


I was originally going to write a review of The Mist next (and it’s still coming), but, given a recent bout of some emotional issues I had this week, I decided instead to do something out of left field and pick something a little more optimistic and positive – something a little more lighthearted (which The Mist is absolutely not). So, yeah, this is totally not an actual movie so much as a TV special. I don’t normally do TV shows – the closest I’ve come so far are TV movies, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Ballet Shoes – but I’m making an exception for this one. It’s not so much a TV show, anyway. Let’s just call it a short film and let that be that, eh? Besides, if you were feeling as down as I was this week, you’d probably be thankful for something a little more spirited than the standard horror fair, now wouldn’t you? Read more…

Review: “The Animatrix”

August 23, 2013 1 comment

The AnimatrixThe Matrix has remained one of the most influential action films ever created. Naturally, its financial success and popularity with critics and audiences meant that Warner Bros. would most certainly capitalize on their new property. The lead up to the sequels saw a big marketing push, leading to plenty of tie-in products, such as Nokia’s cellphones that resembled the ones in the films and PowerAde’s infamous product placement. This also meant that the Wachowskis gained a lot of clout with studio execs, who seem to still think that the sequels’ poor critical reception should be ignored in the name of hoping that, one day, the duo would once again deliver a Matrix­-level franchise for them.

Not all of the marketing for the films consisted solely of cynical product placements, however. Though it was a complete disaster, the video game Enter the Matrix was still one of the first efforts on behalf of filmmakers to synergize the film and video game mediums and tell an even bigger story than you would get from having just seen the films, a tradition that would continue with The Matrix Online, which functioned as a direct, totally canonical follow up to the final film, The Matrix Revolutions.

Similarly, the Wachowskis, who were influenced heavily by anime, also commissioned various animation studios to produce a series of shorts that would tie into their universe – some of them directly into the movies, others giving us an even greater perspective outside the narrative of how Neo would fulfill the prophesy of The One. The resulting collection of nine shorts (eight, if you wish to see the single two-parter as a whole work) was The Animatrix, a collection that was deemed so essential to the overall Matrix narrative that it’s included in every iteration of the films’ box sets, including the cheap-o barebones 4-film collections you see on Walmart shelves every now and then.

Below you will find eight mini-reviews of the shorts, each of them being rated and reviewed on their own merits, followed, in the end, by an overall rating of the complete Animatrix anthology.

Please note that clicking on the titles before each reviews will lead you to a free and legal (but admittedly low quality) streaming version of the shorts straight from (the embedding doesn’t work on WordPress), so feel free to watch the shorts on your own and see if you agree with my assessments, too! Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Wreck-It Ralph” / Sub-Review: “Paperman”

November 6, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Rich Moore
Produced by: Clark Spencer
Written by: Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee (screenplay); Rich Moore, Phil Johnston, Jim Reardon (story)
Music by: Henry Jackman
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Adam Carolla, Horatio Sanz, Mindy Kaling
Year: 2012


Video games were probably my first passion. I’ve been a game player since my grandpa first introduced me to his Nintendo Entertainment System back when I was only 4, and while video games have largely become more of a rare hobby of mine since I left high school, I still love the medium and I try to find new favorites (the Uncharted series) while keeping up with my old ones (The Legend of Zelda primarily). So I was pretty excited to hear that Disney was making a film that many were calling the Who Framed Roger Rabbit of video games. Here was the world’s biggest animation studio finally acknowledging the mainstream popularity of video games by not only making a film centered around one, as they did with Tron, but actually making the film part of its prestigious “Disney Animation Canon,” placing it in the same ranks as the revolutionary Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Best Picture Oscar-nominated Beauty and the Beast. Read more…

Short Film: “Gertie the Dinosaur,” The Grandmother of Jurassic Park

November 6, 2011 1 comment
Directed, Produced, and Written by: Winsor McCay
Starring: Winsor McCay, George McManus, Roy McCardell, Max Fleischer, “Gertie the Dinosaur”
Tracing by: John A Fitzsimmons
Year: 1914


Remember that short animated film that featured in Jurassic Park? You know, the one where the science behind the creation of the dinosaurs in the film was explained to us by an anthropomorphic DNA strand? Well meet its inspiration, Gertie the Dinosaur.

You’ve probably seen pieces of this short film before. It’s a pretty iconic piece of animation that, nonetheless, a lot of people haven’t really fully seen. To be honest, I hadn’t seen any of the live action stuff up until this point, and I, too, didn’t really know the history behind any of it, but that’s kind of the point of me writing here: I learn along the way and hope to help you learn along with me!

Originally conceived as a vaudeville stage act, cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay’s original concept for Gertie involved him performing live on stage while the animation was projected. Much like John Hammond did with Mr. DNA in Jurassic Park, he would then interact with his dinosaur counterpart through careful timing.

McCay would issue Gertie commands, and the precocious dinosaur would seem to obey! McCay could even appear to toss Gertie an apple through sleight of hand. Then McCay would walk off stage, show up on screen, and ride Gertie offstage. I can’t imagine how amazing this must have seemed at the time, and, even today, would be pretty impressive thanks to the careful timing it would have required.

When McCay was approached by William Fox (whose name lives on in 20th Century Fox studios, etc.) to adapt the act to film, McCay added live action scenes to frame the animated sequence, creating a story about a bet he makes with fellow cartoonist George McManus that he could bring a “dinosaurus” back to life through the use of animation after they are inspired by a fossil display in a museum. After months of work, McCay presents his animated creation, Gertie, at a dinner gathering.

Winsor McCay, creator or Gertie as well as "Little Nemo"

Predating the widespread popularity of talkies, McCay’s interactions with Gertie are limited to the standard intertitles used in silent films. The film also predates cel animation, which allowed animators to save time and energy by layering the images on top of each other. McCay enlisted an art student, John A. Fitzsimmons, to assist him in the animation, and, together they redrew every detail of every frame of animation for the film on rice paper.

Though he didn’t have the convenience of cel animation at the time, McCay did pioneer the use of a technique that would later be called “key framing” — a technique that involves drawing two reference frames of animation, point A and point B, and then going back and drawing the frames that would go in between, creating a smooth, realistic sense of motion in even the most elaborate pieces of action. He also saved time through the use of cycling, or reusing frames of animation.

Gertie is widely recognized as the first animated character with a recognizable personality of her own. She’s stubborn and has an insatiable appetite, eating everything from trees to rocks. She’s easily distracted by her surroundings, is kind of a bully to her fellow prehistoric companions, and, when she’s scolded for her misbehavior, she sulks and cries like a child. Oh, and she loves music, which explains why she’s always swaying about happily when she’s not in full on dance mode!

Gertie paved the way for future animated stars, including Mickey Mouse, who wouldn’t make his first appearance for another 14 years! Though she suffered a sophomore slump in her second, incomplete film, Gertie on Tour, Gertie lives on as one of the most influential animated characters ever, and her debut short has gone on to be preserved in the National Film Registry, alongside classics like Gone with the Wind and Casablanca.

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