Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Coming Animation Deluge

You realize how much animated product is in the pipeline when you go to "Over the Hedge" and see wall-to-wall feature animation trailers in the coming attractions... I mean, not just one or two offerings, but twice that (why "Open Season" and "Cars" didn't make it into the mix, I'll never know.) There was "Barnyard" trailer, a "Monster House" trailer, a "Garfield" trailer, a "Flushed Away" trailer. In a span of nine minutes you got a fine sampling of bargain-basement CGI, motion capture CGI, computer animation combined with live action, and CGI mimicking stop motion. You got farm animals and kids in jeopardy and English vermin and transposed comic strip characters. And you can't help thinking as you sit there: "Some of these are going to go down in flames. They can't ALL end up hits, can they?" Well, maybe they can. If you count DVD rentals and sales and overseas markets. If you count the roll that CGI animated features have been on (no fair counting "Final Fantasy.") "Barnyard" looks to be the weakest of the bunch, what with its cheesy graphics and low-brow humor and the kinds of whacky animals that we've seen too may times before. The 15-year-old key male demographic that I was sitting next to at the AMC didn't think much of it. On the other hand, the epic was produced by a Nickelodeon company on a not super-high budget, so who knows? Maybe it will creep into the black. The most interesting trailer of the group was "Monster House." This one is a motion capture CGI feature produced by Stephen Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis (brought over to Sony/Columbia from DreamWorks). And while I don't like motion capture a bit (and didn't like it here), the 15-year-old demographic person informed me: "Looks pretty interesting. I want to see it." The spooky house/kids in danger thing works well in the preview, perhaps a triumph of substance over execution. Certainly Zemeckis's last outing in this specialty ("Polar Express") was a money spinner. "Garfield" is a second installment of the fat cat in a live action world (J.L. Hewitt et al). The first go-'round made money, so they're doing it again, taking "The Prince and the Pauper" and letting the Big Cat run with it. (This will be a mid-level box office type flick, I think.) "Flushed Away" got a "maybe it's okay" verdict from the fifteen-year-old, but that came with a "they revealed too much" caveat. The middle-aged judgement (mine) is that DreamWorks-Aardman is going to have the same challenge marketing this specimen that they had with "Wallace & Gromit" last year: the Brit humor might not translate well across the fruited plain. Update: What an effing moron. I blanked out on "Happy Feet," an epic about penquins that had an amazing trailer, was also in the cycle of Coming Attractions. The feature has a November release, and was mentioned in the trades today as one of Warner Bros.'s Great Sparkling Hopes. And I have no idea -- based on the trailer -- how it will do. Maybe great, maybe less than great. Sony also has an upcoming feature about Penguins ("Surf's Up") Casting key teen-aged demos aside, a member of the older faction posits that THESE two will be the next hot CGI pictures...

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What--no review or comments from you for "Hedge"?? Only writing about the trailers? I hope that's not a thumbs down from you.

Anonymous said...

I cant seem to view the Barnyard trailer. On its official website it says something like "you have to be in the United States to view this". Is there any other place to view the trailer?

Steve Hulett said...

Of course I write about "Hedge." Down a couple of notches I say "it's the best film DW has done in a long while..."

I'm just peeved I didn't hit the right numbers in the betting pool. As for scoping out a "Barnyard" trailer, my suggestion is to jump on a search engine and see what turns up -- maybe there's a mirror site someplace on the web. (Either that, or you can move to the States. We're well-loved worldwide, and welcome all foreign visitors...)

Anonymous said...

This link works fine from Holland:
http://www.nick.com/all_nick/movies/barnyard/
I could watch the trailer there!

Ugly animation, btw... I agree with a Dutch blogger, who thinks this looks like animated Playskool. He also wonders how a male cow can have udders:
http://animatie.blog.nl/trailers/2006/05/21/ook_tweede_trailer_barnyard_lijkt_wel_playskool

Steve Hulett said...

"Barnyard" producer Steve Oedekerk is renowned for low-rent CGI animation (see Neutron, Jimmy). A former Fox producer alleges that he also is fixated on cow udders.

I have no direct knowledge of this myself. I am but a conduit.

About:Blank said...

The only two good forms of entertainment left: movie animation and reality TV.

aj

Kugel said...

I just saw the trailer for "Barnyard" last weekend, and was shocked that this stupid movie had actually made it to post-production without anyone noticing that all of the male cows (bulls) have udders! I'm not a farm girl by any means, but even I noticed it immediately.

Are the cows transgendered?

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