most anticipated animated films of 2010, part 2

21 Jan

Well, hello, The Internet!

It’s Thursday, and therefore time to conclude my Most Anticipated Animated Films of 2010.  Aren’t you excited?  I know that you’ve been gearing up for the occasion.  Guacamole has been made.  You’ve dug out your collectible Saturday Jane baseball caps, first edition.  Well, wait no more, loyal friends!  Here it is, in all of its belated glory, now with 60% more opinions!

Let’s open it up with some Disney!


Some credit Disney’s decision to do another traditional fairy tale on the success of The Princess And The Frog, but actually, Rapunzel has been in development longer than anybody in the Mouse House would care to admit.  It began as a Shrek-like effort to update the original with the title Rapunzel: Unbraided, and a plot out of a half-hour cartoon special.  A pair of dysfunctional modern sweethearts get somehow transported to the world of Rapunzel, and through trying to get home, they both learn a little, laugh a little, and love a lot.


Wait, her hair is SHORT? But...she's supposed to be RAPUNZEL! This is outrageous! Blasphemy! SACRILEGE.

Oh, wait wait wait. I see where you were going with that now.

Disney, along with everyone else, thought this was a little bit lamesauce, and tried again.  The second go-round saw a modern girl (again with the modern) getting transported into Rapunzel’s world and turning into the long-haired princess, while the original Rapunzel got turned into an indignant squirrel.  A little better.  There could be some fun ‘don’t ruin my body, that’s mine!’ scenes (zany!) and they could even pull off an ironic sort of learning to be yourself by being somebody else thing.  But alas, this also was not meant to be.

The latest iteration (and the one with the most work on it by far) has Rapunzel as a period princess with guts.  The film has been described by John Lasseter, studio head, as having a lot of  ‘girl power’, which just reminds me of platform shoes and gossip about Ginger Spice.  Anyway, Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore) is somehow kidnapped by a charming rogue (voice of Chuck’s Zachary Levi) and then the rest of the movie happens.

I keep typing 'Rapnuzel' instead of 'Rapunzel'. I was going to say something wittier here, but I got distracted.


Admittedly, the story sounds okay.  I’m a sucker for a cliche done right, and if the love story is sweet enough, I’ll cry at the end and applaud and see it eight more times.  But really, my anticipation for Rapunzel doesn’t come from its plot, but its animation.

The film was originally helmed by Glen Keane, the guy who is responsible for the animation and character design in The Little Mermaid, Rescuers Down Under, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and Aladdin.  With a pedigree like that, it’s no wonder that the Pixar-owned Disney Animation Studios was eager to get him as director.  Keane decided to do the film CGI style (making it the first ever CGI musical) but wanted to add a little something extra.

Work began to create a graphics engine that would allow the CGI to look less like terrifying balloon people, and more like a moving painting.  They focused on Jean-Honore Fragonard’s painting, The Swing as inspiration.  Keane’s goal was to bring “warmth and intuitive feel of hand-drawn to CGI”.


Not...EXACTLY Fragonard, but y'know. It's close. A little. She's blonde, at least.

Even though Keane stepped down as director due to non-life-threatening health concerns, the remaining Rapunzel team seems to be making a great deal of headway with his philosophy of animation.  As Disney’s 50th animated feature film, Rapunzel seeks to combine the charm of the company’s typical fare (musicals, princesses, fairytales) with modern technology and wit without sacrificing the qualities of either.  I’ll be eager to see how it all turns out.

Despicable Me vs. Oobermind

It happens frequently that two movies with suspiciously similar concepts are released by different studios at the same time.  The most blatant analogy would be Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and Dreamworks’ Antz (was the Z necessary?  I don’t believe the Z was necessary), a situation that earned Dreamworks much bile and bad press.

Well, instead of bugs, this time it’s supervillains.

On July 15th Universal Studios will release their Steve Carell vehicle Despicable Me, in which a lame super villain (Carell) who is constantly sick of being outdone by a more powerful villain (Jason Segel) plots to steal the moon in an effort to prove himself.  However, his plans are interrupted by three orphaned girls who want him as an adoptive father.

Gru, the world's Number #2 villain and star of Despicable Me. You can practically SMELL the character development!!

In November, Dreamworks will release their Will Ferrell feature, Oobermind.  This story opens with a rather competent supervillain, MegaMind (Ferrell) who finally defeats his rival, do-gooder Metro Man (Brad Pitt).  Finding his life devoid of meaning without a superhero to compete with, MegaMind builds a new, greater superhero named Titan (Jonah Hill), who unfortunately decides he’d rather terrorize the earth instead.  Obviously, MegaMind has to stop him and finds out what it means to be a hero, blahdy blahdy blah.

I already have my own leanings in this issue.  The films are different, yes, but their gimmicks, their core themes remain the same.  Super Villains Make Good.  In an effort to scientifically decide which film is more worth my admission, I have constructed a list of both movies’ pros and cons, which may be tallied to create a final Awesome Score.



Gotta love the design on Tina Fey, there!


Has Brad Pitt

Music by Hans Zimmer

Use of ‘Uber’

Sometimes Will Ferrell is totally hilarious

Sweet 1940’s comic book inspired character design.


The director is most famous for Madagascar

Most every summary ends with ‘Also, has Tina Fey’, which should maybe be more of a headline.

Sometimes Will Ferrell is Just Not Very Funny At All

You guys, I hate Madagascar

And now, Despicable Me:

Took me forever to see that silhouette as a full body and not just a head, with poofy hair and a skinny neck. See it? See it?


Jason Segel


Smooth, simplistic characters with a great deal of texture detail


Slick trailers with diverse plots


Unnecessary usage of Steve Carell

Ads touting Ice Age 3 as a braggable success.

While detailed, character design doesn’t boast any great creativity.

Tired plot of  ‘evil guy+orphans=good guy’

And so, after all  of that, what are the findings?

Not enough info yet.  I’ll be eager to see the previews of Oobermind when they come out.  At this point, there are similarities that certainly indicate a trend, but hopefully the films will grow beyond that initial trend and become vastly different concepts.  One can dream, right?

Well, that’s the wrap-up!  Anything you’re excited about coming up soon?  I wanted to get into a few 2011 films (The Bear And The Bow, especially) but thought I would save that song for another campfire.

Don’t worry, I’ll find something to talk about in the meantime.


Posted by on January 21, 2010 in Uncategorized


8 responses to “most anticipated animated films of 2010, part 2

  1. Michael M.

    January 21, 2010 at 7:12 am

    I have a friend does some graphics engine programming, and I remember him telling me about a paper he was reading (2 years ago I think?) from Disney that talked about how they are trying to go about making that “CGI that looks like a painting” thing. It was fairly technical, so I didn’t read it, but I had been wondering for what purpose were they making it. Guess that answers that question.

    • Jessica

      January 21, 2010 at 10:27 am

      Ha! That’s cool.

      Yeah, they’ve been plugging away at this for awhile now. I think it’s a good thing…it seemed like for awhile CGI was trending towards becoming photorealistic (in some cases, like Avatar, this is still true) but it seems like a shame to use something that sophisticated and not take advantage of the artistry and creativity you can get away with in a kid’s feature.

  2. Rebekah

    January 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Merciful heavens, I remember hearing about the New ‘n’ Beautiful Rapunzel TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO. Disney procrastinates more than I do? Impossible.

    Wouldn’t it be AWESOME to see a Disney heroine whose waist was bigger than her head? Whose eyes were smaller than Wyoming? Just me?

    • Jessica

      January 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      I think that would be pretty sweet. Or just one that looked a little more healthy. But you know, they’re a business, and tehy have to do what sells.

      I wish they could slowly CHANGE what sells, though!

  3. rubybastille

    January 21, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Uh, hello, Barbie has done like fourteen CGI musicals, GAWSH.

  4. Vanessa

    January 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Rapunzel looks pretty cool! Mayhaps I’ll be seeing that.

    • Jessica

      January 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      Totes magotes! You should come to Oregon and I’ll take you myself. 😉

  5. Jen

    January 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    In your Despicable Me/Oobermind debate, you forgot the massively important point that Despicable Me got the incredibly awesome theme song done by Pharell. Just saying. 😉


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