The Movie Waffler Summer 2013 Animation Preview | The Movie Waffler

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Summer 2013 Animation Preview

In a summer exploding with sequels, reboots and potential franchise starters, one couldn’t be blamed for forgetting the animated films being released in the coming months.  'Man of Steel', 'The Lone Ranger', and 'Pacific Rim' are just a few of the many summer hopefuls that are appearing on many want-to-see lists.  Even so, one shouldn’t overlook the animation field, which is constantly expanding, and this summer is no exception.  Here are the 5 biggest animated films of this summer.


Epic
Directed by Chris Wedge—20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios
Blue Sky Studios, best known for 'Ice Age' and its many sequels, as well as films like 'Horton Hears A Who!' and 'Rio, seem to be stepping a little out of their comfort zone with their latest film, 'Epic'. This film is about a seventeen year old girl who's curiously shrunk to a miniscule size and discovers a strange group of warriors called the Leafmen. She is forced to assist the Leafmen in a war against the evil Boggans, while simultaneously trying to get back to normal size.
Though Blue Sky’s films have been strictly comedies, 'Epic' seems to be adding some fantasy and drama elements to the mix. In fact, 'Epic' in general appears to be a more serious film than anything Blue Sky Studio has released previously. Whether this change in tone is a good thing has yet to be seen, though with a release date as soon as this Friday, the wait to find out won’t be long.


Monsters University
Directed by Dan Scanlon—Pixar Studios
I guess I should mention that I am really psyched for 'Monsters University'. Coming from (arguably) the best animation studio working today, 'Monsters University' is a prequel to one of Pixar’s classics; 'Monsters, Inc'. Instead of the great pals they were in the original, Mike and Sulley are meeting for the first time in college and they are anything but friends. In fact, their intense rivalry ends up landing them in big trouble, and they’ll have to learn to cope with each other in order to fix things.
Considering the weak critical reception that 'Cars 2' received and the disappointing (but still positive) reviews for last year’s 'Brave', 'Monsters University' has a lot to prove. Can it convince the naysayers that Pixar is still the number one animation studio in the world? I certainly hope so. Not since 'Toy Story 3' have Pixar’s films been regarded with much by the way of universal acclaim. If nothing else, 'Monsters University' should serve as a perfectly likable and entertaining film that should suffice until Pixar’s 'The Good Dinosaur' hits theaters in 2014.


Despicable Me 2
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud—Illumination Entertainment
2010’s 'Despicable Me' was a funny, charming, and very original film that managed to take many by surprise. Though it was forgotten at many award ceremonies among other animated films that year (namely 'Toy Story 3' and 'How to Train Your Dragon'), it clearly grabbed audience attentions, and 'Despicable Me 2' is likely to be just as successful as the original, and possibly even more so. Or will it?
'Despicable Me 2' has had a few stumbling blocks along the way, specifically the recent announcement that Al Pacino, who had signed on to play the film’s villain, left the production due to “creative differences.” Though Illumination Entertainment hired a replacement very quickly (Benjamin Bratt will now be portraying the villain), there’s less than two months until the film opens, leaving 'Despicable Me 2' in a bit of chaos. It’s likely that the release date will get pushed back a bit, and considering that most of the film is probably animated already, Bratt will be forced to confine the character into the one that has already been animated. Hopefully, 'Despicable Me 2' can recover.


Turbo
Directed by David Soren—DreamWorks Animation
'Turbo' details the story of a snail named Theo who wants to be a racer. Wait, it gets better. Theo gets trapped in the grill of a car where his DNA is fused with nitrous oxide, giving him super speed. What is DreamWorks thinking?! Frankly, I’m not trying to show a lot of bias against any of these animated films, but this is just absurd. DreamWorks is essentially crafting a super hero film, except the super hero is a snail. I just don’t understand what compelled anybody to make a film like this.
Still, 'Turbo' will probably make a decent run at box office. The DreamWorks name usually attracts a sizable audience, and there’s an impressive cast as well. I just don’t see how this film could possibly seem entertaining to anyone over the age of 10. Still, in all fairness, I’m basically judging the film off of a few teasers and one full length trailer. For all I know, this could be a really great movie! For now, I suppose I can give 'Turbo' the benefit of a doubt, though this won’t be a film I’ll be rushing to see in theaters.


Planes
Directed by Klay Hall—DisneyToon Studios
A spin-off from the financially successful 'Cars' sequel, 'Planes' takes place in the same world, but in the air. I have to say, even I was initially uninterested in this one (especially considering it was initially going direct-to-DVD), but then a new trailer came out, and then I saw the cast, and I have to say, I’m kind of interested now.
The visuals look pretty nice, and with John Lasseter on board, this may not be so bad. If nothing else, 'Planes' will probably take in a decent sum of money from box office receipts, as long as it keeps advertising its relation with the 'Cars' franchise. Will it do well with critics? Probably not. But honestly, what looked like a mere product at first, seems a bit appealing now. It might be worth a rent down the road, though in all honesty, it’s hard to see any adults coming to see this film without a kid or two.

And those are the big animated films of the year. Is there an animated film that you’re looking forward to this summer? Sound off in the comments!

Joshua LF Mitchell