Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive – Walt Disney

Tag Archives: wreck-it ralph

Disney Checklist RalphWhat do The Purge, In Time and Wreck-It Ralph all have in common? They are all films that squander brilliant concepts in favour of something far more generic. What makes Wreck-It Ralph better and yet more frustrating than those two forgettable films is that the first act really properly explores its central concept in a way that it utterly fails to do in acts two and three. It’s a film built on a fantastic, Toy Story-esque premise – what do computer game characters do when no one is playing – that is subsequently abandoned in favour of something far less interesting about a friendship between two misfits and how they both earn respect. The genius idea that was crying out for a bonkers, cross-game finale instead gets stuck in a swamp of literal and figurative sugar. So, let’s explore this problem further:

Act 1. The Anti-Hero is introduced as Wreck-It Ralph, who works in the arcade game Fix It Felix Jr, where every day he wrecks the building only for it to be fixed by the game’s hero, Felix. As the game approaches its thirtieth anniversary, Ralph begins to resent his role as the bad guy and seeks a little bit of appreciation for his work as a human wrecking ball. He shares these feelings with a group called bad-anon, and here is where the film reveals its trump card: a cast of recognisable computer game characters from decades of arcade and console games. Bowser, Dr Robotnic and Clyde (from Pacman) all attend this self-help group where they build up each others’ self esteem. It’s a witty idea made funnier by the presence of such familiar villainous faces.

The rest of Act 1 builds on this idea, exploring a number of different game worlds, often cutting to show what they look like on 8-bit Arcade screens as opposed to in state of the art CG. Game Central Station, the hub of all the machines, is populated by a vast array of characters to please an audience of die hard gaming fans. Sonic, Frogger and the exclamation mark from Metal Gear Solid all cameo, but what makes the first act so great is that these cameos don’t detract from original, intelligent world-building. The biggest idea of the film is not to cast Pacman in it, but is in the way that different gaming characters interact with one another; it’s the idea of a life behind the screens where people worry, party, drink and commute just like humans do. The jealousy and admiration for the newer, flashier games, and the fear of your arcade getting closed down both feel like real world concerns, which is what makes this world so engaging. Ralph’s infiltration of Starship Troopers-meets-COD game Hero’s Duty shows what can happen when different games cross over. It’s a premise ripe with the potential for excitement and big laughs. And then…

ralph1

Act 2. Ralph crash-lands a ship from Hero’s Duty in the everything-is-made-of-candy racing game Sugar Rush. He accidentally brings an apparently asexually reproducing bug with him – more on that later – but is more concerned with his medal, his way of proving that he can be a hero, not just a bad guy. He meets Vanellope Von Schweetz, a ‘glitch’ in Sugar Rush, who uses his medal to get in the big race. The two then bond as she learns to race and he continues his existential crisis. Here’s where the main bulk of the story happens, as he confronts the villainous King Candy and helps Vanellope with her car before a big conclusion where she has to race to reset the game, but a horde of violent, viral insects are rampaging through the U-rated universe of Sugar Rush.

There’s a lot to like about this section, not least of which is a dramatic conclusion with a surprisingly emotional slo-mo act of sacrifice to save the day. The problem is that the film then doesn’t leave the world of Sugar Rush, thus ignoring the genius bit of world-building that was established in Act 1. The candy kingdom is nicely realised and allows for a couple of great puns worthy of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but this film shouldn’t be about Sugar Rush; the racing game should be just one part of a much bigger picture with Game Central Station or Fix It Felix as the central focus. As it is, that Cloudy comparison wasn’t arbitrary, with the second act feeling like an early sequel to that brilliant film, whereas the first act was far more in the vein of The Incredibles or Toy Story. The film spends far too long in this game, outstaying its welcome when the audience are itching to leave behind its candyfloss colours. It’s almost as if two entirely different studios made two different films then forced them together, with the designers behind Sugar Rush apparently more powerful in the editing sweet.

ralph2

Act 3. So what now, for the future of Disney? The tonal disparity in Wreck-It Ralph is representative of how the studio in the 21st century, bar one or two marvellous exceptions, was struggling to find its voice in the world of modern animation. If the first sugar-free half hour of Wreck-It Ralph was Disney doing their best Pixar, then the second half is Disney looking dangerously like Dreamworks, saccharine in every way and following a fairly rote buddy comedy formula. Ralph shows that the studio is capable of great ideas, of stunning animation, memorable characters and good films. Yet it also shows how unsure of themselves they can sometimes be, a problem which has plagued them since Hercules.

Clearly, the studio are on the up: Wreck-It Ralph is a good film, and it comes after The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, two superb, old fashioned animations quite different to Ralph‘s post-modern sensibilities. And in Frozen, Disney have managed their best attempt yet at balancing the old and new, mixing age old stories with newer ideas and techniques. Ralph goes too far in the direction of the latter and ends up losing its identity along the way. The best step forward that Disney can take now is just that: a step forward, but provided that they do it with an acknowledgement and respect for the generations of Disney films that have gone before them. With such a long lasting legacy of truly excellent film making, Disney are the animation studio with the greatest opportunity to move into the future of animation with a strong foundation in the past. I think Walt himself would look back on the 52 films I’ve covered this year with a pride at the way that his studio has explained whatever the mind could conceive.

Graph Disney8 The List

Advertisements

Continuing the series on the Oscar Nominated Short Animations in order of how much I like them, here comes a film so incredibly good that the remaining two must be absolutely phenomenal for me to choose them ahead of this. It’s Disney’s Paperman, available online or at the cinemas before seeing the wonderful Wreck-It Ralph.

A chance romantic encounter seems like the perfect subject for a short film. In a matter of minutes you can capture an entire romantic arc, one potentially life changing moment, and then leave the audience to fill out the rest of the story. Paperman captures one such moment, in stunning black and white. The animation – blending CG and hand drawn elements – is gorgeous, the focus on transport and office blocks giving it a somewhat Japanese feel. One morning an office worker meets a ludicrously big-eyed woman at the station, but misses his chance to talk to her. When he later sees her in the tower across the street, he tries to catch her attention. It quickly becomes a fable about fate, buying into the ancient romantic notion that some people are just meant for each other, and there isn’t much you can do to stop that. If that sounds a little mawkish, it works within the context of the story as it slowly escalates to its triumphant, magical finale.

Arguably the film could have ended in some way without requiring the planes coming to life – there was a beautiful tone and story to the film before that plot development – but it makes the brief encounter even more magical and romantic. As the music swells to a crescendo, and the man cannot escape the power of the paper planes, it gets into shameless heart stirring territory, but it does it beautifully. In six minutes Paperman manages to be more romantic than the vast majority of rom-coms released today. It’s a little bit twee, but if you get past that, you are sure to get swept away by its army of paper planes.


Who cares about the Oscars when the Annies are in town? It’s the awards ceremony that properly cares about animation, recognising the stellar efforts of production and character designers, of voice actors and editors. There’s such a wide range of categories that it makes the keen animation fan really consider the different facets of animated films. Whilst some elements seem a bit strange – they have different level ‘sponsors’, from platinum to bronze (unsurprisingly, Disney and Pixar pay top dollar here) – these awards are a must for for any of you who love this red carpet-filled time of year.

On January 30th the awards were held and the film that came out on top was Wreck-It Ralph, taking Best Feature, Director, Writing, Voice Actor for Alan Tudyk as King Candy and even the sublime Paperman, which plays before it, picked up best short. I personally preferred a couple of other animated films from last year, but Wreck-It Ralph is undeniably an impressive achievement. It just shows that this is a strong year for animated films. Elsewhere Rise of the Guardians and ParaNorman picked up many of the technical awards such as Storyboarding and Character Design, whilst the Dreamworks television spin off Dragons: Riders of Berk swept up the small screen awards. My biggest gripe is that this is very focussed on American animation – very little mention of Britain’s Pirates! or Japan’s From Up On Poppy Hill, both of which deserved more recognition.

Bad-Anon

As to what this augurs for the Oscars, where the five nominated films are Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, Pirates! and Wreck-It Ralph, it’s difficult to say. The industry experts here appear to be endorsing Disney’s submission, but the Academy isn’t made up of as many animation buffs as this awards group is. Also, the sponsorship programme with Annies may make some difference, I’m not entirely aware of the processes there. Brave took the Golden Globe, so this is still an open race. They may even just award it to Frankenweenie just to encourage Tim Burton to stop making monstrosities like Dark Shadows.

Here are the full results:

 

Best Animated Feature

  • Brave – Pixar Animation Studios

  • Frankenweenie – The Walt Disney Studios

  • Hotel Transylvania – Sony Pictures Animation

  • ParaNorman – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Rise of the Guardians – DreamWorks Animation

  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation

  • The Rabbi’s Cat – GKIDS

  • Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios

 

Best Animated Special Production

  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 – Warner Bros. Animation

  • Beforel Orel – Trust – Starburns Industries, Inc.

  • Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – Illumination Entertainment

  • Disney Tron: Uprising – Beck’s Beginning – Disney TV Animation

  • Dragons: Gift of the Night Fury – DreamWorks Animation

  • Justice League: Doom – Warner Bros. Animation

 

Best Animated Short Subject

  • Brad and Gary – Illumination Entertainment

  • Bydlo – The National Film Board of Canada

  • Eyes on the Stars – StoryCorps

  • Goodnight Mr. Foot – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Kali the Little Vampire – Folimage Studios, Ciclope Filmes, The National Film Board of Canada and Studio GDS

  • Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’ – Gracie Films

  • Paperman – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • The Simpsons – ‘Bill Plympton Couch Gag’ – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

 

Best Animated Television Production For Preschool Children

  • Bubble Guppies ‘A Tooth on the Looth’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Chuggington ‘Magnetic Wilson’ – Ludorum

  • Jake & The Never Land Pirates ‘Peter Pan Returns’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Doc McStuffins ‘The Right Stuff’ – Brown Bag Films

  • Justin Time ‘Marcello’s Meatballs’ – Guru Studio

 

Best Animated Television Production For Children

  • Adventure Time ‘Princess Cookie’ – Cartoon Network Studios

  • Dragons: Riders of Berk ‘How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • LEGO Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Out’ – Threshold Animation Studios

  • Penguins of Madagascar ‘Action Reaction’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • SpongeBob SquarePants ‘It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • The Amazing World of Gumball ‘The Job’ – Cartoon Network Studio Europe

  • The Fairly OddParents ‘Farm Pit’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • The Legend of Korra ‘Welcome to Republic City’/’A Leaf in the Wind’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

 

Best General Audience Animated Television Production

  • Archer ‘Space Race, Part 1’ – Floyd County Production and FX Productions for FX

  • Bob’s Burgers ‘Earsy Rider’ – 20th Century Fox TV

  • Motorcity ‘Blond Thunder’ – Disney TV Animation

  • MAD ‘FrankenWinnie/ParaMorgan’ – Warner Bros. Animation

  • Robot Chicken ‘DC Comics Special’ – Stoopid Buddy Studios

  • South Park ‘Raising the Bar’ – Central Productions

 

Best Animated Video Game

  • Borderlands 2 – Gearbox Software

  • Family Guy – Back to the Mutiverse – Heavy Iron Studios

  • Journey – Sony Computer Entertainment America

  • Skullgirls – Lab Zero Games

 

Best Student Film

  • Can We Be Happy Now – Tahnee Gehm

  • Defective Detective – Avner Geller & Stevie Lewis

  • Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart

  • I Am Tom Moody – Ainslie Henderson

  • Ladies Knight – Joseph Rothenberg

  • Origin – Jessica Poon

  • The Ballad of Poisonberry Pete – Adam Campbell, Elizabeth McMahill, Uri Lotan

  • Tule Lake – Michelle Ikemoto

Temp Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production

  • Andrew Nawrot, Joe Gorski, Grant Laker – ‘ParaNorman’ – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Andrew Schneider ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ – Blue Sky Studios

  • Andy Hayes, Carl Hooper, David Lipton – Rise of the Guardians – DreamWorks Animation

  • Bill Watral, Chris Chapman, Dave Hale, Keith Klohn, Michael K. O’Brien ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

  • Brett Albert – ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Jihyun Yoon – ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Joel Aron – ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ – Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.

 

Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in a Live Action Production

  • Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, Mark Chataway ‘The Avengers’ – Industrial Light & Magic

  • Stephen Marshall, Joseph Pepper, Dustin Wicke – ‘The Amazing Spiderman – Sony Pictures Imageworks

  • Sue Rowe, Simon Stanley-Clamp, Artemis Oikonomopoulou, Holger Voss, Nikki Makar, Catherine Elvidge ‘John Carter’ – Cinesite

  • Willi Geiger, Rick Hankins, Florent Andorra, Florian Witzel, Aron Bonar ‘Battleship’ – Industrial Light & Magic

 

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Dan Driscoll ‘SpongeBob SquarePants: It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Jennifer Dickie ‘Justin Time: Yodel Odel Day’ – Guru Studio

  • Keith Kellogg ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Revenge’ – Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.

  • Savelen Forrest ‘SpongeBob SquarePants: It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Shi Zimu ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Sihanouk Mariona ‘Beforel Orel: Trust’ – Starburns Industries, Inc.

  • Teri Yam ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Yan Jiazhuang ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk’ – DreamWorks Animation

 

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Feature Production

  • Dan Nguyen ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

  • David Pate ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Jaime Landes ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

  • Philippe LeBrun ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Pierre Perifel ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Travis Hathaway ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

  • Travis Knight “ParaNorman’ – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Will Becher ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation

 

Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Live Action Production

  • Erik de Boer, Amanda Dague, Matt Brown, Mary Lynn Machado, Aaron Grey ‘Life of Pi – Orangutan’ – Rhythm & Hues Studio

  • Erik de Boer, Matt Shumway, Brian Wells, Vinayak Pawar, Michael Holzl ‘Life of Pi – Tiger’ – Rhythm & Hues Studio

  • Jakub Pistecky, Maia Kayser, Scott Benza, Steve King, Kiran Bhat ‘The Avengers’ – Industrial Light & Magic

  • Mike Beaulieu, Roger Vizard, Atsushi Sato, Jackie Koehler, Derek Esparza, Richard Smith, Max Tyrie – The Amazing Spiderman – Sony Pictures Imageworks

 

Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Andy Bialk ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: Alvin and the Outcasts’ – DreamWorks Animaton

  • Andy Suriano ‘DC Nation-Plastic Man: The Many and the Fowl’ – Big Hair Productions, Inc.

  • Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki-Hyun Ryu, Kim Il Kwang, Kim Jin Sun ‘The Legend of Korra: Welcome to Republic City’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • C” Raggio IV ‘Kick Buttowski: Petrified’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Derrick Wyatt, Chap Yaep, Steven Choi, Shakeh Haghnazarian ‘Ben 10: Omniverse: The More Things Change, Pt. 2’ – Cartoon Network Studios

  • Gordon Hammond ‘T.U.F.F. Puppy: Dudley Do-Wrong’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Robert Valley ‘Disney Tron: Uprising: The Renegade, Part I’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Thaddeus Paul Cauldron ‘Secret Mountain Fort Awesome: Secret Mountain Uncle Grandpa’- Cartoon Network Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated Feature Production

  • Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Cory Loftis, Minkyu Lee ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Carlos Grangel ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Carter Goodrich ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Craig Kellman ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Heidi Smith ‘ParaNorman’ – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon, Colin Stimpson ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ – Illumination Entertainment

 

Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Howy Parkins ‘Jake and The Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns!’ – Disney TV Animation

  • John Eng ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: Animal House’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh ‘SpongeBob SquarePants: It’s a Spongebob Christmas!’’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Mic Graves ‘The Amazing World of Gumball: The Job’ – Cartoon Network Studio Europe

  • Michael Chang ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Never Say Xever’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studio

  • Zack Keller, Ed Skudder ‘Dick Figures: Kung Fu Winners’ – Six Point Harness

 

Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production

  • Genndy Tartakovsky ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux ‘The Rabbi’s Cat – GKIDS

  • Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie ‘Zarafa’ – GKIDS

  • Rich Moore ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Sam Fell, Chris Butler ‘ParaNorman’ – LAIKA/Focus Features

 

Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Adam Berry ‘Penguins of Madagascar: Private and the Winky Factory’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Alf Clausen ‘The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIII’ – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

  • Frederik Wiedmann ‘Green Lantern The Animated Series: Into the Abyss’ – F. Wiedmann, Composer

  • Guy Moon ‘T.U.F.F. Puppy: Really Big Mission’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • John Paesano ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Michael Rubin, John Angier ‘Bubble Guppies: Bubble Puppy’s Fintastic Fairytale!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated Feature Production

  • Alexandre Desplat ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Bruce Retief ‘Adventures in Zambezia’ – Triggerfish

  • Henry Jackman, Skrillex, Adam Young, Matthew Thiessen, Jamie Houston, Yasushi Akimoto ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn, Valerie Vigoda ‘Secret of the Wings’ – DisneyToon Studios

  • John Powell, Adam Schlesinger, Ester Dean ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ – Blue Sky Studios

  • John Powell, Cinco Paul ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ – Illumination Entertainment

  • Mark Mothersbaugh ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Patrick Doyle, Mark Andrews, Alex Mandel ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Alberto Mielgo ‘Tron: Uprising: The Stranger’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Ian Worrel ‘Gravity Falls – Tourist Trapped’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Lynna Blankenship, Sean Coons, Hugh Macdonald, Debbie Peterson, Charles Ragins, Lance Wilder, Darrel Bowen, John Krause, Kevin Moore, Brent M. Bowen, Brice Mallier, Steven Fahey, Dima Malanitchev, Karen Bauer, Eli Balser, Anne Legge – ‘The Simpsons: Moe Goes From Rags to Riches’ – Film Roman

  • Nick Jennings, Martin Ansolabehere, Sandra Calleros, Ron Russell, Santino Lascano, Derek Hunter, Catherine E. Simmonds – ‘Adventure Time – The Hard Easy’ – Cartoon Network Studios

  • Peter Martin, Chris Grine, Ira Baker, Ramon Olivera, Scott Brown ‘hoops & yoyo Haunted Halloween’ – Hallmark

  • Brandon James Scott, Keith Lee ‘Justin Time: The Rubbery Dumplings’ – Guru Studio

 

Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production

  • Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin, Shannon Jeffries, Lindsey Olivares, Kenard Pak ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Marcelo Vignali ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Nash Dunnigan, Arden Chan, Jon Townley, Kyle Macnaughton ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ – Blue Sky Studios

  • Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer ‘ParaNorman’ – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Norman Garwood, Matt Perry ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animation and Sony Pictures Animation

  • Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar, Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez, Stan Seo, Felix Yoon ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Rick Heinrichs ‘Frankenweenie’ – The Walt Disney Studios

  • Steve Pilcher ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Andy Kelly ‘Doc McStuffins: Righty-On-Lefty’ – Brown Bag Films

  • Cole Sanchez, Rebecca Sugar ‘Adventure Time: Lady & Peebles’ – Cartoon Network Studios

  • Doug Lovelace ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Man’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Holly Forsyth ‘Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Irineo Maramba, Ciro Nieli ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: I Think His Name is Baxter Stockman’’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Robert Valley, Kalvin Lee ‘Tron: Uprising: The Reward’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Ryan Kramer, Paul Linsley, Kenji Ono, Le Tang, Alice Herring, Mike Mullen, Aaron Hammersley ‘Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: Enter the Dragon’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Tom Herpich, Skyler Page ‘Adventure Time: Goliad’ – Cartoon Network Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production

  • Emmanuela Cozzi ‘ParaNorman’ – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Johanne Matte ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Leo Matsuda ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Lissa Treiman ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Rob Koo ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation

 

Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • James Patrick Stuart as Private ‘Penguins of Madagascar: High Moltage’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Jeff Bennett as Keswick ‘T.U.F.F. Puppy: Pup Daddy’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Jessica Walter as Malory Archer ‘Archer: Lo Scandolo’ – Floyd County Production and FX Productions for FX

  • Kevin Michael Richardson as Willem Viceroy ‘Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: Gossip Boy’ – Titmouse Inc./Boulder Media

  • Kristen Schaal as Mabel Pines ‘Gravity Falls: Tourist Trapped’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Mae Whitman as April O’Neil – ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Sam Witwer as Darth Maul ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Revenge’ – Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.

  • Tom McGrath as Skipper ‘Penguins of Madagascar: The Otter Woman’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production

  • Adam Sandler as Dracula ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Alan Tudyk as King Candy ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

  • Atticus Shaffer as “E”Gore ‘Frankenweenie’ – The Walt Disney Studios

  • Catherine O’Hara as Weird Girl ‘Frankenweenie’ – The Walt Disney Studios

  • Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation

  • Jim Cummings as Budzo ‘Adventures in Zambezia’ – Triggerfish

  • Jude Law as Pitch ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Kelly MacDonald as Merida ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Doug Langdale – Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness: Kung Fu Day Care’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Eric Horsted – Futurama: The Bots and the Bees’ – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

  • Gabe Garza – ‘Penguins of Madagascar: Endangerous Species’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Ian Maxtone-Graham, Billy Kimball ‘The Simpsons: How I Wet Your Mother’ – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

  • Kacey Arnold – ‘Robot and Monster: The Blimp’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Mike Teverbaugh, Linda Teverbaugh – Dragons: Riders of Berk: Animal House’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Stephanie Gillis ‘The Simpsons: A Tree Grows in Springfield’ – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

  • Trey Parker – ‘South Park: Jewpacabra’ – Central Productions

 

Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Feature Production

  • Chris Butler – ParaNorman – LAIKA/Focus Features

  • Gideon Defoe – The Pirates! Band of Misfits – Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation

  • Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Karey Kirkpatrick – From Up on Poppy Hill – GKIDS

  • John August – Frankenweenie – The Walt Disney Studios

  • Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi – Brave – Pixar Animation Studios

  • Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee – Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios

 

Outstanding Achievement, Editorial in an Animated Television or other Broadcast Venue Production

  • Bret Marnell ‘Puss in Boots: Three Diablos’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Chris Hink ‘Robot and Monster: Cheer Up Mr. Wheelie’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Hugo Morales, Adam Arnold, Davrick Waeden, Otto Ferraye ‘Kung Fu Panda: ‘Monkey in the Middle’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Hugo Morales, Adam Arnold, Davrick Waeden, Otto Ferraye ‘Kung Fu Panda – Enter the Dragon’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

  • Jason Tucker, A.C.E. ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Revival’ – Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.

  • Lynn Hobson ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: Animal House’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Pieter Kaufman ‘Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess’ – Disney TV Animation

  • Steffie Lucchesi, Matt Steinauer, Amy Blaisdell ‘Dan Vs Monster Under The Bed’ – Film Roman

 

Outstanding Achievement, Editorial in an Animated Feature Production

  • Catherine Apple ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation

  • Joyce Arrastia ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

  • Mark Rosenbaum ‘Secret of the Wings’ – DisneyToon Studios

  • Nicholas C. Smith, A.C.E, Robert Grahamjones, A.C.E., David Suther ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

  • Tim Mertens ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

 


I’ll be covering Wreck-It Ralph in December as part of my #Disney52 project, so this is an initial review just as a standard animation release. I also don’t really talk about the short Paperman here, as I hope to cover all the animated shorts nominated for the Oscars at some point.

Bad-AnonGaming is currently one of the most lucrative creative industries in the world, as developers are able to get massive profit margins from products that are (relatively) cheap to make, yet are sold for 50 quid per game. In spite of this, it’s also far more niche than cinema, music and literature, which have a richer history and wider audiences. So making a film about gaming presents the challenge of appealing to more than just hardcore Skyrim players or World of Warcraft enthusiasts. Disney doubled up this challenge by aiming a film chock full of gaming nostalgia at young audiences that may not have ever played Donkey Kong or Street Fighter II. Disney prove with Wreck-It Ralph that, as with any adaptation, homage or pastiche, story is the priority, and in-jokes are secondary. Wreck-It Ralph is not successful because gamers will understand a certain cheat code that a character uses, or because it’s got Sonic in; it works because it’s a great story, told with a lot of spirit, and the jokes compliment it instead of overshadowing it.

Ralph spends every day doing the same job – he’s a villain in the arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr., where he destroys a building only for Felix to come along and fix it. Everyone loves Felix and is terrified of Ralph, and Ralph is understandably fed up. He doesn’t get invited to parties and he gets no appreciation for his tireless work in making the game happen. He just wants to be appreciated, to be liked, to be a hero. So he leaves his game behind, and travels to bug-shooting mayhem machine Hero’s Duty before being fired unceremoniously into Sugar Rush, a Mario Kart-alike racing game set in a world made entirely of sweets (leading to some great confectionery puns as well as a glut gaming jokes). It’s in the world of Sugar Rush that the majority of the story happens, as Ralph meets Vanellope Von Schweetz, a racer with far more at stake than his own existential insecurities.

It’s a set up that allows for some inventive, hilarious world building, as Ralph moves between different game worlds with varying aesthetics and atmospheres. So Hero’s Duty is a dark world of greens and browns, a first person Halo style shooter where everyone is ‘super HD’ and moves smoothly. This contrasts with Niceland, the world of Fix It Felix, Jr., where all the inhabitants (except Ralph and Felix, for some unexplained reason) – are little pill shaped people that move in a jerky, 8-bit style. Every land they travel to looks a little bit different, and early on the action shifts between glossy CG and how the game actually looks – such as the blocky animation of Pacman. It’s such a creative approach to bringing computer games to life, so it’s a real shame that they didn’t make more of the contrasts between animation styles; Ralph only visits a small amount of games, leaving you crying out for a bit more exploration. Compounding this desire to see more of the world is Sugar Rush, a game world that, although beautifully realised, lives up to its name after a while, the bright, popping colours creating an effect not dissimilar to drinking a slushy too quickly. That you long to see more of these worlds shows that director Rich Moore has done a great job, but also that he hasn’t exploited his idea and his world nearly enough. This leaves you hungering for a sequel.

Party CrasherAside from a bafflingly pointless romantic subplot – wouldn’t it be nice to see a Disney film that didn’t force in some romance? – Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t feel much like a Disney film at all. The sharp ideas and jokes feel closer to Incredibles era Pixar than anything by the House of Mouse. This is a modern story, about as cutting edge as the kids’ studio can get, whilst dealing with boring adult issues like being unhappy in your 9-5 job; Ralph is like a cross between Woody from Toy Story and Bob Parr from The Incredibles. None of this is a bad thing, it’s just interesting to see Disney take a step in this direction, away from more traditional stories, not long after Pixar made their first Princess film. Strong box office means that we may end up seeing a lot more like this from the studio, and Ralph could well prove to be the auspicious beginning of a new stage in Disney’s journey.

One thing Wreck-It Ralph does retain from the spirit of the best Disney films is a big, beating heart that powers the story along. Great voice work from John C. Reilly as Ralph and Sarah Silverman as Vanellope Von Schweetz give the central relationship some real emotional heft, and the ending proves to be unexpectedly moving. As all the themes (and games) coalesce into one action packed, visually spectacular sequence, Wreck-It Ralph reminds us of just how entertaining and emotionally charged Disney can be. The moral of the story becomes a little murky at the end (what exactly is it trying to say? Should we change? Accept who we are? Reject labels? But then why is he saying I’m bad but that’s good?), but Ralph’s emergence as a hero is a rousing, uplifting bit of story telling. Wreck-It Ralph, therefore, is a film that follows in the footsteps of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as a film for people who love video games, but with hilarious in jokes and references coming second to a decent, character driven story.


Animated films get really short shrift at the Oscars and the Golden Globes. The short story is that nobody ever considers them for genuine contention for Best Picture. Thankfully, however, dedicated animation enthusiasts and industry professionals can enjoy The Annie Awards, which are entirely dedicated to the art of animation. They are voted for by people that really know what they are talking about, and are also often a good indicator of what might go on to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. For all those awards fiends out there, the nominations are now in, and it’s not surprising to see three big studio pictures leading the pack: Brave, Wreck-It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians.

Wreck-It RalphIt’s interesting to see the variety of awards on offer here, going into details like Character Design, Storyboarding and Music. The problem with such an awards ceremony is that there is a rather more limited selection of animated films to choose from than for live action films, so a lot of the same titles keep cropping up. It also means that some baffling entries make it in – Adam Sandler for Hotel Transylvania? In fact, why has Hotel Transylvania got nominations for anything? It’s nice to see voice work get recognition at awards ceremonies, however. The whole list of nominations is below, and I’ve put my predicted winners in bold and my personal choice in italics (it’s worth noting that this is the first time I’ve properly followed The Annies, so my predictions are totally founded on nothing). Thanks to movie site I Am Not Wayne Gayle in bringing it to my attention.

Best Animated Feature:
Brave
Frankenweenie
Hotel Transylvania
ParaNorman
Rise Of The Guardians
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!
The Rabbi’s Cat
Wreck-It Ralph

Best Animated Short Subject:
Brad And Gary
Bydlo
Eyes On The Stars
Goodnight, Mr. Foot
Kali, The Little Vampire
The Simpson: The Longest Daycare
Paperman
The Simpsons – Bill Plympton Couch Gag

Animated Effects In An Animated Production:
Brave
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
ParaNorman
Rise Of The Guardians
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Wreck-It Ralph

Animated Effects In A Live Action Production:
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Avengers
Battleship
John Carter

Character Animation In A Feature Production:
Brave
ParaNorman
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!
Rise Of The Guardians

Character Animation In A Live Action Production:
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Avengers
Life Of Pi

Character Design In An Animated Feature Production:
Hotel Transylvania
The Lorax
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
ParaNorman
Wreck-It Ralph

Directing In An Animated Feature Production:
Genndy Tartakovsky – Hotel Transylvania
Sam Fell, Chris Butler – ParaNorman
Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux – The Rabbi’s Cat
Rich Moore – Wreck-It Ralph
Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie – Zarafa

Music In An Animated Feature Production:
Bruce Retief – Zambezia
Patrick Doyle – Brave
Mark Mothersbaugh – Hotel Transylvania
John Powell – Ice Age: Continental Drift
John Powell – The Lorax
Alexandre Desplat – Rise Of The Guardians
Joel McNeely – Secret Of The Wings
Henry Jackman – Wreck-It Ralph

Production Design In An Animated Feature Production:
Brave
Frankenweenie
Hotel Transylvania
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
ParaNorman
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!
Rise Of The Guardians

Storyboarding In An Animated Feature Production:
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
ParaNorman
Rise Of The Guardians
Wreck-It Ralph

Voice Acting In An Animated Feature Production:
Jim Cummings – Adventures In Zambezia
Kelly MacDonald – Brave
Catherine O’Hara – Frankenweenie
Adam Sandler – Hotel Transylvania
Atticus Shaffer – Frankenweenie
Imelda Staunton – The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!
Jude Law – Rise Of The Guardians
Alan Tudyk – Wreck-It Ralph

Writing In An Animated Feature Production:
Brave
Frankenweenie
From Up On Poppy Hill
ParaNorman
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!
Wreck-It Ralph

Editorial In An Animated Feature Production:
Brave
Hotel Transylvania
Rise Of The Guardians
Secret Of The Wings
Wreck-It Ralph