August has some movie releases I have been waiting for, and this week we get Marvel’s reboot of the Fantastic Four. This is the origin story, where Reed Richards and company enter an alternate universe which changes them in ways they never anticipated. They are also bringing Victor Von Doom to the big screen with this one, and I have hopes that this release will rekindle the franchise. The series was always a favorite of mine because scientists were the superheros rather than the villains.
It isn’t the only choice this week as we also get the animated silliness of the Shaun the Sheep Movie. Built by the same Claymation specialists who bring us Wallace and Grommet, the stories are always packed with a lot of visual humor and very little in the way of dialog. Frankly, you don’t need words when you can tell a story with images this well, and I have to think that boosts their profit margin tremendously with international distribution. To translate the spoken part of one of these can’t take more than 3 people in the studio for one afternoon to lay down the recording, and maybe 10 hours of editing, mostly to mix the voices with the music and sound effects.
There is another animation also worth looking into this weekend for entirely different reasons; Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. This is a group project, with many award winning animators and animation directors from around the world contributing different “chapters”, and some world class actors doing the voice overs. It has already won a number of awards on the Festival circuit including Cannes, and sadly like most truly independent movies it isn’t going to be in a lot of theaters; only New York and LA this weekend, and while it will be hitting around 40 cities in North America during the following weeks, it generally is in a single theater per city. I have already posted trailers for the first two films (scroll down and back through my blog, they are obvious), now here is one for this wonderful creation.
Studio Chizu has teamed up with Funimation to bring The Boy And The Beast to some US theaters in the fall, going into wide release at the end of the year in hopes of nailing down an Academy Award or three. I can’t link you to the Funimation site, because they only signed on last week; they haven’t had a chance to build the page yet, so the link goes to the original Japanese site. Mamoru Hosoda directed this, some of his previous works included Summer Wars, The Girl Who Lept Through Time, and Wolf Children, so you can expect something exceptional.
This short animation, Le Gouffre, was created by just 3 animators who took two years bringing it to life. It has won a number of awards including Best Animated Short at three film festivals and Official Selection at about 35 more. The quality of the finished work is amazing, from the oil painting textures to the story itself, all told without words.
A ton of movies based on Philip K. Dick books have been made, but Amazon is taking a shot at doing a TV series based on The Man in the High Castle. This multi-award winning novel takes place in a parallel time line where Germany and Japan won WWII, and the number one underground hit in occupied America is a science fiction story about the Allies winning the war instead. Executive produced by Ridley Scott, this is part of Amazon’s new Amazon Pilot Season. They basically made the pilot episode, you watch it, and you rate it, telling them if you want to see more. They will turn some of these pilots into original series which you can watch on their streaming service, and I really hope they go with this one; the pilot was excellent.