Animation and Anime
WonderCon: Quint sees some WALL-E and PRINCE CASPIAN footage at Disney's panel! Plus Q&A with Andrew Stanton!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Disney’s panel is a little weird for me to write up. As fate would have it, I was in London to visit the edit bay of PRINCE CASPIAN just last week and I’m working on my full report (currently on hold until after WonderCon) and my first full day here in San Francisco I went to Pixar and saw 35 minutes of WALL-E. That second one is embargoed, so I’ll probably go into more detail on what I saw at the panel, but since nearly everything they previewed at WonderCon for Caspian was in what I saw in London, I’ll tread lightly and go more in-depth when that report hits, hopefully sometime next week.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
Howard Berger came out and spoke about NARNIA. Howard’s a great guy and I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with him and the other KNB guys on many of the sets I’ve visited. Disney threw him out by his lonesome to answer fan questions and give a little talk about the flick before starting the footage up.
- He looked at the first film and figured out what he wanted to change… he didn’t put it this way, but I got the impression that CASPIAN was an opportunity for a “do-over” on the creatures. He wanted a difference in age with the creatures… so this one we’ll see young creatures, old creatures and more wild beings, not so “coifed.”
-Weta is doing miniature and VFX work as well as a VFX company in London.
- VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is already moving forward and they’ll do all 7 books if the Box Office stays strong.
The footage they showed had no dialog, only music over images. There were some really incomplete effects, ranging from animatic Reepicheep slashing bad guys and tying up cats to green-legged centaurs. There was also part of the mano-a-mano sword fight between Peter and King Miraz, the evil ruler of the Telmarines who have taken over Narnia while the Pevensies have been away (one year passes for them and it’s well over a thousand years in Narnia).
I’ll have much more detail on this next week… I was shown at least 45 minutes of the movie, so I’ll be able to spill a bit more then. I’ll just say that I wasn’t that keen on the first NARNIA, but this one has a darkness to it that I quite enjoy. I like that Berger, Andrew Adamson and co. have made the world feel a little more used and lived in.
Andrew Stanton took the stage and introduced a series of clips from WALL-E before answering some questions. He gave some good tidbits, so make sure to check them out after the footage stuff:
The first one started with probably the most re-run footage from the trailer. It’s WALL-E’s typical day, starting with him solar-charging, with his panels out under his chin like a starlet in the 1950s. When he’s fully charged he makes a Mac sound, but not a new Mac sound… old school Mac start-up sound. I got a laugh out of that.
Then we got the roll-over of his cockroach buddy (that never fails to get an “Awwww” from any audience consisting of more than a dozen people I’ve seen it with) and then going out to crunch up trash into little cubes.
Along the way he finds things to have fun with, like you’ve seen… the bra, the fire extinguisher, paddle-ball, the car keys (and lock/alarm button thing) and he tosses his favorites into a small cooler… a shoe, a rubber duck, a ring box, a bronze trophy of some sort, etc.
Then there’s a time-laps sequence (bird’s eye) where we see a flat area of land that has a square outline of cubed trash… over the course of the day the square gets filled in as Wall-E places more and more cubes.
The next clip has Wall-E showing EVE around his pad. EVE is a slick new probe robot that Wall-E is head over heels in love with. It’s really cute seeing him go around trying to impress her… She’s a bit jumpy and has a big gun that pops out of her hand when she gets spooked.
The very first thing she looks at is a mounted bass, which starts to sing and move at her and her green eyes go red and she whips up her transformed gun-hand. Wall-E stops her from blowing a hole in his home, but just barely. He shows her a few things, including bubble wrap. She electronic giggles at it and when he goes away she rapid-fire pops all the bubbles, making the plastic fold over her hand, bubble-less and limp.
Wall-E comes back with a lightbulb. He hands it to her and it immediately lights up in her hands. He takes it back quickly, tapping it. This hasn’t happened before… She holds it again and it again it lights up. He gives her a Rubix Cube, all mix-matched and goes to find one of his most prized possessions, a video cassette tape.
When he digs it out and returns (no more and 3 seconds later) the cube is solved. He doesn’t notice, though. He hands EVE the video and she “oooohhhhs” at it as she pulls the tape out. Wall-E squeals in horror and quickly rewinds it manually, sucking the tape back into the casing.
He zooms to his TV and puts it in, nervously waiting to see if it’s broken.
HELLO DOLLY comes on, playing perfectly.. and yes, in full live action. He sighs a relief then tries to impress EVE by imitating the dancing. He doesn’t have a hat, so he uses a hubcap. She wants to dance, too, so she tries… which ends up with her slamming up and down repeatedly, denting the metal floor of the large automobile Wall-E lives in. He gets her to stop and imitates a dancing move… spinning in place.
She tries that and her flat arms turn into a propeller, which hit Wall-E and send him flying into the metal roof. We cut outside and see it dent outwardly.
The next clip has Wall-E chasing down EVE as she’s pulled back into a spaceship. His cockroach friend tries to come with him, but Wall-E forces him to stay behind.
He climbs up the side of the smoking ship as it takes off, leaving the Earth behind… the cockroach watching him leave with a sad little bug sound.
The spaceship explodes through an atmosphere thick with satellites and they’re in outer space. Wall-E stares in awe and then realizing he’s floating away and quickly grabs a hold of the ship again. The Earth is yellow behind him as he climbs up more.
He gets to the window where EVE sleeps, a green leaf symbol pulsing in and out on her chest. He taps on the window and points behind him, wanting to share the beauty of outerspace with her, but she doesn’t awaken.
Wall-E hangs on as they pass the sun (popping open his solar-charger), which fills up his battery almost immediately because he’s so damn close as well as Jupiter. Wall-E reaches a hand up and touches the ring, which sends a shower of stardust flowing behind him before it rejoins the ring.
Ultimately the ship nears a big purple cluster and behind it sits a giant ship called AXIOM. Wall-E’s eyes dilate big when he sees it. The smaller ship enters the bigger one and the clip ends abruptly.
Time for Q&A!
- Someone asked whether or not WALL-E would be released in Disney 3-D. Stanton said they didn’t plan on having WALL-E in 3-D, but it is a post-process so it’s possible. He said he’d love to see the movie in 3-D, but the first planned Pixar 3-D movie is TOY STORY 3.
- Luxo Jr. very much inspired Wall-E’s character, in that he is a machine first whose actions give him a character.
- Short Circuit was brought up and Stanton said in all honestly he’s only seen that movie once and while it might have subconsciously had an effect on Wall-E’s design the main inspiration came when he was at an A’s game and someone gave him a pair of binoculars. He spent an entire inning just playing with them, moving them up and down. “Happy, sad, happy, sad…” He said you don’t need a mouth, you don’t need a nose to show emotion, just that movement. The rest of Wall-E’s design came from necessity of the story.
- There was a heavy focus on putting in some filmic references in order to capture a ‘60s/’70s Sci-Fi feel. He talked a lot about this at the Pixar visit, but I gotta save something for that article… it’s really damn cool and it involves a brilliant cinematographer coming in to teach the animators who to replicate focus shifting and light bursts, etc.
- Is John Ratzenberger going to make it into the movie? “John gets to be a character named John, actually.” So, yes. Does that mean he plays a robotic toilet? I hope so!
- What about the Pizza Planet truck from the Toy Story’s? He wouldn’t commit to anything, but then said if you pay attention during the first 20 minutes of the movie you’ll see it.
Okay, that wraps up Disney… I’m getting tired, so I think maybe HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO GUANTANAMO BAY will be put off for tomorrow and I’ll knock out IRON MAN and X-FILES 2 now…
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Feb. 24, 2008, 5:23 a.m. CST
Looking forward to those.
Feb. 24, 2008, 5:34 a.m. CST
They have a big Wall-E mock up at our local cinema and it is so damn cute. I have to walk past it everytime i go to the movies and every time i come out. most of the the time the memory of that blocks out the movie that preceded it. god there's a lot of crap out at the moment.
Feb. 24, 2008, 5:39 a.m. CST
wall e looks awesome, not sure about narnia still, the bbc versions are too dear to my heart!
Feb. 24, 2008, 5:45 a.m. CST
Love me that Pixar!
Feb. 24, 2008, 9:12 a.m. CST
by Osmosis Jones
Feb. 24, 2008, 10:10 a.m. CST
will i be blubbing at the end like i blubbed at Silent Running? i hope so!! haha
Feb. 24, 2008, 11:25 a.m. CST
Do you mean Saturn?
Feb. 24, 2008, 11:51 a.m. CST
by Jawa 007
That's the prediction.
Feb. 24, 2008, 12:58 p.m. CST
Quint, did you fall asleep for the rest of the Wall-E screening? There's a bit where EVE is trying to send Wall-E back to Earth for screwing something up: there's a mix-up and instead he's sent out in a jettisoned pod that's going to self-destruct. Wall-E escapes in the nick of time, using a fire-extinguisher to propel himself into space out of an airlock, and he and EVE are hilariously re-united in space. (lots more goes on in this scene but I don't want to totally spoil it for you, as it's very funny!) Wall-E looks fantastic! Incredible animation, some of which Staunton said wasn't even fully rendered, but I couldn't tell at all. (Someone asked if Staunton thought the animation has gotten better at PIXAR over time, and he mock-indignantly replied, "Are you saying that Toy Story has the WORST animation that PIXAR's ever done? Well, you're right!") Wall-E looks likely to be another massive hit for PIXAR. I can't wait to see this one!
Feb. 24, 2008, 8:58 p.m. CST
Probable because it is unfairly compared to LOTR, but this would be making the same mistake as comparing the books. Lewis does lean more toward a children's audience, although it still has the depth of mythology for adults to enjoy. Lewis is also a little more blatant about making apologetic argument through his story, but it is what gives what is essentially a children's story some depth...Narnia is Paradise lost and perhaps not just in a figuritve sense...and much of myth is based on mankind's fall from grace, which Lewis would argue is rooted in the objective desire for the true myth of Eden. When the professor scolds Susan about what 'logic' really means, he makes an apologetic argument for the reality of the miraculous, and the error of modern 'logic' to assume miracles are not possible. Quint's complaint that the first film is not 'dark' enough has become a cliche' criticism of every film which I have yet to fully understand what it means. I would replace the word 'depth' with 'dark' in my criticism, which probably results from straying from the book...but I still think the story worked on film, unlike many I enjoyed the acting, and thought the relationships and the drama worked. As Aslan is tormented before his execution, that's a pretty dark scene, and the creatures, imo, are convincingly evil looking. The idea of Santa Clause giving weapons to children is pretty dark, but reflects accurately the paradox of Christianity and how there is more to it than platitudes of 'peace and love'. As Chesterton points out, it is a complex and composite picture of truth, that centers on a mission, that involves the defeat of enemies. If Socrates and Confucious lived forever, their goal would be to preach and teach truths the rest of their lives...Jesus had a very specific method that required his death, he was on a mission. So, some subtle additions by Adamson I really liked, such as the images of the young soldiers in the beginning and Peter taking notice. Overrall, I reflect on this film, the drama, the action, great direction and score and can't figure out why it didn't get more critical acclaim, but I forget you're not allowed to be too blatantly Christian in Hollywood.
Feb. 24, 2008, 10:24 p.m. CST
allegory, myth, religious overtones, blah blah blah. Do we have to all make the same comments every time a Narnia article shows up? The fact is Prince Caspian is loads better than LWW. Its the book that transformed Narnia from never-never land into an alternate universe with its own history. Later books are even better at this, but PC is what gave the series legs. Lewis dropped much of the preachiness and the random corniness (like father christmas) in lieu of a more internally consistent,and therefore interesting, world. Without that change, LWW would be about as popular as Lewis' big flop "Pilgrim's Regress"
Feb. 25, 2008, 4:20 a.m. CST
WallE for sure will be an experience to remember when it arrives in theatre. I cant wait. Even though the film is a departure in some way to their previous efforts and could possibly faile - it is still equally high in concept and there is no denying that Pixar are a team that pushes their craft, art, storytelling to the limit taking risks along the way.
Feb. 25, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST
Throughout the eighties, there was a big hooplah over number 5--there for a little while, believe it or not, he was something of a national phenomenon. Everybody was talking about that robot and kids everywhere wanted to own one. No, it wasn't the size of ET or anything, but it was no market slouch, either. That said, the thing was also played in reruns ad hoc throughout the late eighties and nineties. What I'm saying is there is no way on G-d's green earth can this guy say in broad daylight that he was "subconsciously aware" of number five throughout the design process. He completely ripped the design, thought he could get away with it, and now that more people remember that robotic grasshopper than he thought, he's sort of like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar. "Honest, I really didn't mean to....It was, ummm, binoculars! Yeah, thats it! It was binoculars all the time, see?" <p>Look, I don't have a problem with him emulating (see snatching) number 5--just be honest about it. Don't get your ego all twisted in a knot and act as though your design was an epiphany when you've clearly lifted it. Lifting is okay, so long as you give credit where credit is due. Honestly, no one would be that uptight about it so long as this was an homage, rather than the lift that this guy's behavior suggests it to be...
Feb. 25, 2008, 9:16 p.m. CST
The Wondercon audience response to that caspain kiddie movie was tepid at best. But the crowd went CRAZY over the Wall-e footage. And with good reason. It looks AMAZING!
Feb. 26, 2008, 7:31 a.m. CST
But really, these narnia books should be done as cartoons. That way we can get to see The Magicians Nephew - my bloody favourite!
Feb. 26, 2008, 10:14 a.m. CST
I knew this would be an improvement over LWW (even though I still liked that movie), so hearing that it seems like it stays true to the book and that it will darker and chock full of battle scenes is comforting. I have faith that this one will be really great.
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