Tim Mitchell Gets Converted From 2D to 3D by Disney [FIERCE ANTICIPATION]

FIERCELY ANTICIPATING

Disney Cartoons in 3D

Let me be up front about this: I am not an ardent fan of Disney cartoons. When it comes to feature-length animated entertainment, I usually prefer stuff from Pixar and Hayao Miyazaki over stuff from the House of Mouse. (The one notable exception to this rule of mine is The Emperor’s New Groove, which captures the absurd, slapstick comedy style of the old Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes shorts better than any other animated movie that I can recall.) However, this little piece of news caught my attention the other week, and I’ve been pondering its potential awesomeness ever since: This fall, Disney will re-release Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King in the 3D Blu-ray format.

Disney’s decision to convert two of its most popular films to 3D clearly stems from Hollywood’s current love affair with 3D movies. Many of this summer’s big-budget blockbusters are being released in 3D, and older 2D films such as the Star Wars movies and Titanic are being converted to 3D for re-release on the big screen. Yet what makes these Blu-ray releases by Disney distinct is that this is the first time I have heard of a major film company performing post-production 2D to 3D conversions to hand-drawn animated films. Both of these films used CGI technology to augment some of the hand-drawn animation, and I’m sure that this involvement of CGI played at least some part in Disney’s selection of these two particular titles for 3D conversion (as opposed to, say, Snow White or Bambi). Nevertheless, both Beauty and the Beast and Lion King are essentially 2D hand-drawn animated films, so I’m curious to see how Disney will add depth to flat, cell-animated drawings.

There have been other attempts in the past to convert 2D animation to a 3D format. During the mid-1980s when anaglyph 3D (i.e., red and blue 3D) made a brief comeback, the Young Sung Production Co. released Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. While the plot of Starchaser was little more than a Star Wars knockoff, it had the distinction of being the first feature-length 3D animated film. Starchaser was released on home video on VHS and DVD in a 2D format, but bootleg copies can be found in both anaglyph and field sequential 3D. From what I’ve heard, the quality of the 3D effects in Starchaser is at best comparable to watching a fully animated pop-up book. I’m guessing that with the resources that it has at its disposal, Disney will have something better to offer in their 3D Blu-rays.

Even though Disney did not produce the first feature length 3D hand-drawn animated movie, it did produce a few 3D animated shorts back in the 50s. These shorts include “Adventures in Music: Melody” and “Working for Peanuts”. If the upcoming Disney 3D re-releases are a hit, here’s hoping that Disney will dust off these shorts and release them on 3D Blu-ray as well.


SOMEWHAT ANTICIPATING

More Live Action Movies Based on Comic Books

Another one of Hollywood’s recent trends is the adaptation of comic books into movies. Usually, this happens in the form of superhero movies but there have been other comic book-based movies that had nothing to do with superheroes at all. Two notable examples of the later type of movie are Ghost World and American Splendor. Overall, there’s no reason to think that movies that are based on comic books will be any better or worse than movies that are based on classic and bestselling novels.

Depending on how you look at it, comic books are better suited for cinematic adaptations than novels, because comic books are also visual storytelling mediums and they are not much different in appearance than storyboards. Yet my trepidation does not stem from Hollywood’s desire to make movies based on comic books, but instead from how Hollywood chooses to make the movies. The comic book is a medium of both the writer and the graphic artist, yet Hollywood’s adaptations overwhelmingly prefer the usage of live actors over hand-drawn animation when bringing comic books to life. Of the many comic book adaptations that have been released on the big screen over the last decade, I can only think to one that was animated in a style similar to its source, 2007′s Persepolis. (In contrast, Japan takes the opposite approach. When a Japanese comic book, or “manga”, is chosen for adaptation into a movie or TV show, the adaptation is usually done in the form of animation and not live action.)

Maybe I’m nitpicking here, but it seems to me that when a film adapts a comic book’s narrative but doesn’t include the comic book’s visual style as part of the adaptation, something crucial is lost in the process. Ghost World is a great movie, but I can’t help but to wonder how much closer the film would’ve been to its source material’s creativity and mood had it animated the story in a way that was faithful to Daniel Clowes’ drawing style. Likewise, while I realize that the live action Thor and Captain America movies will make boatloads of money for Marvel Comics and its parent company Disney this summer, I’m somewhat let down that neither movie was animated in a style that would have been faithful to Jack Kirby’s original, trend-setting comic book artwork. (One of the great things about Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s animated adaptations of DC Comics’ characters such as Batman, Superman and the Justice League is that their visual style was modeled after Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoon shorts from the 1940s.)

Hand-drawn animation has long been considered to be a medium for children here in the US, and I was hoping that the increased popularity of comic books as source material for movies might change that attitude. It looks like I was wrong.


YOU COULDN’T PAY ME TO

Watch Any of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Future Movies

Of all the uber-macho action movie stars that Hollywood has cranked out over the decades, none have quite been like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Given the events over the last few months, that’s beginning to look like a very good thing.

Even though I’m a huge fan of franchises that have featured Schwarzenegger–namely, Terminator and Predator–I’m a fan of the franchises themselves and not of Schwarzenegger. So when I heard that he was restarting his movie career after his term as the Governor of California, I had mixed feelings. His movie career was already in decline before he decided to run for public office, and I couldn’t imagine what he could possibly do at this point to make himself marketable again.

Last March, he answered my question by announcing his next project, an animated series/comic book series called The Governator. You can watch the demo clip of The Governator below. In a press interview during this announcement, Schwarzenegger said, “When I ran for governor back in 2003 and I started hearing people talking about ‘the Governator,’ I thought the word was so cool. … The word Governator combined two worlds: the world of politics and the movie world. And [this cartoon] brings everything together. It combines the governor, the Terminator, the bodybuilding world, the True Lies ….” (How eco-friendly of Schwarzenegger. Not only is he recycling his past careers, he’s doing it in bulk!)

After watching the demo clip, I realized that Schwarzenegger isn’t nearly as smart or business-savvy as many of his admirers, PR staff and political handlers have claimed him to be. The Governator is an irredeemable, poorly-produced mess, an example of a vanity project that’s so heavily infused with uninhibited narcissism that it should’ve burst into flames upon first contact with oxygen. To be clear, Schwarzenegger would not be playing a character who becomes a superhero; he would be playing HIMSELF — a man who decides to become a superhero called “The Governator”, a combination of Iron Man and Batman and who has a team of young sidekicks pulled right out of a Captain Planet cartoon. Hence, the success of this title would hinge solely on an audience’s desire to see Schwarzenegger playing Schwarzenegger as a superhero. Considering that Schwarzenegger’s approval ratings were at a dismal 27 percent in 2010—the lowest rating for a sitting governor in more than 50 years—I can only wonder how the citizens of California felt about their ineffective ex-governor leaving office to become a self-absorbed, imaginary superhero.

Thankfully, we’ll probably never see The Governator or any of his other misguided comeback campaigns due to a marital indiscretion that he committed over a decade ago. While some have speculated that his recent disclosure of an affair with his former housekeeper and their out-of-wedlock child will not do much to hurt his career because it’s not too far removed from other political and showbiz sex scandals, it remains to be seen how a sex scandal affects a celebrity’s attempt at a comeback, particularly a comeback after an unpopular run in public office. If anything, I think that Schwarzenegger’s poor choices in both scripts and personal behavior will probably relegate his future in the entertainment industry to cheaply made, straight-to-video releases. He doesn’t even deserve that much, but at least it will keep him out of the cineplexes, comic book shops and toy store shelves.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, if by some chance you are reading this, I want to let you know that I’m not completely unforgiving in my assessment of your future career. Here are four suggestions that I think will ensure nothing but success in the renewal of your acting career and if you choose any one of them, you can count me in as one of your unwaveringly loyal fans.

  • In your notorious 1993 flop The Last Action hero, your alter ego Jack Slater comes out of the silver screen and tells you off, accusing you of ruining his life. You can follow this up in The Last Action Hero 2: Slater’s Revenge, where Slater rounds up a group of your family-friendly characters, such as Detective John Kimble from Kindergarten Cop and Dr. Alex Hesse from Junior, and they enter the real world to repeatedly beat the crap out of your lying, cheating girlie-man ass.
  • In light of your recent admission of living in a household with two women who have given birth to and raised your offspring, it turns out that you have at least some hands-on experience with polygamy. (OK, so one of the women was not your wife but your employee, but she nvertheless spent a lot of time in your residence so it still counts.) Thus, you could star in a cable TV series that’s a spinoff of HBO’s Big Love. Not only would this allow you to reunite with fellow Terminator and True Lies vet, Bill Paxton, who could reprise his role of Bill Henrickson as a recurring guest character, but it would allow you to provide guest opportunities for fellow Republican figures such as Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and John Ensign.
  • You can continue with The Governator project, but make it even more like your real life. The revamped version would be about a middle-aged, washed-up actor/failed governor who decides to make a comeback by becoming a masked vigilante, all while making alimony, child support and legal fee payments along the way. Think of this as a mash-up of DC Comics’ Booster Gold character with comic book series such as Kick-Ass and Ex Machina for a story that’s tailor-made for the aging baby boomer crowd.
  • Team up with Sylvester Stallone for a live action movie version of Saturday Night Live‘s “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” cartoon. You and Sly can decide which of you plays Ace and which plays Gary. (If Sly is not available, I’m sure that Mel Gibson or Chuck Norris would love to do this.) You should hire Joel Schumacher to direct this film, the guy who previously directed you in the not-so-ambiguously homoerotic Batman & Robin movie. Throw in cameos by the original “Duo” voice actors Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell and I guarantee you that it will be FABULOUS!