New year, new cartoons: Animated movies new releases set up for an expanding industry, audience

Molly Wade, Co-Web Editor

With the new year comes new entertainment and with new entertainment comes new animated movies. Family films from each of the biggest studios in animation are bringing out movies that were announced at least a couple of years ago. The increase of interest in the animation industry has caused studios to pump out, in some cases, more than one movie a year.

Disney’s newest film Frozen has been in the works for quite some time now and will finally be released this winter in a continuation of Disney’s 3D animation trend. The main character, Anna, will be the newest Disney princess and the plot is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. Last year’s Wreck It Ralph proved that even though the look has changed, Disney’s storytelling ability has not. They will also be releasing Planes which is set in the same realm as Pixar’s Cars but is a separate story. Planes was originally going to be a direct to video release but recently it was announced that it would be released in theaters this coming August.

DreamWorks will also be releasing two films The Croods and Turbo, which are both made with 3D animation technology. Stars of The Croods include stars such as Emma Stone, Nicholas Cage and Ryan Reynolds. The plot seems fairly unique, a story of a rebellious teenager living with in a pre-historic family. The beautifully animated adventure begins when her father, a typical caveman, her mother, brother, sister and grandmother are forced to leave their cave and experience the world they have never truly known.

But Turbo is where DreamWorks appears to run dry on plot ideas. The story revolves around a snail, named Turbo, who dreams of being a racer and winning the Indy 500. Yes, a snail who basically wants to be a racecar. On the side of that, Turbo has a judgmental older brother who is embarrassed by his dreams. Two other movies come to mind when reading a plot like this. Pixar’s Ratatouille was centered around a rat who dreamed of being a chef who also had a cautious older brother. The Tale of Despereaux featured a mouse who dreamed of being a knight and also had an older brother who was judgemental. So DreamWorks seems to be drawing at thin air for new plots.

The prequel to Monsters Inc., Pixar is releasing Monsters University which has the most unique marketing method of any of the future animated movies of the year. The movie is set before Sully and Mike even become friends, in fact they blatantly hate each other. Pixar has created a website for the movie that is meant to look like a college site. There are promotional videos for the university that could persuade any Monsters Inc. fan into going there.

The newest movie from Blue Sky Studios, the makers of the successful Rio and Ice Age series, is Epic. No really, it is called Epic. But despite the generic title, it sports actors like Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried and Beyonce Knowles. The plot seems to almost resemble that of Arthur and the Invisibles, but that most likely comes from the human fascination of being small and the fact that both movies come from books.

Following the huge success of the first movie, Despicable Me 2 will be hitting theaters this summer with the return of the Minions. Sony Pictures is also putting out the sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It is a continuation the last movie, like most sequels are, but it revolves around the primary characters discovering food merged with animals and dealing with their island of food.

New technologies are being discovered as well that have brought unique changes to some studios. With Wreck It Ralph came the short film Paperman which brought a new twist to the industry: combining 2D animation with 3D. Paperman is the link between the old world and the new because if the studio that started it all many of the others will soon follow suit.

The boundaries of animation are becoming more and more blurry as they are becoming less concentrated to only a child audience. Last year’s ParaNorman is the first widely released children’s film to have an openly gay character which is almost unheard of in children’s entertainment. Themes in movies are becoming more mature and less cliche. According to one of ParaNorman’s directors, Chris Butler, there might eventually be a shift in the industry and animated movies will no longer be considered to always be targeted towards kids.

The industry is experiencing a slow and steady shift that is bringing new challenges to studios and audiences alike. But these changes will push animation to the next level and will hopefully result in more quality movies and short films alike.