Strange Magic - Disney, Lucasfilm, Shakespeare

Loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Story by George Lucas, script by Gary Rydstrom, David Berenbaum (Elf), and Irene Mecchi (Brave, The Lion King). Directed by Gary Rydstrom. Lucas is executive producing.

Lucasfilm Animation out of Singapore is going the honors. Same group that did Rango.

The voice cast includes Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, and Alfred Molina.

January 23rd 2015.


Blaaaaaaah, all the character styles in the big Disney/Dreamworks cartoons look identical these days. Stop it.

This movie development has been rumored for years. Like before the Disney buyout of Lucas. I imagine there are some production tales to tell.

It’s pretty much being sent out to die. Being dumped in theaters in January with no hint of marketing until now.

Too bad. The Rango animation team is amaaaaaaazing.

This was the single biggest obstacle to my enjoyment of Frozen.

Well…that and not being a 12 year old girl.

Well, this 48 year old man love it. Granted, I have a 16 year old daughter whom I watched it with, but it is a good empowerment film for girls due to spoilery reasons.

I haven’t seen Frozen, but I do enjoy some films that are geared towards kids. The Incredibles and Iron Giant are two of my absolute favorite films. I was just teasin’. ;)

I appreciate friendly teasing. That is why I didn’t call you a douche bag.

You apparently don’t appreciate it very much, though.

I guess that’s one way to let me know you didn’t really appreciate it. Heh.

God. The net, texting and email are terrible formats for banter and chops busting among loose acquaintances. No hard feelings meant or taken.

I am not loose!

So I am not the only one who thinks the animation is getting to “similar”. I liked Frozen, but I don’t think it compares to some of the older stuff.

You’ll have to get through some agenda, but I think this article does a great job of laying out character design for modern CG animated films. Looking at past character designs compared to more recent ones, makes this pretty evident.

Basically, many character designs - especially female ones - look alike in these movies because the abstraction of our beauty ideals lead to this. There’s less wiggle room and variance in popular media’s ideal female form, so the cartoon versions tend to look similar when you break them down to their basic features. Big eyes, small mouth, infantilized features, etc.

Kinda like female kpop stars (and Korean women–and, increasingly, men, in general). There’s a creepily singular beauty ideal at work there that they’re all striving to sculpt themselves into, and it’s just a little uncanny after awhile.

The follow-up to that article is worth reading as well, and provides some more visual examples as well as laying out some terms of the standard female design:

Are all of these characters identical? No, of course not. Each is visually distinct in her own way. But I want to draw your attention to a certain pattern of facial features going on here. Not every single recent animated woman has been designed with this formula, but it seems like it’s becoming more and more common lately. It is a heart shaped face with large eyes, and a tiny nose and mouth, which are placed close together low on the face.

Those were pretty interesting articles, though the focus on Disney for the first one sapped a bit from its strength - you can criticize a studio for hewing too closely to a standard, well-worn style, but it starts to ring a little hollow: “You’re continuing to use the same, highly successful style that’s made you so popular! Shame on you!”

The second article does a better job by pointing out the same trends across four different studios. It still kind of evokes the same response from me (standards are typically applied because of success, not just laziness), but she does make a persuasive case for the near ubiquity of the heart-shaped female heroine face.

What she never mentioned - but I kept expecting her to get to - is the influence of what I think of as the ultimate expression of this trend: Japanese animation. It’s pretty apparent to me that modern animation studios have been profoundly influenced by Manga and Anime, where pretty much ALL of the faces of heroes and heroines are identical… differing only in hair shape and color.

That’s an influence I’m thoroughly tired of already. I’ll be glad when it dies out, assuming that whatever replaces it isn’t worse.