Ink & Pixel: Special Edition: 2015 Animation Preview

Ink & Pixel is a source of pride and joy for me as a writer and as such, I'm always striving to take this column further for those who read and enjoy it. In an effort to widen the reach of our continuously growing fanbase, Ink & Pixel has been granted permission to broaden its horizons with the inclusion of films from the Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy genres. I hope that you enjoy this bold new direction for the column. Additionally, if you yourself, or anyone you know, helped to make any of the amazing feature films found within this column, I would love to talk to you to further my knowledge. Please contact me at [email protected] so we can discuss it further.


Happy New Year, Everybody! I hope you all enjoyed our Top 5 Animated Films of 2014 list, and managed to ring in the new year with either good friends, a stellar party, or even an unforgettable solo venture! That said, it's once again time to orient ourselves and be on to new business. This week, with 2014 now behind us, I thought we'd take a look forward at several of 2015's upcoming animated theatrical releases. So sit back, grab yourself a strong coffee, Gatorade, or whatever you use to nurse that killer hangover of yours, and let's dive in!



Pixar is back, ladies and gentlemen, and things are about to get emotional! Slated for a June 19, 2015 release in the United States, INSIDE OUT will be Pixar's first full-length animated feature release since MONSTERS UNIVERSITY in June of 2013. INSIDE OUT will share the story of Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), a young girl whose family has just uprooted her life in the Midwest by moving to the busy city of San Francisco. Like any other young person on the brink of puberty and finding their place in the world, Riley is guided by her emotions: Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Joy (Amy Poehler). These emotions - all of whom reside and govern the young lady's actions from a place inside her head known as The Headquarters - must work together if Riley is ever to adjust and be at peace with her new surroundings.


I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to this one. Not only does this film mark the return of Pixar to the big screen, but it also looks to be serving up something original from the biggest animation house in the game. Folks have been clamoring for Pixar to get over a nauseating case of sequel-itis for a while now, and INSIDE OUT looks like it could very well be the cure.



Oh man, is there anyone alive who has experienced the DESPICABLE ME films and did not see this one coming? That's right, everyone's favorite jibberish-speaking, pill-shaped helpers are coming back – and this time they've got their very own film in which to sing you songs and slap each other silly. Produced by Illumination Entertainment for Dreamworks Pictures, MINIONS takes us to a time in which the Minions – a single-celled organism whose only purpose is to be of service to the most despicable villains in our history – have accidentally destroyed all the world's evil doers. Ashamed, and having isolated themselves from mankind until sometime in the 1960s, minions Stuart, Kevin, and Bob embark on a mission to impress and ultimately be employed by Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) – a deranged woman who aims to be the world's first female Super Villain.


Parents, I hope your wallets are ready and your minds fortified for the onslaught of merchandise and general insanity that this movie is sure to bring. The minions have always been a highlight of the DESPICABLE ME film franchise for many fans and I have no doubt that directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda are ready and willing to pour the humor and hilarious antics on real thick for those looking to cry themselves with laughter come this July 10th, 2015.



Little is known about this animated offering from Dreamworks Animation, beyond a general plot synopsis and a select few of the stars lending their voices to what will hopefully be a hauntingly good time at theaters some time in 2015. From the imagination of Tony Leondis (KRONK'S NEW GROOVE), comes B.O.O.: BUREAU OF OTHERWORLDLY OPERATIONS, starring Seth Rogen, Melissa McCarthy, and Bill Murray. Written by Tom Wheeler, B.O.O. will tell the story of a secret organization that employs good-natured ghosts to help protect the living from vengeful hauntings. All is well until Jackson Moss (Rogen) and Watts (McCarthy) discover a plot perpetrated by the villainous ghost of Addison Drake (Murray), who looks to put an end to the B.O.O. Agency, making terrifying hauntings a daily occurrence for all of us who are fortunate enough to still be alive.


Sounds a little bit like Peter Jackson's THE FRIGHTENERS, right? Regardless, I'm always up for an animated flick that dabbles in the otherworldly realm of the paranormal. Plus, it's widely known that Bill Murray doesn't attach himself to anything unless he personally approves of the project, and I would follow that man just about anywhere. Here's hoping that we get some more information on this upcoming film over the course of the next few months and that it turns out to be something worth getting really excited for.



Produced by Dreamworks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox, HOME is a CGI-animated buddy comedy based on Adam Rex's 2007 children's book The True Meaning of Smekday. In HOME, a forever cheerful, yet dimly-witted race of alien beings called The Boov – led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin) – have arrived on Earth with a doomsday warning or sorts. With proclamations that an evil alien race is set to invade the planet, The Boov offer to re-locate to fearful Earthlings to a safe place. While wrangling up those who remain, a young woman by the name of Tip (Rhianna) manages to avoid being a part of the intergalactic caravan, and is left behind with nothing but her wits and an outcast member of the Boov race - an alien by the name of Oh (Jim Parsons). Believing herself to be safe, not to mention having gained a new friend in Oh, Tip is frustrated to find Oh has done them both the disservice of alerting their alien captors of his their whereabouts. Way to go, Oh! I hope you brought along some phaser guns and plasma shields for when things inevitably go wrong!


Yes indeed, HOME was originally set to be released this past year, but had in fact exchanged dates with PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, in order to avoid becoming an unknown property buried among several other holiday releases. As a result, HOME will be given its chance to shine in theaters this March 27th, 2015. Personally, I'm finding myself more curious than excited about this one. Trailers can often times be deceptive, but I'm hoping that the movie has a bit more to offer than fish-out-of-water and fart jokes. I suppose that only time will tell.



While the rest of Sony is struggling to recover from its leaked email debacle, not to mention what the hell to do with their failing Spider-Man franchise, their animation department is hard at work crafting a sequel to 2012's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. Slated for a September 15th, 2015 release, it appears as if Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) will let the doors of his monsters-only hotel swing wide for another round of life lessons, laughs, and letting go of his love-struck teenage daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). With no official plot details having been announced yet, however, there's no telling what Johnnystein (Andy Samberg), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Murray the Mummy (Keegan Michael-Key), Frank (Kevin James), and Wayne (Steve Buscemi) will be up to this time around. I'll tell you this though: are you ready? Mel Brooks has been cast as the voice of Vlad, Mavis' grandfather!


I might lose some points for this, but I rather enjoyed HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. I'm a big fan of the classic movie monsters and felt as if the film redeemed itself sometime during the third act for all of its preceding foolishness. It's not going to win any awards, but it's a fun film to throw on during the Halloween season. Oh yeah, and it's probably the best thing Sandler and and his band of fledgling comedian friends have done in a long time. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 anyone? Yeah, I didn't think so.



Oh man, I can totally hear the Peanuts theme inside my head as I continue to write about this upcoming CGI release from Blue Sky Studios with distribution by 20th Century Fox. Based on the timeless comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz, Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown, and all of their friends will be making their long overdue debut on the silver screen this November 6th, 2015. Though plot specifics are scarce at the moment, director Steve Martino had this to say when participating in an interview with The Washington Post about his intentions for the upcoming film, “Here's where I lean thematically. I want to go through this journey... Charlie Brown is that guy who, in the face of repeated failure, picks himself back up and tries again. That's no small task. I have kids who aspire to be something big and great... a star football player or on Broadway. I think what Charlie Brown is — what I hope to show in this film — is the everyday qualities of perseverance... to pick yourself back up with a positive attitude — that's every bit as heroic... as having a star on the Walk of Fame or being a star on Broadway. That's the [story's] core. This is a feature film story that has a strong dramatic drive, and takes its core ideas from the strip.


Hell yeah! It sounds to me like Martino has nothing but the best of intentions and respect for these timeless characters, and I for one can't wait to see what he's going to do with them. I've heard whispers of folks being nervous about bringing Peanuts to a 3D CGI format, but to that I say this, Snoopy and the Red Barron, in 3D! It's bound to happen, and that's something I very much want to see up on the big screen.



Oh Ley! 2015 is about to make some animation history with the release of Animex, Olmos Productions, and Phil Roman Entertainment's first major CG animated film co-produced by studios in both Mexico and the United States! EL AMERICANO: THE MOVIE features the story of Cuco (Rico Rodriguez), a fanciful young parrot who travels to Hollywood with the aim of procuring aid from a personal hero of his, hoping that it will help turn the tide in an ongoing battle back home between his circus family and a villain by the name of Martin Kingfisher (Cheech Marin).


Right on! I love the idea of studios working together in order to help bring new players to the game. In addition to this being a first for Animex, the film also boasts a well-rounded cast of both Mexican and American-born actors such as: Lisa Kudrow, Gabriel Iglesias, Kate del Castillo, Don Cheto, K.C. Porter, and many more! EL AMERICANO: THE MOVIE has yet to lock down an official release date, but those aiming to enjoy this film can look for it in theaters sometime this coming March of 2015.



I can honestly say that I never saw this coming, and even had to triple check my sources to determine whether or not it's really happening, but it's true – Ratchet & Clank are making their way to the big screen! Based on the popular action-platforming game series from Insomniac Games, and under the directorial eyes of Kevin Munroe and Jerrica Cleland, the film will be presented as an origin story of sorts – with plenty of new elements to keep it fresh and engaging for fans of the franchise. This means that we can look forward to seeing how Ratchet and Clank first met, their adventures of saving the Solana Galaxy from Chairman Drek and the Blarg, as well as some material featuring Doctor Nefarious and the Galactic Rangers!


I'm really hoping that this film does well. Not only would it be a nice addition to this year's theatrical animated contributions, but it would also mean that we'd get a video game-based film that don't completely suck. Perhaps the best news coming out of this announcement is that key members of the Insomniac Games team will be overseeing the film, and will be helping to contribute to its plot, dialogue, voice cast, and overall execution throughout. You're excited now, aren't you? I can tell. Look at you, you're thinking about busting out your Playstation right now just so you can get pumped up. Go ahead, the Ratchet & Clank games are awesome!



You have to figure that with the wide variety of animated films coming our way in 2015 that there's room for at least one science fiction musical comedy, right? Directed by Gary Rydstrom and inspired by William Shakespeare’s beloved A Midsummer Night's Dream, STRANGE MAGIC stars Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen Chenowith, and Maya Rudolph. Each of these talented actors will lend their voices to a large cast of fairies, goblins, elves, and other creatures - each of them looking to put a new spin on this classic tale.


I've never seen it, but I've heard really positive things about GNOMEO & JULIET. If STRANGE MAGIC receives even a fraction of the high praise that G & J did then we might be looking at another winner in the long list of solid Shakespeare adaptations that exist within both the live-action and animated film format. We'll just have to wait and see, I suppose. STRANGE MAGIC will be casting its spell in theaters this January 23rd, 2015.



Are you ready, kids? Aye-aye, Captain. I can't hear you! Aye-aye, Captain! Yarg, that be better, ya squabs! Okay, so whether you're ready for it or not, Spongebob Squarepants is is ready to once again make a splash on the big screen come this February 6th, 2015. In this film, the nefarious Burger Beard is up to no good when he conceives a plan to acquire the missing page of a magical book that will allow him to execute the details of any evil plan he writes upon it. When his search takes him to the depths of Bikini Bottom, it places Spongebob and his friends in mortal danger, thereby forcing the intrepid group to the surface if they're to set things right.


Sometimes I feel like the only person on the planet who completely missed the Spongebob train. Part of me felt like it went to great lengths to capitalize on the gross-out factor of REN & STIMPY, and what remained didn't really care for his voice. Regardless, there's no doubt that Spongebob is still, after all these years, a highly acclaimed animated property - and I have no doubt that this movie will do gangbusters when it floats to the surface this February. Maybe I'll even take the plunge and see what all the hullabaloo is about.



Finally, after many ups and downs, Pixar's THE GOOD DINOSAUR is on its way to us this November 25th, 2015! Here are the details: What would the world be like if the cataclysmic asteroid that wiped out all the dinosaurs never happened? That's precisely what we're going to find out when Arlo (Lucas Neff), a 70-feet-tall teenage Apatosaurus, undergoes a traumatic event and looks to restore peace to his land. Along for the ride will be a young boy by the name of Spot, and together, they will each work to restore balance to a world that's fallen on hard times as time and evolution persist in the name of life as we know it.


You know me, I'm always down for an original idea from Pixar, and THE GOOD DINOSAUR sounds like it's shaping up to be a roaring good time. Truth be told, I'll be grateful just to have a new dinosaur movie that doesn't borrow all of its ideas from THE LAND BEFORE TIME, or its sequels. With today's technology, and plenty of time to cook and perfect the film's story, characters, and direction, this is assuredly one of my most anticipated animated films of 2015.

There you have it, folks. The list you see before you is merely a glimpse at what's to come from the world of animation in the year 2015. Never forget that there's still plenty to be excited about with regard to foreign films, direct-to-digital releases, and much more. I'm going to make it my part of my New Year's resolutions to see as many of these films as possible so that I can write about them and share my thoughts with you all throughout the year here at Ink & Pixel. Happy New Year to you all and stay animated!

Extra Tidbit: What animated film are you looking forward to the most in 2015? Let us know in the comment section down below!
Source: joblo.com



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