Happy New Year, animation lovers! ‘Tis the season to start looking forward, which — to me — means it’s time to start getting excited over the new animated films being unveiled in the late winter-sping portion of 2015 (is it just me, or does Hollywood seem to work in trimesters?). While last fall’s films were showpieces (fall seems to be the time to get out the award-garnering works), the line-up for this season falls more along the predictably enjoyable side of the animation spectrum; they probably won’t win an Oscar, but they’ll give you and your family a good laugh after a week of being snowed in together.
Here are the films to look for this season:
Strange Magic (Jan. 23)
Coming out of George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic, and co-written by Lucas himself, Strange Magic is a modern fairy tale about goblins, fairies and imps interacting for the first time and the confusions and conflicts that result when the individual cultures clash. The trailer is kind of a hot mess, so it’s hard to get a good read on how good this will be (or even what the general plot might be, or who the main characters are). However, the world they created for this film looks pretty fantastic, and that in itself might be enough to get me to the theater (with my fingers triple crossed that the story isn’t as frenetic as the trailer makes out).
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Feb. 6)
The enormously popular SpongeBob Squarepants returns to the silver screen after a ten year hiatus in this hybrid animation/live action film. After the krabby patty recipe is stolen by an evil pirate, SpongeBob and his friends go on a quest to the surface world to recover it and save the world in the process. I love the SpongeBob TV series, so I am hopeful that this film will live up to the clever, satirical humor of the series’ best episodes. The 3D/live action mashup is a red flag, though, as that seems to be a gimmick that will draw younger viewers to the movie without adding anything to the quality of the humor or story. The trailer I posted here certainly gives me hope, while the one screened in conjunction with Big Hero 6 this fall was much less interesting, so it could go either way.
Shaun the Sheep (Feb. 6 – UK)
The new feature film from Aardman Animations (creators of Wallace & Gromit) features BBC favorite Shaun, the clever but mischievous sheep, and his flock as they try to make their way safely back to the farm after they find themselves in the Big City. I am quite excited to see this one, because I think Aardman Animations has a great track record of pulling off dialogue-less, coincidence and mishap driven scenarios, and Shaun is the perfect protagonist to keep the story moving along.
Home (March 27)
Of all the movies coming out in this early 2015 period, Home is the one I am most looking forward to. When Earth is taken over by a pompous alien race in search of a new place to call home, one resourceful girl manages to avoid internment and befriends an ostracized member of the alien group. The two fugitives team up to help find a way for earthlings and the new aliens to co-exist. I have talked before about DreamWorks’ strengths in comparison with the Disney/Pixar film style — I think DreamWorks is often the better of the two at more ‘traditional’ slapstick/gag-driven stories — and this seems like an ideal premise for showcasing those strengths.