I’m familiar with the concept of a cartoon hand in animation being drawn with four fingers only (image simplification, cartoon proportions, etc), but I’ve never really pondered as to why so many of the classic cartoon characters (like say Mickey Mouse and Goofy from the Disney stable for example) wore white gloves.
Luckily for us then, the Vox team went in and took a closer look at the possible reasons as to why:
In summary (just in case you can’t view the video, you know, thanks to work restrictions or something like that):
1) Image simplification to save time and thus money. (Less details, curves instead of angles, etc.)
2) To contrast black hands against a black body in the age of early black and white animation.
3) Humanizing an anthropomorphic creature by giving them more human-like hands.
4) Vaudeville and blackface minstrels style that was originally associated with the art of early animation performances.
So a good number of plausible, possible and quite interesting reasons then!
If you enjoyed the Lego Movie or any of the licensed property Lego games from the last couple of years then you will definitely enjoy this one.
For starters, the show is set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, meaning that you know straight away that you are in at a minimum for Lego Darth Vader and his Lego Stormtroopers to make an appearance.
Then there are the titular Freemakers, consisting of the young Rowan who first starts all the ruckus by discovering the hilt of the shattered Kyber Saber and then insisting on hunting for the rest of the crystal fragments, the older sister Kordi who is forever looking out for the family, and finally the eldest brother Zander, the mechanic who is good at building ships and probably the most important when it comes to keeping the Freemakers’ salvage operation afloat!
(Plus, there is the reprogrammed battledroid R0-GR, who as you may have guessed – in the tradition of the Star Wars universe – is funny as all heck.)
Anyway, essentially the setup is that you have these two forces, the Freemakers and the Galactic Empire who are both racing to find the Kyber crystal fragments in order to restore the powerful, legendary Kyber Saber lightsaber. There is the usual good versus evil, a clever twist and a lot of guest appearances – all generously mixed into this very fun action/comedy story.
It’s thirteen episodes long. The boys/girls will love it, you will grin at it, and essentially, the fanboys will adore it.
Pretty much a winner all around then! ;)
Star Wars Rebels from Lucasfilm Animation (currently showing on Disney XD), is a pretty enjoyable animated Star Wars romp that serves as the follow up to the excellent Star Wars: The Clone Wars, telling the story of a group of rebels as they take on the Galactic Empire – and then find themselves being chased by some pretty scary adversaries!
The show is a 3D CGI animated television series, and although I’ve never truly been a fan of the look (having always preferred the flatter style associated with more classic animation), the visuals that are pulled off work pretty well for what in the end is a pretty action-packed, story-driven kids show.
However, it’s the score, sound effects and voice acting which really, really hits the high notes.
Lucasfilm Animation have pulled in some excellent heavy hitters in the world of American animation voice overs, roping in Steven Blum (Digimon, Naruto, Transformers: Prime, Ben 10, The Legend of Korra, and Wolverine and the X-Men) as Zeb, Vanessa Marshall (Avengers Assemble, Ben 10, Sym-Bionic Titan, The Spectacular Spider-Man, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice, and Guardians of the Galaxy) as Hera, Kath Soucie (Futurama, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Totally Spies!, Kim Possible, W.I.T.C.H. and Ben 10) as Minister Maketh Tua, and Stephen Stanton (Archer, King of the Hill, Wolverine and the X-Men, MAD, Hero Factory, and Breadwinners) as Grand Moff Tarkin, to name but a few.
And mind you, they certainly don’t limit themselves just to actors known for voice over roles either!
For example, Jason Isaacs (best known as Malfoy from Harry Potter) voices the intimidating Grand Inquisitor. Brent Spiner (best know as Star Trek’s Lieutenant Commander Data) brings to life Senator Gall Trayvis. Samuel Witwer (from Being Human) is Emperor Palpatine. Tiya Sircar (Vampire Diaries and 17 Again) voices Sabine Wren.
Perhaps the most surprising of all though, is film actor Freddie Prinze, Jr. picking up the role and rebel cell leader, Kanan Jarrus – a human Jedi survivor of Order 66, trained under master Depa Billaba, and the de facto leader of the Ghost crew, armed with a two-piece dual-phase lightsaber and DL-18 blaster. It has to be said, Freddie does a fantastic job of bringing this rough-edged Jedi to life!
Maybe that’s why Lucasfilm Animation then went ahead and roped his equally famous wife in to cut him down to size in season 2, unveiling Sarah Michelle Gellar as the deadly force-sensitive, steel masked Seventh Sister Imperial Inquisitor.
Definitely a fun way to pit husband against wife!
(Not that either of them steal the show mind you – that honour belongs – as always – to the impeccable James Earl Jones, the only man alive that can bring the intimidating Darth Vader to life!)
Fourteen years after the fall of the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Council in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a rag-tag group of rebels unite aboard a freighter starship called the Ghost, and conduct operations against the Imperial garrison on and around the planet Lothal.
If you recognise that premise, then you’ve obviously been watching the action-packed Star Wars Rebels, the animated follow up by Lucasfilm Animation to their successful Star Wars: The Clone Wars series.
Of course, the Galactic Empire is the primary villainous force of the story here, but naturally it is the agents on the ground that will provide the biggest thrills and threats!
Season 1 had Ezra and the rest of the rebels being relentlessly chased by Agent Kallus, a high-ranking agent of the Imperial Security Bureau and skilled rebel hunter. Kallus eventually goes on to serve Darth Vader and work alongside the Inquisitors. He is particularly adept at spotting rebel traps and setting up his own, and as highly trained hand-to-hand combatant, Kallus also carries a rare Lasat bo-rifle which he personally pried from the dead hand of a Lasat Honor Guard when their homeworld fell to the Galactic Empire.
Then there are the insidious Inquisitors – force-sensitive agents of the Galactic Empire, armed with gyroscopic double-bladed lightsabers, and used by Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine to hunt down the remaining Jedi.
The first season introduced us to The Grand Inquisitor, tasked with hunting down any Jedi who survived Order 66, as well as luring any Force-sensitive children the Jedi in question take as their Padawans to the dark side or destroying them if they refuse. Particularly strong and adept at combat using his unusually lethal lightsaber, The Grand Inquisitor is easily superior to Kanan and any of the other rebels – thus making him by far their most immediate threat!
Season 2 also introduces two new Inquisitors into the mix, The Fifth Brother and The Seventh Sister. Eager to take the place of the Grand Inquisitor, these two Inquisitor partners are particularly energized in the carrying out of their mission of bringing down the rebels.
That said and done though, you can’t talk about the villains of Star Wars Rebels without mentioning the infamous Darth Vader. Pulling many of the strings and inflicting the heaviest damage against Ghost and her crew, the legendary cyborg Sith commander is at his imposing best, front and center in the fight against the rebel scum!
The first season of Star Wars Rebels was a pretty fun ride. Set fourteen years after Revenge of the Sith and five years before A New Hope, Rebels takes place during an era when the Galactic Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy. Imperial forces are hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights while a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking form.
It introduced us to the hot head, street smart, Ezra (who it turns out, might just make a pretty decent Jedi), the cowboy Jedi and leader of the rebel cell, Kanan, Ghost pilot Hera, the gruff and irritable Zeb, the creative but also good with explosives Sabine, and of course the annoying and slightly broken astromech droid Chopper.
Chased by the relentless Agent Kallus, and then hunted by the brutal Grand Inquisitor (with his awesomely designed lightsaber), the Rebels slowly moved from being a small thorn in the Empire’s toe to a rather large pain in it’s side!
Kanan was forced to wield his lightsaber once more, and as it turned out, became an unwilling mentor when it was shown that Ezra might just have a connection to the force.
Loads of action, tons of nods to franchise and of course lots of awesome guest appearances, season 1 certainly didn’t disappoint – and ended on an absolute thrilling note: the introduction of Lord Vader himself!
So yes. The kids and I are most definitely looking forward to season 2 kicking of on Disney XD!
Having thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the first season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it is pretty awesome to be able to say that I was just as thrilled with 2012’s Season 2, featuring the return of Iron Man, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Wasp and the First Avenger, Captain America!
Season Two depicts the Avengers as they track down the remaining members of the Masters of Evil and end up facing the secret invasion of the Skrulls in the first half of season, followed by the Kree in the second half. Intertwined with this is a number of other story plots that get opened up and then closed again, making for an enthralling, overarching storyline that is guaranteed to satisfy any long time comic book fan, never mind the people getting exposed to the Avengers for the very first time.
The amount of characters drawn in from the Marvel Universe over the course of the series is staggering, with the likes of Ms. Marvel, The Vision, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Scott Lang, Heroes for Hire, Doctor Doom, Surtur, Crossfire, Thunderbolt Ross, his Red Hulk form, Guardians of the Galaxy, Falcon and Beta Ray Bill all making an appearance.
The show is cleverly written, the characters well handled, the touches of humour are all in place, but above all else, the unrelenting superhero action is without a doubt what makes this such a pleasing watch.
Whilst the voice actors all do a terrific job with their respective characters, and backed by an outstanding musical score and soundtrack, I remain a little disappointed with the chosen animation style – the stylized designs are just a little too square for my liking and although visually The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes does stand out as its own animal, I can’t help but feel that a stronger, more streamlined animation style could have been employed, something similar to say what Young Justice and ThunderCats is currently doing.
But this is a minor gripe because I really can’t fault Avengers in terms of keeping me on the edge of my seat and entertaining me all the way through. Plenty of twists, action and drama, and more than enough superheroes to make even the hardest to please comic book fanboy happy!
Well worth tracking down and watching then.
I am a huge fan of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s 2005 to 2008 Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series, one of the most engaging, character-driven, and laden with political and human nature commentary shows to come out of the USA for a long while.
Pleasingly, I’m just as thrilled with the big follow-up, 2012’s The Legend of Korra, which continues the story of the four nations and the art of elemental bending, but this time shunting us forward into a new steampunk frontier, complete with a fiesty and hot-headed new Avatar: Korra.
The Legend of Korra tells the story of the current Avatar who mastered three of the four elements back when she was still just a toddler. However, her fierce will and impatience makes it difficult for her to learn air bending, the result of which sees her travelling to Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a state that emerged after the end of the war that occurred in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
There under the guidance of Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang and Katara, Korra is hoping to learn the bending of the final element that will lead to her fulfilment of the Avatar role. However, Republic City comes with a lot of distractions, both in terms of boys and pro-bending – neither of which is helping her all that much.
Unfortunately, things aren’t going to remain uncomplicated for very long though. In addition to the triads and the rest of the seedy underbelly of this rapidly modernizing city, comes a very different type of danger – masses of ordinary people led by the masked man Amon, who has the ability to take away benders’ abilities, all in the name of bringing about an equal society for all!
A lot of the charm and naivety from the original Avatar series is lost in this outing, the result of which are two very different shows. The first was definitely aimed towards the younger viewer, but with enough depth to enthrall and entertain the older, whilst the Legend of Korra is most definitely pitched at just a slightly older audience, tackling a wide variety of very relevant socio-political concerns and other more mature themes in the process.
Nevertheless, the show never stops being fun, and is jam-packed with action, humour, drama and plenty of twists!
Of course bending takes a front row seat once again, and the choreography of the fight scenes is simply breathtaking. In fact, the visuals as a whole are just sublime, combining rich and detailed background work with fluid and well-designed character animations.
In the same vein, the show sounds just as good as it looks, with a talented cast of voice actors filling the boots of their respective characters with both ease and skill, competently backed up by a superb soundtrack and musical score.
The first book which consists of twelve episodes tells a fantastic story, which wraps up neatly by the end of the final episode and does a brilliant job of introducing this new world to the viewer and then whetting their appetites, before finally leaving them gasping for more.
Well, well worth tracking down then.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_of_Korra
Long ago, human civilization was divided into four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation and the Air Nomads. Within these societies existed people with the amazing ability to manipulate the element of their nation through the physical motions of martial arts. This was known as bending.
At any given point in time, only one person in the whole world would be able to bend all four of the elements – the Avatar, a divine spirit of the world, continuously reborn and reincarnated in human form, tasked with keeping the balance between the nations as well as connecting the material world with that of the spiritual realms.
A hundred years ago, the reigning Fire Lord Sozin started a war with the other nations, taking them by surprise and almost immediately subjugating most of the other territories. And during the world’s great time of need, the Avatar simply disappeared.
Now a hundred years later, a brother and sister from the Southern Water Tribes uncover what appears to be the Avatar, a young Air Nomad called Aang – The Last Airbender.
What follows from here is a simply marvellous tale of Katara, Sokka, Aang and his flying bison called Aapa, as they attempt to evade the clutches of the Fire Nation, avoid a hellbent pursuer, attempt to upskill Aang’s bending abilities to include all the other elements, and finally try to end the war that has been plaguing the world for so long.
Packed with action, adventure, drama, humor and a very rich and detailed story that draws one in, entertains and enlightens, Avatar: The Last Airbender is without a doubt one of the best animated television shows to comes out of the States in a very, very long time, pleasing both young and old in the process.
The character development is superb, the visuals are amazing, the action and fight choreography unsurpassed – in fact there is almost nothing that a person can fault in this series. Hauntingly beautiful music, striking character designs, an inventive and fun world to be taken in, and a well-matched voice cast makes for a sublimely polished show that you should most definitely be sitting down and watching with your kids if you have not yet done so.
61 episodes broken up into 3 distinct “books” means that you will grow up with and emotionally attach yourself to each and every one of the characters, making it that much harder to let go once the incredibly satisfying end to this epic series is unleashed before you.
Quite frankly I can’t recommend this series highly enough to anyone with even the slightest of interest in watching animated shows.
Definitely, definitely worth your while to track this one down then! :)
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Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar:_The_Last_Airbender
If you have young ones in your life and are looking for something to sit down and watch with them, something that both you and they might thoroughly enjoy, look no further than either Shaun the Sheep or Timmy Time – seriously, I can’t stress (or recommend) this highly enough! :)
Shaun the Sheep (2007)
Shaun the Sheep is a British stop-motion animated children’s television series created by Nick Park and produced by Aardman Animations, a spin-off from their famous and much loved Wallace and Gromit franchise, starring Shaun the Sheep from the “A Close Shave” episode as its main protagonist. It first aired in March 2007 and went on to spawn at least 80 odd 6 minute long episodes, never mind a whole lot of specials. The series has also inspired its own spin-off show, Timmy Time, which is aimed at younger viewers (which I mention a little later).
A premise of the series is that Shaun the sheep exhibits human intelligence, creativity, and behaviour in a farm setting, which usually provides a situational comedy conflict which Shaun must resolve before the end of each episode. Recurring themes include the characters evading the sheepdog Bitzer (though he is sometimes with the sheep in their escapades) and avoiding discovery by the Farmer.
Episodes are very much a combination of slapstick and classic silent comedy in Aardman’s recognizable animation style. There is no spoken dialogue, only simple grunts, bleats and sighs, all of which are used to generate the wonderfully enjoyable atmosphere that makes up Shaun the Sheep.
Episodes are fun, lighthearted, contain plenty of references to popular culture, and with its awesomely cute visual style (not to mention its particularly catchy theme tune), it is guaranteed to entertain both young and old!
Highly, highly recommended.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaun_the_Sheep
Timmy Time (2009)
Whilst Shaun the Sheep caters for young children, Timmy Time caters for even younger, pre-school children, taking Shaun the Sheep’s already successful and enjoyable formula, and lightening it up even further, in terms of both color palette and lessons taught.
Timmy Time is a stop-motion animated comedy series created by Jackie Cockle and produced by Aardman Animations. It started broadcasting in 2009 and is a spin off from the Shaun the Sheep animation, which itself is a spin off from the Aardman series Wallace & Gromit, and has spawned 70 odd 10 minute long episodes thus far.
In this series, Timmy and his friends have to learn to share, make friends and accept their mistakes. They are supervised by two teachers, Harriet the Heron and Osbourne the Owl.
As with Shaun the Sheep, Timmy Time doesn’t feature any dialogue, but instead a variety of grunts and animal noises pass as the storytellers. There is a lot of slapstick comedy to be had, as well as loads of life lessons, all wrapped in a wonderfully cute and highly colorful stop-motion animation style.
Highly recommended if you have a very little one, like my little Jess for example! :)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timmy_Time