Stop-Motion Animation Is Making A Comeback

by Tito W. James

As I mentioned in my podcast with Scott Campbell , stop-motion animation appears to be making a comeback–with Oscar winners Guillermo Del Toro and Jordan Peele turning their attention to the animated medium. Personally, I’m in the mood for a live-action stop-motion hybrid fantasy film like Jason & The Argonauts. 
Here are some of the many stop-motion animated projects in the works.
Wes Anderson’s The Isle of Dogs

Anderson’s signature limited camera angles and color palette create a film that is entertaining, moving, and a visual feast. Getting a film like this made– with a PG -13 rating no less– is a testament to fighting for a creative vision. And it makes for a visual feast. Wes Anderson won best director at the Berlin Film Festival and this was the first animated film to win that award in the festival’s history.
Run The Jewels- Don’t Get Captured

Run The Jewels are no strangers when it comes to making animated music videos. Even so, traditional stop-motion animation isn’t something I’d strongly associate with uncensored hip hop. This music video shows that stop-motion can appeal to a wide range of audiences regardless of their age or background.
Early Man

From Aardman Studios (Wallace and Gromit) comes a story about a tribe of cavemen who encounter a more advanced civilization. The battle between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age will be decided via soccer match.
Tumble Leaf

On the lighter side, Amazon Prime is streaming its new kids show Tumble Leaf about a blue fox and his animal friends. While I’m always in favor of animation for adults, I don’t want stop-motion to be relegated solely to creepy underground animated films. It’s refreshing to see a use of stop-motion that’s colorful and whimsical for a new generation.
Laika Studios

Laika is a studio that has flown under the radar for many movie-goers. Its films have explored the more frightening side of animation, which is refreshing in an animated landscape of inoffensive comedies. Laika movies are darker, more mature and are meticulously crafted in a medium as timeless as their stories. Spokespeople at Laika have said that Kubo and The Two Strings will be their last film with a child protagonist. This could be the first step in a bold new direction for a studio that has catered to older audiences and will now reflect its audience in its characters.
Key and Peele’s Wendell and Wild
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele will lend their voices to Wendell and Wild–two demonic brothers who are trying to break out of Hell. The film will be directed by stop-motion legend Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) with character designs by Pablo Lobato. The film is slated to be released by Netflix.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio 

Guillermo Del Toro has been trying to produce a stop-motion adaption of Pinocchio for over a decade. The original tale is much darker and includes elements like Pinocchio being hung by the Cat and Fox. When Pinocchio turns into a donkey, he turns back into a puppet after the donkey flesh is eaten away by fish. And the cricket that acts as his conscience is crushed instantly, and the cricket’s ghost haunts him for the rest of the story.

The idea was to do Pinocchio during the ascension of fascism in Italy, with Mussolini… It was a good time to discuss the idea of being a puppet or being a human. When we started working on Pinocchio we knew very clearly that we wanted to make it different in the sense that it is not just a fairy tale but a fairy tale that actually moves you and emotionally affects you. It deals with ideas that are relevant to everyone, to all mankind in a way.

Del Toro’s vision has been stymied by animation studios rigid  “family friendly or die” perception on the animation medium. However, with Del Toro’s Oscar win for the politically poignant Shape of Water and the positive critical reception to The Isle of Dogs, we could see a macabre anti-fascist Pinocchio in the future.

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