Friday, July 13, 2012

The Croods At Comic-Con: A Secondhand Account


Okay, let me just get this out of the way up front. I did NOT go to Comic-Con this year. Familial responsibilities, work-related commitments, an East Coast zip code and a wallet containing nothing but pressed pennies and crushed condoms kept me from attending the festivities. Sure, I would've loved to have had a corporate sponsor fly me cross-country to watch cartoons, but that simply isn't the world I live in. What, you thought DreamWorks paid me to post pictures of my crumpled origami fan art?

HA!

No, I do this solely out of the goodness of my heart. Because I care about quality movies, funny cartoons, and you, my dear readers. Well, that and I'm hoping that someone somewhere will tell Chris Sanders about this blog and my love of his films and that it'll guilt him into sending me an autographed sketch of Stitch.

Still, I couldn't very well call this an unofficial Croods blog and not blog about the new Croods news, now could I? Hells nope. That's why, even though I have ZERO firsthand knowledge of what went down at Thursday's DreamWorks Animation Panel, I'm gonna go ahead and blather on about it anyway. How will I do this? By scouring the internet for any and all mentions of the panel, and then cut-and-pasting the best bits below.

(STOP HERE AND IMAGINE ME DOING THIS. IT TAKES ABOUT AN HOUR, WITH TIME OFF FOR BATHROOM BREAKS AND AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH.)

Okay, so let's start at the beginning. Who was at the panel? What was shown there? And how did The Croods fare?

The answers to these three questions come courtesy of Scott Collura at IGN:

The latest happenings at DreamWorks Animation was the topic of discussion at the company's panel this morning at San Diego Comic-Con. Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke led the talk, which kicked off with a clip reel featuring the studio's hits like Madagascar, Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon, plus the upcoming Rise of the Guardians. But the highlight of the reel was the glimpse we got at The Croods, next year's caveman family film.

No, I did not make that up. THE CROODS WAS THE HIGHLIGHT. How happy am I to hear this? You don't even know. For the first time since the third teaser image was released, I feel like I'm backing a winning race horse here. I've gotta admit, I sometimes get a little worried that I'm gonna end up like the guy who spent a year of his life blogging about that Green Lantern flick. Not Pretty. Not nice. Dude punched himself to death using a giant green fist he created using only his imagination. (R.I.P. homie.)

Now back to The Croods!

Dear Internet,
Would you mind describing the now legendary footage screened at yesterday's panel? What's more, would you do this using two separate sources?

First up, Edward Douglas over at ComingSoon.net:

The footage for The Croods began with a young cavegirl named Eep (voiced by Emma Stone) who wakes up in a cave and we hear her voiceover saying, "My family has always survived by living by my Dad's one rule—never leave the cave." We then see her climbing a steep cliff as the voiceover continues, "We never had a chance to explore the outside world. What we didn't know was that our world was about to change." She gets to the top of the mountain and says "You really need to see this," and we get a quick montage of her family of cave people experiencing this colorful new world, which included forests full of colorful and lush fauna, a giant colored egg and all sorts of creatures. The footage went by very fast but essentially it seems to be an action-adventure of this cave family exploring the changing world.

For a few more adjectives, let's head over to Brendan Bettinger at Collider.com:

The family lives in a rock mountain and follows the motto, “Never leave the cave.” As the young girl Eep is climbing one day, you see the rock—their home—shatter and crumble away. The new outside world that this reveals to the family is bright and colorful. And crazy. It was quick cuts, so I can’t fully describe what we saw. But it was a lush prehistoric land with fireworks, dinosaurs, and really unusual creatures.

Ah, the creatures. I LOVE THE CREATURES! So furry, so freaky, so ready to be sculpted in plastic and sold with french fries and hamburgers. But what about the human characters? How will they effect my Happy Meals?

Cinema Blend's Sean O'Connell reports:

There were animal inspirations for each character, which provided a guide for the animators to think about as they worked. Stone’s character, for instance, is very cat-like, moving in a feline way. The cavemen also have the ability to squat and move like gorillas. There’s a tiny, feral daughter who’s treated like a Jack Russell terrier, as well. “The whole movie is sort of a road trip where this family … is forced to go out and find a new cave when their cave is destroyed,” Baxter explained, adding that they meet a guy whose name is Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds). “He has ideas,” Baxter says. “He teaches them not to be afraid of everything, and they can survive by being a family."

Oh. Wow. This is the first I’ve heard about the humans’ “animal inspirations,” and I’m delighted. This is EXACTLY the sort of anthropomorphic caricaturing that most animators adore, and I cannot wait to see what the Croods crew come up with. Silly sight gags shall abound!

While we're on the subject of animating, were there any production anecdotes shared at the panel? Say, something about the voice actors and how they influenced the animators?

Once again, Cinema Blend's Sean O'Connell:

They raved about Stone, and the voice work she’s doing as Eep, the young, female character. “Emma is so animated when she performs her line readings in the booth,” said Baxter, explaining that the animators very quickly decided they’d pull a lot of her facial reactions and build them into the character.

What about the story itself? The Princess Bride started out as a bedtime story. The holy scriptures (take yer pick) were whispers from a wordy God. Where did The Croods come from?

Brendan Bettinger at Collider.com:

Damaschke says The Croods came about when they realized that DreamWorks had “never told a story about a family unit.” So they decided to make a story about “the very first family—a caveman family.” In part a commentary on how easy it is to feel outdated in a constantly evolving technological world, The Croods explores how hard it would be for the caveman father to protect his family in a new world that is changing all around him.

So that's it. The Comic-Con 2012 DreamWorks Animation Panel, stripped down to its bare-bones, Croods-centric essentials. Did it make you feel like you were actually there, holding a biodegradable bag full of free swag and overpriced bottled water, breathing in the Contagion-like germs of thousands of fanboys while ogling the undercarriages of the cosplay elite?

No?

Well, next year, WHY NOT GET OFF YER LAZY ARSE AND GO YERSELF?!

Cuz I know I'm gonna.

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