Rock ’Em-Sock ’Em Spring Discs
March and April releases are all about action, with Harlock leading the charge.
The latest entry into the DC Universe Animated Original Movie canon pits the dynamic duo against itself in this action-packed adventure from director Jay Oliva ( Batman: Assault on Arkham, Justice League: War). Reckless young hero Robin, a.k.a. Damian Wayne, is following in the footsteps of his Dark Knight dad, but when he encounters a mysterious figure called Talon, who introduces him to the shadowy world of the Court of Owls, it will set him on a dangerous path that could change his destiny forever.
Based on the Court of Owls comic arc and scripted by J.M. DeMatteis ( Teen Titans Go!, Batman: The Brave and the Bold), Batman vs. Robin features the voices of Jason O’Mara as Batman, Stuart Allan as Robin, Jeremy Sisto as Talon, David McCallum, Sean Maher, Grey DeLisle-Griffin, Robin come a sports entertainment promoter and throw Barney into the ring with the likes of rock-hard wrestlers John Cenastone, Marble Henry and the Undertaker.
In addition to animation voiceover veterans Jeff Bergman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tress MacNeille and Grey Griffin, WWE characters lending their talents to the spoofy smackdown are Brie and Nikki Bella, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Mark Henry, ends and Appleseed Saga: Ex Machina, the feature-length adventure follows the mysterious space pirate of the future, Captain Harlock, who is determined to return his death ship and loyal crew to a battered Earth, declared off-limits by the intergalactic Gaia Coalition. The rogue captain comes up with an incredible plan to go back in time to rescue lease boasts nearly three hours of sizzlin’ hot and super cool content, with 16 popular episodes from Pendleton Ward’s hit series. Culled from multiple seasons are “Frost & Fire,” “Earth & Water,” “Jake the Brick,” “The Prince Who Wanted Everything,” “Something Big,” “Return to the Nightosphere,” this year, so if you’ve fallen behind now’s the time to catch up on Uncle G’s adventures with his oddball friends Pizza Steve, Mr. Gus, Belly Bag and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger.
With an assortment of 12 surreal selections to choose from, you’re sure to have a good mornin’ with this release — no matter the machinations of Aunt Grandma, Moon Man or Moustache Monster. Keeping with this month’s pro-wrestling theme, included is mockumentary episode “The History of Wrestling,” guest starring Ric Flair and revealing the story of the nuttiest wrestling match to ever happen.
[Release date: April 7]
Steve Loter has a reputation for action and adventure when it comes to animation. With a credit list including shows like Kim Possible, American Dragon: Jake Long and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, it may come as a surprise to see his name attached to a film series featuring Disney’s beloved fairy Tinker Bell.
We interviewed Loter on what attracted him to directing Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast to begin with and what his approach was in bringing his particular style to the wellknown characters and world while still staying true to what they are.
Animation Magazine: What attracted you to the Tinker Bell project and how did you come to be the director of it?
Steve Loter: I got called in by Disney Studios, and initially I thought I was being called in for an action-adventure because that’s kind of my background. But when they mentioned they wanted me to work on a fairy story, I was intrigued because they were interested in putting my own stamp on the franchise and following through on my vision on what this story should be. So I was really excited to be able to open up Tinker Bell and the world of Pixie Hollow to a more action-adventure, cinematic sensibility than it had been previously.
Animag: What were some of the challenges in cracking the story and making it work as something that you could animate into a film?
Loter: I think that we always knew the story that we wanted to tell and the theme and the morals we wanted to tell. But that didn’t mean that there weren’t complications down the line. I think one of the biggest challenges we had was animating Gruff, the Neverbeast, be- cause if we didn’t get him right then the whole film would of kind of fall apart because you wouldn’t have believed him or the relationship. And Gruff is an interesting character because he’s comprised of a lot of familiar elements you may see in other animals.
Animag: When you were animating Gruff, did you just look at the reference of all these animals or did you come up with a unique way for this one animal to work?
Loter: Choosing material is a really import- ant thing. So we did a ton of research on every animal that was connected to Gruff in any way and even some that were not just to see if there were habits that we could kind of incorporate. But I made the decision pretty early on to not make him anthropomorphic because I feel like when you’ve got an animal that’s standing on two legs and is singing and dancing, you kind of lose a real-world connection to that animal.
Animag: In terms of maintaining consistency, did you work on this film where certain people worked on the creature, or worked by character, or was it sort of being split up and passed around by sequence or scene?
Loter: Well, we were really fortunate because one of the story artists, Ryan Green, unbeknownst to me when I hired him on board, was an animal biologist. So I sat down with him and we talked about all kinds of muscle structures and basically all kinds of deep-dive animal biology stuff. And though all the story artists absolutely contributed to Gruff, Ryan was absolutely a go-to guy for some animal specifics.
Animag: Did you have any sort of difficulties squeezing Tinker Bell in or finding an arc that worked for her amid everything else?
Loter: Well, Tinker Bell as a character is Fawn’s best friend. So it was good to be able to kind of explore Fawn’s personality and just really take her to places and have Tink kind of be the barometer of good or at least Fawn’s point of reference of moral correctness or the right way to go. And Mae Whitman as Tink, I mean, she’s a staple. It was also an interesting facet of her role as Tink because it wasn’t the same character. It was slightly different. It was a character that was more worried, a little more concerned. So it was an interesting turn for Mae to be able to kind of go into a different zone with Tink, a character that she knows very, very well.