<p>Brazilian-born director Carlos Saldanha was one of the most consistently successful animated filmmakers of his generation. As one of the creative forces behind Blue Sky Studios, Saldanha cata...
Animation director Carlos Saldanha will be feted with the International Filmmaker of the Year award at the 2014 CinemaCon event in Las Vegas. The man behind hit movies Ice Age and Rio will receive the special career honour during the International Day festivities, which will take place on 24 March (14).
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The core component of 21st century filmmaking is focused on producing trilogies, anthologies, sagas and series. Animated films are no exception to this rule and now that Rango, Gnomeo and Juliet and Hop are all bona fide hits, things are looking good for their sequel potential. This week, 20th Century Fox and director Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age) unleash their new CGI series opener Rio and since the movie has all the makings of a full franchise I thought it’d be cool to take a look at a few of the films that I think you’ll see sequels to in the near future.
In Theaters: This Friday, April 15
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx
As previously stated, Fox believes that this film has the chops to go the distance and I’ve got no reason to doubt that. It’s got a voice cast comprised of popular performers like Hathaway, Eisenberg and Jamie Foxx. It’s got an underused South American setting (the titular Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), though the digital environment surely can’t capture the beauty of the live location. Most importantly, it’s got a vibrantly colorful aesthetic and lots of cute characters that kids will no doubt fall in love with. This is precisely the formula that made DreamWorks’ Madagascar films massive worldwide hits, and so I’d count on getting familiar with Blu the Macaw, Chloe the Goose and all the other birds of Rio.
In Theaters: June 17
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard
Superheroes have the benefit of being franchises before they ever hit the big screen. Most comic book characters have been around for ages and have scores of villains and stories for filmmakers to choose from for multiple movies. In the case of Warner Bros. Green Lantern, the studio also has multiple heroes to choose from, as Ryan Reynolds' Hal Jordan isn’t the only Earthling to wield the emerald power ring (actually, he’s not even the first! That honor belongs to Alan Scott, but I digress). If this first film really takes off, the studio can make a trilogy of films focused on Jordan before moving on to Jon Stewart and, finally, Kyle Rayner, who many fans consider to be the best Lantern of all. Adding in the fact that each one of these intergalactic defenders has mutual and exclusive enemies and there’s potential for a dozen Green Lantern films…literally.
In Theaters: July 29
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Jayma Mays
Nostalgia can work wonders for a property’s profitability. With The Smurfs, Columbia Pictures has a globally recognizable brand that appeals to the inner child inside all of us. Not only does the studio have two likable live-action leads in Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, but an army of lovable little blue people voiced by well-known personalities like George Lopez, Jeff Foxworthy, Katy Perry and John Oliver; all of whom have sizable followings of their own. Throw in the always nice-to-watch New York City setting and a wonderfully rendered villain in Hank Azaria and we could be witnessing the second coming of The Smurfs.
Conan The Barbarian
In Theaters: August 19
Starring: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Stephen Lang
The torture-porn Saw series aside, Lionsgate Films doesn’t contain the wealth of franchises that its larger rivals do, so this movie is a big deal for the company. It’s a property that most associate with its original star (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and without question the biggest hurdle this reboot faces is not having a big-name star wielding the sword of the Cimmerian warrior. But with Marcus Nispel, director of the recent Friday the 13th remake, at the helm, Robert E. Howard’s brutal and unforgiving world should at least raise the interest of most male moviegoers. And having Rose McGowan and Rachel Nichols scantily clad in various scenes can only help…
Cowboys & Aliens
In Theaters: July 29
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford
Everyone involved in this highly-anticipated genre mash-up is used to and comfortable with franchise work (from director Jon Favreau to producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard to stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford), so I’m sure that Universal Pictures is considering the possibility that, should the film take off at the box-office, Cowboys & Aliens could become another lucrative brand. It literally has everything going for it: the biggest and best cast of the summer directed by one of the most exciting filmmakers in the industry working from a script by some of the most sought after scribes in Hollywood. All the stars lined up in perfect harmony for this picture and though I don’t think a 19th century alien invasion epic needs a sequel, I won’t deny that I’ll be first in line to see one if it’s optioned.
<p>Brazilian-born director Carlos Saldanha was one of the most consistently successful animated filmmakers of his generation. As one of the creative forces behind Blue Sky Studios, Saldanha catapulted onto the scene with "Ice Age" (2002), his directorial debut. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, making over $380 million worldwide and spawning two equally successful sequels: "Ice Age: The Meltdown" (2006) and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (2009). In addition to his involvement in the widely successful "Ice Age" franchise, Saldanha channeled the lively atmosphere of his hometown with "Rio" (2011), which made nearly half a billion dollars at the global box office, with a critically-acclaimed sequel, "Rio 2," being released in April of 2014. Animated film directors rarely receive the attention of their live-action counterparts, but over the course of his immensely successful career, the talented Saldanha proved he's just as deserving of the credit. </p><p>Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saldanha grew up knowing he wanted to be an artist. His parents would often find him strolling around the house, pen in hand, doodling in his trusty notebook. The desire to draw and create burned deep within the young Saldanha throughout his formative years; until his late teens, he had visions of becoming a professional animator, after having fallen in love with American cartoons. Once he hit his early 20s, however, reality had set in and Saldanha could not see a viable future in making art for a living. With that somewhat defeatist mentality set firmly in place, he moved to Manhattan at the age of 21 and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts. Saldanha studied computer science at the university, but after seeing a short film called "Tin Toy" (1988) made by future Pixar director John Lasseter, Saldanha saw the future of computer-generated animation and enrolled in the school's computer animation MFA program. </p><p>During his time in the program, Saldanha made two acclaimed short animated films that caught the attention of his instructor, Chris Wedge. Wedge had just founded an animation company called Blue Sky Studios, and wanted the talented young artist to come work for him. Saldanha agreed, and spent the majority of the 1990s making commercials for Blue Sky. However, Saldanha always had greater ambitions to do more, including a desire to direct an animated feature film. Wedge shared his desire to move into features, and in 2002 the duo's debut release, "Ice Age," became one of the biggest hits of the year. Saldanha won an Oscar for Best Animated Short for "Gone Nutty" (2004), a short starring the popular "Ice Age" character Scrat. Saldanha and Wedge directed another film together, the sci-fi comedy "Robots" (2006), with Saldanha serving as sole director of 2006's "Ice Age: The Meltdown," as well as co-director of 2009's "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs." As a native of Rio de Janeiro, Saldanha had the idea of making an animated film about his hometown since the mid-'90s. In 2011 "Rio," which told the humorous story of macaws living in the tropical city, scored the director his biggest hit to date. In April 2014 Saldanha's follow-up "Rio 2" was released to positive reviews. </p>
School of Visual Arts
School of Visual Arts
Enrolled in the computer animation MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, shortly after earning his B.A. in computer science.
Saldanha's instructor at the School of Visual Arts was Chris Wedge, who would later co-direct "Ice Age" with him.
Saldanha was born and raised in Rio de Janiero, which served as the inspiration for his fifth animated film, 2011's "Rio."