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The AFA 2014 Preview: The Year Ahead In Animated Film

Even the most charitable fan would have to admit, 2013 was not the greatest year for big-screen animation. Frozen aside, the year was dominated by big name sequels (or prequels) and lesser works. Luckily 2014 is already looking to be quite an improvement, with some excellent looking animated films on the upcoming slate. This year is also notable for one big absence- with The Good Dinosaur pushed back this is the first year since 2005 without a new Pixar film- although this year does see 3D re-releases of both Ratatouille and WALL-E. So join us and we take a look ahead to some of the animated flicks that will be hitting cinema screens near you in the months ahead.

The Lego Movie

Directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord have made a career on overcoming low expectations. Nobody would have ever guessed Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs would be as good as it is, and their foray into live-action with 21 Jump Street was likewise a major surprise. On paper a movie based on everybody's favourite danish building block also sounds like a terrible idea. Yet in Miller and Lord's hands it looks like it's been pulled off- and with style. Sporting an eye-popping visual style that manages to look like it's stop-motion - despite being done completely in CG-  and a top-notch voice cast headed by Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt, it's likely to be the only Superman/Batman movie worth watching anytime soon.

ETA: Feb 7th  (US), Feb 14th (UK)

Mr Peabody & Sherman


Dreamworks' first effort of 2014 is based on a old cartoon that featured as a segment of The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show. Although the original might not hold much of appeal for today's audiences (or even their parents) the new take looks like a whole lot of fun. Peabody is a genius talking dog, Sherman his adopted (human) son, and it follows their adventures through time in the WABAC machine. Featuring an all-star cast and Dreamworks' usual polished animation, hopes are high this will be more Kung Fu Panda quality and less Shark Tale

ETA:  March 7th (US), Feb 7th (UK)

The Boxtrolls

 2012's Paranorman showed that stop-motion specialists Laika could still make great films, even without their star director, Henry "Coraline" Sellick. Therefore any new Laika flick is going to go straight on any animation fan's must-see list, even before you know any further details at all. Based on Alan Snow's novel Here be Monsters, the movie follows the adventures of a young orphan boy raised by the titular critters.

ETA:   26th September (US), 12th September (UK)

The Wind Rises

Japan's master animator Hayao Miyazaki announced last year that he had retired from directing feature films. He has said the same thing at least two times before, but if it this time it proves to be the case then The Wind Rises looks to be quite a swan song. The film has proved controversial, dealing as it does with the lifestory of the man who designed Japan's Zero Fighter planes. However Miyazaki himself is famously anti-war, and by all accounts the film could just be his most personal yet.

ETA  21st Feb (US) May 9th (UK)

How To Train Your Dragon 2

The original was so, so very good that it was tempting to wish that they had never chosen to make a sequel, just in case they messed it up. Once the first teaser was out though, it was clear that this return visit to Berk was going to be no mere cash-in. Catching up with Hiccup, Toothless and friends years after the events of the first film, this sequel promises to be bigger than the original in every conceivable way.

ETA 13th June (US) 4th July (UK)

And The Rest..

Ice Age creators Blue Sky return with Rio 2 (April). Disney's first animated film based on a Marvel comic property arrives in the form of Big Hero 6. (November) Hit the yellow brick road again with Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return (May) Alien based shenanigans from Dreamworks in the enigmatic Home (November).