By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
In the animated front, the films I’m really excited for are from China. Getting the news from this country is tough, and the studios are mum about what’s next in the Fengshen Cinematic Universe! I tried contacting a Vancouver studio supposedly involved and they never responded.
Because of the pandemic, a lot of production work shifted to either finishing at home or was put on hiatus. The workflow may well have slowed down too. Thankfully, there’s some good news: one particular Japanese animated title is coming very soon.
I’m hopeful the international release is not too much later.
Thrice Upon a Time
Jan 23 (Japan)
The Rebuild tetralogy was on infinite hold when Hideaki Anno was off building Shin Godzilla. Anyone who has seen the original anime will know the general premise–young teens saving the Earth from a holy battle–but with the Illuminati like conspiracies going on, they are locked in an even different secret war. However, this reboot is huge, and it’s one I’m refusing to see one by one over several years. The wait is finally over so fans can see this re-imaging in its entirety.
This list combines theatrical, streaming and direct to video releases and lists only the works with a known release date.
Spirit of the Amazon
Feb 10 (Netherlands)
This work from Peru is based around an Amazonian myth about a young girl, Ainbo, who is guided by the spirit of the land, and her tribe’s fight against globalization. In this film’s case, the encroachment of white men and the future they bring.
In an article published in Variety, “Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon will incorporate local legends, in an explosion of colors, eco-themes and mythological characters.”
Raya and the Last Dragon
March 12 (USA)
It may well follow a similar path as previous works about how fantasy and humanity are on a collision course with each other–and it has nothing to do with How to Train Your Dragon.
Sept 17 (USA)
Just where this movie fits into the chronology, as revealed in Netflix’s Boss Baby: Back in Business, is simple. The brothers are all grown up and they’ll have to revert to their kid selves to deal with a new threat! Babies will be considered monsters than adorable tickle muffins.
This franchise has literally grown on me. The series sees them face all different kinds of cute. The kids discover a social order and not everyone–from dogs, cats and seniors–gets the attention they deserve. Throughout this series, the brothers manage to support each other thick and thin and the film is no different.
The Rise of Gru
July 2 (USA)
The beloved minions from the Despicable Me franchise have another film, and the title alone evokes a new direction for the series. We’ve seen how the villain Gru becomes a hero, but this time–as teased at with the Minions standalone movie, we see how the two met. I can only expect Calvin and Hobbes like hijinks with this flick!
Addams Family 2
Oct 8 (USA)
Very little information is available about this sequel since it won’t be ready until near the end of the year.
However, if the first movie is any indication, I expect more comic strip hilarity in the vein of Charles Addams strip about this kooky family trying to blend in to their new neighbourhood.
June 18 (USA)
I get the feeling that PIXAR’s next film is a variation of The Littlest Mermaid.
It’s about a boy with a secret. Although he’s enjoying life in dry land, it’s the waters and the kingdom he left that’s calling…
In the official synopsis: Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar’s original feature film “Luca” is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.
Feb 5 (China)
Deep Sea is the next film set in the Fengshen Cinematic Universe with no firm release date. It may well be delayed because of the pandemic. When considering the movie Jiang Ziya was late, we have another work that concerns Erlang Shen that’s coming this year. Unless people know their Chinese lore, this individual is also known as Yang Jian.
His mother Erlang Baojuan is the focus in this upcoming work. Based on the tale Lotus Lantern (Bao Lian Deng), Erlang’s sister–the Holy Mother of Mount Hua (Hua Shan)–is in love with a mortal. However, such unions are not welcomed, and she is imprisoned until her nephew, Shen, comes of age and decides to go free her. But to do so won’t be easy and may well unleash a Pandora’s Box of evil. That’s my best guess until an official trailer and synopsis is released.
Xin Shen Bang:
Ne Zha Chongsheng
Feb 12 (China)
When you combine Mad Max, Akira and Ne Zha together into one action-packed Highlander-esque battle between two worlds, I’m sure this movie releasing for Chinese New Year 2021 will get heads turning.
The trailer speaks for itself!
Soul of the Dragon
Jan 12 Digital
Jan 25 Home Video
Warner Bros. Animation is cranking out the animated DCU like nothing, and this latest is an original tale! Perhaps that’s what this side world needs to get the creative juices flowing.
The only detail we know is that in the 1970s, a missing teacher of martial arts is the subject of a quest by his devoted and brilliant but distant students, who also include Batman.
Rise of the Titans
After Three Below and Wizards, all we know about how Tales of Arcadia will conclude is that Morgana redeemed herself, and joins Merlin in the afterlife. But the Arcane Order is still a threat. The titans either suggest a war of the ages–gods and their forebears at odds with each other–or a triumvirate of heroes who are protecting this planet than just one town.
This Chinese-American production written and directed by Chris Appelhans sounds very promising in turning the Asian beast into a djinni. As the title implies, the serpent can grant wishes, but as a recent film set in another different universe suggests–people better be careful in what they wish for!