In terms of animated features, 2017 provided audiences with a couple of gems – from The LEGO Batman Movie to Coco, from Ferdinand to Despicable Me 3. We are just at the start of 2018 and Lionsgate’s Early Man from Aardman Animations and the Japanese Studio Ghibli-like Mary and the Witch’s Flower –– both of which are now playing in theaters – have already given animation lovers hope that there will be more high-quality animation productions forthcoming.
And there are. These include two long-awaited sequels from Disney and Pixar, a new stop-motion feature from Wes Anderson, and one that features the first black Hispanic Spider-Man.
Without further ado, here’s a list of five unique animated features to watch out for in 2018:
1. Isle Of Dogs
Release Date: March 23, 2018
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Koyu Rankin, Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Aptly premiering in the Year of the Dog, the stop-motion Isle of Dogs comes from the director who gave us the brilliant Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and the Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).
Set in a future Japan, all dogs are exiled to a garbage-filled island after an outbreak of dog flu. Determined to locate his banished canine, 12-year-old Atari (voiced by Canadian actor Rankin) ventures to the island and, with the help of a pack of disenchanted mongrels led by Duke (Cranston), proceeds to search for his beloved Spots.
Isle of Dogs recently held its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and reviewers couldn’t stop gushing about it. “An amazing achievement in stop-motion animation. It’s also a great movie,” said Collider’s Steven Weintraub in a tweet, while Jonathan Dean of The Sunday Times tweeted that the film “is charming and entertainingly dark. Exceptional level of detail and canine characterization, with a nudge at fear-mongering politics, too.”
With Isle of Dogs’ amazing animation and witty dialogue seen in the trailer alone, looks like Wes Anderson has another Oscar-worthy animated feature in his hands.
2. Incredibles 2
Release Date: June 15, 2018
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Brad Bird
Fans of 2004’s The Incredibles have long been begging for a sequel and now 14 years later, Incredibles 2 is finally here. Written and directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) once again, the 3D computer-animated feature picks up from the end of the first movie where the Parrs has the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) in their sight, but also expect new adventures for the sweet family of superheroes.
This time, mom Helen/Elasticgirl (Hunter) will take center stage in fighting crime, while dad Bob (Nelson) has to stay home and take care of the kids – namely Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and baby Jack-Jack – all of whom do not know that the youngest Parr now has multiple powers. When a new villain emerges, Bob and old pal Frozone (Jackson) have to find a way to save the world, with all family members in tow.
Judging from the trailer which made its debut during the Winter Olympics, it looks like everyone’s favorite animated superhero family is back in the saving-the-world game big-time, promising lots of action as well as laughs in Incredibles 2. We can’t wait!
3. The Grinch
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch
Directed by: Peter Candeland, Yarrow Cheney, Matthew O’Callaghan
From the folks who are responsible for the Despicable Me franchise and the lovable Minions comes a retelling of the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
In the Ron Howard-directed live-action hit adaptation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Jim Carrey – under loads of make-up – played the Grinch to perfection. This time, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch will provide the voice for a CGI-generated version of the grumpy green creature who’s out to make Christmas miserable for the people of Whosville.
From a teaser poster released last December which features an innocent looking little Grinch and a tagline that goes, “He gets meaner,” we reckoned the story in the new film will trace just how a young Grinch grows up to be a mean old grouch.
4. Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Release Date: November 21, 2018
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch
Directed by: Phil Johnstone, Rich Moore
If Ralph Breaks The Internet is half as good as its 2012 predecessor, then fans will be in for another fun time. In the sequel, as the title suggests, Ralph (Reilly) and the cutesy Vanellope (Silverman) venture beyond the arcade confines and enter into the World Wide Web. He’s not named “wreck-it” for nothing and somehow, while traveling through the Internet, Ralph breaks it and cue chaos and mayhem.
When first footage of the sequel was shown at the Disney fan convention D23 last year, viewers were impressed by two things. One, its unique title with the sub-header appearing first. And two, the fact that in one funny sequence – when the duo finds themselves on a Disney fan site – Vanellope stumbles into a dressing room filled with every Disney Princess there is, including the likes of Belle, Mulan, Rapunzel, Merida, and Elsa (all voiced by the original talents from the hit films such as Mandy Moore and Ming-Na Wen).
If the latter tidbit is not a big enough draw to watch Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, we don’t know what is.
5. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Release Date: December 14, 2018
Starring: Shameik Moore, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Not to be confused with the Spider-Man played by Tom Holland in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this animated Spider-Man features the first black Hispanic Spider-Man, Miles Morales.
According to the comics, this happened during the time when Peter Parker was killed by the Green Goblin and Morales, a teenager from Brooklyn, picked up the mantle from Parker after being bitten by a radioactive spider himself. According to Collider, a Sony Pictures Animation press release states that for the animated feature, Morales (The Get Down‘s Shameik Moore) will end up in an alternate-universe New York City where he meets up with a Peter Parker who is still alive and who becomes his mentor. Though there will be two people who will be wearing the mask in Into The Spider-Verse, the producers attested that it is primarily a Miles Morales movie and a fun action-adventure caper with many light-hearted moments.
With stunning visuals and a chilling soundtrack, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse looks like it will be a bona fide hit. Check out its cool trailer below: