The Latest Animation News

The Weinstein Co. Releases ‘The Guardian Brothers’ on Netflix

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The Guardian Brothers, still 1

The Weinstein Company’s animated Leap! just hit theaters a couple weeks ago, but already the company has quietly released another animated feature film on Netflix.

Called The Guardian Brothers, the Chinese-animated film came out on Netflix last Friday, September 1st. It marks the debut production of Bejing’s Light Chaser Animation studio and aims to set a higher bar for Chinese-produced animation. The film was written and directed by Light Chaser owner Gary Wang.

The Guardian Brothers was originally released in China at the beginning of 2016 under the name Little Door Gods. The new Netflix release features a full English cast including Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton, Mel Brooks, Dan Fogler, Mike Birbiglia, Bella Thorne, and Randall Park. Also of note is that the new, 86-minute film is approximately 15-20 minutes shorter than the Chinese version, having been significantly edited for pacing issues.

The Guardian Brothers, still 2

The Guardian Brothers tells the story of two guardian spirits, Yu Lei (voiced by Norton) and Shen Tu (voiced by Fogler) who leave their retirement in the spirit world to help a mother and daughter whose restaurant business is being threatened by a competitor.

Although the animation crew for The Guardian Brothers is primarily Chinese, Light Chaser did have some help from lead artists with a U.S.-background, such as Colin Brady (of Pixar and Pixomondo) and Han Lei (of Dreamworks).

The Guardian Brothers is the second film to be released under The Weinstein Company’s new animation label Mizchief, the theatrically released Leap! being the first. TWC and Mizchief are currently developing animated adaptations of the novel The Firework-Maker’s Daughter and the children’s book The Cricket in Times Square. Light Chaser Animation is working on its second feature-length film, titled Tea Pets.

The Mizchief label may be new, but The Weinstein Company has had its hand in animation before with 2006’s Hoodwinked and 2013’s Escape from Planet Earth.

What are your thoughts on The Guardian Brothers? Do you think you’ll be checking it out on Netflix? Watch the trailer below, and then let us know in the comments section!

Via Cartoon Brew and Indie Wire.

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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About Amber

Amber is an imaginative storyteller and visual artist whose greatest ambition is to tell meaningful stories that resonate with people. Since she was young, Amber has enjoyed escaping to faraway worlds through animation, and has continued to follow animation into adulthood because of its limitless storytelling possibilities. Picking favorites is nearly impossible, but Amber would say her top animated films include The Little Mermaid, The Incredibles, The Emperor’s New Groove, and Frozen. She graduated with a B.A. in Interactive Media/Graphic Design and a minor in Journalism, and is currently working as an advertising designer. When she’s not at her day job, Amber can be found working on digital illustrations and photo edits, drafting a new fiction story, or crafting a new cosplay. Send her a tweet at @amber_ld.
  • Dante Panora

    The dubbing was terrible and the voice acting was pretty weak all around with a few exceptions. The story was passable as it was but I do think it needed another 15-20 minutes to develop it’s characters. Looked alright but not on par with any major american animated release these past few years.

    • Figures. Guess most of the actors in this only did it for the money, thus they didn’t put their full effort in it.

  • Marielle

    I watched both the Netflix version and the original version. I would say Weinstein removed some bad stuff, but they also added a lot of bad stuff. They removed a dance party that served no purpose (we’re talking mom getting drunk with her kid bad). They added a bunch of dialogue over silent scenes and changed the story a bit. Oh, and they also replaced the music, because apparently we can’t handle Chinese music.

    • So basically, the Weinstein’s did the same thing to this movie like they do to all their other animated films.

    • Dante Panora

      Just curious, where did you see the original version? Also if you don’t mind answering here, what were some of the changes to the story?

      • Marielle

        It’s still out there on the internet, I checked it again after watching the Netflix version. They slightly changed the context of the spirit world crisis. In the original version, the gods are about to lose their jobs because the humans don’t need them anymore. The leader says: “If you hit zero posters, you’ll get fired.” In the Netflix version, the humans stopped believing in gods, but also the mayor of the spirit world orders the gods to stay away from the humans. He says: “Destroy your last poster or you’ll be banished.” It’s kind of the opposite, you know? I don’t know if I’m being clear. I wrote about the differences on my blog.

        • Elvick

          That… is not surprising to me. When the mayor is talking about that, it made absolutely no sense to me in the story. Even if the movie had just started, that made no sense to me. Since everything was set up to be about the lack of belief in the spirits.

          The original way makes total sense to me. Ugh.

        • Amber Dvorak

          Thanks for enlightening us here on the original! I agree that premise makes a lot more sense. *sighs*

  • Renard N. Bansale

    TWC should leave the animation distribution field.

    • You can say the same thing for Lionsgate as well. It seems the MLP movie will be the only good thing they release.

  • Jeremiah

    Wow, I really hope Cricket in Times Square is good. It’s a lovely book. But TWC hasn’t had a good movie in years. I can’t think of one besides Hoodwinked.

  • Mittymedia

    We chose to watch it as a family one night. I work in film and we usually do not adhere to critic’s reviews, but we couldn’t even get through the first ten minutes. The dubbing and voice acting was poorly chosen. It was very difficult to watch Bella Thorne’s voice come out of a small child. It just didn’t match at all. It was weird, I felt none of the voices fit the characters they were chosen to play. Visually, the movie is very enjoyable, but too many scenes that served no purpose except to waste time and poor character building. Such a shame. I very rarely do not enjoy a foreign made movie or leave a bad review. This had a lot of potential, but it didn’t quite reach it.

  • Rachel Wagner

    The animation isn’t half bad but honestly I was pretty bored. The dubbing is atrocious

  • Elvick

    I made it 19:35 in (paused right now) and I hate it. I looove the concept, the animation for a smaller studio is pretty decent and artistically is ok (fantastic for environmental art/2D animations) but the character design is a little weak.

    The dub is absolutely atrocious, apart from Meryl Streep (because it’s her) the entire cast is horrible at voice work. Or at least the entire cast up to this point. It’s fandub quality, it sounds embarassingly horrible. Especially that little girl, Rain I believe her name is. She sounds like a grown woman not a child. Who cast this monstrosity?

    And the American music is absolutely horrendous. It made me winch when the first random pop song came on. “This… does not fit at all” I can only imagine the Chinese score was perfect for the moments that I saw.

    What a disappointment. I think I’d like this if I were able to watch it in Chinese. After about 7 minutes of the horrible lip sync, I checked for other languages and nothing. 🙁

    • Elvick

      btw, knowing they also edited the movie down bothers me. I don’t care if it fixes some other issues of the original like pacing. Even if that’s true, just let us watch the film as it was meant to be. Flaws and all. Certainly at least with the same music.

  • Meztli

    I just watched the American Netflix version, start to finish, and I only have one question … WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO BLOOM?

    • Nani Elia

      someone please answer this! What did happen to Bloom? is she dead? taken back to the spirit world? >.<

  • Vanesa Perez