Tagged: Toy Story

Happy Mother’s Day From Monsters University!

MU_Bleachers_Online_1s_w2.0-1Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) was a little monster, he has dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University (MU). But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), a natural-born Scarer.  The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. To make matters worse, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right.

Screaming with laughter and oozing with heart, Disney•Pixar’s Monsters University is directed by Dan Scanlon (Cars, Mater and the Ghostlight, Tracy), produced by Kori Rae (Up, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc.) and features music from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and award-winning composer Randy Newman  (Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 3). The film opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2013, and will be shown in 3D in select theaters.

Mike Wazowski’s (voice of Billy Crystal) lifelong dreams of becoming a Scarer are derailed during his first semester at Monsters University when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), and their out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program.l 2013.

John Ostrander: Backwards or Forwards?

Ostrander Art 130324Bought and watched The Hobbit DVD when it came out. My Mary and I had watched the full IMAX version in the theater; it’s one of her favorite books. I’m pretty fond of it as well.

Enjoyed the movie again and look forward to the next installment. However, I had problems with it. Both the way that the story is being divided into three films and from some of the action sequences, it’s playing out as a prequel to the Lord Of The Rings films. The book The Hobbit is not a prequel; it’s a stand alone story that has some story elements in common with LOTR. In the film, however, it’s coming off very definitely as a prequel to the point, IMO, that the story is changed or even twisted a bit to make it fit that mold. Visuals such as the race through the Underground Kingdom of the Goblins was very reminiscent, visually, of the race through the Mines of Moria in LOTR. What was stunning and even surprising in the LOTR movies looks rehashed here.

Generally speaking, when I’m reading or watching a story, I want to know what happens next – if I want to know anything more at all. Some stories, like Casablanca, doesn’t need prequels or sequels (although a sequel was discussed early on for Casablanca and, fortunately, never worked out). With Star Wars, after the original trilogy was done, I was ready to see what happened next but George Lucas decided he wanted to tell what happened previously. I watched but it’s not what I wanted and a lot of the public was less than enthralled as well. It’s only now when Disney has assumed ownership of the whole shebang that Episode 7 – “and then what happened?” — is being prepared.

The prequel trilogy of Star Wars changes the thrust of the story. The original trilogy is about Luke Skywalker and his coming of age, learning who he is, and becoming the hero his father might have been. The prequel trilogy changes the arc of all six films; it becomes about Anakin Solo, his fall and his redemption. I liked it better when it was Luke’s story.

I don’t absolutely hate prequels; I’ve done them myself. The last two GrimJack arcs I’ve done have technically been prequels. I also did a four issue story on The Demon Wars in GJ and, in the back-up space, my late wife Kim Yale and I did a story of young John Gaunt which would also qualify as a prequel. In each case, however, it revealed aspects of Gaunt that helped in understanding who he was and which weren’t going to be told in any other way. Each was also a stand-alone story; you needn’t have read any other GJ story to understand these stories.

There can be problems with sequels as well. Does it add to the story or does it just water it down? Godfather II deepened and expanded on the first film; Godfather III – not so much. The original Rocky is a great film; none of the sequels improved on it and only tarnished the story. OTOH, Toy Story 2 was better than the first film and Toy Story 3 was better still.

I can understand the desire with the studios to go back to the same material; it has a proven track record. There’s more money to be made not only from the movie but from all the ancillary crap. Less risk (in theory) and more money (in theory).

Maybe what it comes down to is this for sequels and prequels – does this story need to be told? When you think about it, that’s the same criteria as every other story, isn’t it? Or should be. Is this story worth telling? Not – will this make more money? Sadly, the reason for too many sequels and prequels is the monetary one.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

MONDAY THE REST OF THE DAY: Wait And See

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

Review: “Wreck-It Ralph” needs no hint book to unlock its fun

The Kid would never forgive if I used any other poster…

Wreck-It Ralph is very much of a new breed of Disney animation, showing both the freshness of new blood in the company, and a new attention to story with Pixar’s John Lasseter now holding court as the New Walt at the company.  Directed by Rich Moore (The Simpsons) and written by Moore, other Simpsons alum Jim Reardon, the film takes ideas from Toy Story, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Saturday Morning cult favorite Reboot.  The world inside videogames is alive; after hours they visit each other, attend parties and if their games were unplugged, roam the halls of Game Central Station begging for spare fruits and power-ups.

Wreck-it Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the antagonist of classic videogame Fix It Felix Jr., the titular hero voiced by Jack McBrayer.  After thirty years of being the bad guy, he examines his life and finds it lacking.  He attends the 30th anniversary party for the game at Felix’s penthouse apartment, and is made clear he is not welcome by the denizens of the apartment house whose job is his to demolish hundreds of times daily.  He attempts to show that he wants to be a good guy, and is told that he is a bad guy, will remain a bad guy, and that he must “go with the program”.  He embarks on a quest to “become a hero”, which he believes will bring him the love (or at least the penthouse apartment) of the people of his game.  He plans to “game jump” into another videogame, where he can take the role of good guy and achieve his dream.  His choice, the new sci-fi shoot-em-up Hero’s Duty, spearheaded by the gruff and buxom Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch).  He makes it to the climax of the game, and earns a “hero” medal, but his ingrained predilection to destroy sends things into a shamble quickly, launching him screaming into the super-sweet cart-racer Sugar Rush, with a cy-bug, one of the baddies from Duty in tow.  He meets Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a bit of glitch code from the game who, like Ralph, wants to better herself and prove she can be a hero.  But according to the ruler of the land, King Kandy (Alan Tudyk), there may be a real danger if Vanellope lives out her dream.  And all along, the Cy-Bug from Hero’s Duty is multiplying into peppermint-striped hordes under the taffy swamps and rock-candy mountains.

The film takes a unique take from the first scene – Ralph is clearly portrayed as the bad guy, but not all that bad.  But in addition, like in many of the Farrelly Brothers comedies, he’s given a reasonable motivation for his unpleasantness.  According to the games opening cut scene, he was ejected from his home (a stump in the forest) in order to build the residential edifice at which he daily expresses his dissatisfaction.  The theme of the film is clearly about the upsides and downsides trying to be more than you were literally created to be – Ralph’s desire is honest, but like Vanellope’s, runs the risk of hurting many others.  The ecology of the game world has a bit of an edge as well – the idea of homeless videogame characters gets a laugh, but it’s an uncomfortable laugh for the parents.

You’ve already heard about the cameos.  Like the aforementioned Roger Rabbit, the film had gained great buzz by arranging cameos from scads of classic videogames and characters, including the combatants from Street Fighter, the cast of Pac-Man, and, The Kid’s personal favorite, Sonic The Hedgehog. Lesser-known games like Burger Time and Tapper make an appearance, the latter being the popular after-hours hang-out of the gaming world.  Like the appearance of actual toys in Toy Story, they give the world a sense of verisimilitude and realism, as well as provide for plugs of lots of classic games. Not to mention a few new ones.  As part of Sonic’s appearance, Ralph will be appearing in Sonic’s new game, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.  Even the legendary Konami Super-Code appears in the game.  No child of the 80s can sit through those scenes of Dig-Dug diving into the floor of the game station without being gobsmacked by nostalgia.

But in addition to the cameos the Disney creators do a great job of creating games that have the real look and feel of real games from various gaming eras.  Fix-It Felix Jr. is a game in the Donkey Kong / Crazy Climber mold, and and first look, it looks fun enough to want to play for real (and you can, at the film’s website, as well as Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush). Hero’s Duty is a parody of modern first-person shooters like Halo, and Calhoun is clearly a kissing cousin of “Fem-Shep” from Mass Effect.  Sugar Rush also parodies the recent tactic of product placements in video games, by having actual product placements.  Felix and Calhoun almost meet their end in Nestle Quik-sand, are saved by Laffy Taffy, and while the boiling “diet cola” lake may be generic, the stalactites of Mentos above it are decidedly not.

The quality of the film can be best explained by an error of The Wife’s – when she saw the level of humor and clearly rich plot, she mistakenly assumed it was a Pixar release.  High praise indeed, and praise that Disney has worked hard to obtain.  The last few Disney releases have been quite a step up from a recent period of repetition, and that’s a good thing.

Check out the John Carter Trailer

Growing up, there was nothing more captivating than Frank Frazetta’s amazing cover paintings for the Science Fiction Book Club editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter series of novels set on Barsoom, er, Mars.

While there have been many abortive attempts at adapting John Carter as a cartoon or live-action film, we’re finally getting one with a strong pedigree. Pixar’s first live-action film, directed by Andrew Stanton, is shaping up to be 2012’s first blockbuster. Opening March 9, it leads a super-heroic slate of films and now the first trailer for the feature is available.

From a screenplay by Andrew Stanton & Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon the movie stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, with Thomas Haden Church and Willem Dafoe.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s the studio’s official synopsis:  The studio goes on to note: From Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes John Carter—a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). John Carter is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.


 

Notes:

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago and is best known for writing and creating Tarzan—still one of the most successful and iconic fictional creations of all time.  John Carter is based on Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars.
  • Academy Award®–winning director/writer Andrew Stanton directed and co-wrote the screenplay for WALL•E, which earned the Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award® for Best Animated Feature of 2008. He was Oscar® nominated for the screenplay. He made his directorial debut with Finding Nemo, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of 2003. He was one of the four screenwriters to receive an Oscar nomination in 1996 for his contribution to Toy Story, and went on to receive credit as a screenwriter on subsequent Pixar films A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and WALL•E.
  • The award-winning below-the-line team includes Production Designer Nathan Crowley, Oscar®- nominated for both Dark Knight and The Prestige,   and Costume Designer Mayes Rubeo, whose work is showcased in Avatar and Apocalypto.
  • Michael Chabon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is a co-writer on the screenplay.
  • Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino has received numerous accolades for his work on previous Disney•Pixar films Up (Oscar® winner, Best Original Score; BAFTA winner, Best Music; Golden Globe® winner, Best Original Score for a Motion Picture; GRAMMY® Award winner, Best Score Soundtrack Album), Ratatouille (GRAMMY Award winner, Best Score Soundtrack Album; Annie Award winner, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production; Oscar nomination, Best Original Score) and The Incredibles (Annie Award winner, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production; GRAMMY nomination, Best Score Soundtrack Album).
Spy Cars Like Us

Spy Cars Like Us

Cars 2, revving up for release later this month, has sent us this cool new featurette:

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Here are the rest of the film’s details:

U.S. Release Date: June 24, 2011

Voice Talent: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Peter Jacobson, Thomas Kretschmann, Guido Quaroni, Lloyd Sherr, Paul Dooley, John Ratzenberger, Jenifer Lewis, Michael Wallis, Katherine Helmond, John Turturro, Franco Nero, Vanessa Redgrave, Eddie Izzard, Bruce Campbell, Michel Michelis, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Lewis Hamilton, David Hobbs

Director: John Lasseter

Co-Director: Brad Lewis

Producer: Denise Ream

Story By: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Dan Fogelman

Screenplay By: Ben Queen

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in “Cars 2” when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) and the stunning rookie field spy Holley Shiftwell (voice of Emily Mortimer). Mater’s action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. The fast-paced fun includes a colorful new all-car cast, complete with menacing villains and international racing competitors.

 

 

 

John Lasseter returns to the driver’s seat to direct this follow-up to his 2006 Golden Globe®-winning “Cars.” “Cars 2” is co-directed by Brad Lewis, producer of the Oscar®-winning film “Ratatouille,” and produced by visual effects industry veteran Denise Ream (associate producer, “Up”; visual effects executive producer, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith”). The film hits the track on June 24, 2011, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D in select theaters.

 

 

 

Notes:

 

· John Lasseter made his feature film directing debut with “Toy Story” in 1995. He has since directed such Disney•Pixar classics as “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2” and “Cars” and served as executive producer of all other Pixar films to date. He is currently the chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and principal creative advisor of Walt Disney Imagineering.

 

· “Cars 2” is the 12th feature-length animated film from Pixar Animation Studios (its first 11 have earned $6.5 billion at the global box office). Pixar, which has earned 29 Academy Awards® and seven Golden Globes®, celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2011.

 

· “Cars” originally released on June 9, 2006, and grossed nearly $462 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Oscars® and one Golden Globe®, winning the first ever Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film.

 

When star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix, Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage.

Review: ‘Toy Story 3’

Review: ‘Toy Story 3’

[[[Toy Story 3]]] is a textbook example of how to conclude a trilogy, a lesson that needs to be learned by movie studios. It also illustrates how a family film can work on multiple levels, touching all who watch it. This Pixar film is a farewell to childhood, one that parents watch wistfully and one that warns children to enjoy their youth while it lasts. Even the most jaded people will tear up during the final twenty minutes while the rest of us stated crying long before.

Disney has released Toy Story 3 in a variety of formats today, including the Combo Pack with two Blu-ray discs, standard DVD, and digital copy. Everyone should have this.

Andy has grown up. He’s packing his room, readying to leave for college and its time to part with his beloved toys. They’ve remained in the wagon-like chest for years, neglected and lonely, fretting for their future: garbage, attic or worse. The movie shows us that the attractive options also hide dark secrets and not every toy has a happy outcome. But toys endure and are meant to be handed down from generation to generation, which is what we learn once again.

Since the first film fifteen years ago, Pixar has remained at the technological edge and the characters look sharper and more refined, their movements more fluid and their world more realistic. The biggest improvement has to be in their depiction of human beings as we see Andy all grown up along with his family. Many of the key crew members involved have been along from the beginning along with musical composer Randy Newman which keeps the internal integrity solid.

(more…)

John Ratzenberger Talks About ‘Toy Story 3’

John Ratzenberger Talks About ‘Toy Story 3’

Toy Story 3, perhaps the best movie of the year, is being released on Blu-ray on November 3. In anticipation of the much-desired disc, Disney has provided ComicMix with a series of interviews, beginning with this chat.

Question: How does it feel to return to the role of Hamm in Toy Story 3?

John Ratzenberger: To be honest, it feels like I never left Hamm because I’m constantly asked about the character. I bump into people at airports or I meet people whilst picking up my dry cleaning and someone will always tell me, “My 4-year-old son, Jason, loves Hammie the pig.” I’ll usually say, “Well, get him on the phone.” So we call him up and the mother will explain, “Hi honey, it’s Mommy. There’s somebody who wants to say hello.” Then they hand the phone to me and I’ll do some Hamm for them, “Hey Jason, it’s Hammie the pig. I understand you’re not eating your spinach…” I’ve been doing things like that ever since the first Toy Story came out, so Hamm has never been too far away.

Question: How would you describe Hamm?

John Ratzenberger: Hamm is a wise guy. He throws his opinion out regardless of whether anyone’s listening or not, which is what makes him so much fun. He’s a smart Alec and he’s not so offensive that people shun him, but he makes sure his comments are heard.

Question: What do you bring to the role?

John Ratzenberger: I bring whatever I have in my bag of tricks. They let me play around with the script at times, so there are a lot of my own words are in the movie. That’s the nice thing about Pixar: they let the actors experiment.

Question: How much fun did you have in the recording booth for the movie? 

John Ratzenberger: Recording the voice of Hamm is always a great experience, but all of the heavy lifting has already been done because the guys at Pixar spend four years working on the story before I’m called in. All I have to do is give them five different readings of the same line so that they’ve got a variety to choose from. That way, they’ve got a great potpourri of lines to choose from. (more…)

The latest Pixar-Marvel Crossover: Bullseye!

The latest Pixar-Marvel Crossover: Bullseye!

Marv Wolfman writes:

A few weeks back on Twitter, referring to Toy Story 3, writer Gail
Simone
made a funny comment on Bullseye, the horse, and in her deadpan
Twitter-humor style referenced Daredevil’s Bullseye. In turn, I wrote
back saying whoever created that Bullseye had to be a genius. Needless
to say, I created him. As usual, other folk got involved, too, and R.J.
Carter just sent me this, drawn by his friend, Darren Goodhart. It is
great and I had to share it.

So now we share it with you. Enjoy.

Now all we need is Woody in Deathstroke’s costume and Buzz Lightyear as Cyborg. (Beast Boy can already turn into Nervous Rex.)