You just never know what you’ll see at Disney’s D23 Expo. The gathering has become known for its early peeks and surprise screenings of the latest and greatest Disney has to offer. This year was no exception. Before unveiling early glimpses of next year’s The Good Dinosaur and 2015′s Inside Out, John Lasseter had a special surprise for attendees of the Art and Imagination: Animation at The Walt Disney Studios arena presentation. Expo-goers were treated to a full screening of the new Pixar short Party Central. Mike’s New Car (2002), a short attached to the Monsters, Inc. DVD, was the first extension of a Pixar feature film. Party Central continues that tradition almost 11 years later, as this latest toon takes place in the world of Monsters University. Check out my review after the break!
Pixar Times Reviews
One of the biggest criticisms directed at Pixar today is that the studio has become reliant on producing sequels to its films rather than films based on original stories. We live in an era where franchises are highly sought after by major studios because they are more likely to be successful at the box office. Films such as Star Wars Episode VII and Fast & Furious 7 are currently in development and will likely bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. Audiences have a connection with the characters in franchises, hence the larger success rate. Pixar’s argument has been that it is not looking to develop sequels – it is seeking to bring great stories to the screen. Toy Story 2 and 3 were success stories. Monsters University, Pixar’s first prequel which arrives in theaters today, is another great addition to the studio’s catalog. Check out the spoiler-free review after the break!
Disney has been incredibly active on the App Store, with its Disney Mobile and Disney Publishing divisions releasing numerous apps that take advantage of the wealth of Disney properties. With the debut of the iPad a few years ago, Disney Publishing increased its focus on the device by developing interactive books. Recently, Disney Storytime was released, which serves as a gateway (bookshelf) for 20 new books featuring the characters of Toy Story, Cars, Monsters, Inc., Aladdin, The Lion King, 101 Dalmations, and more. Find more details and our thoughts on the app after the break!
Through Disneyland, Walt Disney wanted to transport park visitors to a different era filled with joy and free from the harsh realities that daily life brings. To set the tone, he found attraction posters to be a gateway for children and adults to connect with happy memories of the past and fun-filled potential for the future. Although the process of screen printing to bring these posters to life was not cheap, Walt felt it was essential to give guests the full experience – combine the posters with the attractions themselves and those of all ages would find themselves immersed in their surroundings at all times, with little opportunity for the mind to wander away from enjoying “the happiest place on Earth.” Disney Editions has released “Poster Art of the Disney Parks” to celebrate that aspect of visiting the parks and it is without a doubt a must-have.
With most reviews written today for Pixar films, there is this innate drive to compare the studio’s latest with its fantastic catalog. The Pixar name has become synonymous with more than just great animated films – a story that is layered so that both children and adults can enjoy it, characters that you can relate to, smart and creative humor, beautiful visuals – over the last decade, Pixar has become a brand that brings in droves of people expecting another great film. The challenge that arises from that expectation is that instead of weighing the films on their own merits, they are endlessly compared to the films that came before. Brave arrives in theaters tomorrow with much hype about whether it makes for a film worthy of the Pixar name – Pixar film or not, Brave is first and foremost an impressive feature, with a compelling mother-daughter relationship that sits at its core. After the break, you can find my full spoiler-free thoughts on the film. [Read more...]
If we’ve learned one thing from Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy of films, it is this: It’s not easy being a toy. The new Toy Story Toon, Small Fry, currently playing in theatres with Disney’s The Muppets, further emphasizes this point and expands on the idea that all a toy wants is to be played with. The setup is great – Buzz Lightyear finds himself left behind at a fast food restaurant. In his attempt to escape, he accidentally comes across a group of discarded Fun Meal toys. In the meantime, a tiny Fun Meal sized version of Buzz stows away in Bonnie’s backpack hoping to get some playtime at home. The short intercuts between the two situations. [Read more...]
In all the hustle and bustle of the D23 Expo, Pixar quietly screened La Luna during a panel celebrating 25 years of shorts. For me personally, this was a highlight of the entire expo. The short, directed by Enrico Casarosa, has been playing in animation festivals around the world. It premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in June of this year and will make its theatrical debut in front of Pixar’s Brave next summer. Expo goers were lucky to catch this special screening of the film amid some of the studio’s most popular short subjects. [Read more...]
When the credits rolled at the end of Toy Story 3, after composing myself, I began to think that I had just watched one of the greatest endings to a film trilogy. I was happy when Pixar and director Lee Unkrich said that they viewed the third film as the final feature film with Andy. However, the toys have found a way to continue on, in the hands of adorable new owner Bonnie. Continuing the saga of these toys in the medium of shorts sounded like a great idea, as it allowed the feature films to stand on their own as one cohesive animal without the possibility of damage from a sequel. After watching the short a few times, it is clear that we have another great Pixar short on our hands. Check out my spoiler-free review here! [Read more...]
Hearing that there would be a Cars 2 video game, it was not difficult to imagine where developer Avalanche Software would take it. They could have simply churned out a little racing game and walked away with some easy money in their pockets. However, sitting down and playing thoroughly through it, it is apparent that Avalanche put in a good deal of work to make this not only a creative racing game, but one that has huge replay value due to its awesome multiplayer modes and just how much damn fun it is. Read on for my review of “Cars 2: The Video Game.” [Read more...]
I have to say that I was surprised when Pixar greenlit a sequel to Cars. Why would the studio set out to make another Cars, when the original is often referred to as their weakest film? Personally, I enjoyed the first film. Yes, it is not my favorite project to come out of Emeryville, but it was not a bad film by any means. I was intrigued when I found out that Cars 2 would be a spy film – not a parody of a spy film, but a bona fide spy adventure. On those grounds, it succeeds in a big way, as the action sequences are pretty fantastic and it moves at almost a breathtaking pace. It is an enjoyable adventure film, but if you come in looking for much more than that, you may not walk out of the theater completely satisfied. Read on for a spoiler-free review! [Read more...]
Last week, I received a review copy of “The Art of Cars 2,” the newest in a long line of beautiful art books that Chronicle Books has released in collaboration with Pixar. The 160-page hardcover is packed with sketches, lighting studies, and storyboards that were created throughout the film’s production, which is essentially the reason why film fans love these types of books. It is like taking a trip with the film’s creative team and going on an in-depth visual journey through the development process. In “The Art of Cars 2,” art fans and movie buffs get the definitive behind-the-scenes look at Pixar’s latest, and boy, is it glorious. [Read more...]
La Luna, Pixar’s newest short, made its public debut last week at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which gave lucky attendees a sneak peek at the short before the rest of the world. In recent years, new Pixar shorts have premiered with the studio’s feature films, but La Luna will take some time to hit theaters (likely with Brave). Reader Ingrid Mengdehl was one of those lucky few who got a chance to view the short film at Annecy and she was kind enough to send along a report. Read on to check out her spoiler-free review, along with a recap of the entire presentation! [Read more...]
Sequels are a great time for audiences to revisit characters they have grown fond of over the years, but they are also a nice time for studios to re-release previous films in the series on Blu-ray. Moviegoers who have not had the chance to see the preceding films, as well as those who have not yet upgraded their disc collection to Blu-ray are those who are most likely to make the purchase. If you do not own Cars on Blu-ray and you were even mildly interested in making the plunge, then this really is the perfect time to jump on. [Read more...]
I am a big fan of box sets that collect several years worth of content, usually seasons of television shows or collections of film trilogies. It is a great feeling to hold that much content in a nicely designed box. When the Ultimate Toy Box Collection for the Toy Story films was announced, my mouth began to instantly water. Analyzing the content on the discs included on the set, this collection is second to none. However, the packaging inside has left me a bit underwhelmed. [Read more...]
Collaboration - It has always been much easier to appreciate those who work on live-action films, with the actor’s work on display, the production designer’s influence shown in the background, and the director’s manipulation of the camera clearly visible. However, animated films are meticulously put together by hundreds of people throughout the production process, and they don’t usually receive the same notoriety as the project leaders. The Toy Story 3 Blu-ray/DVD sets allow some of the many unheralded heroes who put together this masterful film to speak directly to the audience and describe the collaborative process of bringing the film to the big screen. Fans of special features, your definitive window into the Toy Story 3 process has arrived. [Read more...]
There have been many Pixar books that have been published in the past: the great art books that accompany each feature film and books that cover the history of the acclaimed studio. Never has there been one like The Pixar Treasures.
Many people wonder about the success story of Pixar Animation Studios. The studio’s rise from near-extinction to critical and financial success is a fairy tale that is fascinating to learn about. Then there is the larger Walt Disney Studios that is known for its animated classics such as Snow White and Dumbo. In theatres, we get to see the final products, but there are the unsung heroes (unkown to many in the audience) who work laboriously to bring us the memorable characters and emotional storylines. Two of those individuals, Joe Ranft of Pixar and Joe Grant of Disney, helped to change the way the animation industry is viewed. Tragically, in 2005, the world lost both of these artists. In his book, Two Guys Named Joe, renowned animation historian John Canemaker recounts the lives of the “two Joes” assisted by the narrations of those who loved them. After reading the book, you may not only grow fond of Ranft and Grant, but you will be moved by the realization of how much we owe both of them. [Read more...]
Toy Story 3 has been the film getting all of the attention lately, overshadowing the Pixar short film, Day & Night that is playing in theaters alongside it. I wanted to wait after my second viewing to review the short, as there are so many subtleties I missed the first time around, I deemed it necessary to watch it again before writing anything.
In my write-up going behind-the-curtain of the short, I explored Pixar’s history with shorts and talked about the fascinating aspect of Day & Night, the combination of hand-drawn characters with their computer animated interiors. Reading about it when it was first announced, I was excited about the undertaking. After watching it, I can only say that director Teddy Newton is a genius. [Read more...]
A few years ago when Disney and Pixar were in contract talks to extend their partnership, Disney decided to come up with their own idea for Toy Story 3. The storyline involved Buzz Lightyear getting shipped off to Taiwan and the other toys trying to rescue him. After Disney bought Pixar and made John Lasseter the CCO, Lasseter famously went and scrapped all development. Pixar took over and started from scratch. And oh boy, we should be thankful because the Toy Story 3 that was directed by Lee Unkrich and released on June 18th, 2010 is nothing short of magnificent. [Read more...]