Although the series lives on in shorter form, the final 20 minutes of Toy Story 3 is something of an emotional trip through the wringer (that is, if the film works as intended to the audience). Much in the same way that the opening sequence of Up is called out as an example of Pixar working at its tear-jerking peak, almost nullifying the impact of the rest of the film, Toy Story 3 has a lengthy climax culminating in a curtain call, all of which is meant as a massive payoff to a 15-year trilogy, a firm period on a franchise that could easily be extended on the silver screen for years to come. (Rumors will, of course, abound about a potential fourth Toy Story film; let’s only hope that this never comes to fruition.)
When this column began its theme of highlighting the so-called “Pixar moment” in various Pixar films (we’re still waiting on that patent to go through), it was predominantly about focusing on moments of powerful emotion in films that are targeted primarily at the family audience. That animation can inspire adults and kids alike to grab for a tissue isn’t terribly unique—though few modern animated films would attempt to echo its impact, let’s not forget the iconic moment in Bambi when the title character’s mother is killed by a hunter—but Pixar’s later films, such as Ratatouille and Up, reach for emotion in surprisingly mature and complex fashion. So in starting off 2014 with a look at the Pixar moment in Pixar’s first film, Toy Story, you might think this column would look for the origins of those unforgettable, tearjerking moments.
Watching business decisions get handed down from on high is always maddening, with the context for such choices being obscured from public view; all that can result is rampant speculation. So it is with the surprising announcement a few weeks ago from the Walt Disney Company that it was shutting down Pixar’s Canadian studio, located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The studio, which employed over 100 animators, had worked primarily in shorts related to preexisting properties, such as the Toy Story shorts Small Fry and Partysaurus Rex, as well as some of the Cars shorts released straight to DVD and Blu-ray. As of now, one of the reasons being bandied about for why the shutdown occurred is that a number of the tax loopholes that existed in the past in Canada have been tightened, giving Disney less profit on this extension of one of their most financially fruitful branches.
Toy Story is easily one of the most popular franchises at Disney, so it is only fitting that the series would receive its very own play set for Disney Infinity. Plans to release a play set for the huge property were announced at the D23 Expo in August. Now, we have more details and many more images featuring Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the rest of the gang. After the break, take a look at a collection of new images from the play set, watch a video delving into the set, and find out when you can pick one up!
WARNING: This article will discuss, in at least moderate detail, the last act of Monsters University, so the spoiler-phobic should consider themselves…well, warned. Again, major spoilers ahead!
Each of us reaches a point in our lives where we are forced to come to terms with the limitations of life. We all have dreams as children, of becoming astronauts, or movie stars, or athletes, in spite of the harsh reality that few of us—if any—will ever achieve those goals. If you grew up during the early 1990s, you might’ve thought, “Well, I’m going to be the next Michael Jordan. That’s just how it is,” while shooting a free throw or two into the basketball net in your backyard. Or maybe you thought you’d be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger while playing with a Terminator action figure. The odds, however, are stacked against the majority of us. The flashiest jobs are the ones we gravitate towards in our imaginations, but the humdrum avocations are the ones we’re likely to end up working in.
The cornerstone of the Walt Disney Company is nostalgia. Every film they make, every character they create, every world they concoct furthers the notion that looking back at your past, dreaming of a time when everyone said it was truly wondrous to be alive, well before the minor frustrations of the future took over, is the best possible way to approach life. What are Disney’s theme parks if not various ways in which to embrace youth, either your own or the country’s? So many of their movies call to mind a vision of the “good old days,” a manufactured simulacrum that makes us wistful, wishing we’d been around at the turn of the century, say, or that we’d known as we lived our childhoods that we should cherish them appropriately. The irony is that the more technologically groundbreaking Disney films—and especially Pixar films— are, the more nostalgic they become.
Consciously or not, we often look for the existence of the human in the art we consume. Sometimes, that presence is visible, and sometimes it’s just outside of the frame of the filmmaker’s camera or the words on the author’s page or inches away from the artist’s canvas. But we want and expect some form of humanity to be present in what we watch or read. In film, this manifests differently in live-action versus animation, the latter of which has been criticized for the “uncanny valley” effect, when human characters are rendered in such a way that’s off-putting, distracting for perhaps being too realistic, uncomfortably human. Pixar Animation Studios has not yet fallen into the uncanny valley, but it’s interesting to watch the evolution of their computer-animation technology from as far back as their pre-feature shorts up to Brave, in part because so much of their work is infused with the presence of humans even when none physically appear. Except for the films in the Cars franchise.
It’s amazing how iconic Pixar characters have become in such a relatively short amount of time. I was reminded of this when I first saw today’s PixArt piece. Even with just basic shapes and large swatches of bright colors, one can still quickly recognize Buzz and Woody. These wonderfully abstract portraits come to us from artist Pintachan. Based in Spain, this whimsical and prolific freelance illustrator has churned out some really fantastic images and designs for magazines, t-shirts and more. Make sure to visit his website for samples of his professional work. Read on for more about the artist in his own words!
Mattel and Disney have teamed up to create a new Toy Story short, but not the kind we are used to seeing from Disney/Pixar. This short was created using the “Toy Story: Space Mission” toys that were recently released. One of the greatest things the “toymation video short” has going for it is that a child does all the voices for the characters, including that of Buzz, Woody, and Zurg. Similar to Andy in the Toy Story feature films, this takes us inside the mind of a child and exposes us to his imagination. Take a look at the video here and learn some cool facts on how the video was made! [Read more...]