"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, August 26, 2011

Movie Review: Cars 2

Cars 2, yet another one of Pixar's sequels, is an ambitious adventure set around the world that somehow doesn't quite capture the goodness of the original.  The first film was about a race car finding his way into the big leagues.  How to win big but enjoy the small stuff, the stuff that really matters.  The character that helped him realize that in the original, Doc Hudson is not here anymore as the actor who voiced the character, Paul Newman, had passed away.  There is a small touching mention of him here but then story is shifting and moving ahead fast away from Radiator Springs.  Directed by John Lasseter, I guess I was expecting the same Midas touch as the rest of the films but I couldn't help but feel something was lacking.  I did enjoy myself at the film because there is so much to take in. The Grand Prix is a race around the world in Japan, Paris, Italy and London and it is spectacular.  

Earlier this year, I was amazed and pretty impressed with Blue Sky Studios' Rio in that they managed to show the entire city of Rio de Janiero.  Well, that was nothing.  Pixar shows us Tokyo, Paris, Porto Corsa (a fictional Italian city) and London all in one movie.  The details are stunning. I was especially in awe of the Italian coastline shown in glorious details.  The sets are something else.  And the attention to detail in the cars in every country.  I'm speechless.  There is a lot of hard work put into this and it will be fun to spy the exact details in the next viewing too.  The different cars include the "Popemobile", car cameos from Jeff Gordon and Lewis Hamilton, the geisha cars of Japan and I could not get over the Queen and her grandson Prince Wheeliam.  Love it!

There were too many new characters to keep track of in this film but I like the two main British cars, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer).  How cool is it that Michael Caine voiced a Pixar character!  Finn and Holly, in a mix-up, come to believe that Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) is an American spy and things get very confusing after that.  I was just enjoying the changing scenery and the race around the world to get involved in the sub-plots.  All the new characters meant we didn't get to spend as much time with the older characters.  Sure, there's a race around the world but I really would have like to see more of Lighting McQueen and Sally.  

Overall, this is a film that will be enjoyed by kids especially young boys will love as the race scenes rival actual car races but personally I feel will have you yearning for the sweetness of the original.  I know the Cars universe is a marketing giant but I think we don't need to revisit it for another feature.  The shorts of the Cars universe are excellent and I do hope they continue it.  Just like it was lovely to see the Toy Story gang again in the short Hawaiian Vacation.  With the announcement of more Pixar original, I think that's the way the future's headed.

Directed by John Lasseter, Co-Directed by Brad Lewis, Written by Ben Queen, John Lasster, Brad Lewis, Dan Fogelman, Produced by Denise Ream, Music by Michael Giacchino, Editing by Stephen Schaffer, Art Directed by Jay Schuster.

Voice Talents of: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro, Tony Shaloub, Thomas, Kretschmann, and many more.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

News Update: Pixar Edition!

This one's all about the good news that literally gushing itself out of Pixar out of the D23 Expo.  It's too much goodness and I don't what to do with it yet.

  • First up, let's talk about the shorts.  Another Toy Story short named 'Short Fry' will be released alongside The Muppets this November and La Luna which debuted at Annecy this past June, will be tagged with Brave next June.  Long wait, but will be totally worth it.
  • Those mystery films being announced by Disney/Pixar are no longer a mystery, we now know what they potentially might be about and who will be directing it.  First up, the November 2013 release will be about dinosaurs and the possibility of them surviving the meteor that extinguished them.  The film will be directed by Bob Peterson, co-director of Up and also the voice of Dug.  The film will be co-directed by Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy).  And the May 2014 release will be directed by Pete Docter (Monster's Inc., Up) and scripted by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine).  What's the movie about? Well, not much was divulged about the subject matter except it's about the inner mind and the "formation of ideas".   Being cagey presently, aren't they?
  • And, finally, slipped in between all these amazing news stories is the news that Disney/Pixar will not be boycotting this year's Annie Awards for Animation.  They previously boycotted in protest of unfair voting practices.  Let's see what happens at this year's awards.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Celebrating Pixar's 25th Anniversary

It's been 25 years since Pixar launched its first short and has now transformed itself into a bonafide studio and success story to behold.  They have told numerous stories, both long and short, that have enchanted and touched us.  I can't imagine what might have happened if that first ever Luxo Jr short was never made.  I myself have been much inspired by Pixar and their pursuit of excellence.  Pixar's films always rank as some of the best films ever made on many critics and regular movie fans top ten lists.  As they do on mine, so here are my favorite Pixar films.

1) Finding Nemo: I loved Disney's 2D animated films all throughout my childhood but Finding Nemo was the first ever animated film that truly moved me and I can watch over and over again without getting tired.  The story of a father trying to find his lost son is not a new tale but set in an underwater adventure, this film had everything.  Characters to root for, amazing underwater locales and some very funny fish comedy.  I think everyone who owned a fish tank took a good look at their seemingly placid fish.  And there's the music, til today, if I hear Thomas Newman's score of Finding Nemo, I get a little choked up.

2) Wall-E: Another Andrew Stanton film, I think he might be my favorite director amongst the bunch.  Wall-E is full of heart so much so that you can't help but root for him and his quest for love.  But the underlying theme of Wall-E is not just about the scrappy underdog; it's an environmental film with a message one that children need to start learning at an early age.  Wall-E will always remain my sentimental favorite.

3) Ratatouille: This one's a masterpiece, an animated feature film that is truly underrated.  The film has so many layers, it's all about believing in yourself and finding the inner courage to fight for your dreams while it's also about the culinary arts which have never been featured so sumptuously in an animated film.  It's also about the unlikely friendship between a sous chef and a rat who dares to dream above his station.  Ratatouille is one for the ages.

4) Up: What do an old man, an overenthusiastic Boy scout and a lovable dog who can speak all have in common?  They make an unlikely family of sorts in the adventurous Up which takes us to the majestic waterfalls and mountains of South America in search of a bird that may or may not exist.  Up was funny, emotional and made us all believe that houses can fly with the help of balloons.

5) Toy Story 2: Everyone's favorite Toy Story flick is usually the first (for introducing all the characters we know and love) or the most recent one (clever, charming with a most satisfying ending) but I will always prefer the middle child, Toy Story 2.  This one brought us back to the world of the toys yet again but showed us their fears of being cast aside, a fear that anyone can have.  It was first time that I've cried in an animated movie, especially when the song, "When She Loved Me" showed the very touching montage of Jessie the cowgirl's backstory.  I dare you not to be moved by that sequence!

Honorable mentions:

1) The Incredibles: A humorous and extremely insightful take on the modern American family, this was another Brad Bird masterpiece.  The adults appreciated this film much more than children ever would and it showed the world that maybe animated films weren't just for kids anymore.  My personal favorite scene in this movie is down below.  In the end, aren't we all just waiting for something amazing to happen?  Thank you, Pixar, for giving us just that.

2) A Bug's Life: Watching this movie, I realized that computer animated films were going to become "the" thing and I loved it.  Toy Story wasn't just a one-off thing and this was going to be the future and still is. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Best Movies of the far!

Seven and half months of this year have gone by and while there haven't been any instant successes like Inception last year, there are quite a few movies to talk about.  Keep in mind, I'll be discussing the movies I've seen so far.  There are so many movies pending on my to-see list but I hope to catch up by the end of the year.

So, without further are the top movies of the year...midway.

1) The Adjustment Bureau - My favorite film so far this year.  I loved Matt Damon and Emily Blunt who totally made us believe in their chemistry and need to be with one another.  Based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, this was masterful storytelling with amazing visuals and great acting.  Another impressive movie by Damon, he CAN do it all.

2) Super 8 - Incredibly nostalgic film about film making and the 80s that totally charmed due to its young cast.  It's not a monster flick at all, it goes much beyond it.  Absolutely loved it.  

3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2- The final film in an epic storytelling saga that spanned over a decade.  Show me anyone who wasn't moved by the grand spectacle of it all.  It was definitely hard to say goodbye to Harry Potter.

4) Rango - One of the best animated films for adults I have seen.  Loved Johnny Depp's portrayal of insecure and needy iguana Rango who turns out to be a savior/hero of small Westernish town.  This could be the only Western flick this year that worked.

5) Source Code - Sci fi and Jake Gyllenhaal, two of my favorite things in a film, combined.  Second film by director Duncan Jones after his debut Moon that asks what if you could live the final 8 minutes of a person's life.  What would you do?  What would you find out? 

6) Limitless - Yet another thought provoking movie released this year.  What if there was a little clear pill out there somewhere that allowed you to use your brain's fullest potential?  What could you accomplish? What is it that you couldn't do?  This role was absolutely made for Bradley Cooper.

7) Bridesmaids - The feel good female flick of the year! Not really, but it is the funniest.  Kirsten Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy are absolutely spot on in their portrayal of real women and the way we deal with our friendships.  I laughed until I cried.

8) Kung Fu Panda 2 - Po is back with his awesomeness.  Twice as explosive as the first film, the second film told of the origin story of Po's real parents providing a real emotional touch.  I can't wait to see what happens in the next film in the saga.

9) Rio - While the actual story lacked in several places, the movie will astonish with the different locales it takes you to.  Just kick back, take a seat and go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in all its animated glory.

10) Trust - Directed by David Schwimmer (yes, Ross from FRIENDS), this is one harrowing look at the dangers of teenagers and cyber chatting.  Emotionally brutal and containing fine performances from actors Catherine Keener, Clive Owen and newcomer Liana Liberato.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Around the World in Posters: Tintin, Drive, Happy Feet Two and more!

Gorgeous new poster showing the key characters from The Adventures of Tintin.  I'd love to have this framed on a wall.

Hello, hottie! Ryan Gosling in this first poster from Drive.  After seeing the trailer, I'm totally psyched for this film.

Cute penquins!!! Cute dancing penquins!!! That's all anyone needs to know about Happy Feet Two.

 Two very impressive young actors in Like Crazy, Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones.  I'm definitely seeing this.

How cute is it that Jason Segel and Walter the Muppet are wearing the same outfit?

Ben Stiller and his gang of misfits tries to pull off the most impossible heist in a tower...hence the name.

It's all about the release dates!

This blog post is all about release dates.  Why? Because so many studios have gone ahead and confidently announced release dates for sequels for movies yet to be released and certain studios (yes, we're looking at you, Disney) have announced mysterious projects that I'm too curious to know what it's about.

  • After the encouraging buzz at Comic-Con, Sony went ahead and announced May 2, 2014 for the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man.  Sony seems to have a lot of faith in this franchise. 
  • The Hunger Games is filming their first film in the trilogy but that doesn't stop them from announcing that Catching Fire, the second in the series, will be out on November 22, 2013.  Obviously, a lot of hope on this movie, mine included.  
  • Walt Disney studios announced that yet another new Pixar film will be out on May 30, 2014.  Okay, that's like 2 and half years away but this comes on the heels of the other original Pixar film releasing on November 27, 2013.  Could it be that Pixar is releasing two back to back original features?  This is too much, it's like Christmas and my birthday combined.  I truly hope this is true.  Supposedly, Disney will be revealing a bit more info come August 20th at the D23 Expo.  Watch this space.

So, what do we think? Too much hype or a clever new marketing technique?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trailer Time: New Year's Eve, Battleship and Drive

In the grand tradition of big star casts from Love Actually, He's Just Not Into You and Valentine's Day comes the trailer for New Year's Eve where "there will be more celebrities than rehab"! Trailer quote, not mine and yes, that was Robert De Niro snuck in at the end of the trailer.

I can't believe they actually made a movie out of Battleship. This just goes to show you never say never! Starring Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard and Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins!!!), the movie is set to release next May.

The red-band trailer for Ryan Gosling's next feature, Drive, has been drawing a lot of buzz. It's been long since a non-sequel, not based on previous material has had much success so all eyes will be on this for sure. Carey Mulligan and Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) co-star.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New The Dark Knight Rises Stills: Anne Hathaway

Fresh on the heels of Superman, The Dark Knight Rises debuted the first look of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle.  I don't think this is her as Catwoman but looks like she's ready to be Batman's sidekick on the Bat-motorcycle.

Henry Cavill in first still as Man of Steel

In the first look at Henry Cavill as Superman, we are treated a much muscular costume than previous versions.  Is Superman trying to compete with Batman? Either way, I'm not sure what to think about this.  Let's see what the first teaser trailer holds, eh?  Because Cavill is hardly recognizable here and I still wish they had taken the very charming Matt Bomer (White Collar) as the Man of Steel.  I don't know why but I keep picturing him as perfect for the role; he was Brett Ratner's first choice when he was at one time being considered as director.  Ah, what could have been!

New Photos from The Hunger Games

Fresh from the first look of Peeta and Gale in The Hunger Games, more photos of the actors in character and filming various early key scenes have been released.  However eager I am to see the film next March, I'd still like to be surprised about various elements from the books like Katniss' fire costume and the actual games arena.  Until then, here are the pics. 

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) discuss hunting strategies.

Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) outside his father's bakery.

(Pics: Entertainment Weekly)

Shaping up to be quite the cast, isn't it?

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