Tag: pixar

Cars 2 Throttles Up The Action

It’s probably safe to say that the character of Mater was the most popular character in the first Cars film. Voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, the rusty and oblivious tow truck has been featured in a DVD short, a spin-off series of television shorts and a video game. It comes as no real surprise that Mater is the star of the latest Pixar film, Cars 2, even more so than Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen. In fact, this film marks a shift in storytelling for the venerable film studio. Typically Pixar has given us an emotionally compelling character journey wrapped in the guise of a children’s animated film. Kids could drink in the visual spectacle while adults enjoyed a multi-dimensional and emotionally satisfying story. This time Pixar has chosen to eschew all that in favor of a rather straightforward action adventure movie. In the hands of any other animation studio this would result in a derivative sequel lacking the heart of the original. This being Pixar, that isn’t a concern.

Lightning McQueen gets pulled into an international race ostensibly against the arrogant Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by John Turturro) and decides to take along his best friend Mater. An obvious fish out of water, Mater fails to fit in with the jet-set lifestyle of sophisticated parties, but does manage to be mistaken for a cunning undercover spy and embroiled in a mission by Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine) and Holley Shiftwell (voiced by Emily Mortimer). Much like an automotive version of Inspector Clouseau, Mater fumbles his way through intrigue and life-threatening situations all without losing his hillbilly charm and ability to make us laugh. Thinking that his bumbling has cost him McQueen’s friendship, Mater enthusiastically embraces his new friends and new friends. Of course the central plot by the mysterious bad guy eventually includes McQueen which rallies Mater to save his best friend. There’s quite a bit more fun and adventure along the way and everyone from Radiator Springs eventually gets caught up in the action, but this is most definitely Mater’s time to shine.

Let’s face it, Pixar essentially set the storytelling bar to near-unachievable heights with WALL-E. UP and Toy Story 3 came very close to matching the little robot who could with their themes of growing old and growing up, respectively, but it would have been unrealistic to expect Cars 2 to sustain that type of momentum. Instead, John Lasseter and company chose a different track for our revisit with the denizens of Radiator Springs and gave us exactly what we wanted in sequel to a film whose main characters are various types of vehicles; faster pace, more action and more and varied anthropomorphic mechanoids. But don’t think this film is lacking in heartfelt moments. There is a touching tribute to Doc Hudson, voiced by the late Paul Newman in the original film, and an underlying theme of friendship underpinning the whole thing. Just don’t expect to need any excuses concerning having something stuck in your eye as the credits roll.

As a sequel and as a style of story this was an interesting and somewhat surprising choice for Pixar, but they pull it off with the quality filmmaking that they are now synonymous with. This is easily the best movie of the summer so far and one I highly recommend. One other fun treat is the Toy Story short shown before the film. We get to catch up briefly with some old friends before treated to a feature length visit with some other good friends. If that sounds like a great way to spend a couple of hours of your time, then Cars 2 should be your next cinematic experience.

Marvel & Disney Publishing Announce Disney•Pixar Presents

The Pixar movie properties now move from BOOM! Studios over to the Disney-owned Marvel Comics. While this probably isn’t too much of a surprise, I still think BOOM! deserves big kudos for the quality books they’ve produced centering on the Pixar characters and for making those comics hugely popular. It remains to be seen if there will be the same success with all the stories condensed into one magazine with a $6 price tag. Here’s all the details from today’s announcement:

Marvel and Disney Publishing will debut DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS, a new monthly magazine featuring some of the most popular characters from the acclaimed Disney/Pixar films. Intended for readers of all ages and priced at $5.99, the first issue will hit stores in May 2011.

Each issue of the magazine contains 96 full color pages of content, including a mix of brand new stories, classic adventures, puzzles, games and more. Featuring characters from Disney/Pixar’s hit movies Cars, Cars 2, The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, and more, DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS will be available at bookstores, retail chains, comic stores and more. The series debuts with DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS: Cars Magazine #1.

“We’re excited for the launch of DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS, teaming with our friends at Disney/Pixar to bring some exciting new material to fans all over the world and introducing a whole new generation to comics,” said Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief. “We’re committed to providing a great product and ensuring these books are available in locations that parents and kids frequent. The Disney/Pixar library includes some of the most popular characters of all time, making DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS exactly the kind of comic magazine that kids and parents have been demanding!”

Rev up those engines and join your favorite characters from CARS in DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS: Cars Magazine #1 as Lightning McQueen organizes a charity race for young cars with special needs, but he didn’t invite Piston Cup champion Chick Hicks. The snub gets Hick’s competitive juices flowing, and he’s out to show McQueen a thing or two about racing! Will Hicks ruin the good nature of the Radiator Springs Rally Race? Find out this May everywhere books and comics are sold.

DISNEY•PIXAR PRESENTS: CARS MAGAZINE #1
Written by ALAN J. PORTER & MARK COOPER
Penciled by ALLEN GLADFELTER, MAGIC EYE STUDIOS & TRAVIS HILL
Rated All Ages…$5.99
ON-SALE IN MAY

Pixar Revs Up A Full Trailer For Cars 2

The next Pixar film is another sequel, this one a follow-up to their 2006 hit film Cars, the aptly named Cars 2. By the way, is it just redundant at this point to refer to any Pixar film as a hit? At any rate, look for Lightning McQueen, Mater and the gang from Radiator Springs (plus some new makes and models) at a theater near you next summer!

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. Torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret spy mission, 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. Adding to the fast-paced fun is a colorful new all-car cast that includes secret agents, menacing villains and international racing competitors.

Review: Pixar’s ‘UP’ On DVD

Here’s the thing, reviewing a Pixar movie is like describing different levels of excellence. You essentially run out different ways of using phrases such as “pinnacle of storytelling” or “suberb characterizations” or “perfectly plotted story” or just plain “freaking excellent.” And, seriously, let me know of any film studio that’s released even three perfect films in a row, much less the ten that Pixar has given us over the last fourteen years. I keep wondering each film if this will be the one where the shine finally rubs off and a little wear and tear shows itself. After last year’s WALL-E I figured they had reached their heights and would be finally plateauing before their inevitable slide. Little did I know they had nowhere else to go but UP.

If you’re reading this review of the DVD version then you’ve already seen the film and, unless you really are cold-hearted, you love it. I already gushed about this film back in May, so I’ll spare you. You’re really here to find out what’s on the DVD. I was sent a copy of the four-disc Blu-ray combo pack to review. Fortunately, Disney has kept up their intelligent decision of packaging the standard DVD disc with the Blu-ray. I haven’t switch to the high definition disc format yet, but these combo packs still give me plenty to talk about. The full specs are listed below, but the DVD itself still has plenty to offer.

The theatrical short, Partly Cloudy is first on the list. Once again Pixar demonstrates they can out storytell anyone without even using dialogue.

As has become tradition on the studio’s DVD releases there is second short focusing on characters from the film. This time we get Dug’s Special Mission, which occurs just prior to the talking dog meeting Russell and Carl. This “special mission” was alluded to in the film and now we get to see what that mysterious bit of dialogue was actually referring to.

Next up is the Adventure Is Out There Making Of featurette that once again shows why the Pixar gang create such moving, captivating cartoons. In this twenty-two minute segment we see the entire crew of the film journey to South America to explore the plateaus that form the backdrop of the story. After watching this you’ll have a better understanding of how the filmmakers’ are able to infuse UP with so much feeling and creativity.

The fourth Bonus Feature, entitled Alternate Scene: The Many Endings of Muntz, gives you further insight into how much care and thought the creators put into telling this story as they discuss some alternative ways Muntz might have met his maker and why they choose the ending they did.

There is a feature length commentary from director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson that adds an even greater depth of illumination into the process and thought being the making of the film. All these features come very close to imitation the “film school” style of the Criterion Collection discs and are well worth your time.

Last, but not least, is a quick short explaining what you can do with the Digital Copy that is included in this set. This last edition, the computer file version, really caps this off as being an ultimate set. You get the film in three different formats and a bevy of extras (you Blu-ray owners definitely score) making this an excellent set to own. See how synonymous excellent is with Pixar? Anyway, no matter what format you’re able to view it in, this four-disc Blu-ray set is the way to go.

BONUS FEATURES
up-dvd • Commentary by director Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson.
• Dug’s Special Mission
• The Many Endings of Muntz
• Partly Cloudy
• Adventure is Out There

 

 

 

BLU-RAY ONLY BONUS FEATURES
up-bd • Cine-Explore
• Geriatric Hero
• Canine Companions
• Russell: Wilderness Explorer
• Our Giant Flightless Friend, Kevin
• Homemakers of Pixar
• Balloons and Flight
• Composing for Characters
• Married Life
• Global Guardian Badge Game

UP Hidden Facts

* In the sequence where Carl’s house first lifts up, the Luxo Jr. ball can be seen in the girl’s bedroom as the house goes by her window.
* The Pizza Planet Truck, which first made an appearance in Toy Story, has made a cameo in nearly every Pixar film. In Up, the Pizza Planet truck can be seen at an intersection when Carl’s house flies over the town. The truck makes as second appearance in the Fentons Creamery parking lot at the end of the film.
* The number A113, which refers to Brad Bird and John Lasseter’s former classroom at CalArts, makes an appearance in every Pixar film. A113 is the courtroom number when Carl makes an appearance to plead his case.
* Fentons ice cream parlor in the movie is based on the real Fentons Creamery in Oakland, California.
* The flight number on Carl and Ellie’s tickets to Venezuela is 2319 – the same number as the alert in Monsters, Inc. when George Sanderson has a kid’s sock on his back.
* When Russell and Carl join Muntz for dinner in his dirigible, Carl is actually served the scallop dish from Ratatouille.

DVDs With Dean – Release Date November 10th

This week’s Tastiest Morsel
UP (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition + Digital Copy)
Pixar continues to pump out near perfect films and this film didn’t disappoint even though I doubted them after I saw that the premise was about a grumpy old man who builds a balloon house. I will never doubt them again. You can choose between the four-disc Blu-ray combo pack or a two-Disc Standard edition.

Fresh Catches
The Ugly Truth (Widescreen Edition)
Katherine Heigl seemed like she was on the brink of stardom before she starting biting all the hands that feed her by ripping apart the writers from Grey’s Anatomy and pissing on Judd Apatow after Knocked Up. I hope this is the last time she is mentioned on this site with this formulaic rom-com.

Spread
Ashton Kutcher stars in Spread as a young man who sleeps with rich older women to enjoy all the comforts of money. It may be interesting to see this movie since this story is usually about a female who uses her body to her advantage and not a male, and surprisingly the movie is being hyped a little for its acting which seems impossible with Ashton in the lead and Anne Heche as his sugar mama.

The Accidental Husband
I hadn’t heard much about this film so I checked it out on Rotten Tomatoes where it is enjoying a 0%. That was enough for me to skip this Uma Thurman romantic comedy.

G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Complete Collectors Set [The Complete Series]
Finally, they are releasing the full series instead of odd collections of partial seasons. Just like the recent Transformers set it comes with the old PSAs and some featurettes, and unlike that set it comes with a dog tag flash drive and a Footlocker collector’s case.

Greg Behrendt is That Guy from That Thing
Greg Behrendt is that Guy who wrote that book He’s Just Not That Into You and had a weird TV advice show for a long time touring stand-up comedian. This is him getting back to comedy.

Double Dip DVDs
Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut
Ugh. This double dip hurt me because I fell into the trap of buying one of the Best Buy exclusive versions for the initial DVD release. Now, they release a loaded set for less than thirty bucks and I am kicking myself. This includes five discs of content some of which was available separately before like the animated comic book, The Tales of the Black Freighter (which you can watch interwoven into the film), and the “Under the Hood” short.

Monsters, Inc. (Four-Disc Edition) [Blu-ray]
This is the same as the previous release but it comes in the traditional Disney Blu-ray style with a standard DVD and a digital copy.

Mamma Mia! The Movie – Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! DVD Gift Set Version
After the random reissues last Christmas season made decent money we can expect to see a lot of double dipping over the next few weeks. This first set includes the soundtrack and a booklet.

Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Series
This is a reissue with a nicer casing but no new features or content.