Long time no see cowboy! It’s been many countless years and toy owner Andy has grown up from the young boy he was years ago. In the midst of his preparations for college, the beloved gang of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and friends are left in confusion as to what will happen to them. Andy makes the decision to donate them to a daycare where the toys will be played with to their hearts’ content. With addition of new toys such as Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, Barbie, and Ken, the visit is bound to be adventurous. The thought of being admired by countless children seemed like a dream come true, however, not all is well in this daycare and the gang must quickly escape before they’re stuck in the there forever.
Spectacular. Marvelous. Stunning. This movie encompasses all of them and MORE. Pixar stood over the top with this film as if they just picked up characters from over ten years ago and stacked them into a movie like nothing happened! I must say Toy Story 3 has been a long time coming, but hey it’s finally here and truly is a wonderful flick.
Let’s hit it off with the storyline. Each movie so far has dealt with a central theme that is pivotal in every person’s childhood: Toy Story – favoritism of toys, Toy Story 2 – stolen toys, and lastly, Toy Story 3 – growing up with toys. We’ve all wondered at some point, “What’s Andy going to do with them once he grows?” This is a very sensitive topic to bring up especially for the younger audience and many of us would think that Pixar will never allow that to be in sequel because of its sensitivity and potential impact on children. Yet, Pixar came up with an approach that is a magnificent breakthrough to attack this topic in a way that I am very pleased with and have no complaints about.
In regards to the cinematic techniques, Pixar incorporates nearly flawless movements and actions of toys as if they actually imitating real human behaviors in the form of toys. In addition, the colorful scheme that is embedded in a typical Toy Story movie is sharply contrasted by the dark atmosphere that is projected when Woody, Buzz and company encounter tough situations such as nighttime at the daycare or the trash melting scene. To accurately describe such beautiful design, visualize other recent Pixar works such as Up or Wall-E and amp it up from there.
Onto character development, we can see that none of the main cast has lost touch with their respective roles such as Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz. And much to be expected, Pixar has splendidly retained the proper nature of these characters as Woody’s devotion to Andy, and Buzz’s deep value for friendship. However, I was overly shocked to witness classic Toy Story characters that were dropped from this production such as Lil Bo Peep from the first film or even the newly cured Wheezy from the second. Honestly, I wouldn’t expect Pixar to be willing to leave out such vital characters, but I suppose it is understandable since the theme of Toy Story 3 deals with growing up and of course, toys are trashed eventually.
With redefined animations, witty comedy, and a pillar of truth in theme, the revival of Toy Story has brought jovial responses from the audience and has brought an end to this trilogy in the most comforting and understanding way as possible. I absolutely urge you all to watch the trilogy and be touched by the transition of childhood to adulthood with toy pals who are always there for you and as Woody would say, “You got friend in me.”
Produced by: Pixar Animation Studios
Director: Lee Unkrich
Setting in a common suburban area, 19 year old Hana leads the casual lifestyle of a college teenager. However, while in class, Hana takes great interest in Ookami who turns out not being a college student. It is revealed that his nature is that of a wolf man, and two fall into young love only to soon start a family with the upbringing of a girl and boy, Yuki and Ame. Misfortune hovers over them as one day, the Wolf Man is found dead leaving Hana to care for her children alone. Join Hana as she faces the trials of a single mother raising two wolf children as well as the evolution of Yuki and Ame and their journey of finding their place in the world.
From the plot synopsis, many of you will immediately think “Oh, another twilight spinoff…great!” But this movie goes deeper and transcends the typical wolf man-woman relationship. The film goes into depth on the hardships of being a single mother as well as shedding light upon two youngsters who are born “different.” Yes, it is not 3D animated, but director Mamoru Hosoda has projected a familiar moral of family with 2D animations that does more than enough in teaching us all a lesson.
To start off, the storyline was spectacularly magnificent. The introduction of the film sets upon Hana, a college student, who falls madly in love with Ookami, a stranger, as if following the idea of “young love” from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. Even though Hana was impregnated at such a young age and most people would condemn such hasty, reckless action, she was ultimately happy. Happy to have a family, happy to share her love, and happy to have Ookami beside her. She portrays a strong and responsible young mother who is not saddened by her pregnancy, but embraces it as a gift. And the film does take into account the low income of a college student with no family aid. Even the father Ookami mans up and takes responsibility for his children with no complaint. At this point, I was overwhelmed by the raw emotion of such a heart filled and lovely family. It amazed me that with such a controversy issue with teenage pregnancy, the couple acknowledged it rather than demean it.
However, the climax arrived with the death of Ookami as he was hunting for food. A saddening scene that left me stunned as endless thoughts of how will the mother handle the working world and care for her children simultaneously emerged. This is the issue that makes this animated movie blossom beautifully. The journey truly starts here for the widowed family as money, education, and work environment are pitted against the trio. Yet, throughout the film, I never felt sympathy for the family because they always emphasized happiness above all else. Even with the “I want” stages of Yuki and Ame as kids was solved by the mother’s rational and fair judgement.
The movie brings forth a strong connection to the real world and that is its highest perk. It relatively portrays the struggles of any young, single mother trifled with countless struggles. And on top of that, the bestial attributes of her children reveals the prejudice of people’s notion of being different. Rather than shielding her children from the dangers of the outside world because of their wolf-like characters, Hana encourages their integration into the world. This powerfully depicts equality for all. The movie emphasizes that the theme that one’s birth should not deter them from being shunned by society. Embrace who you are and pursue what you ultimately want in the end as Yuki continued attending school and Ame chose the path of nature.
Overall, this one of kind film reintroduces the emotional power of 2D animations. With its mix of happiness, sorrow, and marvelous theme of pursuing your path, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki reaches out to the audience with a comforting hand that says, “Everything will be alright.”
Produced by: Madhouse
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Join us once more for a fourth time on an arctic adventure with the herd of Ice Age’s beloved Manny, Sid, and Diego. Still adjusting to the life of being a father, Manny has enough trouble trying to protect his teenage daughter Peaches from boys. However, when a cataclysm strikes divides the entire continent, the trio are left adrift the vast sea separated from their friends and family. Now Manny, Sid, and Diego must brave the storm as they encounter exotic sea creatures, explore a new world, and battle Captain Gutt and his fierce gang of pirates. And of course, we cannot forget about Scrat’s eternal search for reunion with his cursed nut.
I seriously cannot believe that the fourth installment of Ice Age is already dawning upon us. Here’s a quick refresher on the saga: the first film Ice Age came out slightly over 10 years ago. Feeling kinda old now don’t you? As superb and splendid as the first film one, I have to say though that each sequel was just “good enough” and not at all spectacular or strays away to be unique from the first release.
Sure, the animations have definitely bumped up from the last ten years, but that is simply not enough to drag me to re-watch this movie. Manny and the herd have amped up in detail and design, however, this film is exactly like other sequels such as the Shrek and Madagascar franchise. Let’s begin with the storyline. It should be blatantly obvious that the good guys in these sorts of happy-go-lucky movies always win at the end, but HOW they win is more important. It is up to the directors and producers to convey a meaning way to make the good guys win each time. But, with Ice Age 4, the story is terrible. Getting lost at sea because of a continental divide is a good start, but the dramatic scenes that emerged were in no way at all dynamic or meaningful. I won’t spoil the story for you, but you can pretty much pretty how it’s going to end without me having to mention anything.
Manny is conveyed as such “tough guy” in the film that he doesn’t seem to be willing to offer his friendship to outsiders. Thank the heavens Sid is there to actually put in some heart and comedy to this movie. He is what makes the first Ice Age so comical in the first place. And introducing the pirate crew was pretty interesting, but they weren’t the least bit scary or intimidating. It’s as if the filmmakers thought of some wild extinct species and plastered them with pirate gear. And of course, there’s Scrat with his off-story quest for acorns as usual. I think I have seen enough of this little guy trying his hardest for a measly acorn that he ends up losing in the first three films. Now the dialogue has its perks at times, but that’s about it. The jokes made were barely enough to make me giggle. And any heartfelt monologues within the movie were dull and lacked passion. At least give me something good to hear while I’m spending an hour and a half on you Ice Age.
Overall, I am highly disappointed with Ice Age 4 with its lack of good dialogue, character development, and story line. Save yourself an hour or two and don’t bother watching it. And for the others of you who do, at least the animation is still top notch.
Produced by: Blue Sky Studios
Director: Mike Thurmeier
Inside the globe of Thneedville, everything is artificial and even the air itself is a selling product. Young idealist Ted Wiggins chases after finding a tree to win his dream girl Audrey. His adventures leads him to the abandoned outskirts of the city inhabited by the Once-ler, a ruined old businessman. Upon hearing the tale of how the Once-ler fell into greed for sheer wealth, devastated the once Truffula-filled land, and above all, betrayed the friendship of the Lorax. Inspired to undo the wrong, Ted is gifted with a Truffula Seed, the last spark of hope the city has of integrating trees back into society. However, the money-hungry major Aloysius O’Hare is determined to retaliate against all of Ted’s efforts.
With the 108th birthday of the highly renowned and esteemed Dr. Seuss on March 2, 2012, came the 3D animated film from the book The Lorax interpreted and produced by Illumination Entertainment. I must say that I was overwhelmed by excitement if this was anything like the film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. His works of eloquent rhymes can always put a glisten across my face and just brightens up the atmosphere. Thus, from my previous encounters with his books, I expected nothing, but excellence from this movie.
Immediately from the start, the film bombards the audience with an introductory upbeat musical performed by the carefree people of Thneeville. The film does not fail to get straight to the point. From reviews that I have read about this, most critics simply gave it a below average rating of 50% primarily because of several factors.
First, it does not directly quote every single dialogue from the book and that supposedly takes it away from being an authentic Dr. Seuss classic. However, let’s be real here. The book can be read in 10 minutes tops compared to an adaptation that must run 1.5 hours. The producers have to make it realistic to a point by including dialogue fillers which I found was very enticing and comedic.
Second, the main character Once-ler never showed his full appearance within the book in comparison to the film that completely revealed his visage. Some found this to be the bottom line of the film because it takes away the mystery of his identity within the original storyline. I, on the other hand, thought it was a good addition. Remember, this film was aimed at a young audience, and how dissatisfied would they be if there was no conclusive on the depiction of the Once-ler. Consider how many films you have seen where a movie adaptation completely followed every, single scene within the book.
Now with that out of the way, let’s move onwards to the storyline. I found the tale of The Lorax to be quite adorable and lovable in all aspects. For a Guardian of the Forest, the Lorax is just a down to earth short stacked critter who encompasses the ideals of an environmentalist. It is also notable that the author and producers did not grant him any godly powers. This is a vital characteristic because it advocates the notion of nonviolence. Although mankind takes and never seems to give back, Dr. Seuss and Illumination Entertainment excellently portray that the pain of greed is fully realized when there is nothing left to take, and in retrospect, man’s small actions alone become his greatest enemy.
The inhabitants of the forest constantly bring enlightenment to the film with their charismatic and upbeat nature. Silent in commentary, the critters exert the theme that happiness centers on the comfort of companions and family. It demonstrates that the greed for materialistic comforts such as the Once-ler in his youth seeking cash from his invention should not be pursued. Though the scenes weren’t exactly action-packed, it was good enough for the film to maintain the upbeat and jolly flow that the Dr. Seuss books encompass. This was also demonstrated through the animation with the cartoony feel.
Overall, The Lorax was truly a jubilant animated film that can capture the youthful hearts of the older generations as well as continuing to entice wonder in younger folks. I would 120% recommend this film to any Dr. Seuss lover and for those not familiar with his work, it will definitely hook you.
Produced by: Illumination Entertainment
Director: Chris Renaud
Bewildered and clueless about his birth into the world as an immortal entity, Jack Frost soars with the chilly winds enchanting the weather with snowfall and frozen lakes creating endless fun for children everywhere. However, with little recognition and belief from the children, Jack continually wonders the earth invisible to everyone with a lonely persona. Yet, when Pitch Black seeks to insulate the world into eternal chaos and nightmares, Jack must team up with other fairy tale legends to counter Pitch’s schemes at all costs before children stop entirely believing in these tales and thus, ceasing their existence. Along the epic adventure, Jack also must comprehend why he was chosen to be a Guardian with his magical talents, but there a great divide between being chosen a Guardian and being a Guardian.
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all in one film? I never thought the big three would be in the same film any time soon, but looks like it’s here already! To start off, I have to say the interpretation of these classic legends are simply miraculous. Who would have ever thought of Santa Claus having the words “Naughty” and “Nice” tattooed on his forearms or that the Easter Bunny was skilled in boomerangs or that the Tooth Fairy was of hummingbird hybrid? To be completely honest, I had no absolutely clue who the Sandman was before the film. But hey! At least I know now!
Jack Frost is quite the charmer I must say. Even as an animated figure, DreamWorks did a splendid job in molding a handsome rebel that captures the nature of young teens. It truly makes him more admirable as he sees the good in himself throughout the film. The Boogeyman himself was not as terrifying as I visualized him to be as a child. I found his nightmare horses to be more horrific than he himself. I understand that DreamWorks wanted to make it highly suitable for children, but give us older folks here a little scare at least. His animation structure simply depicts a typical man clothed in all black. What’s scary about that?
Onto the story line, I must say the movie started out terribly slow and unpleasing. The movie took a large majority of the introduction to set the stage giving a brief glimpse of each of the Guardians which is indeed necessary, but need not consume so much time. Throughout the film, I was outright confused by the names the characters went by such as Santa Claus going by “North” or the Man in the Moon called “MiM.” Much of my time while watching the film was stuck on who the characters were referring to rather than enjoying the film itself. I also think that by addressing them by their original names would connect with the younger audience more just because it sets out a familiar term that is well known.
I truly loved the idea that the Tooth Fairy’s collection of teeth hold memories of the children. Even the Guardians’ baby teeth are in her possession. This smoothly paved the way into Jack Frost seeking his own teeth with memories of his past life. And along with this, brings about the common theme that the greatest deeds done need no public recognition. They are great as long as you perceive them to be. And in addition, the teeth memory scene conveys to the audience that even these renowned legends were once human too. It is what they did unseen in their past lives that made them worthy to be immortal Guardians.
The ending of the movie left an unsettling feeling for me. It gave a seriously weird ending message that went something like, “Remember that when the Moon tells you to do something, You do it.” That was completely unexpected and not at all pleasing for an ending. It baffled me that this terribly cliche quote would serve as the ending. If anything, it was horribly worded giving off the notion that if the moon ever tells you to do something, you should seriously do it.
Overall, a stunning animation that incorporates the wonders of classic fairy tale legends. Though some work could have been done to polish the design and dialogue, it does not stop the film from imposing wonder on us all.
Produced by: DreamWorks Animation
Director: Peter Ramsey
As a toddler living in the earls of Scotland, Merida always sought adventure and pursued it willingly with no fear. Yet, her mishaps lured the danger of a colossal scarred bear named Mor’du towards her father and mother: King Fergus and Queen Elinor. After losing one of his foot in the brutal battle, King Fergus was able to secure the safety of his family while the beast vanished into the forest. Years later, Merida has grown into an impetuous and beautiful young lady fit enough to be betrothed. However, during the competitive ceremony of deciding her bachelor, Merida causes an upsetting dilemma to delay the event causing great havoc among the clans fighting for her hand in marriage. An angered argument between Merida and her mother creates a divide between their relationship leading Merida to seek a magic wish to let her live her life. Little does Merida know that her one wish for happiness could potentially ruin the kingdom. Will she be able to atone for her mistakes and secure peace for the land with only a moment of time left?
Finally, Pixar presents to us a female protagonist! And boy oh boy, she is fiery and compassionate like her hair. Brave truly promotes the beautiful theme that family will be there in your times of need. And in addition, portrays that even in royal standings, the core of the family does not change nor does wealth change its essence. The film centers itself on the controversy of controlling destiny. And that is a splendid topic to introduce to the younger audience since it sets into the motion the idea that no boundaries or obstacles are too outstanding to hinder your life goals.
I found the animation to be very fluid in its texture and execution. The Scottish accent dialogue made the movie truly enjoyable especially since it provided an intriguing intake. Although it was a bit over the top at times, for the most part, it did corresponded with the script overall. To be honest, the story line was fairly predictable, but that is commonly expected of Pixar films. It would be too traumatic for cartoon characters especially of Pixar and Disney descent to not have a happy ending.
Aside from the cons, I adored the position the film takes on controlling destiny because it really does inspire the audience to go out and take charge of their lifestyles whether it is passionately chasing after something or finding a less paid job, but enjoyable at the same time.
Overall, Brave follows the guidelines as set out by previous Pixar directors and doesn’t offer much variance in story line, but it does provide that same old nostalgic inspiration.
Produced by: Walt DisneyPictures
In 1895, Dracula built a 5-star hotel specifically for monsters in hopes of protecting his precious daughter Mavis from the humans and their wicked ways. In present times, the resort has risen to the name of Hotel Transylvania and homes an abundance of monsters vacationing to get away from the humans. On one special weekend, Dracula invites all monsters that ever existed from Frankenstein, the Werewolf, Invisible Man, the Mummy, and many more to celebrate the 118th Birthday of his daughter. When the party is about to start, the 21-year old human named Jonathan stumbles into the hotel forcing Dracula disguises him as a monster in an attempt to avoid havoc in the resort. However, when Mavis feels an attraction towards Jonathan and ignores her father’s advice on the humans, will Dracula be able to accept this forbidden “zing” or terminate it before any other chaos stirs in Hotel Transylvania?
This monster-filled movie reminds a lot of Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. where the monsters play the role of the good guys and humans are depicted as being the actual “monsters.” The animations themselves are above par, but are not entirely stellar. I thought it was a great turn in uniting fearsome monster classics into one film, but characterizing them to be not the most frightening creatures really defeats the purpose of them being classic thrillers. However, I do understand that the film was more directed towards a younger audience and even as an 18-year old college student, I did find the movie hilarious with its comedy and saddening at several scenes. Therefore, adults and the older generation might get a kick out of the film, but that’s nearly it; a kick. I must admit there were terribly dull scenes at times that dragged out the inevitable and predictable plot that would unravel.
Throughout the movie, the embodiment for the word “love” is replaced with the notion of a “zing.” This could have been done to pave the road towards defining the first simple stages of love itself. Though the idea was nice, I found it excruciatingly annoying that the film constantly repeated the phrase, “You only zing once in your life.” This sounds familiar to you? It should be since it’s essentially the reemphasize of the motto that people nowadays are throwing known as “YOLO” or “You only live once.” Whenever a character said it during the movie, it stung my ears swollen.
Aside from the cons, Hotel Transylvania really is an attractive film to behold. What it lacks in some fields, it makes up for in the enjoyment of watching the undead king Dracula panic like never before. And who would have thought that even Dracula acts like a typical father to his kin. I personally found the dialogue to be quite ingenious not to mention Adam Sandler playing the Drac-man himself made the character gold in voice. The movie itself does a splendid job in reminding us people in our current era that happiness is really a choice and no bounds should stop you from indulging in this jubilant and wonderful feeling.
Overall, I would recommend people to watch this flick when you’re in a need of a good laugh here and there. Don’t be so harsh to judge this film and it does bring a smile on your face when you see a heart felt side of Dracula once you look past the “blah blah blah I’m going to suck your blood!” So get your reservations ready, and I do hope you enjoy your stay at the 5-star resort Hotel Transylvania.
Produced by: Columbia Pictures
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
In the 8-bit game Fix-it Felix, the main Bad Guy Wreck-it Ralph simply wants to be appreciated like his Good Guy counterpart Felix Jr. But there’s just one problem: No one ever loves the Bad Guys. Game after game and with each defeat, Felix Jr. is awarded medal after medal for his noble acts of valor against each of Ralph’s rampage on Niceland’s buildings and its tenants. Shunned by his community and unappreciated, Ralph comes to the conclusion that in order to be truly welcomed he needs to obtain a medal – a symbol of honor and accomplishment. He sets out into the arcade gaming sphere and sneakily makes it into the first person shooter game Hero’s Duty featuring Sergeant Calhoun where a medal is offered daily to winning players. However, Ralph wrecks everything in his attempt for the medal and accidentally unleashes a threatening enemy that can potentially corrupt every arcade game. Ralph’s wild adventure leads him to the candy-coated realm of racers titled Sugar Rush where he meets “The Glitch” Vanellope von Schweetz, a sharp-tongued program who too is dismissed by her people. Ruler of the sugar domain, the flamboyant King Candy seeks to rid of “The Glitch” at all costs. With Felix Jr. and Sergeant trailing Ralph’s wreckage to fix his actions, will Ralph realize what it means to be a Good Guy before the growing enemy shuts down the gaming universe?
As a solid Disney fan, I was immediately sold by the digital animation with the trailer release. Wreck-it Ralph takes on a new spin compared to a typical Disney story line where now there is a role reversal on spotlight shining on the Bad Guy’s perspective. The film’s basis focusing on video games allows it to approach the concept in a myriad of ways. Merging old school classics with new school graphics, the movie targets not only children, but also adults who’ve had gaming nostalgia.
The dialogue of Wreck-it Ralph incorporates a variant of gaming puns and humor that any gamer new and old would instantly comprehend. I must personally say that the language was not a touch from genius. The creation of a central station for the gaming characters to all interact establishes a wonderful home place for the audience to watch as all their favorite avatars casually converse with each other. Alongside its comical side, Disney of course, introduces the “dark side” of the game sphere such as a gaming character that purposely sabotages another game is termed as going “turbo.”
Ralph himself is such a lovable lug who is just misjudged by his title. Honestly, the way the tenants treat him was a hit to reality that people in real life behave significantly similar this. It may be harsh for the younger audience, but it is what it is. I found the friendship that evolved between Ralph and Vanellope to be an unpredictable one. I did not expect Vanellope to be as forgiving as she was throughout the film because of the tough shell she outlays. The story line itself was superbly innovative with its plot twists at unexpected moments and deep insight on the character development.
Overall, I would highly recommend this movie to watch as it will capture your childhood youth as it did with mine and what’s better than seeing your favorite Street Fighter character costarring with Sonic the Hedgehog?
Produced by: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Director: Rich Moore