Monday, May 21, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 10: Up

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 10 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Up
Release: May 29, 2009
Running Time: 96 minutes
Estimated Cost: $175 million
Estimated Revenue: $731.34 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
A young boy, Carl, falls in love with a young girl. We watch a montage of them growing up, getting married, growing old and the girl (Ellie) dies, never getting to Venezuela – her life long dream. Carl, still living in their honeymoon house, is staying in the house, despite a huge construction project around his house. Then after an incident, Carl is sent to live at a retirement community. He has other plans. A former balloon salesmen, he blows up hundreds of helium balloons and makes his house float away, his ultimate goal is Paradise Falls, Venezuela. To Carl, the house represents Ellie.

Along the way, Carl picks up a Wilderness Explorer, Russell. Russell tries his best to help Carl make it to Paradise Falls. Along the way, they encounter Kevin, a large female bird with a penchant for chocolate, and Dug a dimwitted dog with the ability to talk due to a device around his neck.

Carl and Russell drag the floating house around the jungle surrounding Paradise Falls and meet up with Carl’s childhood hero explorer Charles F. Muntz; owner of Dug and the troop of talking dogs. Muntz turns out to be hunting Kevin and chases Carl, Russell and Dug around the jungle and up onto his blimp. Carl chooses to save Kevin, Russell and Dug and let his house (nee: Ellie) go.

Kevin returns to her children and Carl takes Russell back home (and adopts Dug). Carl and Russell have a lot of fun together, doing all the things Carl and Ellie did together.

The house landed exactly where Ellie had wanted to live.

Plot Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
There are a few plot holes that I’ll talk about below.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
The characters looked like they where traditional stop motion characters. They had a wonderful “real” feel. The character designs were refreshing and enjoyable. However, they didn’t quite match their environment. They stood out. There were moments when this was reminiscent of WDAS’ use of CG in hand drawn movies like Treasure Planet or the opening of Tarzan.

The Test of Time:
I’d like to take this moment to note that the events of this movie have Carl and Russell in South America for three days. For the length of this part of the movie, I couldn’t help imagine Russell’s mother back at home. Were there no missing persons’ reports? And when they return, there were no questions asked, Mom was just sitting happily at the merit badge ceremony. Although it had already been established that his dad was not a part of his life, nothing was said about his mom. I just couldn’t get past this point for most of the movie.

As far as its test of time. not much seems to have happened with this movie.

Next Up:
Toy Story 3

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Walt Disney Animation Studios: Part 48: Bolt

Series Intro: This is Part 48 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Bolt
Release: November 21, 2008
Running Time: 96 minutes
Estimated Cost: $150 million
Estimated Revenue: $309.98 million
Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Bolt is a dog actor, who has been raised to believe that his TV character “Bolt” is his real persona. All is good, until Bolt gets loose one day and finds himself lost in New York. There he meets an alley cat, Mittens, who he believes is part of the TV villain’s plot to capture his human. Bolt forces Mittens to return him to Penny in Hollywood. Mitten does not believe Bolt has special powers.
Mittens and Bolt have several misadventures and along the way meet Rhino, a hamster that believes the TV Bolt is real. As they continue to travel West, Bolt learns that he is an ordinary dog, however he still wants to be with his human, despite Mittens wanting to stay in Las Vegas.
After saving Penny from a studio fire (caused by Bolt’s replacement), Penny and Bolt retire to a farm where they both get to be normal. Penny also adopts Mittens and Rhino.

Not a musical, and the score wasn’t memorable.

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5
I was reminded of Cars while I watched this movie, in the fact that for the first third, I really didn’t like the main character. Then, as the “buddy-movie” feeling finally kicked in, I felt like I was watching a childhood favorite, Homeward Bound. I do enjoy WDAS’ buddy movies, so this was when I really liked the movie.
Interestingly enough, there wasn’t a villain in this movie.

Animation Rating: 5 out of 5
Now this is what I’m talking about WDAS. Finally, they have a CGI movie that looks good enough to bare the “Disney” name. The new “Non-photorealistic rendering” made this move so bearable. The backgrounds looked hand painted. The characters had cartoony looks but not overly so nor overly realistic.
For those keeping track, the last time a WDAS movie scored “5 out of 5” in Animation was for Lilo and Stich (only 6 movies have this rating)

The Test of Time:
Where’s Bolt? After he stopped being a jerk, he was cute.

Through the Modern Lens
I hope that this rings in the modern renaissance. It has been too many mediocre movies in a row.

Next Up:
Princess and the Frog

Thursday, May 10, 2012

PIXAR Animation Studios: Part 9: Wall-E

Series Intro: In my purposeful retrospective of WDAS I couldn’t ignore it’s younger sister: PIXAR. This is Part 9 in the retrospective of PIXAR

Official Title: Wall-E
Release: June 23, 2008
Running Time: 98 minutes
Estimated Cost: $180 million
Estimated Revenue: $521.31
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:(Abridged)
Wall-E is the lone “living” creature (nee: Robot) left on Earth. That is until Eve comes and the two seem to fall in love. Eve finds a living plant and her robot instincts take over. Wall-E hitches a ride to her home; where obese people never leave their seats as robots do everything for them. Wall-E and the ship have a huge battle about Eve and the plant, until finally, the ship returns to Earth. Wall-E and Eve live happily-ever-after.

Plot Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Much better than the last few! I enjoyed the fun joking of Wall-E and the hard nosed, rule following of Eve. My favorite part would have been the use of Hello Dolly!

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5
PIXAR continues to up its game, however, I’m not sure I can see any difference.

The Test of Time:
Wall-E seems like it’s lost in limbo. It was such a fabulous movie, but I’m not seeing much of it around. I don’t even think my Kindergarteners would know who he was.

Next Up: