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Tag Archive: Disney-Pixar


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you forgot why so many fans of superhero movies rate The Incredibles as not only their top animated movie but their favorite and best superhero movie, too, The Incredibles 2 will bring you back around.  It was 2004 when we first met the Parr family, and yet here 14 years later the voice acting talent hasn’t missed a beat.  Sure, we have a new actor as Dash (Huck Milner, replacing Spencer Fox), but Craig T. Nelson (Bob/Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen/Elastigirl), Sarah Vowell (Violet), and Samuel L. Jackson (Lucius/Frozone) could have recorded this in 2005 and it couldn’t have sounded any better.  And sound is half of the appeal of this solid sequel to the Academy Award-winning original, which won the Oscar for best animated film.

The music is just as incredible as Michael Giacchino’s work in the original, only his expanded themes this time may have resulted in an even better soundtrack.  How did he not win the Oscar for the original?  Who knows, but the Oscar-winning composer (for Up) pulls out all the stops from the 1960s spy movies, leaning on James Bond themes and using trumpets frequently grinding and screaming their way through a film that must be at least 85% action.  If you are patient enough to sit through the full credits you’ll even hear the “classic TV show” style theme songs for each of the lead superheroes.  The Incredibles 2 was worth the wait just for the visuals and style to be mirrored just right, thanks to returning writer/director Brad Bird leading the way.  Bird was nominated for an Oscar for his writing for the original, and his new story nicely balances a fresh, new adventure with those elements fans want more of.  So expect more bumbling by Mr. Incredible, more heroics by Elastigirl, more everything by Frozone, more Edna Mode, and more over-the-top, zany villainy.

Why are the original and The Incredibles 2 such great superhero movies?  They certainly rip the heroics from the comic book pages, they make the family of heroes endearing but not sappy, they pepper the film with humor, and connect it all with an easy, fun story–not too much drama, but when it’s there it’s because of the maniacal nature of the most memorable comic book villains.  The Incredibles 2 also benefits from not feeling obligated to use the Disney convention of adding goofy irrelevant characters added only for a dose of low-brow humor.  They had room to do that with super-baby Jack-Jack, but instead of leaning on him for that, they use the character to help give Mr. Incredible a rounded story arc, providing the baby with several great scenes that steal the show.  Anyone who ever had someone waking them up every night at 3 a.m. will appreciate the realism of little, smiling, happy-go-lucky Jack-Jack.

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Reptillus Maximus and Woody

Following on the Halloween special Toy Story of Terror, Disney- Pixar Animation is queuing up a new Christmas special airing tomorrow night on the ABC Network with a replay Sunday, December 7, 2014, on ABC Family, and Friday, December 12 on the Disney Channel.  Toy Story That Time Forgot brings back Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and their friends for a half-hour special harkening back to the days when franchises would roll out a special holiday show, like Peanuts and Garfield and even Star Wars.

As with Buzz and Jessie’s (Joan Cusack) prior entrances, the kids have some new toys heading their way this Christmas.  Toy Story That Time Forgot features the two dinosaurs Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and introduces some new characters into the playroom–a set of battle dinosaurs led by Reptillus Maximus (Kevin McKidd).

Toy Story That Time Forgot poster

Look for the return of other toys, too, including stuffed hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) and Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles).

After the break, check out four short previews for Toy Story That Time Forgot:

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

This weekend, we finally got a chance to see Disney-Pixar’s Brave, which we’ve been anxiously awaiting since last summer.  It was worth the wait.  This tale of a young Scottish princess who feels stifled by her mother’s dignified plans for her future may be the finest achievement in film animation to date.  Remember the excitement and celebration around 1992’s Beauty and the BeastBrave is even better, certainly deserving of Best Picture nominations come awards season.

The movie opens with breathaking panoramic establishing shots of a cliffside highland landscape overlooking the sea.  From craggy heath to towering forest to mysterious standing stones, the world of Brave is spectacular and fully realized–a setting you’re delighted to spend the next 100 minutes soaking up.  The characters are absolutely lifelike, featuring incredibly naturalistic movement and impressively detailed textures, from the coarse wool of a well-worn kilt to the flick of a warhorse’s whiskers.  I know next to nothing about digital animation, and it doesn’t matter.  Brave looks completely real.

But you don’t go see a movie because of its technical achievements (well, most of us don’t).  You go for story, characters, action, and heart, and Brave excels here, as well.  The headstrong young heroine who “wants so much more than they’ve got planned” is nothing new–even for Disney–but Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald, State of Play, Gosford Park, Boardwalk Empire) is a fun and spunky addition to the modern Disney Princess lineup.  Neither beauty nor tomboy, she defies pigeonholing–which is, in fact, the crux of her story.  She’s extremely likable, but her adventure is the product of her own poor judgment.  If anything, the well-built worldbuilding and visual mastery left the major plot turning point feeling a little bit rushed, but it’s forgivable.  What we really care about is how Merida will get out of the trouble she’s caused, and what follows is a truly unique story about shapeshifters, ancient curses, a one-trick witch, and the best (and possibly only) mother-daughter fantasy caught on film.

Brave is also commendable for what’s not in it–no wisecracking warthog sidekicks or bathroom humor assumed necessary to keep the kiddies entertained because they can’t possibly be expected to actually follow the story (there are a couple obligatory kilt jokes, and some slapstick silliness provided by Merida’s younger brothers, but it’s mostly relevant to the plot, not just stuck in to make toddlers squeal)… and no romance.  Merida’s unwanted potential marriage is the catalyst for the plot, but she rides off on adventure all on her own, and barely even speaks to the dubious suitors.  We all love a good romance, but Brave shines without one, and it’s a refreshing change to the Disney fairytale formula.

The strong cast features a host of notable Scots and English actors, including MacDonald, Billy Connolly (Mrs. Brown, Muppet Treasure Island) as Merida’s larger-than-life father King Fergus, and Emma Thompson (Dead Again, Much Ado About Nothing) as the quintessential medieval queen determined to shape her daughter in her own mold.

The film was directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, and written by that trio and Irene Mecchi.  Brave is in theaters everywhere.

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