Toy Story 3 Trailer

Welp, the first full trailer for Toy Story 3 is out, and it’s essentially what I’ve expected. The reputation of these films is so rock-solid it would take a real WTF moment from this trailer to make me think it might not measure up to the first two. That’s a very good position the filmmakers have made for themselves. Although, unlike the sub-par Shrek franchise, I get the impression that the Pixar folks don’t want to rest on their laurels. Somehow they manage to balance the regular tropes of the Toy Story films while managing to expand the overall story. Kudos, guys.

– So, like I said, this looks just about how it should. Nothing too surprising, but nothing too disappointing.

– The story goes to a logical place (Andy’s all grown up), but still has an appealing draw.

– I’m surprised Andy has kept all his toys. And in such pristine condition!

– Rex’s “Should we be HYSTERICAL?!!” makes me laugh a little more each time.

– Spanish Buzz could be very interesting, and I appreciate how formal and romantic the Spanish is. For no reason.

– I’m happy that something strange happens to Buzz, because without some kind of internal confusion, he’s a pretty pointless character.

– Is this a re-tread of the “dealing with loss” theme from the second film?

I’m very much expecting this to measure up to the first two. What ‘choo think?

Yawnsters vs. Aliens

Keep looking tough, idiots

I finally got around to watching Monsters Vs. Aliens, which I’d been vehemently avoiding since I saw the first trailer. The title really says it all, doesn’t it? I assumed one of two things: Either they were really going full-tilt and making a shameless homage to 50’s monster movies, or they were trying to be cool. Guess what; Dreamworks went with the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, I assume (some of) the creators were in the “50’s monster movie” mindset, but it barely bleeds through. All we get is another forgettable CGI animated feature. Why is it so forgettable? Why is it squarely on my shit list of other movies just like it? Funny you should ask…

– Certain things are really indistinguishable from other movies of its ilk (Bee Movie, Shark Tale, Kung Fu Panda, etc) Especially any quirky, nervous female leads. They always sound forced. Always.

– Don’t forget the instantaneously self-dating pop culture humor. That Al Gore joke will be funny forEVER, you guys.

– I’m perturbed by this because it got decent critical acclaim. Have their standards been lowering over time? You’d think with folks like Pixar pushing the envelope they’d have HIGHER standards. Same thing happened with Kung Fu Panda. Tell me why people were so kind to that movie.

– The animation pushes the models to their limits, and every subtle squash and stretch, along with every cartoony little anticipation/follow-through makes the characters look like jelly. B.O.B. notwithstanding.

– The voiceover work is distracting more than anything. Why are Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen making animated films? Their voices are, frankly, unremarkable. Also, who needs Reese Witherspoon’s EXACT voice to make the character come to life?

– Dialogue feels forced, cliched. The most frustrating part, by far, is that some of these jokes/situations are funny on paper, but somewhere in the scriptwriting/acting/animation/editing phase, the humor was carved out. All those things really need to be in sync in order for something like that to work.

– Story had sooooo much meaty potential, but they lingered in that grey area between overbearing and undeserving exposition. In a film called “Monsters Vs. Aliens”, I’m really not gonna care too much about the rationale behind the characters and the action. But, if you’re thoughtful enough to hand me some, I’d like a little bit more than “we’ve been kept here for 50 years”. LOL WUT.

Monsters Vs. Aliens. Sub-par, and a lot of the visuals look ridiculous and confusing outside of their intended 3D realm. But putting Insectosaurus in your film carries it slightly above total failure.

Clouded Judgement

Having been bombarded with the ads for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs all year, I think it’s finally getting to me. The film looks less than stellar in my opinion, and there are some strange things going on visually. Overall I think that’s my biggest hangup with this thing. The original book has a very detailed, realistic look, no? So why then render the film’s characters to look like they were ripped from a 1950’s UPA cartoon? Additionally, why would you place those very simplistic, stylized characters in a world being overrun with photorealistic food? Anyone else see a slight disconnect?

I appreciate that animation studios are starting to branch out from the novelty of 3D and actually using the tool to push the medium forward, but you can only go so far when you’re relying on visuals to support lackluster jokes, acting, and narrative. Now I’m not knocking the source material, but let’s not kid ourselves…this ain’t sticking too close to the book. We’ve still got a ways to go before some of these studios really start thinking about legitimate artistic quality. Sure, it looks interesting, but it’s just empty calories.

The Beatles Rock Band

Guess what, I’m a Beatles fan. Now I want to force my opinions of them all over you. As someone who was born waaaaaay after they disbanded, (hell, I was born after one of them was already DEAD) I’m happy that new ways of hearing/analyzing their music crop up. Some of them are super-gimmicky, like that “1” album, but I’ll respect anything that brings something new to the table. Yes, that includes the “Love” mashup/compilation album. If you haven’t heard it, give it a try…just skip the god-awful Cirque du Soleil show. It’s a painfully drawn-out embarrassment.

Anyway, that being said, I want to establish how excited I am for the Beatles version of Rock Band that’s coming in September. At first, like many I’m sure, I was convinced this was gimmicky and cheap. Didn’t pay it much mind, especially since the music I love most from their catalogue wouldn’t exactly be fun to play along to on a guitar. “Hey Jude”, anyone? Then, out of the blue, they premiered the opening cinematic for the game:

My GOD, it’s transcendent!! It hits all the right notes (pun intended?) and has lots of little Beatles references peppered throughout. It’s clear the makers of this game have done a liiiiiitle bit of homework. I’ve watched this almost a dozen times and it still gets me all worked up. They way they quickly track through the phases of their career is phenomenal!!! I ask you: Watch this a few times so you can really get the full effect.

One question…why can’t the whole game look like this?

Episode 16: I Like Turtles!

So we find ourselves in a unique place: This week’s episode was secretly conspired by both movieguyjon AND thegreatredhope, all the while calamityensues was blissfully unaware. It was a consensus that this week’s pick was far better than anything the single, feeble mind of thegreatredhope could concoct. Behold, the power of the masses!!

And how appropriate, this theme of teamwork is, with our episode!! This week we’re watchin’ none other than TMNT, the 2007 animated film (and um…reboot?) starring the beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their expansive franchise. This ain’t your daddy’s TMNT, buddy!! It’s an all-CGI, Shredder-less entry into the Turtles’ canon. Sounds astounding, right? Does it put you on the edge of your seat?! Does it make your nostalgic little heart pump?! And hot damn, I haven’t even given you a plot synopsis yet!!!

And I won’t cause who gives a rat’s ass (SPLINTER!!!!!!!) It’s a Ninja Turtles movie!! Assume there’s fighting, strange pizza topping-eating, and tubular 90’s style sarcasm and vernacular. If you dudes and dudettes are following along with this righteous movie, make sure to start the DVD at 00:00:00. Gnarly.

Lastly, there’s the Twitter…

Oh, real lastly, do this Twitter thing:

@movieguyjon :: @calamityensues :: @thegreatredhope :: @tccommentary

Anime!!!!!!! …Is Dying…

tombstone1

So the bubble burst. With absurd amounts of anime coming out every year, it was only a matter of time that it would start to die.

Animenation is reporting that the Asahi newspaper ran an article interviewing Yasuo Yamaguchi, the managing director of The Association of Japanese Animations, who basically says it’s all going downhill. The article, of course, is in Japanese, but here is the link to the Animenation blurb:

http://www.animenation.net/blog/2009/05/05/japans-animators-say-anime-is-dying/

Tragic, really. I guess I’ll just keep watching my old 80’s anime…

It’s Like A Gundam, But Also Like A Unicorn

rx-0-destroy

So it’s official: The Mobile Suit Gundam novel series Gundam Unicorn is getting an anime treatment. Initially thought to be a feature film, it now seems that it will be a tv series.

From Wikipedia:

In the June 2009 issue of the Japanese monthly manga magazine, Gundam Ace, it was announced that an anime adaptation for Gundam Unicorn has been green-lit for late 2009. It will be directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi and written by Yasuyuki Muto. Nobuhiko Genba will help design the mecha along with other animators who have worked on previous Gundam series, while Kumiko Takahashi will be doing the character designs.

This is exciting, to me especially, since we are going back to the Universal Century timeline. Yes, it’s a bit of a chore because it boils down to “Some faction of Zeon is at it again! It’s up to the Earth Federation to stop them! “, but that is what all the great Gundam series have been.

I for one, look forward to this, especially since the previously announced Gundam 0081 series is actually going to be a PS3 game.

Next time, I promise not to report on Gundam! 🙂

Cute Animals Are Doing Awful Things To Each Other

Cat Shit One looks amazing. It’s gritty, it’s got action, it’s, to an extent, realistic. And it has anthropomorphic animals. Now, I for one think this is an interesting alternative to have people. Most of the time, animation with animals tends to be happy, cute, fun kid’s stuff. Cat Shit One is far from that.

This brings up a point. Browsing comments on Youtube, I saw a lot of guffawing at the fact that we are watching cute bunnies shoot camels point blank in the head. Does this negate the grit? Does this take something serious and make it a joke? Is it possible to truly make something dark, serious, and epic, with a cute lil’ soldier named Packy?

Personally, I can look past it. In fact, that they are animals makes me want to see this even more. It’s a bold move, and I hope to catch this as soon as I can.

Here’s a bit of info on Cat Shit One

3D: Ironically Shallow

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How do we feel about this new 3D craze? Are we liking it? Do we care? Or, are we seeing straight through the shallow attempt at “innovation” to its lazy core known as “gimmick”? I believe the latter. Not to sound too bitter, though. I like shiny new technology as much as the next guy. In fact, I can recall quite a few times the faux-Zippo lighter app for the iPhone had me totally transfixed. It was EXACTLY LIKE a REAL ZIPPO O-M-G. And yet, Apple never claimed that simulated lighters were the future standard for cellphones. Nor should they, since in the end, it’s just a damn gimmick. An obvious one. So why is it that the public seems to accept the 3D craze as a legitimate bar-raising?

This ain’t exactly a rennasaince in the filmmaking world. By my count, there have already been TWO (count ’em) TWO 3D crazes in the history of commercial film. I’m sure we’re well aware of the first: An attempt to pack the drive-ins and showcase those extra-scary atomic monsters in the 50’s, and something about serial killers in the 80’s. It seems, to the layman sociologist, that the 80’s 3D revival had less staying power than in the 50’s. Think about all those ridiculously cheesy films from the 80’s that serve no purpose for existing outside of their 3D effects. They’re now perceived ONLY as crappy, cheap excuses to show off 3D. Did any of them muster their way into the permanent social pop psyche? With or without 3D? Jaws 3D did, but not for any respectable reasons.

OK, we can live with those, since it was a good deal of second-rate horror films and sequels. But imagine living with the onslaught of 3D films today and seeing them outside of their gimmicky appearance. Will ANYONE care about Monsters Vs. Aliens’ 3D prowess in 5 years? I’m concerned the studios are trying to get as much of an impulse cash-in as possible. At this point, it seems like anything will be placed through the 3D ringer. Disney’s tuning up a few of their old films, and most future animated films will come equipped. Just some food for thought. How long will that effect be cool? Even on a movie that you really like? I guess it’s convenient that the theaters can charge a little more for each ticket (hey mac, those glasses ain’t free!). Like I said, it’s a cash-in. Prepare thyself to experience an onslaught of films that won’t exist beyond this little time bubble of a forced 3D renaissance.

You show me a film that was given the new-fangled 3D treatment purely to enhance the story, (and honesly, what story ever in the history of time has hinged solely on its dimensionality?) and I’ll show you a shallow film.

Further Reading

Until Next Time.

Episode 7: There’s A Snake in my Boot!

toy-story

And a koala in my necktie!! Not really, though, ’cause that’s impossible. However, I do believe Woody the cowboy doll is truly crying out for help when he broadcasts his snake-to-boot ratio. That’s right, he’s a doll. I said it.

But don’t worry little doll, without your doll-osity we wouldn’t be able to feature you in this week’s episode! It’s a story about toys, and is in fact called Toy Story. Boy, that’s easy to remember. Check this: It just so happens to be the very first feature-length CG-animated film ever in the history of ever. Ah, 1995, when the monarchs at Pixar were merely mud-piling serfs (and perhaps mid-level blacksmithes). So at least Woody’s got that going for him. Too bad his comfy world is about to get shattered when ANOTHER toy shows up to take him down!! Look out Woody, this is much worse than any old snake in the boot! What will he do? You’ll have to watch (re: listen) and find out!!!

Hey partner, don’t forget, our theme is composed by The Wind Whistles. They’re our faaaaaavorite deputies. Make sure to check out their fancy little website 🙂 Also, make sure to set your DVD players to 00:00:00 if you’re following along with the movie…ya varmint. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the first ever CG-animated podcast!! (CG podcast not available in all areas)

Oh, and someone’s poisoned the water hole!!!

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@movieguyjon :: @calamityensues :: @thegreatredhope :: @tccommentary