Tag Archives: Toy Story 3

Cars 2

5 Jul

Title: Cars 2
Year: 
2011
Director: 
John Lasseter, co-directed by Brad Lewis
Writer: Ben Queen, based on a story by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis and Dan Fogelman
Starring: 
Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs, Thomas Kretschmann, Eddie Izzard, Joe Mantegna, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, John Turturro, Jeff Gordon, Lewis Hamilton, Vanessa Redgrave, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Jeff Garlin
MPAA Rating: 
G
Runtime: 
106 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
35%

Yes, it’s true, it happened. Pixar finally produced a film that’s just fine and not spectacular. And that really is saying something, by the way. We’re talking about the one studio with a perfect streak, 11 films ranging from 1995 to 2010 that range from masterpieces to incredibly good. Allow me to recap the history of those eleven films. The first was the one people know the most, obviously, Toy Story in 1995, the film that started the wonders of digital animation, the film every animated film since owes a lot to. 1998 saw A Bug’s Life, a far more ambitious project as far as scope for the company. 1999 was the year of Toy Story 2, to this date one of the most perfect sequels ever made, animated or not. Their first film of the new millennium was 2001’s Monsters, Inc. which was awesome but meant Pixar lost it’s first stab at the Best Animated Feature Oscar, a category it pretty much helped create. In 2003 they got that trophy though, as Finding Nemo enchanted audiences worldwide. They repeated the feat in 2004, as The Incredibles won it, marking another landmark in the history of the company as their first PG-13 rated outing.

In 2006 came the film this one is the sequel to, Cars, and that one didn’t win the Best Animated Feature Oscar, and was the first Pixar film I didn’t downright love, even though I still liked it a fair bit. After that little stumble (even though Cars would be considered a success for any other animation house) Pixar went back to its masterful streak, upping up its own ante every single time, with Ratatouille in 2007, Wall-E in 2008, Up in 2009 and Toy Story 3 last year. Those four films are insanely good, and all won those Best Animated Feature Oscars. A four-year streak, I’m afraid to guess, will end with this one, Cars 2. It’s not that this one was a horrible film, because it’s not that bad, it’s just that it doesn’t feel like a Pixar film at all to me. Let me just go ahead and name those eleven prior films I just recapped and next to them insert the grade I gave to them upon watching them: Toy Story (A+), A Bug’s Life (A-), Toy Story 2 (A+), Monsters Inc. (A), Finding Nemo (A), The Incredibles (A+), Cars (B+), Ratatouille (A), Wall-E (A+), Up (A+) and Toy Story 3 (A+).

So, you see, out of the eleven films Pixar has released I have awarded 6 of those, more than half, a perfect A+ grade, which means I consider them masterpieces, and only one of them, the original Cars, has a grade in the B-range, and even that was a strong B+. The fact that I love Pixar films as much as I do isn’t just because of their insane animation skills, because their films are the most visually dazzling always, but it’s actually moreso because of their even better skills as the best storytellers in the industry. You look at the stories the Pixar films tell and they’re all extremely great, every film has one genuinely emotional moment, true emotions and indelible characters. And that’s why I didn’t like Cars 2 as much, because even though the animation is still undeniable outstanding, the story it tells is generic at best, and maybe people are being too harsh on this film because they expect so much from Pixar, but hey, that’s the price you pay when you have a decade and a half of sheer perfection under your belt.

I won’t be as critical of the film as some others have been, and I’ll probably end up giving it a weak B or a strong B-, because I recognize that as an animated film it’s decent enough, even though as a Pixar one it sucks. But, in reality, Pixar or not, there are just too many things that are just plain wrong about this film, and I’ll jump on the most popular bandwagon amongst those who disliked the films to point out its biggest error: Mater. That’s the sidekick of Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, a dimwitted truck that in this sequel gets what every sidekick dreams of, their very own chance to own the spotlight. And what we find out here is the reason why sidekicks are never the center of focus in a movie, and why their adventures are relegated to straight-to-video entries, this is a character that just doesn’t work as a main one at all.

And it’s not as though Lightning McQueen isn’t around any more, and we do see quite a bit of his racing successes, but Mater has a fallout with him, followed by the immediate and necessary identity and crisis and after that he’s the main part of this film, as the film evolves into an unlikely spy caper flick with a dimwitted redneck truck as the protagonist next to cars voiced by the very cool Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer. There is a lot of gunfire in this one in the midst of some horrible accents and attempts at jokes (though some of those really do work), and I just didn’t get the film. I didn’t get the story Pixar was trying to tell with it, there’s an ecological side to it I guess with Eddie Izzard’s character but you just can’t connect with anything in it, and in a Pixar film you expect some seriously deep emotional connection.

I’m guessing that part of that lack of emotional connection is because these are talking cars in a world in which humans don’t exist. Yes, Toy Story had toys and Wall-E had robots and Finding Nemo had fish, but they were all definitely embedded into a very human reality and it meant we could connect. That’s just not the case in Cars 2, and even though the original Cars wasn’t different in that way it at least focussed on a much better character and not in Mater, a character which A.O. Scott of The New York Times has given the dubious and yet accurate distinction of naming as the Jar Jar Binks of the Pixar world.

I know why Pixar chose Cars to make their first sequel outside of the Toy Story series. And even though you hate to think Pixar does anything other than for purely genius and creative reasons, you gotta know they did it for money. The original movie has made nearly $10 billion in merchandise sales since its release over five years ago, which puts it right up there with Star Wars, Harry Potter and Pixar’s own Toy Story as a film that can sell anything with its name on it because kids will want the toy cars, the t-shirts, the backpacks, you name it. So of course from that point of view expanding the franchise with Cars 2 made sense, I just hope that now they have made that money-making move they will move on to their usual business of making animated masterpieces, and if the teaser for next summer’s Brave is any indication, they seem to be doing just that.

Grade: B

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture and Director

25 Feb

This is the last of my Oscar Predictions posts, in which I tackle the two main races: Best Director and, of course, Best Picture. These two races will see Sunday’s two main players pitted against each other, with The Social Network and The King’s Speech considered the front-runners for both categories.

Most are saying they will split the two, with the British biopic getting the big one, and David Fincher nabbing the Best Director statue for his work on the Facebook film. Some are saying The King’s Speech will get both, some say the same of The Social Network, so yes, there’s a nice variety of ways these two races could go. Read on through for my opinions.

BEST PICTURE

Nominees

  • Black Swan (Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin)
  • The Fighter (David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg)
  • Inception (Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan)
  • The Kids Are All Right (Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray)
  • The King’s Speech (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin)
  • 127 Hours (Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson)
  • The Social Network (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin)
  • Toy Story 3 (Darla K. Anderson)
  • True Grit (Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen)
  • Winter’s Bone (Anne Rosselini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin)

So, The King’s Speech or The Social Network? How this race has evolved has been the highlight of the 2010 awards season to me, The Social Network seemed unstoppable early on, winning every critic’s group award, the Golden Globe, nothing seemed to stand in its way to get the big one come Oscar night.

But then Harvey Weinstein came up with The King’s Speech and that one started killing it, winning the PGA, DGA, SAG, BAFTA, pretty much every single big award it could after that initial Social Network streak, and it’s now considered the clear front-runner.

This is obviously a question of new versus old. The tough, gritty, relevant and modern The Social Network, acted out by up-and-coming actors, a film in which there’s really no hero, no one to root for. And it’s standing against The King’s Speech, the sort of movie Oscar used to love, a biopic about the British monarchy, made by many veteran actors and which definitely tugs at the voters heartstrings with the warm relationship and message at the heart of the film.

My personal pick is actually Black Swan, but amongst these two I love The Social Network the most, I mean, to base a film on Facebook is daring enough, but to have the end product by this masterful, no one really saw that coming.

I’m gonna go and say The King’s Speech will win this one because it seems like it will, even though The Social Network is the better film. But don’t write out The Social Network just yet, it may seem like it’s all said and done, but a last minute revival may occur.

Should Win: Black Swan
Will Win: The King’s Speech

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees

  • Darren Aronofsky (for Black Swan)
  • Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (for True Grit)
  • David Fincher (for The Social Network)
  • Tom Hooper (for The King’s Speech)
  • David O. Russell (for The Fighter

In my mind there should be a tie between Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher, the two are masters of their craft, and yeah, they should split the golden man up between the two.

But in all honesty, this one’s David Fincher’s. Even if The King’s Speech sweeps the night I think this one will still go to The Social Network. I mean, if a film about a social networking site and the story behind it was as compelling and intriguing and plain out entertaining as this was it’s because of how this man handled the material, sheer perfection.

Should Win: Darren Aronofsky/David Fincher
Will Win: David Fincher

Oscar Predictions: Best Original and Adapted Screenplays

24 Feb

In my seventh Oscar Predictions post I will examine the state of both writing races, the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay ones, who seem to both have pretty clear-cut winners already.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Nominees

  • 127 Hours (Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy)
  • The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
  • Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt)
  • True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
  • Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini)

Any other year and Toy Story 3 would have had a really solid chance, and it really would have been nice to see an animated film be the winner of a screenplay category, but the script Aaron Sorkin penned for The Social Network is shoulders above anything in contention this year, and there’s no way it’s losing this one.

Should Win: The Social Network
Will Win: The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees

  • Another Year (Mike Leigh)
  • The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson)
  • Inception (Christopher Nolan)
  • The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg)
  • The King’s Speech (David Seidler)

This category is full of exemplary screenplays, even though it’s insane to me that the Black Swan screenplay wasn’t nominated. The King’s Speech is all but guaranteed to take this one, but boy would I really love an upset at the hands of Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg.

Should Win: The Kids Are All Right
Will Win: The King’s Speech

Oscar Predictions: Documentary, Foreign Film, Animated Film

24 Feb

This is the sixth of my ten Oscar Predictions posts, and one that will tackle three categories, those honoring the best achievement in Documentary, Foreign Language and Animated films. Here are my predictions.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Nominees

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz)
  • Gasland (Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic)
  • Inside Job (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
  • Restrepo (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
  • Waste Land (Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley)

Though an upset by Exit Through the Gift Shop is something I could actually see happening, even though Banksy has been banned from attending the ceremonies under disguise (which means now he won’t attend at all), I really want this to go to Inside Job, and I think it just might. Charles Ferguson’s look at what made the recent economic crisis happen is really stunning and spellbinding, and after already having been nominated for another terrific and timely documentary, No End in Sight, I think he’ll get his due.

Should Win: Inside Job
Will Win: Inside Job

BEST FILM IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Nominees

  • Biutiful (Mexico)
  • Dogtooth (Greece)
  • In a Better World (Denmark)
  • Incendies (Canada)
  • Hors-la-loi (Algeria)

Even though I would personally like nothing more than to see Biutiful pick this one up, I doubt that’ll ultimately happen, that film, though thoroughly masterful, is too dark and moody for many, which means the decision upon it will certainly be divisive, which sucks considering Mexico, with seven previous nominations in the category, hasn’t won this award once, not even when its contenders were Pan’s Labyrinth and Amores Perros.

But yeah, I think Biutiful ultimately won’t pick this trophy up, but rather the race will be between In a Better World and Incendies. The Dutch film probably has more momentum, especially after the Golden Globe win, and will most likely earn Denmark their third win in this field, and as such I’ll pick it as my winner. However, I think Incendies is the better film out of the two, so seeing that one win would be even better.

Should Win: Incendies
Will Win: In a Better World

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Nominees

  • How to Train Your Dragon (Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois)
  • L’Illusionniste (Sylvain Chomet)
  • Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)

Are we really planning on discussing this one? It’s the biggest no-brainer of the night. Since the inclusion of the Best Animated Film category in the Oscars all seven of the Pixar films released during that time have been nominated for it, with five going on to win the award. Look for the animation house to now make it six for eight with this one.

Should Win: Toy Story 3
Will Win: Toy Story 3

Oscar Predictions: Original Song and Score

24 Feb

In my fourth Oscar Predictions post we will take a look at both of the musical categories, those for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Nominees

  • “Coming Home” from Country Strong (Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey)
  • “I See the Light” from Tangled (Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Glenn Slater)
  • “If I Rise” from 127 Hours (Music by A.R. Rahman; Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong)
  • “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 (Music and Lyric by Randy Newman)

My personal pick here would by the Country Strong song, if only because I’m pretty much in love with Gwyneth Paltrow and her voice. However, the race here is probably between “If I Rise” or “We Belong Together”.

A.R. Rahman won both Original Song and Original Score when he was nominated two years ago for his other collaboration on a Danny Boyle film with Slumdog Millionaire, and while the song is fantastic, and features pretty good vocals by Dido (though on the televised broadcast her part will be sung by the even more awesome Florence Welch), my hunch is that the Academy will go with Randy Newman’s tune, who has been nominated 20 times but won only once.

Should Win: Country Strong
Will Win: Toy Story 3

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Nominees

  • How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
  • Inception (Hans Zimmer)
  • The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
  • 127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
  • The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

All five nominees here did superb work that was really felt in their films and that elevated their overall quality. However, this category is one of those battles between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. Even though I can see why the Academy may want to reward Alexandre Desplat, who’s competing on his fourth nomination with no prior wins, and who really communicated the unspoken emotions of the King with his beautiful score I think, and really hope, they will go on the other direction.

Atticus Ross and NIN mastermind Trent Reznor should win for the mesmerizing score they created for David Fincher’s latest. It’s their music, I think, that had the biggest impact on any film this year, how those very unique and different sounds punctuated every bit of action on-screen was truly spectacular, and even if Sunday turns into a sweep by The King’s Speech I think they should walk away with this one.

Should Win: The Social Network
Will Win: The Social Network

Oscar Predictions: Sound Mixing and Editing

23 Feb

In my second Oscar Prediction post I will tackle both Sound categories, the Mixing and Editing ones, both of which, I believe, are all but sewn up by a certain mind-bending summer blockbuster.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Nominees

  • Inception (Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick)
  • The King’s Speech (Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley)
  • Salt (Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin)
  • The Social Network (Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten)
  • True Grit (Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland)

I honestly cannot see how Inception could lose this one, the work done here, done by the same trio that was nominated for working on The Dark Knight, is just mesmerizing, mixing the sound of three very intricate dream levels and music and a huge amount of elements, it’s all seriously great stuff.

However, if an upset were to somehow occur, I could only comprehend it being at the hands of the team that worked on The Social Network, that film was extremely dialogue-driven and the mixing of it, with many times the dialogue overlapping and with the background noises blending in, was superbly done. The group of four who worked on this one was the same which was nominated before for David Fincher’s previous movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and two of them already have two Oscars (David Parker won for The Bourne Ultimatum and The English Patient, while Michael Semanick won for King Kong and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King).

Should Win: Inception
Will Win: Inception

BEST SOUND EDITING

Nominees

  • Inception (Richard King)
  • Toy Story 3 (Tom Myers and Michael Silvers)
  • TRON: Legacy (Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague)
  • True Grit (Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey)
  • Unstoppable (Mark P. Stoeckinger)

Don’t expect this award to go to anyone else other than to Inception‘s Richard King, who already won twice before, in 2008 for The Dark Knight and in 2003 for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The work he does here is sublime, coming up with a really neat sound difference between the dream and waking worlds.

Should Win: Inception
Will Win: Inception

Oscar Predictions: The Shorts

23 Feb

These are the three categories I always find the toughest ones to call: Short Film (Animated), Short Film (Live Action) and Documentary (Short Subject). Here, in my first Oscar Predictions Post, with five days to go until the actual ceremony, I’ll rundown the three categories, including my should/will win picks.

BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Nominees

  • Day & Night (Teddy Newton)
  • The Gruffalo (Jakob Schuh and Max Lang)
  • Let’s Pollute (Geefwee Boedoe)
  • The Lost Thing (Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann)
  • Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Bastien Dubois)

These categories are the toughest ones to call because it’s tough to actually get around to seeing all the short films nominated. But considering the world we live in, with YouTube being such a huge part of our technological lives and the availability of many videos, we have been able to check these shorts out more and more now.

In this one I can only forsee two results, Day & Night or The Gruffalo. Both are remarkable, and since I personally liked Day & Night, the brilliant Pixar short that played before Toy Story 3, I’m giving my vote to that one.

Should Win: Day & Night
Will Win: Day & Night

BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

  • The Confession (Tanel Toom)
  • The Crush (Michael Creagh)
  • God of Love (Luke Matheny)
  • Na Wewe (Ivan Goldschmidt)
  • Wish 143 (Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite)

I saw all five of these shorts in the same day, and it’s a pretty damn solid field of nominees. The ones that left the biggest impression on me, however, were Na Wewe and Wish 143. One is based during the time of the Rwandan genocide, the other is about a dying boy who’s granted a wish by a charity to pretty amazing results. My money’s on Na Wewe, for now. But I really don’t know how to call these races.

Should Win: Na Wewe
Will Win: Na Wewe

BEST SHORT SUBJECT DOCUMENTARY

  • Killing in the Name (Jed Rothstein)
  • Poster Girl (Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block)
  • Strangers No More (Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon)
  • Sun Come Up (Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger)
  • The Warriors of Quigang (Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon)

A variety of stories here: a guy standing against terrorism within the Muslim community; a former-cheerleader-then-army-girl dealing with PTS after returning from Iraq; children coming from many places who have lived in poverty and war in a school in Tel Aviv; thousands of island inhabitants facing the effects global warming has on their slice of paradise; and villagers of Quigang, fighting for their enviroment after a chemical company has done them quite a lot of harm.

My personal pick would be Poster Girl, the one about the woman returning from Iraq. But if I had to guess the winner I’d say Strangers No More, the one about the Tel Aviv school, since their two makers already boast three other Oscar nominations each (two of which they earned together) and they’re now poised for a win.

Should Win: Poster Girl
Will Win: Strangers No More