Tag Archives: Toy Story

Monster’s Inc. 3D: Get yourself geared up for the sequel

Catch Monster's Inc. 3D in theatres on December 19, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Catch Monster’s Inc. 3D in theatres on December 19, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Extrapolating on a classic fear of little children, DisneyPixar’s Monster’s Inc. became the highest grossing computer animated film upon its release in 2001. This holiday season, Disney is giving you the chance to experience this wonderfully original tale in 3D hoping to secure a new audience for the upcoming sequel, Monster’s University.

For the handful of people who have yet to experience it, Monster’s Inc. tells the story of an alternate universe of monsters whose only connection to our world is through the bedroom closets of little children (eeek!).

Monster's Inc. 3The adventure is absolutely hilarious with Billy Crystal and John Goodman starring as best friends who work as a team to get a lost little girl back to her human world.

Since the movie is nothing short of amazing, let’s focus on the 3D conversion…

This year we got a chance to see DisneyPixar’s best three-dimensional animated effort to date with Brave. The depth of image present and sharp animation lent a surreal amount of life to the images on screen.

MONSTERS, INC.With the Monster’s Inc. conversion, it feels more like 2.75D without ever reaching the true effect 3D can offer. Sure you can tell that one character is in front of another and there’s a good amount of depth when the scenes call for it, such as the door storage chase scene. However, the seamless “looking through a window” effect is never fully achieved. Truth be told, it was still great seeing these lovable characters on the big screen again (your toddlers will have a blast with the film).

Monster's Inc. 4Bottom Line: The 3D isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst. Don’t hesitate in checking out one of DisneyPixar’s finest films to date.

 


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Up: Blu Ray Review

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Finding those complete films that deliver on all accounts is rare these days. When I first watched Up, I laughed, cried and was taken on a rollercoaster ride with the oddly paired old man and his accidental sidekick. As I reviewed the all new Blu Ray release, I was amazed as I relived all these emotions for a second time around. Now that’s a powerful film in my book!

Up 1In DisneyPixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen deals with his loneliness and a promise to the love of his life by flying his house to the Venezuelan wilderness with the unwelcome assistance of a good-intentioned Boy Scout, Russell.

The team behind this movie provided such incredible depth of character; you see right past their cartoony shells and dive into the soul of a real person. Combine this with a highly entertaining adventure and what you have left is a timeless classic.

Up 3Edward Asner and first time actor Jordan Nagai are perfect together. Director Pete Docter did a fantastic job in getting a very natural performance out of the young Nagai – Not an easy thing to do when working with brand new actor.

Not only will kids love this movie, but as an adult, you’ll be glued to the screen beside the little ones as you watch Carl and Russell’s quest unfold (Just be sure to have a box of tissue handy).

Up 2As far as the Blu Ray release is concerned, this is one of the best. DisneyPixar has included both 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy to future proof you as your home theatre evolves. The video in both the 3D and 2D copies is magnificent. While the 3D copy adds the expected immersion, it is shocking how much depth of image is in the 2D Blu Ray. On top of that, Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award winning original score sounds beautiful alongside the amazing audio design.

There isn’t a single special feature not worth watching in this home release. Included in the vast array of high definition features you’ll find:

• Cine-Explore Commentary

• Adventure Is Out There

• Partly Cloudy

• Dug’s Special Mission

• The Many Endings of Muntz

• Documentaries – A series of behind the scenes featurettes.

• Married Life

• Global Guardian Badge Game

• Up Promo Montage

• Worldwide Trailers

Not only do they include behind the scenes of the making of the film, they also provide a fun educational game for kids (just as much fun for adults).

UPBottom Line: This is how Blu Rays should be done. With a movie this good, why wait to let the fun begin? Pick up your copy today and go on a ride of a lifetime with your wee ones.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Finding Nemo: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


The story of an overprotective father’s desperate search for his lost son captured audiences worldwide like few films ever have. Unhindered perfection is the best way to describe what DisneyPixar produced in 2003 with Finding Nemo. Nine years after grossing over $900 million worldwide in theatres and Oscar Award acclaim, Nemo and Co. received the 3D treatment and is now available on Blu Ray.

Finding Nemo 1For those few of you who haven’t seen the movie, Finding Nemo is the story of a father and son clown fish that are quickly separated and spend the rest of the movie engaging the help of a variety of quirky sea creatures as they attempt to find their way back to one another.

It should go without saying, but for that sole individual who has yet to embark on this incredible journey, this movie is inspiringly original, and features some of the best voice work to date.

Finding Nemo 3Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres’ performances are sublime. Degeneres’ portrayal of the memory addled Dori is absolutely hilarious with just the right amount of emotion to provide an unforgettable character.

The all new Blu Ray release is fully loaded to future proof you (from a technology standpoint). Included are 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy, ensuring that you can enjoy the film anywhere. The image quality is great, only topped by the immersive and dynamic audio design/mastering. Finding Nemo 4If you have the equipment to watch the movie in 3D, you’ll definitely enjoy the added depth the third dimension adds to this deep sea adventure. If you don’t, the 2D experience is no slouch, delivering a crisp, clean image.

There are a lot of special features to go through, including:

• Cine-Explore

Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable

• Reinventing the Submarine Voyage

• A Lesson in Flashbacks

• Deleted Scene

• Knick Knack

• Trailers and Sneak Peeks

• Art Review

• Making Nemo

• Exploring the Reef

• Studio Tour

• Old School

• Deleted Scenes

• Outtakes

• Publicity Pieces

• Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia

• Aquariums

Most of these features combine comedy, educational elements and a good deal of insight into the making of the blockbuster film. My only complaint would be with the lack of a “play all” option, as some of the features are a concise 10 seconds long, but take almost 30 seconds to load. Other than that, fans will have fun going behind the scenes with the cast and crew.

Finding Nemo 2Bottom Line: A must own DisneyPixar adventure that you’ll want to dive into time and time again.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Brave: Blu Ray Review

DisneyPixar’s Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Brave is available to own on November 13, 2012. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Standards have been set extraordinarily high for animated films over the last decade. We’ve been spoiled with spectacular work from DisneyPixar studios, with movies that went far beyond the usual fairy tales of the old days (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, Up). After the pitiful Cars 2, Disney and Pixar have returned to glory with their latest film, Brave.

In Brave, we follow a young Scottish princess named Merida’s desperate battle for freedom from the claws of tradition and her unrelenting mother.

Surely enough, a simple story with phenomenal attention to detail and a talented production team make this movie an absolute delight.

All of the voice actors squeezed everything out of their acting arsenal to deliver the perfect trio of humour, emotions and fantasy. Most impressive of all is 36 year old Kelly MacDonald (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), who plays the young and feisty Merida. She managed to perfectly portray her adolescent character, without becoming a caricature of an annoying teenager. Luckily, the studio avoided a disaster when they lost out on their first choice of Reese Witherspoon for the lead character.

This jam packed Ultimate Collector’s Edition features stunning 3D and 2D Blu Ray copies, DVD and a digital copy. On top of that, the special features list is as impressive as the film. Here’s a list of the features that you’ll want to check out:

• “La Luna” Theatrical Short

• “The Legend of Mor’du” Short

• Brave Old World

• Merida & Elinor

• Bears

• Brawl in the Hall

• Wonder Moss

• Magic

• Clan Pixar

• Once Upon A Scene

• Director Commentary

• “Fergus & Mor’du” An Alternate Opening

• Fallen Warriors Montage

• Dirty Hairy People

• It is English…Sort Of – One of the funniest features!

• Angus

• The Tapestry

• Promotional Pieces

Hours of fun stuff for fans to dive into.

Bottom Line: This Ultimate Collector’s Edition is a must own for fans of DisneyPixar animation!

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1


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Wreck-It-Ralph: Smashes its way to your heart

John C. Reiley and Sarah Silverman star in the video game bonanza, Wreck-It-Ralph. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Who remembers the original gaming consoles like ColecoVision, Atari, Nintendo, Sega Master System, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, etc…? For many boys, and a fair number of girls, video games and the characters we battled were a vital source of our entertainment during childhood. Reminiscent of Toy Story, Disney Animation’s latest feature, Wreck-It Ralph, brings an old fantasy to life: What happens to the video game characters when we aren’t playing with them?

Wreck-It Ralph tells the story of a gigantic video game baddy who tires of his thankless existence and ventures off into other games to find his heroic moment.

Let’s make something clear right away, this movie will be a hit. The incredible story will push all the right buttons and keep you locked in for the journey. Writers Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston manage a near flawless story arch, with intricate twists and lovable characters. The only downside to their script is the lack of humor. There are a decent amount of jokes, but also a lot of missed opportunities and jokes that fell flat.

Casting was solid in this film. John C. Reilly (Ralph) and Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz) are great together, as is the rest of the cast. The benefit of the actors recording their dialogue together, as opposed to the norm of doing them individually really shows.

You’ll definitely want to pay extra for the 3D option that will be sure to take you on an immersive roller coaster ride.

Bottom Line: Ralph and Vanellope’s story will touch your heart, while the pedal-to-the-metal action will rock your world.

Grade A-

Runtime: 93 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: Yes


Chimpanzee: Blu Ray Review

Chimpanzee is available in stores on August 21, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyNature


As our genetic ancestors, chimpanzees give humans a glimpse into our extremely distant past. In DisneyNature’s documentary, Chimpanzee, we follow a group of chimps living in the forests of Africa as they try to keep their home safe from an invading clan of rival chimpanzees (Remind you of anyone you know?). Possibly the most intriguing aspect of this film is the story of baby Oscar and the unlikely relationship he forms with the alpha male of his group, Freddy.

This beautifully shot documentary delivers a powerful story of both spirit and family. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, as is the in-depth camera work the crew managed to achieve in order to bring us intimately close to this group of playful primates.

Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield managed to show the darker side of the animal’s lives, but successfully cut everything graphic and potentially disturbing out for those younger and ever so sensitive viewers. With the assistance of Tim Allen’s (Toy Story, The Santa Clause) playful narration, younger audience members will be thoroughly engaged in this astonishing world of survival.

DisneyNature has included a fantastic array of special features for the Blu Ray + DVD release. Every minute of the On Location: Making Of Chimpanzee featurette is a must watch. It chronicles the pain-staking efforts the crew went through to deliver this astonishing footage. Also included is “Rise” Music Video By McClain Sisters, Behind The Scenes Of “Rise”, See Chimpanzee, Save Chimpanzee, Disney’s Friends For Change, and Disney’s Conservation Legacy.

Bottom Line: Whether you live alone or have a large family, everyone will be captivated by this heartfelt documentary and its phenomenal cinematography.

Movie Grade A
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

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ParaNorman: Paranormal fun

Kodi Smit-McPhee stars as the “parNormanly” gifted in ParaNorman. Courtesy of Alliance Media


Like Cole from The Sixth Sense, Norman has the paranormal ability to speak to the deceased. Norman’s story differs as he tries to help the friendly ghosts break an ancient curse that threatens to destroy his town and its inhabitants.

ParaNorman pioneers new and innovative techniques in stop motion animation taking on massive sets and action packed sequences never seen before in this medium. It also tells a heart-felt story combining laughter, horror and poignant social commentary regarding the way people are treated when they don’t fit the “norm” (hard not to pun).

Chris Butler and Sam Fell successfully bring Butler’s massive dream to the screen. The movie powers forward with wonderful pace, only slowing down at stirring moments to deliver their impactful message.

The talented Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In) delivers a solid voice-over performance alongside his cast members. There are only a few moments when the dialogue suffered from feeling read and not acted.

Speaking of the visuals, you’re in for a real treat with easily one of the best stop-motion animation experiences you’ll ever have alongside Coraline. On top of that, you’ll definitely want to immerse yourself in the palpable 3D option that really helps draw you further into the already first-rate film.

Bottom Line: Without a doubt, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from ParaNorman.

Grade B+

Runtime: 93 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: Yes


Interview with ParaNorman director Sam Fell

Courtney, Alvin, Mitch, Norman, and Neil in PARANORMAN, directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, the new stop-motion comedy thriller from LAIKA and Focus Features.


ParaNorman tells the story of a young man gifted (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with the ability to talk to ghosts. The movie strikes an excellent cord between, comedy and horror, while instilling a sense of heart and morality.

I’m very lucky to have sat down with one of the directors, Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux, Flushed Away), to find out how this great story came to be.

Do you believe in the paranormal?

I believe there is more to us than flesh and bone. There’s obviously something in our consciousness that’s beyond what we see. I haven’t seen a ghost, but I’m happy to just know that there’s more. I’ll come back and haunt you to let you know that they do exist.

How would you react to having Norman’s ability to see and speak to ghosts?

I think it would be cool to see those ghosts that he sees because they’re friendly ghosts. I’d probably go look a few people up. I never got to meet one of my grandfathers, so I’d like to talk to him.

Can you briefly describe what differentiates the way you shot ParaNorman versus other stop-motion animated movies?

At its heart, it’s the same process. Build a miniature world, light it, build miniature puppets out of clay, and then it’s one frame at a time. You start in frame one and days or weeks later you’re finished that shot. One of our shots was about 1000 frames long and that took about ten weeks to shoot!

That’s insane!

Tell me about it! It’s a living performance, captured very slowly. What made our process different is we used a 3D colour printer to create thousands of faces to switch for each frame. Amazingly innovative stuff!

I’ll let the pros show you how they did it:


Is this the future of animation?

I think there are multiple futures for animating a film. I’ll never forget that moment when I saw Toy Story on the big screen for the first time, when CG animation was new, exciting and novel. It blew me away! I don’t get that feeling very much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a lot of animated films. It just feels like the genre has been dormant for a long time. It wasn’t until Coraline where we got to see this tactile world in stereoscopic 3D for the first time that I got a similar sensation again. Felt uncanny. I actually hope hand-drawn animation makes a comeback.

Me too!

So far in your career, you’ve only directed animated films. Do you have any interest in taking on some living actors?

I would consider it. Actually, before this movie came along, I had been dabbling in writing and had some live action stuff in development. So I’ve touched on that world. In many ways, shooting ParaNorman has been sort of a live action film on a smaller scale. I think you should want to tell a story more than just entering a medium for the sake of it.

Are you very selective when it comes to the projects you take on?

I’m as selective as I can be, you know. It’s tricky, because on one side it’s a business and I’m a working director who wants to work. I want to make films. So I hold off as long as I can and read a ton of scripts. I actually develop my own work too. But somewhere along that road, you’re just itching to make another film and you grab the best one you’ve been presented with and you go with it. Directors aren’t built to sit around, you see.

For the voice work, did you do the traditional method of every actor doing solo recordings or did you manage to get them together to record?

We were lucky to get some of them together, actually. We got Leslie Mann and Jeff Garlin, the Babcock parents together. They were great at ad libbing. We also got Casey Affleck and Anna Kendrick together, which was great since neither had done animation before, so they got to find their way together. And we got Kodi Smit-McPhee (Norman) and Tucker Albrizzi (Neil) together. They were so good together, that we didn’t even edit out their mistakes. It just made it more beautiful.

Were there any whacky mishaps that happened during production?

It’s weird, but there weren’t any big mishaps that happened on this movie. The only difficult aspect of this movie was the ambition of it. Crazy ambition! In the first year when we were planning and storyboarding it, we got carried away. We were so excited about doing car chases with multiple cameras and the big storm in the sky to connect to the zombies. On top of that, we wanted a mob! Halfway through, it all started to hit us just how much we wanted to push everything. That was the only moment when we gulped at the vastness and scale of the project.

Did the final product deviate from the original script in anyway?

No, actually. We just turned a great script into a great movie.

That you did, Sam! Check out ParaNorman in 3D in theatres everywhere on August 17, 2012.

Here’s another look at how they brought this movie to life:


Brave: DisneyPixar is back

Kelly MacDonald voices Princess Merida in BRAVE. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


Standards have been set extraordinarily high for animated films over the last decade. We’ve been wonderfully spoiled with spectacular work from DisneyPixar studios, with movies that went far beyond the usual fairy tales of the old days (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall-E, Up). Fast Forward to 2011 where we witnessed the less than impressive sequel, Cars 2. Are Disney and Pixar returning to greatness or diving deeper into the pit of reckless disaster with their latest movie Brave? The conclusive answer is: They’re back!

In Brave, we follow a young Scottish princess named Merida through her desperate battle for freedom from the claws of tradition and her unrelenting mother.

Sure enough, a simple story with phenomenal attention to detail and a talented production team make this movie an absolute delight.
All of the voice actors squeezed everything out of their acting arsenal to deliver the perfect trio of humour, emotions and fantasy.

Most impressive of all is 36 year old Kelly MacDonald (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2), who plays the young and feisty Merida. She managed to perfectly portray her adolescent character, without becoming a caricature of an annoying teenager. Luckily, the studio avoided a disaster when they lost out on their first choice of Reese Witherspoon for the lead character.

Three directors/writers worked on bringing their script to life and it looks like they may have the Oscar for Best Animated Film in the bag.

Complementing the filmmaker’s vision is the jaw-dropping animation. Not only are the detail-rich backgrounds a photo-realistic heaven, but the movement is incredibly smooth – Particularly with Merida’s gorgeous red curly hair.

Bottom Line: The best animated movie of the year!

Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: Yes


CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT A FUN GAME AND MAZE!

BRAVE Coin Archery Game PDF

BRAVE Merida Wisp Maze PDF


Interview with Brave’s Mark Andrews and Katherine Sarafian


Having worked on some of DisneyPixar’s biggest hits, including Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., Ratatouille, and my all-time favourite The Incredibles, the pressure to deliver the next hit movie for the number one animation studio in the world was set on the shoulders of director Mark Andrews and Producer Katherine Sarafian.

I recently sat down with the lively duo to talk about their latest production, Brave.


What were some of your major challenges in making Brave?

Mark: Katherine was one of my major challenges.

Katherine: Yeah, he wouldn’t say I’m not difficult to work with. I think every director, producer, writer, etc. would give the same answer—Story! You can never assume you’ve got it right, and even when you do, you always want to make it better. With these films taking four to six years to make, right up until the end, we’re trying to make the story better.

Mark: Yeah, no matter how much time you think you have, it ends up being no time at all. You spend so much time in the development phase working with different permeations of ideas, “Should we do this? Should we do that? I don’t know…” By the time you finalize one idea and you put it up on storyboards, you look at it and go, “Gaaa, NOOO!” After multiple tries, all of a sudden the release date approaches and the pressure is on. We have a motto: Work is story and story is hell.

Tell us what led you to Scotland.

Mark: Sure! My fellow director and I, Brenda Chapman, have Scottish ancestry and I’m a huge myth and legend buff. Scotland being so rich in their history, myths and everything that surrounds it, combined with the Celtic tradition of telling stories as life lessons naturally gave us incentive to build this teen angst film around it. Basically, we write what we know. My only other thing is I wanted to put the whole thing in space, because I love sci-fi. You know, bring in a spaceship and basically that’s what happens with the curse (in the movie).

Katherine: There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t consider adding a spaceship.
Once we decided that it was going to be in Scotland we went on our research trip. If we got to Scotland and discovered that the landscapes and history weren’t conducive to storytelling, we would have changed it.

Mark: Or if we were smart, we would have set it in Italy and got some fantastic trips there. Or someplace warm like the Caribbean, because Scotland’s not warm!

You wouldn’t like Canada’s winters very much.

This is Pixar’s first female lead and princess. How did this develop?

Katherine: We didn’t start out thinking about delivering the first Pixar female heroine. We started talking about who would be the best possible character: Someone who is teenaged, and happened to be a royal girl. But those were all secondary and tertiary plans. Now I’m really happy that Merida will be looked at as a role model for being true to you and not just following a mold. If the world doesn’t quite see you the way you want to be seen, you can bravely face up to that and speak your truth.

Mark: I think that’s the big issue in this land and era of tradition (old Scotland), there are so many preconceived notions of what a woman or anyone needs to be – Even boys. I have a girl and three boys just like King Ferguson does in the movie, so for me it’s great that this movie tells you to be brave enough to be who you are. Don’t let anyone dictate who you’re going to be.

I love that message!

Did the cast ever get to record their dialogue together, or is this like most animated films where they never saw each other through production?

Mark: All done separately!

Katherine: They interacted when they were shooting other films together, but not on our film.

Mark: It’s too difficult. I would love to get everyone in there and have them work together. But it’s hard to build the performances, which is why we do several different takes. That way, if you’re coming on strong in your reading and I have multiple takes from the other actors reading their lines at different levels in the scene, I am able to form a rhythm and a pattern out of all the different takes.

How did you develop Princess Merida’s character without making her another annoying teenager?

Mark: We know this person is head strong and willful, but she also has to be appealing. I want to like her in the beginning and like her in the end, understanding why she had to do what she did as she transitions from adolescence to adulthood. The way Kelly MacDonald played the character made us fall in love with her from the first line out of her mouth.

Katherine: Throughout the entire process of making this movie, we were trying to get appeal. Whether it’s how big the eyes are, or how big the smile is, you’re going for appeal with character design. Then you’re going for appeal in character movement and animation before you even have the voice. By the time you get to casting, you’re only thought is appeal, appeal, appeal!

BRAVE’S Director Mark Andrews and Producer Katherine Sarafian.

Mark: All of the appeal comes from your gut. When I was talking to Emma Thomson (Queen Elinor), I told her we have to be able to laugh at the queen and not just think of nasty words to call her, which I did as we were writing the character.

Last question from fans and myself: If and when will you return to The Incredibles franchise to give us the sequel we’re dying for?

Katherine: Mark and I would both love to make The Incredibles 2 happen, but the studio has so many projects in the works right now it may be a while.

Awww shucks!

You can check out Brave in theatres this Friday June 22, 2012.

For now, save and print this fun banner challenge and maze for your wee ones to enjoy!

BRAVE Banner Design PDF

BRAVE Triplets Maze PDF