Posts Tagged ‘Toy Story

28
Nov
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 247: Of Muppets and Kings

Blake and Erin spent the week in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, and this week they’ve got a trifecta of entertainment to talk about. From the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, they discuss the special exhibit Heroes and Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross. Then they shift gears to discuss the new Stephen King novel 11/22/63 and the online experience surrounding the new King miniseries Bag of Bones. And to cap it off, they delve into the movie event Blake has been waiting to see for 12 years: The Muppets. In the picks, Erin talks more about the Dresden Files and Blake doubles up with Wolverine and the X-Men #2 and Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #1. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 247: Of Muppets and Kings

20
Feb
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 210: Godzilla, Pixar, Cartoons and Cussin’

The boys get to rambling this week on every topic that comes to mind, including the innovative Godzilla #1 promotion, changes to the Pixar comics, and movie chat about Iron Man 3, All Star Superman, Toy Story, The Muppets, and Blake explains why he would rather pay money to see the Justin Bieber movie than I Am Number Four. Also, Ducktales. In the picks, it’s a Superman Family double feature: Kenny pulls out the Superman: Birthright paperback, and Blake discusses Supergirl #61. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 210: Godzilla, Pixar, Cartoons and Cussin’

01
Feb
11

The movies of 2010… Yep, you read it right

Okay, gang. Just before the new year celebrations kicked off, I was about to do the obligatory “best movies of the year” post, only to realize I hadn’t actually seen all that many movies made in 2010. To correct this, I added a buttload of 2010 movies to my Netflix queue and moved ’em up to the front. Since then, I’ve been cycling through them relatively quickly in the hopes of putting together a more comprehensive list. Well…by the time I was done, I’d racked up 39 2010 releases… still not enough to average one a week for the year, but better than the 22 I had at the end of December. So let’s take a few minutes and talk them out.

My Favorite Movies of 2010:

1. Toy Story 3: This should be no surprise, if you know anything about me. The Toy Story films have always been remarkably powerful, character-driven masterpieces of animation, and this may have been the best of the lot. Wonderful, emotional, and uplifting. There was no other film last year I loved nearly as much.

2. Inception: Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller took an intriguing idea — traveling into the dreams of others — and blended it with all the best elements of a heist movie to create a mind-bending trip through the subconscious. It’s not an easy movie, it’s a movie that demands your attention, and in the end I don’t think there are nearly enough of those.

3. True Grit: I love a good western, and while I was initially nervous about anybody taking on Rooster Cogburn after John Wayne’s legendary performance, this movie more than set my mind at ease. Not a remake of the Wayne movie, but rather another take at filming the novel, the Cohen Brothers and Jeff Bridges made this story their own in a remarkable way. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin also turned in good performances, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld held her own against some of the greatest actors working today. She more than deserves the Oscar nomination she just got.

4. The Social Network. I, like you, have heard a lot of debate about the accuracy of the Aaron Sorkin/David Lynch take on the life of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, and I certainly am not qualified to speak about how accurate the movie was. But taken just as a pure movie and not a historical document, the film is a brilliant character study of someone who’s a narcissist with potential. There are no heroes in this film, just villains, victims, and a few people (including Zuckerberg himself) that seem to straddle the line between the two.

5. The Town. This one snuck in at the last minute — I just saw it yesterday. Ben Affleck, again proving that he can actually direct, helms this heist film based on the novel by Chuck Hogan about a bank robber who starts a relationship with a hostage who doesn’t know he’s the man who kidnapped her. This isn’t a high-action, thrill-a-minute heist like Ocean’s 11, or even the aforementioned Inception. Yes, there is action, and it’s good, but like most great films, this is much more about the characters, where they come from, and where they may wind up.

Big Surprises of 2010

This is a category for movies that may not have cracked the top 5, but were way better than I expected them to be. Here they are, in no particular order:

Batman: Under the Red Hood. Based on a kinda mediocre Batman comic book and written by the same man who wrote said mediocre comic, this tale of the return of the second, long-believed dead Robin really packed a whallop. It’s strange, the only significant change in the plot was the removal of one element that didn’t really make any difference at all. Is the dreaded “Superboy Prime Punch” the only thing that made us think the comic book was weak, while this animated film was great?

Easy A. When I saw the trailers for this Emma Stone comedy very loosely based on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, I dismissed it as a stereotypical brainless teen comedy. Instead, I found a really smart film about high school politics, the power of perception and peer pressure, and the importance of self-acceptance. The cast was really funny and talented, and in the end, I felt like I’d spent my two hours very wisely.

Hot Tub Time Machine. Where Easy A just looked a bit typical, the trailers for this looked outright moronic. Still, I pulled it in from Netflix and was delightfully surprised. John Cusack, Craig Robertson and Rob Cordray star as three friends who get tossed back in time to re-live the greatest weekend of their lives. The film gets deeper than that, though, playing with time travel theory, the delicate balance of family and friends, and what it takes to give a few guys past their prime the spark back. The movie turned out to be part Back to the Future and part City Slickers, with a few 80s ski comedies mixed in for flavor. I couldn’t believe I loved it.

Worst Movies of 2010

This, of course, is based entirely on my own personal perceptions, so if you disagree… well, more power to you.

5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. goes to show you how few films I saw this year, that this cracked the bottom five, because it honestly isn’t a horrible movie. It’s weak, though, very weak. Jake Gyllenhall doesn’t for a minute come off as a Persian prince, the villain’s plot is ludicrous, and the time travel mechanics are screwy. Disney struck out here.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street. While I still think Jackie Earl Haley was a good choice to take over the Freddy Kruger role from Robert Englund, this remake of the horror classic was dull, lifeless, and often just plain stupid.

3. Clash of the Titans. Amazing, how remakes keep cropping up here at the bottom. While the original Clash was not, I admit, Citizen Kane, it was a fun romp through a specious understanding of mythology with awesome Ray Harryhausen special effects. This was a painful look at mythology based on the understanding of a writer who is probably resting his entire knowledge base on three episodes of the old Disney Hercules cartoon. Sam Worthington turned in yet another wooden, glass-eyed turn as an “action hero,” Gemma Arterton (just as she did in Prince of Persia) looks good on camera but adds nothing to the film, and Liam Neeson evidently lost a bet. And yet enough of you people saw this monstrocity for it to get a sequel. For shame. FOR. SHAME.

2. Splice. Adrien Brody stars in a sci-fi thriller about a couple of scientists trying to… hell, I don’t even know what their actual goal was, but they whipped up a hell beast that was part human and parts a lot of different animals and really deadly. It was actually really close, if I would put this at #2 or #3 on the list. What finally put this below Clash was that, although it did have Sam Worthington tromping around ancient Greece for months without ever outgrowing his buzzcut, it did NOT feature (SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE SURPRISED WHEN YOU SEE THIS MOVIE AND/OR HAVE A MODICUM OF GOOD TASTE) Adrien Brody having sex with a half-human/half-animal clone of his wife in the middle of a barn. That was hands-down the creepiest scene in any movie in this year. In most years. Maybe ever. I want to boil my brain.

1. Jonah Hex. Now I’m going to be fair here. Objectively, this Josh Brolin/Megan Fox/John Malkovich western based on the DC Comic probably wasn’t the worst-made movie this year. But it was without a doubt the one that made me angriest. I love the Jonah Hex comic book. It’s a brilliant piece of comic literature that could have made one of the greatest, grittiest westerns of all time. Instead, we got a bastardized hybrid of the character mixed in with The Crow, The Sixth Sense, and some leftover set pieces from Wild Wild West. There may have been worse-acted, worse-written, or worse-directed films this year, but nothing had me walk out of the theater this angry. On the other hand, let’s hear it for Josh Brolin? How many people can say they were the hero of the year’s worst cowboy movie and the villain of the year’s best cowboy movie in the same year?

Conclusion

Okay, guys. All that’s left is the comprehensive list. Before I give it to you, though, let me just say I rather enjoyed this experiment, and I’ve still got more 2010 films left on my Netflix queue than I’ve actually seen. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll want to reevaluate this list. Maybe it’ll be totally different. Maybe I should start quantifying all years in cinema this way. Compulsive list-maker that I am, that could be a lot of fun. When I see a film, I’ll open up that year’s list and pop it in where I think it belongs. Of course, I’m not about to start going back and ranking every movie I’ve ever seen that way, that would be preposterous. I’d have to do that just with movies I see from now on. By that rationale, of course, it means Logan’s Run was the best movie of 1976, since that’s the only movie from that year I’ve seen recently. Of course, that may actually be the best movie of 1976, so why belabor the point?

I’m rambling now. Thanks for taking the time to read, guys, and who knows? Maybe I’ll do some updates in the future. I leave you with the complete list of 2010 releases I have seen, in order of preference:

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. Inception
  3. True Grit
  4. The Social Network
  5. The Town
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  7. Tron: Legacy
  8. Hot Tub Time Machine
  9. Iron Man 2
  10. Easy A
  11. Buried
  12. Tangled
  13. Despicable Me
  14. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  15. Shutter Island
  16. Batman: Under the Red Hood
  17. How to Tame Your Dragon
  18. Due Date
  19. Waking Sleeping Beauty
  20. Predators
  21. Kick-Ass
  22. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  23. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
  24. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics
  25. The Losers
  26. Dinner For Schmucks
  27. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  28. The Wolfman
  29. Planet Hulk
  30. Survival of the Dead
  31. Alice in Wonderland
  32. Repo Men
  33. Robin Hood
  34. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  35. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  36. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  37. Clash of the Titans
  38. Splice
  39. Jonah Hex
30
Dec
10

What Movies Did I Miss in 2010?

So here I am, trying to come up with some sort of “end of the year” blog, and I decided it may be good to comment on what I thought were the best motion pictures of the year. I’m a geek, right? I watch a lot of movies, I comment on a hell of a lot of movies. I know movies.

But as I sat down to compile my list, I realized something startling: I haven’t really seen all that many 2010 movies. Even counting direct-to-DVD films like the DC and Marvel animated projects, I’ve seen a total of 22 feature length films released in 2010.

Oh, I’ve seen a lot compared to some people, I suppose. Some people wait a long time before seeing movies, some people place no particular importance on seeing them opening day. And I’m fine with that — I think opening day releases are kind of overrated anyway, unless the film in question is one that I’m absolutely dying to see. Looking at my list (I’m a nerd who keeps lists of such things) I’ve seen well over 100 movies this year, but only 22 of them were from this year.

But it seems like in previous years I saw a lot more. Back in the old days, when we were fresh out of college and single, I would get together with my friends (primarily my buddy Jason Champagne — what’s up, Jason?) and catch one or two movies almost every weekend. This year? On my list of 22 films from 2010, I saw 17 in the theaters. Not even twice a month, friends.

What’s even more horrifying, though, is the fact that as I look back at 2010 in the theaters, I don’t even feel like I missed much. I would like to see Despicable Me. I’ve got interest in Red and True Grit, and there are several others I wouldn’t mind seeing, should the opportunity present itself. But is there any 2010 release that actually upsets me because I haven’t seen it?

No.

I think that says as much about Hollywood’s output as it says about me.

Not surprisingly, out of my 22 films there’s a very high geek quotient. Eight of them are based on comic books. Five are fully animated. Three are based on fantasy novels, nine of them are remakes or sequels to older films that appealed to the geek in me as a youngster. Only two of them are totally original concepts, by which I mean they aren’t sequels, remakes, or based on a story from another medium, and those two are Inception and Due Date.

Frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed by myself.

So here’s what I’m going to do, friends. Between Netflix and borrowing DVDs from friends and family, I’m going to spend January playing catch-up. You name a 2010 release (and direct-to-DVD films do count for this) that I haven’t seen and I’ll throw to the front of the queue, steam it if it’s available, or borrow it from somebody else and I’ll try to watch as many as I can in the hopes of giving you a more rounded view of what I think of 2010 in cinema. Any film, any genre, so long as it’s feature length and available on DVD. (And if I can, I’ll try to sneak in a few trips to the theater for the remaining December releases that are worthwhile.) Help me, my friends. You’re my only hope.

So you know where I’m coming from, though, here are the 22 films released in 2010 that I have seen, in alphabetical order:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Due Date
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • Jonah Hex
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  • Kick-Ass
  • The Losers
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Planet Hulk
  • Predators
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  • Survival of the Dead
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3
  • Tron: Legacy
  • The Wolfman
21
Aug
10

Showcase Listeners! What movies should we watch?

We’ve begun doing movie commentary episodes of the 2 in 1 Showcase, as those of you who listen to the show regularly well know. What I’d like to know from you guys is what movies you would like to listen to us talk about. Keep in mind, this isn’t a Rifftrax we’re doing. Sure, we may crack wise as we watch, but we also use the movie as a launching point for serious discussions about film, the characters, the filmmakers and the like.

So far we’ve done commentary episodes for…

Movies we’re talking about covering in the future? Well, pretty much any of the Marvel or DC animated films are a possibility. Also, films that have a sequel coming out soon (such as Tron), comic book films new to DVD (like Kick-Ass) and any movie so bad we feel like we have to tear it apart for our own entertainment (the 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans). It has to be something currently available on DVD (duh), and since this is a podcast and bandwidth is an issue, we probably won’t be doing any movies that are over two hours. (So there goes Lord of the Rings). Other than that, we’re totally open to suggestions. What movies would you like to listen to us watch?

08
Aug
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 182: A Conversation About Animation

The Showcase Crew assembles again, as the boys sit down and talk about some of their favorite all-time animated features films. Blake and Kenny each present a top ten list, and Mike and Daniel join in with some of their favorites as well. In this week’s picks, Kenny goes with Booster Gold #34, Blake dug Justice League: Generation Lost #6, Mike gives us a blast from the past with the Flashpoint miniseries, and Daniel’s all about the new season of Futurama. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 182: A Conversation About Animation

20
Jun
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 175: Toy Story-The Commentary

With the third Toy Story movie tearing up the screen, Blake and Kenny sit down this week to provide their commentary on the original 1995 Toy Story! So pop in your DVD and listen along as the boys discuss the franchise, the sequels, the comics, Pixar animation, animation in general, and a series of old Louisiana Natural Gas commercials. Who says this isn’t the Showcase Age of the Wild Tangents? In the picks, Kenny liked Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1 and Blake digs DC Universe: Legacies #2 with a bonus graphic novel pick: Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 2! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 175: Toy Story-The Commentary
Inside This Episode:


19
Jun
10

What I’m Watching: Toy Story 3

After fifteen years of movies, I’ve come to expect greatness from Pixar animation studio. It’s almost unfair, really. What other movie studio gets held to that standard? What other studio has never produced an unsuccessful film? By the law of diminishing returns, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. And by the law of Hollywood sequel degredation, the time for that to happen would seem to be when the third installment in their inaugural franchise hits theatres.

So how is it possible that Toy Story 3 not only isn’t a failure, not only isn’t a flop, but is unquestionably the most entertaining, most amusing, most exciting and most genuinely heartfelt motion picture I’ve seen all year?

It’s been 11 years since we saw Buzz, Woody and the gang, and just as time has marched on for us, so has time passed for them. Andy, the boy who loved them so dearly in the first two films, put them away long ago. Yard sales and spring cleanings have dwindled their numbers. And now, as Andy prepares to go to college, the remaining toys face a very uncertain future. Just as the first two films were about toys remembering their place (Buzz in the first film, Woody in the second), this third film is about growing up and about all of our old friends redefining who they are and where they belong.

There’s a large influx of new characters in this movie, as you no doubt could tell by watching the trailers, although I don’t know that any of them will become favorites like Jessie and Bullseye when they were introduced in Toy Story 2. One of them, in fact, reportedly has left some children who already have the toy upset when they see the filmand realize the toy they’ve been playing with is (gasp) the bad guy. But as I’ve come to expect from Pixar, every one of those decisions is absolutely the right choice when it comes to how the story is told. The villain of this piece is ultimately a tragic figure, and while he does make bad choices, you can’t help but feel for him, almost as much as you feel for the heroes.

The film is surprisingly intense, particularly the final action sequence. It’s a G-rated movie, it’s a Pixar movie, so you go in almost assured of a happy ending, but by the time the toys are in their final predicament, things get so dark and so dangerous that you honestly start to fear for them. Let me restate that if you don’t realize what I’m getting at here: there is a point in the movie where you are scared to death that Mr. Potato Head might not make it. And it breaks. Your. Heart. That’s how good this movie is.

As funny and exciting as the bulk of the movie is, though, the real heart shines through in the last ten minutes, which are as honest and touching as anything I’ve ever seen in a motion picture. Everything that this movie has been about — everything that the entire series has been about — is encapsulated in a few minutes of loss and joy that will squeeze a tear out of anybody who has ever loved a toy.

Most of the voice actors from the first two films return — Tim Allen and Tom Hanks as Buzz and Woody, respectively, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Don Rickles and Estelle Harris as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex and John Ratzenberger, Pixar’s lucky charm, returning as Hamm the piggy bank. Only Slinky Dog as been recast, following the sad passing of Jim Varney, but Blake Clark does such a fine job recapturing the voice that I don’t think I would have guessed it was a different actor if I didn’t know. In a nice bit of serenipity, the child voice artist who played Andy in the first two films, John Morris, is now age-appropriate to play Andy again, and so he returns as well. The new cast is also very strong, particularly Ned Beatty as a cuddly teddy bear and Michael Keaton in a scene-stealing turn as Ken. (Yes, THAT Ken. Yes, when he sees Barbie, sparks fly.) Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Kind and several others also have cameo roles, which they manage to make their own.

I recently re-watched the original Toy Story, and the animation there still holds up very well, but watching Toy Story 3, you can also see that the animation has improved by leaps and bounds in the past 15 years. Pixar has given us one innovation after another, and they haven’t stopped in this movie. Unfortunately, the film was also in 3-D, which still fails to impress me. If there was an option to watch this movie in IMAX without having to watch it in 3-D, I would completely take this option. The 3-D doesn’t take away from the film at all, but it doesn’t add anything to it either. (If you’re really interested, I get more in-depth about my feelings about 3-D in general in this post from March.)

Like all Pixar films, this one includes an animated short at the beginning. Day and Night is a bizarre short, even for Pixar, featuring two unique characters that seem to inhabit different periods of time. The short is notable not just for its unique quality, but because it’s actually a mixture of “3-D” CGI animation and classic hand-drawn 2-D animation. The first Toy Story film was the movie that started the exodus away from 2-D, so it’s particularly gratifying to see Pixar making an effort to bring it back.

If you saw the first two Toy Story movies, if you liked the first two Toy Story movies, do not hesitate to see the third one. Pixar has created another masterpiece.

04
Apr
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 165: 2010 Summer Movie Preview

With the summer movie season approaching (and the next several weeks of the podcast spoken for), Blake and Heather take this week to give a rundown of all the big films coming in the next few months, starting with this week’s Clash of the Titans and rolling on to the end of August! In the picks, Blake double-dips with The Guild #1 and Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #14. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 165: 2010 Summer Movie Preview
Inside this Episode:


05
Mar
10

The thing about 3-D

Anybody who knows me will not be surprised to hear that, out of the various superhero movie projects currently in the works, the one I’m most excited about is the in-production Green Lantern film. I think Ryan Reynolds will be strong Hal Jordan, I’m very happy with the screenwriters working on the project, and the concept art that has made its way to the internet has been fantastic.

But yesterday, the confirmation came out from Warner Bros. that, when the film is released next year, it will be released in 3-D. And I let out a resounding sigh. I wasn’t surprised, mind you, I more or less expected this. But my reaction was simply, “Another one?”

I’ve seen a few movies since Hollywood’s current infatuation with 3-D began, and I’ve been resoundingly unimpressed. It’s not that there haven’t been good 3-D movies. There have been a few great 3-D movies. But I’ve yet to see a movie that was better because it was in 3-D. Last year, for example, Disney re-released Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and I rushed out to see them. I wanted to see them on the big screen again, because I love those movies. But I loved those movies before anyone put 3-D glasses on my face, and the 3-D didn’t make me love them any more. A Christmas Carol followed up at the end of the year. That was okay – not great, but okay – but it would have been the same level of okay without the 3-D. I didn’t feel the process added anything to the story.

On the far end of the spectrum, there was Avatar – a film I publically hate. The 3-D was fine, it looked fine against the admittedly impressive special effects, but it didn’t do a single thing to fix the myriad problems with the script. The plot was still hopelessly derivative of a zillion other movies (Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas being the best examples). The characters were still cardboard cut-outs with no nuance or depth to them. And the science was still just plain stupid. (I’m still waiting for someone to give me a reason why a non-mammalian alien race that doesn’t give birth to live young needs breasts. Well, a reason that doesn’t involve giving the internet fodder for Rule 34.)

Avatar was the most extreme example of a film that loaded up the pretty and hoped it would excuse bad writing. But it’s by no means the only example. And as I see more and more of it, I become less and less tolerant. “Pretty” isn’t enough if I don’t like the story. On the flipside, I will forgive weaker visuals if I find the story and characters compelling enough.

Back in the 30s, The Wizard of Oz proved that color was a technology worth pursuing, because it was a story that simply didn’t work without color. It had been done without color, but how many of you remember – or even were aware of the existence of – the black-and-white Wizard of Oz from 1925? Exactly. Color made that story work. And speaking of the silent era, how about The Jazz Singer? Suddenly, audiences used to title cards and a piano player in the corner of the room understood the power of synching sound to the pictures. These movies proved the technology as a storytelling medium.

I’m waiting for a movie to prove 3-D to me.

It hasn’t happened yet.




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