Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lasseter doesn't disconfirm 'Toy Story 4'

Since Cars 2 is set to be released this Friday in Britain, Lasseter did a brief talk on BBC Breakfast. The beginning of the conversation is nothing out of the ordinary, as he discusses the filmmaking process at Pixar that most of us are familiar with.

However, his interviewers bring up Tom Hanks' discussion of a Toy Story 4 and try to pry John for answers. He dances around the question and quickly changes the subject, never actually denying that a Toy Story 4 is in the works.

What does this mean?! Will we get yet another installment of Woody and Buzz' adventures with Bonnie's toys? Or is it all just a big conspiracy? . . . Seeing as an IMDb page for Toy Story 4, listing its release as 2015, recently popped up, it's looking more and more like we might see another Toy Story.

I'm still against another Toy Story. Sure, I trust Pixar and know that I would probably love the film they came up with, even if it was another Toy Story. But, to me, Toy Story seems to be all about companionship and "being there" for people you care about. That's why the ending of Toy Story 3 was so tear-jerking, and also a perfect place to leave the toys--they just said goodbye to Andy. They had to let him go. I think that making another Toy Story would undermine the powerful message and superb, poetic ending of the current trilogy.

But who knows? I might take it all back come 2015 . . .


Monday, July 18, 2011

Final 'Potter' is brilliant, a gold mine

If you haven't heard of
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, you have most likely been on a 24-month long sail in the middle of nowhere. The final installment of Potter is really great and very important, and in more ways than one.

Hallows Part 2 is definitely one of my favorites from the entire series. I have read through the series numerous times and have listened to the spectacular audiobooks over and over again, too, so believe me when I tell you that this final film is an excellent way to leave Harry and his friends. Everything necessary from the book was included, and no extraneous information was added--I think this might have been one of my favorite films because they had such a little amount of book to put up on the screen. (OK, OK, not little, but not as much as Order or Half-Blood Prince.)

The acting was perfect, as usual, and the timing of everything was excellently executed. You'll most certainly cry during Snape's pensive scene and get your heart-racing every step of the way as Harry gets closer and closer to finally facing his fate. As the credits start rolling, you'll feel that bittersweet tinge of satisfaction at the ending, yet sorrow that the adventure with Harry is all over. (Although, as mentioned by Brandon in the comments, the epilogue wasn't very well done . . . it looked like Daniel and Rupert and Emma were playing dress-up.) This series really is the
Star Wars and Lord of the Rings of this generation, and for good reason. It is an absolutely genius story full of whimsy, humor, courage, suspense, friendship, philosophical dilemmas, and, of course, heart. After reading the six books or seeing the 7 films leading up to the finale, you cannot help but root for Harry and his friends. The universe created by Rowling is so special and unique and just . . . wonderful.

Perhaps it is for all of those reasons that
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is on its way to becoming the biggest movie ever. With $168.55 million on its opening weekend alone, Potter dethroned The Dark Knight as the biggest opening in box office history. It also set a record for midnight showings at north of $40 million, and an opening day gross of $92.1 million.

Potter franchise has grossed $2.177 billion so far, which means that it most certainly has a chance at surpassing Star Wars' record $2.218 billion.

But will Part 2 be able to surpass Avatar as the biggest box office winner of all-time at $2.782 billion? I don't think so. After all, anyone who's into Harry Potter is going to most likely see it opening weekend. Word of mouth won't do much, since you aren't going to see the last movie of an eight-part series without having seen the first seven, which is the same reason that random moviegoers won't decide to see Potter on a whim. A year ago you knew whether or not you were gonna see Part 2, and you knew you were going to see it at the midnight showing, or at least opening day.

Potter just doesn't have that much staying power at the box office. The numbers from Part 1 speak for themselves:

Week 1: $169,969,028
Week 2:
Week 3: $21,687,764
Week 4: $11,512,852

As you can see, opening weekend was the biggest by far, so don't expect Deathly Hallows Part 2 to break anymore records . . .

Still, Harry Potter is a lasting franchise in both the literary and cinematic worlds. The universe that blossomed from J.K. Rowling's writing is one that will last for centuries--I'm sure of that. It is just too perfect and wonderful not to.


Some thoughts on 'Pooh'

Winnie-the-Pooh just came out, and if you come over to the Etc. often, you'll know that I was super excited to see it. Some of my favorite moments from any film anywhere reside in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh--it just has so much heart and wonderful animation and is just plain great entertainment.

The new Winnie-the-Pooh, on the other hand, was . . . enjoyable.

Let me start with the biggest positive: the animation. The character acting was superb--watching the reactions and exaggerated movements of the animals in the Hundred Acre Wood was remarkable. I especially appreciated the expressions on Owl and Rabbit and the bouncing of Tigger. But there isn't really any surprise here, seeing as Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, and numerous other animation greats were involved. The backgrounds were equally beautiful, too.

The story elements of this Pooh, however, were somewhat lacking. While Many Adventures is also in an episodic format, each "episode" has its own arc and layers of conflict and levels of intrigue. The episodes of the new Pooh were too simple and felt like they were playing straight to the littlest of kids. There was just nothing as an audience member to get lost in or focused on; I feel like they had such a great opportunity to put these beloved characters into interesting and entertaining situations, but instead they put them into the barest possible scenarios. Many Adventures has the audience laughing and crying and scared and in suspense, whereas Winnie-the-Pooh is almost impossible to get lost in due to its mind-numbing simplicity.

That being said, there were several times when I found myself laughing uncontrollably. Such as the scene when Piglet is above the hole that all of the characters have fallen into--the dialogue is genius, and I could not stop laughing. It was brilliant. Similarly, Owl was very fun to watch and had some great lines that I really appreciated.

The music was an aspect of this film I was looking forward to, since I'm a huge She & Him fan. The opening Winnie-the-Pooh song was what I had expected, so I loved it. The final song, So Long, was also really, really great--I listen to it almost daily. However, there weren't enough She & Him songs to make me satisfied, but I guess that's probably just because I'm such a big fan of theirs. The musical score was light-hearted and gratifying and makes for great background music, but I still prefer the more melodic score of Many Adventures . . .

Winnie-the-Pooh was a solid movie. It had great character animation, hilarious dialogue, and good music. The story was mildly enjoyable, but crumbles to pieces when you compare it to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I suppose I have my very high expectations to blame . . .

I'll most certainly see Winnie-the-Pooh again, and I'll definitely laugh and enjoy myself while watching it, but I won't be able to stop and think about what could have been.

6 out of 10.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

'Pooh's Note' Clip

Briefly: There you have a clip just released by Disney, showing off even more humor from their upcoming film, Winnie-the-Pooh.

This movie is looking funnier and funnier . . . I cannot wait for this Friday when it comes out. Songs by She & Him, classic animation by Andreas Deja and other greats, and of course some of the greatest characters of all-time!

Just a few more days . . . few more days . . . few more . . .


A Day in the Life of John Lasseter

Above you'll find a 25-minute documentary released by Disney entitled A Day in the Life of John Lasseter. The video was shot several months ago in March, as production of Cars 2 was winding down.

In the short featurette, you'll get to see secret passageways in John's house that lead to his train library, take a look at his private movie theater and wine cellar, and also get to witness the unique process he goes through to direct an animated film. It's definitely worth watching--you'll learn lots of new and interesting things, and will probably become even more jealous of Lasseter . . .