Onward and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar and Walt Disney Studio Motion PIctures
Directed by Dan Scanlon
It’s no secret that I’ve been pretty down on Pixar this past decade. On the one hand, we DID get Coco and I guess Inside Out was just fine, but this was also the decade that brought us redundant sequels that I just failed to connect with; particularly Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 which everyone else seemed to enjoy a heck of a lot more than I did. Because of this and the somewhat underwhelming trailers we got (It’s fantasy AND modern AT THE SAME TIME!?), I’m not exactly looking forward to seeing this kid friendly version of Bright, but that’s just the pessimistic side of me talking and maybe this really will be another return to form for the venerable studio. Is this a road trip for the ages and the sequel to Brütal Legend we’ve all been secretly hoping for, or is this a mythical folly more disastrous than that Warcraft movie you’ve already forgotten about? Let’s find out!!
Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is your typical Elf teenager; aspiring to be Legolas but more like The Elf on a Shelf. He’s gangly, really quiet, and to some people he might come off as a bit creepy considering his lack of social skills. VERY different from his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) who is basically the unholy offspring (in the cool Rock N Roll sort of way) of Andy Dwyer and Jack Black; spending most of his times talking theatrically, creating cool-tastic stories for his knock off D&D campaigns, and decidedly not getting a job or moving out. Some of his arrested development issues as well as Ian’s social anxieties can be traced back to their father who died of an illness right before Ian was born, and there’s a lot of unhandled baggage there despite the efforts of their mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus ) to make a happy home and the stern if bumbling guidance of their mom’s new boyfriend Officer Bronco (Mel Rodriguez). On Ian’s sixteenth birthday however, that all changes when their mother gives him a gift from his late father that she was instructed to hold off on until this day, and it turns out that their dad was a wizard who came up with a spell to bring him BACK FROM THE DEAD for one day so that he can see how great his sons turned out. Sure! Just ask the Elric brothers how well this worked out for them! Well it KIND of works out as Ian is only able to bring back the bottom half of their dad and they now need to go on an EPIC QUEST TO FIND A NEW GEM FOR MAGIC STAFF, and cast the REST of the spell before the 24 hours are up. Can Ian and Barley find the mythical Phoenix Gem and see their father one last time? Who exactly WAS their father and how far does Ian want to go with these new magic gifts that he’s discovered? Will Barley put him through the Rocky Training Montage of his life!? He certainly has the right music for it!
Toy Story 4 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Josh Cooley
Sigh… I THOUGHT I WAS DONE!! I thought that after the third film we’d reached the perfect end point for this series, but instead of coming up with a new idea or even rebooting the franchise entirely, here we are again with the same cast, the same toys, and even more Randy Newman. I’ve been pretty down on Pixar recently with Incredibles 2 being a HUGE disappointment for me and being rather lukewarm on Inside Out, but they can still do great films like Coco when they put their mind to it and that fact only makes me even more tired that we’re dipping into the same well one more time. Who knows though, right? I mean, they managed to make Toy Story 2 one of the best sequels of all time and even made the third film a perfect closure for these characters and this world! Can they somehow pull it off a third time by making this beating of a dead horse not nearly as horrific as that metaphor implies? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the third film, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and all their pals (Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) are living with Bonnie and her toys (Kristen Schaal, Timothy Dalton, and Jeff Garlin); enjoying their new lease on life having avoided both the garbage dump and the day care of infinite horrors. Still, Woody isn’t quite as happy as the ending of the last movie would have indicated because he is no longer the top toy in the room which is led up by Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) instead. Feeling out of place and probably more than a little bored, he sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack for her first day of kindergarten orientation where he slyly helps Bonnie through the emotionally turmoil and even gets her to make a new toy out of trash and craft materials. The new toy named Forky (Tony Hale) does indeed come to life which comes to a surprise to Woody and everyone else, and what’s even MORE surprising for a kids movie is that this little bugger is determined to throw himself in the garbage because he’s aware he’s an unholy abomination unto the world and needs to return to the trash from whence he came! So the good news for Woody is that he now has a new lease on life being Bonnie’s protector by way of protecting Forky, but the bad news is that Forky turns out to be a HUGE handful and he manages to escape out the window during the family road trip. Woody goes after him, slowly trudges to the town the family is staying at, but as it would JUST SO HAPPEN, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who went missing between Toy Story 2 and 3 is in this town as a lost toy; helping other lost toys find kids to play with in the park and living her life to the fullest as a STRONG INDEPENDENT badass! Seems like a perfect little reunion if it wasn’t for the fact that Forky is kidnapped by the EVIL Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who is a doll in an antique store looking to replace her broken voice box and wants the one embedded in Woody’s toy guts. Can Woody and Bo save Forky from whatever maniacal machinations Gabby has in store for him? Will the rest of the toys be able to distract the family long enough so that Woody and Forky can return in one piece? Seriously, how has a porcelain doll managed to last this long out in the wilderness? Is she ACTUALLY made out of Adamantium!?
Incredibles 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Brad Bird
So it’s time to once again return the Pixar well, isn’t it? After the underwhelming sequel to Finding Nemo which was then followed by the much more interesting and engaging Coco, you’d think that Pixar would have leaned into new properties they can exploit down the road rather than relying so heavily on sequelizing their back catalog, but this one is a little bit different than say Monsters University or yet another Toy Story movie. People have been clamoring for a new Incredibles movie since the first one came out which is particularly exasperating considering it’s been well over a decade since then, but Brad Bird finally came back to the company that made him and is finally giving us the movie we’ve all been anxiously anticipating for all that time! Was it actually worth the wait, or should Pixar left well enough alone? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up right after the events of the first film with the Parr family fighting the sinister UNDERMINER (John Ratzenberger) and in doing so reaffirming their strong familial bond! Actually, they barely manage to stop anything and the city is pretty ticked off that they got involved in the first place; particularly since the dude was just robbing a bank and the money in there is insured anyway. Heck, they could probably just trace the bills that were in there and arrest the UNDERMINER when he actually tries to spend it, unless of course he’ll convert it into bitcoins or something ridiculous like that. Anyway, the Parr family is let out of custody, but are forced to lay low once again to avoid raising the ire of the authorities who are still enforcing a strict NO SUPER HERO policy despite seemingly unprepared for dudes with giant drill vehicles tearing up the city. Things look particularly grim right now as Agent Dicker (Jonathan Banks) is retiring and can’t keep covering their butts on this, but a ray of hope comes through as Lucious Best AKA Frozone (Samuel L Jackson) arrives to give the parents Robert and Helen (Craig T Nelson and Holly Hunter) some news of an eccentric business man ready to offer them a deal. The man’s name is Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and he wants to bring Super Heroes back into public favor, so with the help of his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), they plan on using one of them to solve a few low level crimes on camera so that people can actually see a Super Hero in action instead of just witnessing the aftermath of their fights. The duo feels that Helen AKA Elastagirl is gonna be the best choice which incenses Robert AKA Mr. Incredible, but he capitulates and stays home to watch the kids Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack (Huck Milner, Sarah Vowell, and Eli Fucile) until they can get Super Heroes legalized once again! THEN he’ll be able to don the spandex once again and fight criminals instead of helping with math homework or reading bedtime stories! It’s not as easy as it sounds though for either Robert OR Helen as the former has to deal with the evolving and terrifying powers of their youngest child Jack-Jack while the latter all of a sudden finds herself an arch nemesis called The Screenslaver (Bill Wise) that’s ready to stop her crime fighting ways before she even has a chance to really make a difference. Will Robert manage to be a good dad while dealing with all these Mr. Mom shenanigans? What can Helen do to stop this latest threat, and is there more to the story that she’ll need to uncover? Wait, didn’t we already go through most of this the last time around!?
Coco and all the images you see in this review are owned by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
I’m far from the only one to have Pixar fatigue, but it has been WAY too long since I’ve gotten excited for another animated film from them. Even the prospect of Incredibles 2 only fills me with a mix of ennui and meh, so what hope does this film have to bring me back around on the studio? Well it’s not a sequel for one which is a good sign and its premise, while not what I would call unique (*cough* Book of Life *cough* Grim Fandango *cough*), at least appears to be fleshed out (nyuk-nyuk-nyuk) as all the trailers show an immense level of detail and craftsmanship in every frame as well as an amazingly diverse cast that looks to bring an underrepresented culture to the big screen. Hey, after the mostly positive reception and commercial success of Moana, it makes sense for Disney to stick with the formula; though hopefully we haven’t reached the point of diminishing returns just yet. Will this be the standout animated film of the year like we’re in the golden age of Pixar, or has ship already sailed for one of the biggest giants of the industry? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins by telling us the history of the Rivera family where Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach) was stuck raising little Coco as her husband walked out on them to live out their dream as a world famous musician. She didn’t let that get her down that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and spent the rest of her life making shoes and teaching her family to make shoes; all the way to the present day where SHE may be dead and gone, but Coco is still around (Ana Ofelia Murguía) as the oldest living relative of the Rivera family and the great grandmother of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez). Now despite Imelda more or less banning music in the Rivera household which is a tradition that has carried to this day, little Miguel can’t help but want to be a musician like his hero Ernesto de la Cruz who was a famous musician long ago and is still fondly remembered in Mexico to this day. In fact… maybe there’s a connection between the guy who walked out on Imelda to become a famous musician, and this famous musician that Miguel is obsessed with right now!? Maybe he’s the long lost great great grandfather and the only one in his family that would understand his love of music!? Well Miguel is certainly convinced of this after finding some photographic evidence and decides to… rob Ernesto de la Cruz’s grave so he can use his guitar to win a talent competition? Okay… seems a bit extreme, but whatever! THE KID’S GOTTA PLAY!! Too bad that robbing a grave gets you a one way ticket to the afterlife as Miguel finds himself more or less a ghost to those in the living world and eventually finds himself in the city of the dead where all the people who died are now skeletons; including Imelda Rivera and the rest of his extended family! Will Miguel find a way to get back home before his brief vacation among the dead turns into a permanent residency? What will he be able to learn about himself and his family during his treat; including the elusive Ernesto de la Cruz who may be able to help Miguel live out his dreams as a musician? How the heck is a human supposed to survive in a city of the dead anyway!? It’s not like any of the residents have lungs, so do they even have oxygen there!?
Finding Dory and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Well… I guess we’re back again. Pixar has gotten pretty passé for me recently and making a sequel to my least favorite of their movies that ISN’T a rip off of Maximum Overdrive is probably not gonna be what ends up turning them around for me. Still, the studio never makes a lazy movie (except for those G rated Christine films) so we can at least expect a certain level of quality from them, and maybe I’ll be a bit more receptive to their fish story this time around. Does it manage to bring back that Pixar magic that has gotten kinda dull and played out recently? Let’s find out!!
The movie takes place a year after the events of the first one (which I guess means this takes place in in the heydays of George W Bush and Nickelback) and since then Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has been living with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence). One day during their day to day life of… swimming I guess, Dory sees something that triggers a memory that had long been forgotten which is that she has parents and lost them many years ago; probably due to her short term memory condition. Now that she’s aware that her parents are out there somewhere, she manages to rope Marlin and Nemo into going with her to the last place she remembers being at before losing them forever which was somewhere in California. That somewhere just happens to be the Marine Life Institute which is a rescue center to provide care to, rehabilitate, and eventually release the sea creatures that they either catch or are sent to them for treatment. As you’d expect, Dory manages to separate herself from Marlin and Nemo who have to then FIND her, and while they’re doing that Dory meets up with an octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) who is willing to help her find whatever exhibit her parents are in if she’ll do something for him. See, Dory was sent to the medical wing and immediately got a tag put on her to send her to the Cleveland Aquarium because… I actually don’t know why come to think of it. The tags are only placed on fish that are too sick to survive in the open ocean, so… is there gonna be a really sad third movie coming out in ten years? Anyway, Hank wants to go to the Cleveland Aquarium but isn’t sick enough for them to send him off, so he’ll take her tag in exchange for carrying her around until they find her parents. Oh, and they’re on a timer because the truck to Cleveland leaves in the morning so Hank is not in the mood to mosey about take their sweet time. Will Dory manage to find her parents in this place? What about Marlin and Nemo? Are they gonna find her before… I guess something bad happens? Will Pixar ever get to The Incredibles 2!?
Inside Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Pete Docter
Is it too late for the Herman’s Head jokes? It is? Okay then. Anyway, we once again find ourselves with another film from the world’s most harshly criticized 9.5 out of 10 studio. It’s hard to deny that the Pixar brand has become somewhat tarnished in recent years what with Cars 2 being a critical bomb and Brave not living up to expectations for many. That and the fact that they’re gonna start cranking out sequels left and right for the next decade. Still, you can’t deny that Pixar on a bad day is still gonna be better than a lot of other studios on a good day. So where does Inside Out fall on the Pixar scale? Eh… we’ll get to that in a minute. First, what is this movie about?