Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'The Good Dinosaur' Is Now Playing!

After a troubled production that involved a director swap, a full-on revision of the voice cast, and an 18-month delay on the original release date, Pixar's sixteenth feature The Good Dinosaur finally stomps into theaters today.

Concept art first spotted in 2009

The film's production can be traced back as far as 2009, when a behind-the-scenes video for Up offered a glimpse at some concept art featuring a dinosaur and a human boy. For two years fans wondered whether Pixar was hard at work on a dinosaur-centric movie, until the film was officially unveiled at 2011's D23 Expo as "The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs". The film was to be directed by studio veteran Bob Peterson, who came up with the idea of a story set in an alternate reality where dinosaurs never went extinct himself. Peterson was eventually removed from the director's chair when problems with the story arose and was replaced by co-director Peter Sohn (Partly Cloudy). From there, the film was entirely reworked and given an entirely new cast, with the exception of Frances McDormand, who is the sole remaining cast member from the original cast, which included Neil Patrick Harris and John Lithgow.

Though reviews for The Good Dinosaur so far have not been quite as enthusiastic as those for the studio's smash summer hit Inside Out, the film is still being received positively and is said to be charming and visually sutnning. It currently holds an 85% "fresh" critic score on Rotten Tomatoes

Unfortunately I will not be able to see the film until the weekend, but after following its progress for so many years I am incredibly excited to finally see the finished product.

Accompanying the film is Pixar's latest short Sanjay's Super Team, directed by Sanjay Patel, who drew inspiration from his childhood for the film. From what I've heard, the short is an absolute delight and yet another unique entry in the Pixar short film canon.

Will you be seeing Pixar's latest offerings this weekend? Have you already seen them? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The Good Dinosaur and Sanjay's Super Team are in theaters now!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

First Teaser Trailer and Poster for 'Finding Dory' Debut

Anticipation for Pixar's upcoming Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory, has been growing ever since the voice of Dory, Ellen DeGeneres, announced the film on her talk show two years ago. Few are more excited for the film than Ellen herself (she famously begged and pleaded for a sequel to Nemo for years), so naturally she was given the honor of debuting the first teaser trailer for the film Tuesday morning on her show and social media, following the reveal of the official teaser poster (above). Watch the teaser below:

Like most Pixar teaser trailers, it's brief and to the point, but wets your appetite and builds excitement for the film. The opening with the sentimental Thomas Newman score paired with the stunning and familiar underwater visuals is sure to strike a soft spot with fans of the original film. Watching it, I felt like it was 2003 again. The trailer goes on to establish the film's basic premise, throwing in a bit of classic Dory humor; she is still the forgetful but lovable regal blue tang you remember. In terms of plot, the trailer tells us what we already know; Dory suddenly remembers her family and sets off to find them, with Nemo and Marlin joining her on the way.

This also marks our first time hearing newcomer Hayden Rolence as the voice Nemo. Rolence takes over for Alexander Gould, who voiced the young clownfish in the original film but is now too old to play the part. From the sound of it, though, Rolence perfectly captures the essence of the character. Albert Brooks reprises his role as Nemo's paranoid father Marlin, and of course, Ellen DeGeneres is finally granted her wish of being able to voice Dory again. Though he doesn't appear in the trailer, Willem Dafoe will also return as Gill.

Ultimately, it's just a sheer delight to see these beloved characters again after more than a decade. It's also refreshing to see that the film will not be a rehash of the original, but will tell a new story and continue to flesh out the characters we know and love, as all good sequels do.

Andrew Stanton returns to helm this second venture into the vivid undersea world from Pixar's 2003 hit, with Angus MacLane (Toy Story of Terror) co-directing. Finding Dory swims into theaters June 17, 2015.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Final Trailer for 'The Good Dinosaur' Debuts

With just under two months to go until the film's release, the marketing campaign for The Good Dinosaur is picking up speed. Pixar treated us to a third and final trailer for the film this morning.

This latest trailer gives us a more extensive look at the interactions between the young Apatosaurus Arlo and the feral human child he names Spot. We also get our first real introduction to the T-rexes, Butch, Nash, and Ramsey, as well as some more brief looks at Arlo and Spot's journey home.

With every new trailer I am blown away with how gorgeous this film does. The vast, photorealistic landscapes and the different creatures are all breathtaking; some of the Pixar's best work yet, I would say. Underneath all the spectacle, there seems to be a pretty great story too. Though the dino film has undergone a troubled production, it certainly seems like all problems it may have had are all but extinct and the long wait will be well worth it. Pixar charmed audiences earlier this year with the masterful, tear-extracting Inside Out. Something tells me they may do it again next month.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Toy Story Land to Be Built at Walt Disney World

After the immense success of Cars Land over in Disney California Adventure in Disneyland, another popular Pixar franchise will be getting a themed land all to itself, this time in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida's Walt Disney World. Disney announced at D23 Expo this month that an 11-acre Toy Story Land is currently in development for the Orlando park.

Though Toy Story Land has been built before in both Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland, the Hollywood Studios version will be different from its overseas counterparts. Apart from adding a third track to the park's popular Toy Story Mania ride in order to shorten wait times, the new Toy Story Land will include all-new attractions, including a family-friendly Slinky Dog coaster and a flying saucer attraction hosted by the Little Green Men. More attractions are expected to be announced in the months to come.

Watch a video of the official announcement from D23 Expo with some sneak peeks at the attractions being developed for the new themed land:

Monday, August 24, 2015

'Coco' Officially Unveiled at D23 Expo

One of the most exciting parts of last week's D23 Expo was arguably when Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3, and Darla K. Anderson, producer of Toy Story 3, walked on stage during the expo's animation panel to introduce their latest film; Coco. The film will center on a 12-year-old boy named Miguel and delve into the colorful world surrounding the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Early concept art from 2012

Though the film was announced back in 2012, we had heard virtually nothing about the project since, leading many to believe that the film had perhaps been shelved. All fears of that being the case, however, were struck down last week when Pixar officially unveiled the film, and its title, to the world.

This was my reaction upon hearing the good news:

A clip featuring some test animation was shown for attendees of the expo. The scene starts in a graveyard with people paying their respects to those who have passed away before jumping to a vibrant street populated by singing and dancing skeletons. A skeleton mariachi band appears; one of its members, it turns out, is the film's protagonist, Miguel, in disguise. The clip ends with an aerial shot of the colorful streets where the celebration is taking place, which from the shape of a skull.

Unkrich and Anderson also talked briefly about the film and the themes it will explore, as well as the inspiration behind the project.

"I'd seen it portrayed in folk art," said Unkrich of Día de los Muertos. "It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Día de los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply."

Though they certainly found the iconic visuals of Día de los Muertos incredibly appealing, Unkrich and Anderson explained that, above all, "it was the celebration's core themes of family, remembrance and connection across generations that resonated within and truly inspired [them]." They explained how "Día de los Muertos is as singular as the Mexican culture, while at the same time completely universal in its message."

The two went on to talk about the film's story, in which "the celebration of Día de los Muertos serves as the perfect backdrop for [the] main character to ask where he comes from, what his place is within his family, and how families stay woven together across time through the simple act of remembrance."

This is still very little information to go off of, but I am already sold. Not only will Coco be undoubtedly breathtaking to look at, but it already sounds like it will touch on some very powerful and emotional motifs.

Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson introduce Miguel (Photo credit: Inside the Magic)

Since the announcement last week, many have noted the peculiar nature of the film's title. What does "Coco" mean?

"El Coco" is, in fact, a mythical monster, much like the bogeyman, derived from Hispanic folklore. Given the new film's theme, this could very much be what the title alludes to. Perhaps the story will tie "el Coco" to Día de los Muertos somehow. Coincidentally, the word "coco" is also a word for "skull" in Spanish. Skulls, of course, are prominent in the Día de los Muertos holiday. The title could be referring to either of these two meanings, if not both. Though Coco won't hit theatres for another two years, we may learn more about why this particular title was chosen as the film's release date draws closer.

This may just be the Pixar film I am most excited for as of right now. It may be a while before we hear anything new about Coco given that it is currently scheduled for November 22, 2017, but stay tuned.