Saturday, August 31, 2013

D23 Madness! Part 2: Inside Out

Concept art from Pixar's Inside Out

Known as the filmmaking mastermind behind beloved works like Monsters, Inc. and Up, Pete Docter is back in the director's chair in the highly-anticipated Inside Out, set to hit theaters June 19, 2015. Audiences will delve into the peculiar world inside the human mind, or more specifically, the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. Her various emotions make up much of the film's array of characters. The voice cast is as follows:

  • Amy Poehler voices the emotion of Joy
  • Phyllis Smith voices Sadness
  • Bill Hader (Whaddaya know!) voices Fear
  • Mindy Kaling voices Disgust
  • Lewis Black voices Anger

Again, another phenomenal bunch of voice talent. I've always admired Pixar for never selling out and hiring big, extremely well-known celebrities just for the sake of drawing more people to their film (*ahem* Epic, anyone?). I mean, sure, every now and then they do hire famous A-list actors and actresses (Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, etc) to voice characters in their films, but that's only when the filmmakers feel the actor actually suits the character. Also keep in mind, when they do hire famous celebrities, these celebrities are always actual actors. They would never go out and hire, I don't know, Pitbull perhaps? Nicki Minaj? Anyway...

Inside Out follows the aforementioned Riley as she moves to San Francisco and has to adjust to her new life while trying to make new friends. Meanwhile, we are taken inside her head and see how her different emotions react to her everyday experiences. Now here's where it really gets interesting. Riley's emotions apparently all work inside her mind in some sort of headquarters (Get it? Headquarters? Because it's all in her head?) and each character has a screen that allows him or her to see Riley's perspective. Here they perform various tasks, such as storing memories and adjusting her emotions. The mind has many different sections, such as Dream Production, Imaginationland (described as a Disneyland-esque amusement park), and Long-Term Memory. Everything is connected by the Train of Thought, which is, of course, portrayed by an actual train. The plot is set in motion when Joy and Sadness get the boot and are made to leave the headquarters, which means it's up to Fear, Anger and Disgust to operate Riley.

All I can say This sounds absolutely flabbergasting just by reading about it! Anyone still convinced that the folks over in Emeryville have lost their "touch"? No? Good, that should mean everyone here is sane. Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves. Because in 2015 Pixar is treating us to what could very well be the most original film in years.

D23 Madness! Part 1: The Good Dinosaur

Concept art from Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

This is one film I'm extremely pumped for. Pixar's fifteenth feature The Good Dinosaur, scheduled for release on May 30, 2014, showcases another one of the fascinating "what if" scenarios that the studio is known for expanding upon in their pictures. This time, we'll get a look at what the world would be like if the dinosaurs had never gone extinct. Prior to the Expo, we knew relatively little about the film, but the folks at Pixar decided to treat us to some juicy plot details, voice cast announcements and astounding concept art from the film.

  • Lucas Neff voices our protagonist, an apatosaurus named Arlo
  • John Lithgow voices Arlo's father, Poppa
  • Frances McDormand voices Arlo's mother, Mama
  • Bill Hader voices Arlo's brother, Forrest
  • Neil Patrick Harris voices Arlo's other brother, Cliff
  • Judy Greer voices Arlo's sister, Ivy

That's quite the voice cast, huh? This will be Bill Hader's second role in a Pixar production as he also previously voiced the poor little "I can't be late on the first day!" slug monster in Monsters University. Now, onto the plot details.

We learned that in the alternate reality the film portrays, dinosaurs have become the dominant species on the planet and they are farmers, who use their different physical characteristics as farming tools. The protagonist, Arlo, is the odd one out in his family as he is dazzled by bugs, whereas everyone else just seems to want to get rid of them. He soon encounters a young human boy named Spot, whom he mistakes for a large beetle upon first glance. Interestingly enough, the dinosaur characters in this film talk, while the human, Spot, does not. The film apparently follows the unlikely duo of Arlo and Spot leaving the farm and going on a journey across several different climates and terrains.

Now, I had previously expressed my fascination with The Good Dinosaur, but after these announcements, it has grown...well, larger than a dinosaur. Granted, I probably say that for pretty much every new Pixar film at some some point, but I find this one project exceptionally intriguing. Bring on 2014!

D23 Madness!

This month was a huge, exhilarating one for animation aficionados across the globe, as both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios made a splash at this year's D23 Expo. We got awesome first looks at most of the films on the both studios' slates, and let me just say, they all look pretty freaking amazing. In the next three blog posts, I'll be sharing my thoughts on the Pixar-related news that broke this month, regarding the studio's batch of upcoming projects. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fans Build Life-Size WALL-E Robot

People can be rather brilliant, sometimes. Check out this awesome video that was uploaded as a part of YouTube's Geek Week, where we are taken into the workshop of Michael McMaster, part of a group of rather intelligent film fans who brought movie magic to life by building a life-size WALL-E robot, identical to the one in the film in almost every aspect. And yes, their replica does indeed say the character's signature phrase, "WAAALL-E."

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #9: Sam of Pixar Central

This week I chatted with a friend from all the way in London, England, who also runs a blog where you can read all about his thoughts on Pixar's films, characters, and so forth. He's contributed some very well written answers, so without further ado, here it is: the ninth issue of The Luxo Limelight...


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
I've always found it so hard to find a favourite Pixar film. Each of them have moments of brilliance, which define Pixar so well. Admittedly, some are better than others (not naming any names, but I think you know which one I'm talking about), but my favourite HAS to be Toy Story 3. It's beautifully animated for a start (something a lot of people take for granted) and both the story and characters are brilliant. It's such a fluid and deft continuation of the series, even better than I expected. My favourite short is another matter entirely. For instance, I love the warmth and originality of Day and Night. I adore the use of hand drawn animation to make it unique and I love the premise. Then there's The Blue Umbrella, with a charming story, cute characters and frankly peerless animation. But, Presto has to be my favourite. It's certainly one of the funniest, particularly because slapstick in animation is pretty hard to pull off. Not many short films can pull off humour like that, but I respect Presto for doing so.

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
If you've read my blog on this, you'll know how hard I found it to choose my favourite Pixar character. For me, a character has to be original, have a great design, a great voice behind the design and a solid script behind the entire story. So, although Dory and Russell give him great competition, I simply can't choose anyone else but Dug. Bob Peterson is sublime and Pete Docter includes him in the story so expertly. I have a dog and I can imagine him saying precisely the same things if he could speak, just another reason why you have to love Pixar's attention to detail.

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
Ah, these questions are hard. Although he's moved away into live-action recently, it has to be Brad Bird. He has a real eye for detail, crucial in animated films. Ratatouille is one of my favourite Pixar films and I love the darker style he introduced to Pixar in The Incredibles. I also love his variety of talents. He can act, animate, direct and write. What's not to like? 

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
I've always had a soft spot for Pixar. I think it must've been after the release of Toy Story 3 (which I saw three times in the cinema), it occurred to me that Pixar are consistently stunning. It was then when I began to explore the films more, watch them in more detail, etc.

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
I, naturally, am very excited for Finding Dory (Nemo ranks 3rd on my ranking of the films), but the concept and premise which fascinates me the most is Pete Docter's Inside Out. The idea of using emotions as characters is completely new, something which will prove very intriguing. Then there's Docter himself, who created the hilarious Monsters, Inc. and the heartfelt and stunning Up. Where can it go wrong?

Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there? (If not, you can skip this question.)
I'd love to work at Pixar! Who wouldn't? Imagine working where your childhood heroes were created. It would be amazing. If I had to work anywhere, it would be in the story department. I'm an amateur writer, so I'd love to learn more about how professionals do it and improve my skills too. I'd be a useless animator, I haven't got the patience!

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
A lot of my friends and family share my love for the studio. Me and my two closest friends are always very excited about Pixar. We watched Monsters University three times at the cinema haha. It's nice that so many people can enjoy Pixar, they are great at entertaining everyone (even my dad - who generally despises animated films - loved Finding Nemo and Up).

Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Exhilarating, exhausting, sublime.

There is no better feeling than seeing a new feature from Pixar, but I do feel tired at the end, I feel like I have to soak all of the detail up in the first viewing, which is stupid of course, but I never learn.

Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
A lot of the morals of Pixar's films are reflected in everyday life. Brave inspired me to improve relations with my parents (and be grateful that they do so much for me). Up showed me that whilst I may achieve my dreams, it may not be how I expect and there's nothing wrong with that. Conversely, Monsters University taught me that I might not achieve these goals, but that's okay, because sometimes you can get there a different way, or maybe what you get instead is better than your dream. I love how bold Pixar were to include that in a children's film, something no other studio would do.

You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
I've been in an argument like this before. I always focus on Pixar's positives. The conversation is steered away from Cars and Cars 2, to the humour in Ratatouille and The Incredibles and the heart of Up and Toy Story 3. Films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story are universally adored, they often come in handy when defending Pixar.

Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
I hope that Pixar retain their reputation for being original, funny, moving and most importantly, entertaining all ages. Everyone from my little cousin to my grandparents have seen Toy Story. That kind of magic and dazzle is possessed by no one anymore. Even Disney have lost the ability (not since Fantasia 2000 have I felt that same sense of wonder) to make all ages smile. I hope Pixar hold onto that as long as possible.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
If I could say anything to John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs (amongst others), it would be thank you. Thank you for persevering with your ideas, thank you for not giving up when the going got tough and thank you for having the guts to go against everyone and defy their expectations completely.


Sam runs two different blogs; one dedicated solely to Pixar, and another where he posts reviews of non-Pixar flicks. Don't forget to visit both Pixar Central and Central Films, and add them to your bookmarks! Follow him on Twitter at @PixarCentral. And as always, if you enjoyed this issue of The Luxo Limelight, shoot me an email at and you'll be featured in a future issue of this column!

Come back next week for the 10th issue of The Luxo Limelight - the only column on the web written for Pixar fans, by Pixar fans (I just came up with that slogan. Clever, eh?).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

EW Premieres Breathtaking Concept Art from 'The Good Dinosaur'

Pixar and Disney Animation honcho John Lasseter recently sat down for a chat with Entertainment Weekly to talk about the latest features in the Disney animated roster, including Disney's Frozen (in theaters this November) and Pixar's own The Good Dinosaur (slated for May 2014). Both films will be previewed at D23 Expo in Anaheim, California this week, but before all that action takes place Lasseter and EW took it upon themselves to wet our appetite for what's to come at the convention and, more importantly, the future in Disney and Pixar animated films.

Above is an a never-before-seen piece of absolutely stunning concept art of Pixar's fifteenth feature film, The Good Dinosaur. EW unveiled the artwork alongside their interview with Lasseter (read the full article here). We know very little about the Bob Peterson-directed film as of now, but expect many new details to begin flooding in once D23 kicks off tomorrow!