Category Archives: toy story

Wreck-It Ralph

This review, in a slightly altered form, has already appeared on my pop culture blog, Welcome to Hell. Since it’s videogame topical, I figured I’d share it here too. Enjoy.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. “Paperman” was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see “Paperman” first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we’re not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero’s Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It’s a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of “Pac-Man Fever” fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren’t into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph ~ After helping friend Marni celebrate her birthday at Red Lobster, The Bride and I decided to continue the evening as a date night, despite the raging rainsnowstorm outside. We hadn’t been able to see Wreck-It Ralph since it’s been out so we trekked across Route 38 to my least favorite theater to see it.

It was a rainy/snowy Wednesday night, and that may have something to do with it, but I was pleased to see the place nearly empty and doing very little business. I couldn’t wish it on a nastier movie theater. That said, to be fair, we had no problems on this trip. As a matter of fact, the young man who took our tickets was very helpful. But you know, too little, too late. Gonna take a lot to change my mind about this place.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. “Paperman” was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see “Paperman” first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we’re not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero’s Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It’s a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of “Pac-Man Fever” fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren’t into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

Cars 2

Cars 2 ~ I really liked this sequel to Cars a lot, and it has a lot going for it but one thing bothered me a lot as well – and I just couldn’t get it out of my head once it reared its ugly head. Remember the short story by Stephen King called “Trucks”? It was made into a movie twice, once for television under its own name and once theatrically as Maximum Overdrive. The story goes that something happens, some event, and machines, mostly cars and trucks, gain sentience, and proceed to wipe out the human race, and those that remain alive are turned into slaves, slaves that maintain them and fuel them.

The thought occurred to me while watching Cars 2 that this was that world! In this flick, the characters participate in several international races and pass a lot of architecture, much of which featured doors and windows that were built and designed for humans, not cars as evidence would indicate. And we never see any people, only vehicles. It gave me shivers and I couldn’t shake them throughout the flick. Watch and see. If you’ve seen either of the movies, or read the short story, you’ll be freaked out.

Stephen King comparisons aside, this is a great kids movie, and terrific for adults as well. Like most Pixar flicks, it works on many levels providing entertainment for old and young. I especially liked that Cars 2 was a perfect sequel for Cars in that kids who saw the first movie when it was right for their age, will see Cars 2 a few years older and still find it age appropriate for them. The story, the development, the action, language and even the small amount of perceived violence actually grew up with the kids.

I was kinda bugged by the subpar Toy Story shirt before the movie. I would have really had a Pixar original, which are always wonderful and innovative. I guess they had to bow to the powers that be, go for the sure buck and cash in. Shame. I also noted that a whole new cast of characters, and new versions of old characters were introduced to ensure a good toy merchandizing blitz for the sequel. Nothing wrong with that but its obviousness bothered me.

On the good side, there was a lot there for me and other adults. I loved the whole spy parody plot with Michael Caine doing the voice. Not many folks realize how big Caine was in the Brit spy cinema game in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is a fitting homage. Folks of my age will also smile at the “Speed Racer” references and homages in the race sequences. Cars 2 is very reminiscent of both the original cartoons and even the amazing live action of a few years back. Loved it.

So other than the creepy Stephen King “Trucks” thing, and the short before the movie, Cars 2 is an excellent sequel and a great movie for kids and adults. Just be wary, parents, the language and violence is a bit more intense than the first one, okay? But definitely check it out.

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Catching Up with the Oscars

Due to some family troubles I have not been keeping up with my blogs as I probably should have, and neither have I gotten out to see all the films up for the Oscars tonight, but I wanted to take a few moments to breeze through the few I have seen.

The King’s Speech ~ This by far is the best of the litter of the Best Picture nominees I have seen this year. That’s not to say it will win, although it might. I have heard that The Fighter is better, but I really can’t speak to that.

This fascinating film about the heir to the throne of England conquering his speech problem is one that many can understand, and it has the key handicap feature that wins Oscars so often. It’s time for Colin Firth to win and this is the perfect role. Geoffrey Rush is also in the running, having himself won in a similar handicapped role in My Left Foot. There is also an interesting nod to Rush’s character from Shakespeare in Love with his love of the Bard. Another nice smirk comes from the appearance of Derek Jacobi, whose best known role is that of the title role stutterer in PBS’ “I, Claudius.”

Even Helena Bonham Carter is entertaining here and got a nomination. I usually find her freakish and over the top. Here’s proof that she can reel it in and give a great performance. There’s really nothing not to like about this flick, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it swept the Oscars. I had always thought the more compelling story of the royal family of this time was Edward and Mrs. Simpson, but here I am proven wrong. Bravo, recommended.

Animal Kingdom ~ This one is very slow but it shouldn’t have been. Based on the synopsis, I expected an Australian gangster flick but got a somewhat quiet drama, with a few shocks and bumps along the way, instead. Disappointing but good. Jacki Weaver is up for Best Supporting Actress, and she’s good, but I thought that James Frecheville was better, and quite possibly should have gotten a Best Actor nod. But what do I know?

The Town ~ I really kinda dug this Boston heist flick, and I think Jeremy Renner definitely deserves his nomination for Supporting Actor. This is a different character from last year’s The Hurt Locker, a much more complex and darker portrayal, and it gets my vote. Jon Hamm does little more than show up and draw in the “Mad Men” fans however. The real star is Ben Affleck, who co-wrote, starred and directed this flick. I think it’s a shame that he is apparently still on the Academy’s hate list, because I think he deserves recognition for his triple threat performance here – he is the star of this one. Where are his nominations?

How to Train Your Dragon ~ I could bitch about where Tangled and Megamind were in the animated feature category, but I’ll refrain. This one was a surprise, not the best animated feature this year by a long shot, but a lot of fun. It’s predictable, but compelling and entertaining. Recommended.

My predictions for tonight are as follows. King’s Speech for Best Picture, David Fincher for Best Director, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush for Actors, Natalie Portman and Hailee Steinfield for Actress, Toy Story 3 for Best Animated, Biutiful for Best Foreign, and Exit Through the Gift Shop for documentary.

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Oscar Noms 2011

Well, better late than never, right?

The Oscar nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced early this morning. There were a few surprises, but not many. Here are the main awards…

Best Actor – Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and James Franco.

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Geoffrey Rush.

Best Actress – Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams.

Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver.

Best Animated Film – How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3.

Best Foreign Film – Biutiful, Dogtooth, In a Better World, Incendies and Outside the Law.

Best Director – Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

Best Film – Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

Hmmm… now let’s not always see the same names, shall we? I can’t really make official guesses at this point, having not seen all the films and performances nominated yet, but I do have some thoughts. I was fully unimpressed by both True Grit (other than Hailee Steinfield) and Inception, so I doubt they will get much more beyond the noms. I liked Hailee quite a bit. It’s time for a win for Colin Firth. And I wouldn’t underestimate the dark horses like The Kids Are All Right and 127 Hours.

Speaking of horses, where was Secretariat? Where was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the foreign category? Where were Waiting for Superman and Despicable Me for documentary and animated film? Major snubs here, folks.

Check out the complete nominations here, folks, and I’ll be back with my predictions in a while, once I’ve caught up on all the flicks.

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Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 is a good film. It could have been better, but it’s still a heck of a lot better than some of the crap we’ve gotten so far this summer. I might have some complaints about it, but don’t get me wrong, I liked it, a lot.

First things first, as with all Disney/Pixar features, this one begins with a short, and as always it’s just amazing. This short, Day & Night is just brilliant. Not just brilliant as most Pixars are, but also innovative, just pure genius. This is the type of thing that Pixar excels at – conceptual genius. Do not miss. For me, this alone was worth the price of admission.

We paid through the nose to see this flick in both 3-D and IMAX, but unlike many recent offerings, this was fully worth it. Toy Story 3 picks up years after the last sequel. Andy is leaving for college and hasn’t played with his toys in years so they are awaiting their destiny – a trip to the attic or being donated to a local daycare center. The queues for crying in the audience are a bit obvious and manipulative unlike the last two films

The theme is pretty much the same as Toy Story 2 – that kids are never as good as they seem, and abandon their toys when they get older. It worked for the last movie, but gets a bit creepy here the second time around. More than that, this is a much darker episode of the movie series. The Buzz and Woody Go to Hell sequence is especially scary, and downright frightening for the little ones. We’ve had bad kids and bad toys before, this time out we actually have evil toys. It’s a bit disturbing.

These problems may stem from the fact that what we are seeing is actually the original, rejected script, albeit rewritten, for the first film, and that a better concept had to be abandoned due to legal issues. It’s a shame, because it was good. The movie we got is still good. Ken (when he’s not being evil or creepy) is a hoot, and the highlight here. Some bits, like the rebooted in Spanish Buzz, seem out of place, but are still fun.

As I said, this is still the best movie so far this year, despite its flaws, and the ending is sweet and sincere as opposed to manipulative. I liked Toy Story 3 a lot. Recommended.

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French Fry Diary 53: Boardwalk Barker Mr. Potato Head

Toy Stories in 3-D

Last night we got to see a delightful treat, but it was a long way to get there. We planned on seeing the special Toy Story and Toy Story 2 double feature in 3-D, but got a late start of it since, surprisingly, The Bride and I are pretty busy people. We had a variety of choices and settled on a 10:35 show at the Cinemark in Somerdale, but once we got there we found that that show was in fact on for the second movie. What the f with the showtimes? Don’t think we’re going back to Cinemark anytime soon.

We hit the Showcase at the Ritz who had their showtimes right and correct, and we enjoyed the double feature immensely. For those wondering, it was a great flick/flicks, bookended with new material as well as a cool intermission with trivia and behind the scenes stuff. We also got 3-D previews of Toy Story 3 and other upcoming 3-D features. A good time was had by all, except those who went to the Cinemark…

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Toy Story 3 – Trailer

This was one of the highlights of seeing Up, seeing this trailer for Toy Story 3.

It opens June 18, 2010.

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