Tag Archives: disney

Movie Review: Inside Out

insideout1It’s been tough to be a Pixar fan the past few years, what with the total artistic flop of Monsters University as well as superior competition in the realm of animated film, like Frozen. That’s precisely why a downright incredible film like Inside Out is exciting for the film industry and especially exciting for fans of the once does-no-wrong animation studio. This wildly creative, emotionally-resonate and hilarious movie about what happens in our minds is not just better than the past few years’ worth of Pixar movies, it’s by far one of the studio’s best efforts.

The movie does good right from the start, with its protagonist Riley, an easy-to-like 11-year old girl who loves her family, her friends, and hockey. It’s great to have an unconventional sports-loving little girl star a movie that doesn’t simply pander to that audience. Riley isn’t a fantasy and not even exactly a role-model, but a real, honest-to-goodness person who doesn’t always make the right decision. The movie does play it safe with racial representation, unlike Dreamwork’s Home this year, but the background characters are suitably diverse for what that’s worth.

If you’re not yet privy, Inside Out’s premise focuses on the interworking of Riley’s mind, personified as five colorful characters named Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear, along with some others along the way. Most of the movie is spent in her mind, leaving the bulk of the charm to the all-star cast of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling and Jon Hader. The casting is perfect, each actor representing their respective emotion to a tee and pulling off endearing, hilarious performances.

The movie focuses on Joy and Sadness to deliver a theme about those two emotions in particular. Literally, Inside Out is about Riley’s family moving to another town during a pivotal moment of her life; the last bits of pre-pubescent childhood. Thematically, Inside Out is a surprisingly poignant, warm and complex affirmation of the relationship between joy and sadness along with all the rest of the emotions, as well as a coming-of-age story.

Perhaps the most impressive quality of Inside Out is its total and utter lack of missed potential. This fun look at the mind feels complete and massively inventive, throwing in lots of actual psychological jargon without being stuffy or confusing. From the part of the brain that produces dreams seen here as a movie studio producing short skits, to the sprawling rows of shelves containing orbs shown for long-term memory, Inside Out never ceases to be clever. It’s the kind of movie that had me constantly worrying it would misstep and half-ass an idea, but it never did. It just kept delighting and surprising.

As a work of film craft, Inside Out is magnificent. For the most part it’s standard Pixar, with a huge variety of color and the silkiest, most expressive and detailed CG animation possible for its time. At one point in the movie it takes things further, however, with experimentation in its animated style that makes it look unlike anything typically seen on the big screen. The plot calls for this shift in style in the exact same way as other animated movies, but the results are hard to argue with. Inside Out is also easily Pixar’s most cartoony movie yet, with energetic slapstick that often feels like Looney Toons.

Inside Out is a classic work of art that does more than it has to for the simple sake of being good. Pete Docter and the rest of the crew didn’t just check boxes to get an Oscar and butts in seats and toys on shelves (although they’ll be sure to get all of those too); they put their minds together and created something truly special.

Check out Matt’s online portfolio here

Review: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad #4

btmr004aThe expansion of Disney and Marvel into the fictionalization of Disney theme park rides might seem like a strange undertaking, but it has worked effectively in this series.  It tells the story of Abigail Bullion and her sometimes corrupt, sometimes naive father, who also happens to be the owner of the Big Thunder Mountain gold mine.  As Abigail is introduced to this world she learns of the adventure associated with it, but also of the injustices which seem to take place there.  The workers are mistreated and the mountain itself seems ready to make a stand of its own.

In the previous issue Abigail became a full-fledged train robber as she understood just how bad it was for the workers in the town.  The stolen gold was going towards the provision of goods that were otherwise unobtainable, and she realized that her father was misguided at best in his endeavor.  This issue follows directly on those developments, but goes about it in a less engaging way, as the various character and plot elements seem to diverge as Abigail is involved in another train heist, and as her associates go about their own pursuits.  Equally her father is ready to open the mine again, despite his hesitation to do so, which allows him to be framed less as the villain and more as an unsuspecting dupe.

Thus far this has been one of the most entertaining titles to come out of Marvel in a long while despite being off almost everyone’s radar.  As it stands though this penultimate issue misfires almost as much as it succeeds, with a clunkier story telling than the previous issues.  Small details like Abbey, who otherwise just arrived to this world, becoming a master markswoman capable of shooting the hats off of people riding on top of trains seem silly in comparison to the rest of the story.  The fun ride thus far will mean that this is a must read for those that have bothered to expand their reading list a bit beyond the ordinary, but with this mediocre issue it seems like the finale will determine the overall quality of this series.

Story: Dennis Hopeless Art: Tigh Walker and Guillermo Mogorron
Story: 7.8 Art: 7.8 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read

Explore the Legacy of Imagination This September with Figment 2 #1!

This September, journey back into the exciting depths of your own imagination with Figment 2 #1 – the follow-up to the smash-hit, sold-out Disney Kingdoms series! Continuing the unique collaboration between Marvel and Walt Disney Imagineering, the Disney Kingdoms line of comics brings you new adventures inspired by the beloved lands, attractions, characters and worlds of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts! Critically acclaimed writer Jim Zub returns alongside artist Ramon Bachs for the next chapter in the life of the enigmatic inventor Dreamfinder and the legendary Figment!

Now in the present day, Figment and Dreamfinder must brave the modern world as new and unexpected adventures lie before them. Gone for over 100 years, our imaginative duo have become the stuff of legends. But with their greatest challenge still before them, will their legacy ultimately be their undoing?

FIGMENT 2 #1 (OF 5)
Written by Jim Zub
Penciled by Ramon Bachs
Cover by John Tyler Christopher
Action Figure Variant by John Tyler Christopher
Elements based on Figment © Disney

Figment_2_1_Action_Figure_Variant Figment_2_1_Cover

SDCC 2015: Funko Announces Their First Wave of Exclusives

Funko has announced their first batch of San Diego Comic-Con exclusives!

Their goal was to cover as many beloved licenses and characters as possible to remind every Comic-Con attendee why they fell in love with these stories in the first place.

In an effort to provide more of their products to Con-goers, they are NOT offering a pre-buy option this year.

Without further ado, here is the first installment of Funko’s San Diego Comic-Con exclusives list!

Pop! Animation: Futurama – Gold Bender

Pop! Animation Futurama - Gold Bender

Pop! Disney/Pixar: Inside Out – Sparkle Hair Sadness

Pop! Disney Pixar Inside Out Sparkle Hair Sadness

Pop! Television: Doctor Who – Twelfth Doctor (Spacesuit)

Pop! Television Doctor Who - Twelfth Doctor (Spacesuit)

Pop! Rides: X-Force Deadpool’s Chimichanga Truck

Pop! Rides X-Force Deadpool's Chimichanga Truck

Hikari: Star Wars – Infrared Boba Fett

Hikari Star Wars - Infrared Boba Fett

Vinyl Idolz: Ghostbusters – Slimed Dr. Peter Venkman

Vinyl Idolz Ghostbusters - Slimed Dr. Peter Venkman

Dorbz XL: Batman – 6″ Batman

Dorbz XL Batman 6 Batman

The Most Exciting thing about Disney’s Playmations Might be the Stock Photos

Yesterday, Disney announced their next toy breakthrough, Playmation, tech infused toys and playsets that’ll feature themes of Marvel characters, Disney characters, Frozen, Star Wars, and more.

The “next step in play” seems like something we’ve seen before, playsets, and other items, infused with tech, that also allows active play. That part isn’t new, it can be traced back to the home laser tag games, and absolutely earlier. The exact details of what this all means hasn’t quite been revealed, but it looks interesting, and potentially it should be fun.

What really stood out to me wasn’t the announcement itself, but the stock photos that were released by Disney’s partner in this Hasbro. The photos featured three children playing with the Avengers set release which is first up. What’s new is that one of the three children was a girl. In fact, 5 of the 9 photos that were part of Hasbro’s press release feature the young girl. And look, there’s also a Black Widow figure coming out too!

Is this Disney, and Hasbro, finally admitting that girls also like toys based on super heroes?

Disney, Marvel, and Hasbro have all come under fire for acting as if women aren’t interested in toys based on super heroes. Black Widow was absent from the Avengers: Age of Ultron toys, with her motorcycle scene set replacing her with Captain America, though she has been including in other sets including the Marvel Legends line of toys and Marvel Infinite series of toys. There’s also been outrage over a lack of some clothing options for women as well, and the absence of Black Widow on much of the boys clothes as well.

It’s possible this may be the strange continuation of featuring girls and female characters in sets not based on movies, or, this may be Disney and Hasbro acknowledging that girls due enjoy toys based on super heroes. It’s not just boys who act out being Iron Man, Spider-Man, and more, girls due it too, and those toys make it easier for them to do so.

You can see the photos below.

Disney’s Playmation is the Next Step in Play, Featuring Disney, Marvel, & Star Wars

Playmation_KeynotePack_whitebkgDisney Consumer Products has introduced the world to Playmation – the next step in the evolution of play, where digital gets physical and imagination becomes real. The groundbreaking system of toys and wearables uses smart technology to inspire kids to run around and use their imaginations, as they become the hero or heroine of stories from across The Walt Disney Company.

Dreamed up by a team of technologists, Imagineers and storytellers from across The Walt Disney Company, Playmation is the culmination of extensive research into the world of play. In the release Disney cited a report that parents want their kids to be active and have nostalgia for the way they used to play. Add that on top that while children like being active, they also want toys infused with technology.

Playmation also marks a new chapter in Disney Consumer Products’ long-term partnership with Hasbro. DCP and Hasbro collaborated on physical product design and manufacturing of Playmation. Hasbro’s record of innovation and consumer insights make them the perfect partner to ensure that Playmation is a truly ground-breaking play experience.

Playmation Marvel’s Avengers is the first in a series of systems in development around Walt Disney Company franchises, and will hit shelves this October. At launch, the Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Starter Pack will include five connected toys: one piece of Avenger Gear (Repulsor), two Power Activators and two Smart Figures – a Super Hero (Captain America) and a Super Villain (Iron Skull). Getting started is easy, strap the high-tech Repulsor Gear onto your arm (it fits adults, too!) and listen closely to JARVIS as he takes you through the tutorial on how to control your new Gear, inspired by Iron Man technology. Other Playmation Marvel’s Avengers connected toys that work with the Starter Pack will also be available separately for purchase at launch, with more on the way.

Also available at launch, is the AvengersNet app where you can register your Avenger Gear to see progress, explore additional locations and characters, and get access to new missions. New recruits to the Avengers can fight Marvel Super Villains including Ultron, Iron Skull, Loki, or join fellow Avengers Super Heroes like Black Widow, Falcon and more as they battle to save the Earth by running, jumping, ducking and dodging – whatever each challenge requires.

Playmation Marvel’s Avengers uses familiar technologies including smart toys, wearables, wireless technology, motion sensors and more, but applies them in ways that are completely new to create an experience that’s never been possible before. The Repulsor Gear connects with the Power Activators and Smart Figures to take you on a variety of adventures through locations around the Marvel Universe, from the Avengers Lab in New York to the jungles of Wakanda. Playmation is purposely not tethered to an Internet connection so players can run around and explore each adventure from anywhere they want – a bedroom, living room or yard. With multiplayer modes, recruits can sync their Avenger Gear to tackle missions and combat arenas together, or face off in competitive play.

The Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Starter Pack will have a suggested retail price of $119.99 and will launch in October 2015 in the United States and Canada at mass and specialty retailers, select Disney Store locations and DisneyStore.com, and will be available for pre-order starting July 7.

Star Wars and Disney Frozen systems are currently in development for 2016 and 2017, respectively. Each will use a range of technologies to create a system based on the different ways that kids play and experience their favorite stories and characters from that franchise.

 

Cut the Check: A Call for True Leadership at Marvel Comics

(The below is a guest blog post from past contributor Anthony Brown – The Management)

Marvel ComicsIt’s funny how in High School the people given awards for Most Likely to Succeed and Best Leadership rarely are the people who go on to become something super successful or to a position of great leadership. While I do not have access to the yearbooks of the Marvel brain-trust I am almost certain none of the people calling shots over there were nominated or won those awards either. When I am not blogging for Graphic Policy I am actually in a leadership for company as their Director of Operations (not this kind).

Fantastic_Four_645_CoverWhile on my journey to this position I learned from some really great leaders, and as I think about what is going on at Marvel Comics currently something Larry Nichols told me, and everyone, at Devon Energy about doing the right thing sticks out. He told us when Devon goes into communities to drill or frack or do whatever it is they are in town to do, they make sure they do right by everyone in the community not just the people being affected by the work they are doing. In my time there that was exactly what I saw happen. We cut BIG checks to land owners and communities for the inconvenience and then would go in and plant trees and restore playgrounds and do other community work just because.

So how does this tie into Marvel Comics? Well right now Marvel is currently killing off anything related to two of their titles that paid the freight for the company for years because they do not own the movie rights. The Fantastic Four and X-Men are being treated like well… the comic version of X-men in real life. Marvel just ended the Fantastic Four comic. You know just in time for their moving release. The Marvel web-site had not even a blip on it about the last several X-Men related movies. Full disclosure these are the first two comics I read and I have not missed an issue since 1988.

All New X-Men 40 biInstead of Marvel showing any kind of real leadership or appreciation for these two franchises they kill comic book series or continue to do stupid stuff like this (hat-tip to Bleeding Cool). Marvel why not make another great Fantastic Four run? You know the book that you had “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” at the top of for years. Instead you treat it like DC’s Vibe. Why not stop Brian Michael Bendis from his shock-jock-esque writing style on X-men? How does a guy write Avengers for 10+ years and have the fall out of their stories have more consequences for the X-men than for the Avengers? Why not let Hasbro, Bowen Designs, XM Studios and others put out great figures and statues of all the characters we still love; because before the Avengers were the cash cow they are today. The Fantastic Four and the X-Men were paying the freight.

So here is my revolutionary solution sure to change the comic world. Marvel CutTheCheck! I understand The Mouse is calling the shots now and we have to have contrived “events” like AXIS (still trying to figure out the point of that event) Age of Ultron and Original Sin all the time. While each of these had their moments, we all could have done without them. The real point is Marvel is run by grown men, all of whom should know better than to take their ball and go home. Here a fun a fact. Just a segment of what Disney owns, ESPN, made over $40 million a day. So from my vantage point cutting a check to Fox and Warner Brothers and whoever else Marvel needs to pay is not going to put a dent in the bank account. Even if it theoretically did it would be short-lived because the Marvel Movie Machine would crank out a reboot, toys and comics faster than we could write a check to pay for it all. So Marvel show some real leadership and quit screwing us, the comics and the characters that made you great for so long and cut the damn check.

Review: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad #3

btmr001The third issue of this series takes a bit of a turn not only from what we expect to find from the story line but also from what we expect to find from something bearing the Disney name.  Thus far this series has been an entirely entertaining story about a young girl named Abigail, cast in the princess/anti-princess role which is common enough at Disney, as she has to settle into the midst of her father’s gold mining operation in the Old West.  The casting of Abigail as the series lead is maybe a bit of a stretch for Disney, but then so too are her princess credentials.  She is from a time in history when villains were often known as industrialists, and thus her noble status comes from the power of the dollar as opposed to a hereditary status.

Although previously introduced, it is apparent that her father is far more of a villain than it might seem.  Although he runs what appears to be a successful gold mine, he seems eager to extract every penny’s worth of the mine that is possible.  This leads to bare attention paid to his workers in what makes a comparison to a good comparison to the likes of Henry Frick.  This might be a setup for some kind of last minute switch or revelation, but this issue is so heavy on the social commentary that it is hard to believe that it is coming from such a large corporation.  Amidst all of this commentary there is also a a decent amount of action as Abigail and her cohorts are forced into various situations requiring some resolution be it a runaway horse or a flash flood.

It is likely that many have stayed away from this series because of what they might expect from it, and rightfully that is an injustice.  It does bear the name Disney and it does feature a young heroine, but there is not so much of the Disney formula apparent here.  While it is definitely rated G, it fills its pages with strong writing, and surprisingly stronger commentary, all surrounded by well written characters.   Those looking for something a bit more edgy in comics have probably overlooked this series, but those looking on for quality need not look much farther.

Story: Dennis Hopeless Art: Felix Ruiz
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Legends EU Disney Exclusive

After about a month and a half of speculation, Hasbro has released two official pictures of the Marvel Legends European Disney Exclusive set. The set features five figures from Avengers: Age of Ultron including Iron Man, Hulk, Ultron, Thor, and Captain America.

B3625EU50_5010994895594_main_15[Large 300DPI] B3625EU50_5010994895594_pkg_15[Large 300DPI]

Movie Review: Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland_poster

First let me get his out of the way – Brad Bird is a genius! If you don’t believe me you can check out Disney-Pixar‘s two most distinctive animated films i.e Ratatouille and The Incredibles, not yet convinced? Check out the fourth installment in the Mission Impossible franchise Ghost protocol, a film which revived the always awesome yet lagging Tom Cruise’s career. Tomorrowland is clearly an offspring of his brilliant ideas. Even though the trailers kept the film as much hush-hush as possible, which is usually not a really good sign, but with Bird‘s direction, the heart of the story and strong performances, this film is extremely memorable, even if it isn’t ground-breaking as summer blockbusters usually are! The story follows Frank Walker (George Clooney), who once upon a time, we learn in flashback, went to the World’s Fair in 1964. Wide-eyed, brim full of big ideas, excited about the future, Frank is the spirit of the early Sixties poured into the body of a kid. At the Fair he meets two people who will change his life: a tech giant by the name of David Nix (Hugh Laurie) and his bright as a factory full of buttons daughter Athena (Raffey Cassidy).

Via them, Frank is given a glimpse of Tomorrowland, a world as shiny and hopeful as himself. Cut to several decades later we get to meet Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), who despairs at the way her age sees space travel as a costly dream, and teachers who tell her constantly that the world is going to hell in a hand cart economically, environmentally, and every other way, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Casey is tired of hearing about problems. Where are the solutions, she demands. Yes, she is rather annoying. What brings Frank, now bitter, cynical and a recluse, and Casey together is the basis of Brad Bird‘s film. This film is true Disney fantasy epic, full of intense action, emotional heft and imaginative creativity that only Disney could create. The film, though, takes the “ride” to unbelievable heights, and I’m curious as to why there’s so much hate surrounding the film. Like the idea of the place, the film doesn’t focus on resolution. No, it focuses on tomorrow, what comes after. So, if you think the second act of the film drags quite a bit, it’s because you’re watching it as a traditional movie with traditional story-telling. This isn’t that at all. We have finally got an original concept movie not based on books/stories/previous materials. The movie never ceased to amaze me from start to finish. Admittedly there are moments which does make one a little impatient. But right then something would happen and drawn me into the movie again. To be fair, I probably enjoy it more because of above average familiarity with Disney parks/history/movies. But there are plenty of humor and ideas in the movie to fascinate everyone. There is one strong message being delivered throughout the movie &t it never tries to shove it down your throat as it just wants to inspire hope! The story of this film was truly unique. It fells the tale of two unlikely characters that come together, bonding in some truly amazing character connection, and chemistry against a group of cyborgs that refuse to allow them into the hidden land, only available for those who connect the clues, and figure the secrets of Tomorrowland. It’s a story that executes amazingly, sending the audience on an amazing thrill ride of entertainment, action, comedy; as well as a ride of conflicted feelings that proves to not fail. In this case, audiences all around, no matter what age will enjoy the pleasantly unique story, as well as the characters.

All characters combine amazingly, creating amazing chemistry, as well as acting. The film, here, also possesses an amazing sense of style. It has many, many visual effects that will fill the audience with a sense of adventure, and inspiration. It also widens the eyes of audiences everywhere with its complex – like story that explains itself through out the film, opening some mysteries, and twists that will guarantee to brighten up anyone who watches this. Its a pleasure to see George Clooney drop his charming ladies man act & try on something more depressing and darker in tone. Without saying too much, an otherwise ridiculous relationship turns out to be one of the more believable and memorable one due to his acting. Britt Robertson is very likeable, while Hugh Laurie is wasted! The real stand out performance comes from 12 yr old Kathryn Hahn, who manages to steal the show in every frame she appears. In truth though, they couldn’t have found a better man for the job. Taking the warm ’60s nostalgia of The Iron Giant, the quick-fire pace and ’toon energy of The Incredibles and the elaborate yet taut action of Ghost Protocol, Bird blends everything into a thoroughly modern slice of vintage Disney. The fact that you leave the film with more questions than answers is sort of the whole point. None of which takes away from the gleeful, heartfelt, old-fashioned spirit of adventure that keeps your head spinning in a good way. Following up his live-action debut Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Pixar veteran Brad Bird‘s sci-fi opus buzzes with fresh ideas. After the summer flops of the much-hyped John Carter and The Lone Ranger, Tomorrowland is a big gamble for Disney. So all credit to the Mouse House for letting Bird throw his ideas at the screen! On the whole, Tomorrowland is a truly meaningful film that had depth. It also possesses true adventure, and inspiration. It’s an amazing ride for anyone, no matter the age, as the film also possesses some mature humor. It also has a truly unique sense of style from visual effects, character development, plot, and story. Making this a truly nice film that I had the pleasure of seeing early. I truly recommend this to anyone. You won’t be disappointed! Indeed, if you’re willing to let a few things slide, this is one of the best family blockbusters in years!

Overall Rating: 8.5

Director – Brad Bird
Starring – George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Rated – PG
Run Time – 130 minutes

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