Tag Archives: pixar

Movie Review: Incredibles 2

14 years is a long time between films and I would wait that length again and again if it meant I continued to get more films based on the Incredibles. Incredibles 2 is the rare sequel that improves upon the first in every way. The topics broached, the animation, the action, the humor, the family dynamic, even the end credits, they all come together for an even stronger film.

The Incredibles to me is one the best superhero films out there. It takes familiar characters and situations and improves upon them all with a nice little twist on fandom. A not so veiled spin on the Fantastic Four, the Pixar film out marvel’s Marvel. The family dynamic, the situations, the powers, it’s all just so good. So, I was nervous going in to this sequel and walking out I immediately bought tickets to see it again.

The movie is beyond self-aware packing in so much with a lot to say. That’s what happens when you wait 14 years to talk I guess. While sequels tend to suffer when they go bigger, this is the rare case when bigger is better.

The film picks up from the end of the original and goes from there. It riffs on Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War while also taking on politicians, gender roles, media and technology, and more. There’s a lot to take in and it’s a film you can spend hours discussing after. What’s better is, like other Pixar films, you can go in and just enjoy it.

The opening of the film is where the first signs of improvement come in with animation that just looks better. The lighting, the action, it’s an opening statement that the film is taking advantage of what’s been learned between the two and has no problems using the latest technology.

What’s interesting though is that the politics of the film are up front and center. The basics of the story is that superheroes are still outlawed but there’s a plan to turn that legislation over and Elastigirl is put out there to show superheroes can do great things. Mr. Incredible isn’t digging that as much as he wants to get out there and be a hero too. Instead, he has to take care of the kids. And that leads to jealousy as his wife is supporting the family. The fragility of men, woman empowerment, gender roles, these are all very important aspects of the film and all of it is dealt with intelligently. The film some how seems to address both the women can kick-ass crowd in Elastigirl as well as white working class America in Mr. Incredible.

Our use of technology is also addressed in the villain Screenslaver who uses screens to enslave individuals. But, at times it’s technology that helps save the day too. It’s an interesting dynamic and there’s hours of thought to be decompressed and dissected.

There’s also an introduction to the superhero world as a whole. New characters are introduced and every one seems to riff on existing ones with a dose of humor about it all. Usually when we see so much introduced it falls flat but here every character has a use and a moment that makes their inclusion more than welcomed.

The film brings a massive amount of humor along with the action with that mostly focused on Jack-Jack who’s coming in to his powers. The moments are great and the character is a driver in many ways of the shaken up family dynamic. What should Mr. Incredible tell his wife? Can he handle being the main caregiver? Again, a lot to dissect.

The film is just… incredible. The music, the end credits, this is just a fantastic film and one that I want to watch again and again. We’ll hopefully get more and hopefully it’ll be sooner than 14 years but if whatever comes next is this good, I’m more than happy to wait.

Overall Rating: 10

Movie Review: Coco

Coco-Family-PosterPixar seems to have the magic capable of making children smile and adults weep. And with Coco, they add to that a masterful, universal story about family filled with music and visuals to delight the senses.

And while it is universal, it is also very specifically Mexican, while also never feeling false or like it appropriates their culture. Given our current political climate in the United States where Mexicans are denigrated as “bad hombres,” “drug dealers” and “rapists” (and that’s just by the president), this presents a true representation of a culture where family and remembering your legacy is key. It also ends a long and painful history where Disney has really failed in representing Latinos and Latinx culture.

Our story centers around Miguel, a young boy who is obsessed with music despite it being banned from his family for generations. His nonagenarian great-grandmother Coco was abandoned as a child by a musician father who went off to seek his fortune. Left without a patriarch, the family’s matriarchy learned to make shoes, a trade which is their family’s legacy and heritage.

On the Day of the Dead, they place all of the photos of their extended and departed family on the ofrenda to remember them, including a photo of Coco as a child with the face of her musician father torn out. Miguel comes to believe that this missing great-great-grandfather might in fact be one of Mexico’s greatest singers of all time, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), so he breaks into de la Cruz’s memorial at the graveyard to borrow his guitar to play in a talent competition.

Because of the weakening of the barriers between worlds on Dia de los Muertos, Miguel finds himself transported to the land of the dead where he must find a member of his family to give him a blessing to help him return. Hearing a con artist ne’er-do-well skeleton named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) mention that he knows how to get access to de la Cruz (who is still a hugely big deal in the afterlife apparently), they decide to team up. Hector’s price is he needs Miguel to put his picture on his ofrenda so he can cross over to see his family and loved ones. Having been forgotten, he is in danger of completely fading away, suffering a “second death” from which no one knows where you go.

This brings to the forefront the film’s theme on the importance of remembering your family and loved ones. Perhaps better than any other Pixar movie to date, this has well-developed themes that make it not only entertaining but meaningful.

Also unlike other Pixar movies, this is a musical. But unlike the traditional Disney princess model of musical, here the music is an organic part of the story and storytelling. They sing songs that are thematically relevant, but they always do so because there is a talent competition, a concert, or so on. In this way, it’s very similar to last year’s Sing Street. There’s also an easy comparison to Kubo and the Two Strings, although that film did less with its music as a storytelling device, but both films up the ante with delivering authentic stories about family and loss mixed with a realistic, loving tribute to another culture.

And the music is excellent. One of the recurring songs is de la Cruz’s biggest hits “Remember Me.” This takes on special significance when understanding that it is the remembrance of our family that continues to sustain them even after death. A final version of the song sung at the end with Miguel reunited with his family will not leave a dry eye in the theater.

And then there’s the visuals. Pixar is able to deliver a beautiful, stylized version of the land of the dead that is surreal, vibrant, and beautiful. The use of color, especially of orange marigold petals, brings life to the film in unexpected ways. The “sugar skull” look of so many different faces gives each character a different look and feel.

The most spectacular are some of the creatures that act as “spirit guides” in the land of the dead. Based on dragons, monkeys, dogs, and other creatures they are day-glo, beautiful, and magical. Miguel’s great-great grandmother’s spirit guide is a giant winged cat-dragon who may be the most impressive visual feat of the film.

The music and the visuals brings up one of the more interesting details many will not notice, but when Miguel plays his guitar, his fingers are playing actual chords and his strums and finger picking is correct for the music he’s playing. This is yet another example of a film taking the time to make sure all its details are right and authentic.

A word of caution: don’t go see this movie in 3D. It doesn’t need it. And wearing sunglasses in the theater will only dampen the beauty of the color palatte, as well as making it harder to wipe away tears that will flow from all but the most stone-hearted among us.

This is not a perfect film. The plot twist at the end is a tad predictable, but for a medium whose entire raison d’être is repeat viewings ad nauseum on home video, it doesn’t need to be. Will it hold up over repeat viewings? Absolutely.

With so many families now spending time during the holidays going to see movies together, there is simply no better choice out there than Coco. Make a date to take your familia as soon as possible.

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cars 3 Races Past White Male Privilege

(This post contains plot spoilers for Pixar’s Cars 3)

Cars 3  is, for the most part and certainly in the first hour of its runtime, an unremarkable bore. It is easily dismissed as a cynical cash grab in a franchise that has always sold more in merchandising than ticket sales. But then in its cinematic final lap, it kicks it into high gear and finally finds a voice– and, even more importantly, something important to say.

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is facing a midlife crisis. A new breed of faster race cars, led by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer— who should just be considered a stand-in for the worst of dude-bro douche culture) has outpaced the once great champ. With his contemporaries retiring to make way for the new line, McQueen goes to train to regain his crown.

Cars 3

At the brand new, high tech Rust-eze Training Center, McQueen is trained by Cruz Ramirez. (Note the name. This is explicitly a woman of color, which becomes incredibly important.) When they go on a training road trip tracking down the old haunts of McQueen’s mentor Doc, the Hudson Hornet, she confides to him how it was she became a trainer rather than a racer herself.

She grew up watching McQueen on tv and was inspired by him. She trained and got up early and did laps to be as fast as she could. She was faster than everyone in her town, but when she got to her first race? There was no one there that looked like her, and was intimidated by the bigger, faster cars. Cruz asks Lightning where he got that confidence from. He replies he doesn’t know, he’s just always felt confidence and positive about his own abilities.

And this is one of the best explanations of what it means to be a white male in America. Always confident, always told how remarkable we are, given mentors and opportunities, and then told we make it on our own steam. We see ourselves represented on tv, on the news, reinforced through the media as the pinnacle of success. And kids of every race, color, gender look up to the heroes on TV and want to be them.

But how many will have a crisis of confidence when they show up for their races, and none of the their peers look like them? And Lightning, when facing his first crisis of confidence ever, has to figure out why he can’t do all of the things he’s always been told he could do. Just like the forces of toxic masculinity, this affects Lightning as much as it does Cruz.

Along their way, Lightning and Cruz track down the mentor of the Hudson Hornet, who trained Lightning in the first Cars. Upon finding him in a roadhouse in the Carolina mountains, they also meet a group of classic racers, including a woman and a car who is a fairly obvious stand-in for an African American. They talk about how in the old days people wouldn’t let them race, but they forced their way in. And then they had to compete even harder to get the respect of others who thought they didn’t deserve to be there. This will certainly slip by younger audiences, but is a key moment– and also a good reminder of just how far we’ve come.

The final climax of the film occurs when Lightning realizes he is outclassed by the other racers, but that Cruz is the only one capable of taking them on. He comes in for a pit stop, and forces her out onto the track to finish the final ten laps in his stead, cheering her on as her crew chief.

And with someone showing the confidence in her and having received the mentorship from several masters, she’s able to win. This sends shockwaves across the racing world, even including a race correspondent named Natalie Certain (Kerry Washington). Up to that point, Certain had received a huge amount of disrespect from her on-air colleagues despite being the stats expert and far more competent at her job than anyone else. Cruz’s win inspires her, and you can see and hear it in her voice that it matters that she could win.

And this is where we learn the lesson about white privilege: Lightning McQueen isn’t the villain in this movie because he’s white and male. He’s the hero, too. Being white or male isn’t bad– it what we do with the fact that society has been set up to, more or less, work for us and people like us. But he is most heroic when he uses the confidence and access and privilege he has been afforded to pass that along to someone new– specifically to a young Latina racer who just needs to be given a shot.

This mirrors the sort of mentor relationship we get in Star Wars, with Lightning McQueen as Luke Skywalker and his first mentor Doc the Hudson Hornet as Obi-Wan Kenobi. When that mentor passes on and he faces new challenges, he has to seek out the Yoda of this story. And then, perhaps most important, he is challenged to pass along what he has learned to Rey. (We eagerly anticipate seeing the continuation of that story later this year.) It’s a sort of beautiful universal story, and it’s great to see a studio saying that our heroes don’t have to be all white and all male– they certainly were in the first two films of the franchise.

And the moment Cruz realizes her potential and finds her inner confidence and strength, it is equally as powerful and potent as when the lightsaber flies to Rey’s hand, or when Diana of Themysicra walks out into No Man’s Land and becomes Wonder Woman. Indeed, this would make an excellent daddy-daughter double feature this Fathers’ Day weekend for dads who want to show their girls that they are the heroes of their own stories.

Pixar’s Cars has long struggled to find anything to say other than “ka-ching!” as the merchandising money rolls in. Here they find their voice and say something powerful, and say it to an audience — girls — who are not always the main demographic consideration for a movie about race cars.

Don’t get me wrong– most of the movie is a relatively boring piece of commercial cinema interchangeable with the most banal parts of the previous two films. But those moments when it shifts into high gear are something to behold.

Around the Tubes

the kitchen #1 coverThe weekend is almost here. Some of the GP crew have a long weekend, which is good, because at least one of us has to write a review for a certain Canadian Mutant who has a movie coming out soon… Snikt.

While you wait for work to end and the weekend begins, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

BoardGameGeek News – Codenames to Get Disney/Pixar and Marvel Comics Editions in Q4 2017 – Very Cool. The Marvel edition could be really fun.

JoBlo – Kevin Smith set to develop Todd McFarlane’s Sam & Twitch for BBC America – Yes please!

The Outhousers – DC Announces New Wonder Woman Day – Woo hoo!

Newsarama – Report: Movie Adaptation of Vertigo’s’ The Kitchen Gets Female Director – Such a good series.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Super Sons #1

Around the Tubes

tws_cv1_dsIt was new comic book day yesterday. What’d you get? What’s you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

The Beat – Breaking news: only 30% of the news on comics news sites is actually about comics – And we’re about 70%.

TechCrunch – Pixar offers free online lessons in storytelling via Khan Academy – This is pretty cool and if you want some storytelling tips, they are some of the best at it.

Arizona State University – The rise of graphic novels – This is a pretty cool event.

Newsarama – Coming Soon: DC Comics Commercials In Movie Theaters – About time. We pitched this idea years ago.

The Comichron – Exclusive: Comichron’s provisional Direct Market comics sales rankings and market shares for 2016 – Some interesting initial data.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Newsarama – Batwoman: Rebirth #1

Newsarama – Daredevil #17

Talking Comics – Deathstroke #12

Atomic Junk Shop – Doctor Crowe #1

Comic Attack – Horizon #8

Newsarama – The Wild Storm #1

Fashion Spotlight: BUZZ, Xeno Days, Finding Friends

Ript Apparel has three new designs! BUZZ, Xeno Days, and Finding Friends, by BlairJCampbell, boltfromtheblue, and Dooomcat, are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

BUZZ

31840-detail-5772ad5e0b975_1024x1024

Xeno Days

31887-detail-5772c9e26df68_1024x1024

Finding Friends

31888-detail-5772e733cc596_1024x1024

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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

Funko’s Pop! Disney: Inside Out Out in May

Meet the little voices inside your head! Inside Out is the latest Disney-Pixar 3D computer-animated feature!

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

Funko has shown off their latest POP! releases with Pop! Disney: Inside Out which hit shelves in May. Inside Out is in theaters June 19th!

Pop! Disney Inside Out Anger Pop! Disney Inside Out Disgust Pop! Disney Inside Out Fear Pop! Disney Inside Out Joy Pop! Disney Inside Out Sadness

« Older Entries