Pixar Review 36: Piper

piper disney pixar finalIn some ways something like Pixar’s latest short Piper is hard to talk about because it is deceptively simple. On the surface it is a cute little short about a baby bird at the beach but the more I thought about the more there was to it. Piper is a real Pixar gem and one of their best shorts in years.

Let’s start off with the animation. I think you can tell from the above photo that Piper is incredibly realistic. Most of the short if you hadn’t told me it was animated I would not have known. Everything from Piper’s feathers to her little legs looks so real.  There is a little hermit crab that looks animated but the ocean and the water looks amazing. Little details like the way the water reflects Piper and the look of the sand are perfect. You can really see what they learned from the Good Dinosaur and took it into Piper and it makes me excited for future Pixar properties.

piper+2Like I said, Piper is a simple story.  It’s about a baby bird who must learn to conquer its fears of the ocean. The thing that is great is it’s a valid fear.  She (or he?) gets hit pretty hard with a wave and so naturally shrinks from it, not wanting to go near the tide. Unfortunately, she is hungry and finally her stomach rules the day, so she ventures back. With each new wave she is more scared until she looks under the water and see’s the world underneath. This new vision of the world excites her and helps Piper to overcome her fears.

piper4Composer Adrian Belew does a great job with the music in Piper and the whole thing is just completely adorable. I liked it so much I could see an entire Piper movie! Look at the detail in the above shot- the coarseness of the sand, the fluffiness of her feathers.  Amazing! And it is winning without being too saccharine or sweet.

What did you think of Piper? Where does it rank for you in the Pixar shorts? It will be pretty high for me although I love all of the Pixar shorts so it is tough.

Overall Grade- A+

I posted my spoiler free review of Finding Dory on my youtube channel last night. I will post a detailed review here after I’ve seen it again, but just know it’s wonderful. I highly recommend checking out Finding Dory and Piper! If you guys could give this a thumbs up if you like that would be awesome. Thanks!

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Pixar Review 35: The Good Dinosaur

good dino23Going into Good Dinosaur all I heard about was too things- 1. It won’t be as great as Inside Out and 2. It was a nightmare to make.  Going out of the film I didn’t care how hard it was to make and having had a totally different experience than Inside Out.  Different but still good.  I know it’s gotten some mixed reviews but for me I loved The Good Dinosaur!!  It’s unlike anything Pixar has done before but I found it magical in the way old school Disney films used to be.  This is a film like Bambi or Dumbo that are about the growth of a character and are artistically ambitious at the same time.

good dinosaur15I have seen it now twice, once alone and once with my nieces and both times I was dazzled by the Good Dinosaur.  I worry that it may suffer the same fate as Rescuers Down Under.  That film was about a journey of a child who is taken by a man and must find his way home with the help of Bianca and Bernard.  It was technologically groundbreaking and something different from Disney but it had the misfortune of being couched between Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast so it is largely forgotten.

Let’s not let that happen with Good Dinosaur folks!  Go and see it.  You are in for a real treat if you do!

The Good Dinosaur is about a dinosaur named Arlo who is separated from  his family after a tragedy occurs.  He is a fearful creature who is even scared of a coop of chickens at the beginning of the film.

good dinosaur farmingIn this world the asteroid misses Earth and so the dinosaurs evolve into subsistence farmers with corn crops and even a silo. Being fronteirsman it is essential Arlo learn to conquer his fears and his father tries to teach him this.

good dinosaur and dadBut as I said a tragedy occurs and he ends up getting lost and having to find his way home.  This is not a particularly new storytelling device but who cares?  I certainly didn’t.  The journey home is a favorite plotline of mine in movies or literature and as long as the characters are great and they do interesting things with it I’m on board.

good dinosaur5Arlo meets a little human boy named Spot who I really loved.  He may be my new Baymax of favorite side characters.  He is brave, but sweet and simple. His bond with Arlo grows bit-by-bit and felt like a believable friendship to me.

On their journey home they face a lot of peril from both Mother Nature and predators. There are pterodactyls that are pretty scary (and a little funny)

good dinosaur pterodactylAnd then they meet some raptors who are kind of like redneck poachers.

good dinosaur222Arlo and Spot also meet a family of T-rex longhorn ranchers stolen from a western film that I loved!  I didn’t know if I liked their animation going into it but I did.  They swap stories about their scars and the Pa Butch,  voiced by Sam Elliottm teaches Arlo an important lesson about fear and how being afraid is part of knowing you’re alive. It’s going through the fear that makes all the difference.

good dinosuar8The Good Dinosaur is a different kind of film for Pixar.  It’s a journey but it has the emotion you expect from Pixar.  There is a terrific scene where both Arlo and Spot learn about each other’s family.  This should make even the hardest person tear up!

good dinosaur famiyThe animation in Good Dinosaur is the most stunning that Pixar has done.  Yep, I realize what I just said but it is true.  The water alone is hard to believe.  It looks so real. There are many moments where you will swear it is real photographic backgrounds like in Dinosaur but it isn’t. I normally hate gifs but look at this!

pixar waterThe only problem I had with Good Dinosaur is that it is pretty scary for small kids (kind of like Bambi, Pinocchio and early Disney films were).  My niece is 6 and she had to be taken from the theater once because it was too scary.  There are many moments of peril on Arlo and Spots journey.  I mean the t-rex is the good guy if that tells you anything!  That said, she still walked away enjoying the film and having nice things to say.  She wished the tragedy hadn’t happened but still liked the movie.   Just be forewarned small kids may be upset or scared in some sections but that’s not a reason to not see it.

There are softer moments as well with Arlo and Spot bonding and some good laughs.  I particularly like a scene with a dinosaur that carries around his ‘protection crew’. And like I said the scene with the t-rex family are completely lovely.

good dinosaur6

The voice cast as usual with Pixar is outstanding  Raymond Ochoa reminds me a little of the boy from Finding Nemo but a little more nuanced. Jack Bright is Spot, Sam Elliott is the T-rex Butch.  Anna Paquin, AJ Buckley, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Steve Zahn and others all do excellent work.

I tweeted after seeing Good Dinosaur the first time ‘Another triumph for Pixar’ and I stand by that.  Just in animation alone it is an astonishing film but it’s more than that.  Director Pete Sohn has created a story that has it all.  It’s moving, sweet, funny exciting and emotional. It’s interesting because inside a conventional story journey home they do unconventional things like the Western segments and the pterodactyles. I found it to be oddly unpredictable in its own way.

Please go out and see it.  I know you won’t regret it.

Both times I saw it in the 3D which I recommend to get the full experience of the visuals.

I will probably do a spoiler filled review next week like I did with Inside Out.  If you get to see Good Dinosaur please put your experience in the comments.

What a special time to be an animation fan!  2 great Pixar films in a year!!  Happy day!

Overall Grade- A

Youtube review

Good Dinosaur 2nd Full Trailer Review

spot comforts arloYou guys all know how much I love Pixar (and if you don’t look at my series of Pixar Reviews). So it is such a treat this year to have 2 Pixar movies!!!!  And the cool thing is they are both so different. Inside Out we got a thoughtful, funny, moving story of the inside of a little girls mind.  And in Good Dinosaur we are getting a Finding Nemo-like adventure of a dinosaur named Arlo trying to find his family.  He meets a boy named Spot who becomes his travel-mate and he also meets a group of t-rex dinosaurs who he appears to be friends with.

I don’t know a whole lot else about the story but they just released a new trailer yesterday and it looks like a beautiful film.  I am so impressed with the realism of the plants, water, and other scenery.  I am also excited about the relationship between Arlo and Spot.  It looks like it is going to have a ton of heart to it.  The only thing I am not sold on yet is the design of the T-rex dinosaurs.  They look a little unfinished for Pixar so I hope they are still working on them and will be better in final film.

What did you guys think of the new trailer? Here are some more of my thoughts.

International Trailer

US Trailer

Big Disney News and Response at Cannes

Disney should be speaking in French from now on because they just had an amazing response at the Cannes Film Festival. For us Disney fangirls (and boys) we got a lot to be excited about!

This is going to be a very nerdy post with tons of little details that might not interest the average movie fan but for us Disney geeks you’ll love every last little crumb!

The response from Cannes surprised me because it is known for its tough crowds.  This year two films, Michael Caine’s Youth and Matthew McConaughey’s Sea of Trees, were both booed by festival goers.  So for Disney to get such a strong response says a lot.

inside out

The good things started with the premiere of Pixar’s new film Inside Out.  It was greeted with a standing ovation and one critic said it was “probably double the loudest applause of any other film at the festival.  It went down like gangbusters”

Needless to say such sentiments have heightened my own excitement to the tilts!  I can’t wait!   Even hoity-toity NPR critic Kenneth Turan said:

“It’s very funny.  It’s very inventive.  And really moving, kind of in the way Up was”

Sold! I’m so jealous of everyone at Cannes who got to see it!

But the good news didn’t stop there…

Disney had a 25 minute showcase of their upcoming slate starting with more details about Thanksgiving release of Good Dinosaur. We have heard so little about this movie that I was so curious for these details.

Here is the new synopsis from Deadline article.
“The Good Dinosaur follows teenager Arlo, who is separated from his family when he falls into a raging river and is swept hundreds of miles away. He comes across Spot, a human cave-boy orphan with whom he forms a bond as he attempts to get home.

Lasseter said, “Our films ask ‘What if?’ questions. What if monsters really did live in your closet? What if a rat wanted to be the finest chef in the most beautiful city in the world? I think our next movie asks the biggest ‘What if?’ of all. What if the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs actually missed Earth?”

I think that sounds pretty amazing! People have been saying for a long time Pixar needs to get back to original storytelling and the way I see it is Pixar has two types of storytelling- the what if stories (Toy’s come to life, Monsters in the closet, rats cooking etc) and more traditional journey narratives (father finding his son, nostalgic cars teaching new lesson, bugs facing their captors, last robot finding love, a family of superheroes, a man and his flying house pays homage to his wife).

With Inside Out I feel they are giving us a What if story- what if inside our head there is an entire world going on.  And with Good Dinosaur there is a what if but it seems like it is mostly going to be a journey of Arlo and Spot.  It sounds a lot like Finding Nemo to me and that is great!!

Deadline says the Good Dinosaur footage “captivated international audience members…Two french women sitting near me alternately gasped and whispered “extraordinaire” and “incroyable” when amazingly lifelike closeups of CGI foiage were shown. The environment, Lasseter said, is a “living breathing character” in the film”.

Again that sounds very Finding Nemoish to me where the environment of the  ocean played such a role in the story (think the jellyfish sequence, the turtles in the EAC etc).  This sounds great!!

But the good news didn’t stop there…

finding dory2

Next they talked about Finding Dory the sequel to Finding Nemo.  I didn’t know if they needed a sequel but Andrew Stanton is directing which is awesome and the synopsis sounds neat:

“Dory’s memory of her childhood is triggered while she’s at school on the Coral Reef one day with Nemo. She makes her way to an institute that cares for undersea creatures and teams up there with Hank The Octopus who becomes her guide.

finding dorryDiane Keaton and Eugene Levy will play Dory’s parents and “folks were treated to some of their banter and there was also footage of a kelp forest on California’s northern coastline (“a new look for us” said Lasseter) and a glimpse of the Loons, to whom Lasseter referred as “the Seagulls of the new movie. They’re so startlingly dumb it’s hilarious.”

That sounds amazing!! I can’t wait!

But the good news didn’t stop there…

We got some new details on Toy Story 4.  Lasseter said “brand new chapter that’s very personal”.  Evidently it is going to be a love story and not be a continuation of the events of Toy Story 3 or involve human characters.  It is entirely within the toy world which sounds pretty great to me! Lasseter said “”We’re in the early stages of the film, but it’s shaping up nicely. It’s funny. The story is not as much a continuation of the past films, but a brand new chapter in the ‘Toy Story’ world.”

But the good news didn’t stop there…

Next they moved on to the Walt Disney Animated Studio WDAS which has marked 10 years since the Lasseter/Ed Catmull take over.  What a great 10 years it has been! (I know 2D fans might disagree but I’ve loved it).   Lasseter said

“Walt Disney Animation Studios is back.  Ed and I always believed what would heal this studio- because it was quite broken when we came in, the morale was really low- what would really heal it is if we can make a movie to be a really big hit.  These guys are on fire now”.

They certainly are!

zootopia2

Next up for WDAS is Zootopia which looks really cool.  Lasseter said it will be ‘classically Disney” and the images look very 2D although it is CG.  I wonder if it will have the feel of their Paperman short which blended 2D and CG techniques?

Either way it is an anthropomorphized fox in a ‘modern civilized world’ of animals. ”  Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin star as a kind of buddy cop duo. Again from Deadline article

” Eliciting huge laughs was a scene in which the unlikely partners are rushing to get a run on a license plate, only to find the DMV is fully staffed by sloths.”

That sounds really great!

But the good news doesn’t stop there (only 1 more)…

moana2We learned more about the new princess movie Moana.  Directed by Disney legends Ron Clements and John Musker it is a musical set in the South Pacific and was “inspired by the group’s own experience on a research trip to Oceana”

“The story follows a talented young navigator whose father forbids her to sail beyond their island reef. When she sets out anyway and ends up stranded on another island, she meets the fallen demi-god Maui and they set off on an adventure” .

Deadline says “a song montage was shown to Cannes attendees who showered it with applause” (what I would have given to be at that meeting!).

Anyone who knows me knows I love Hawaii, musicals and the ocean.  Moana seems like it was designed just for me so of course I am so excited!

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So I know that was a lot of info but each and every part makes me so giddy I just had to share it with all of you!

What excites you? Did any of this information and the Cannes response assuage any concerns or give you a new enthusiasm for the projects? Which of the upcoming films are you looking forward too most?  Or are you like me and excited for all of them!