The Good Dinosaur

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I am a Pixar nut. Not quite a fanboy, but a nut. I love all of their films except one since they started making feature length films, and even that one looked damned fantastic, just didn’t nail it for me. So, with 2015 bringing us not one but two Pixar films for the first time, I was utterly ecstatic, and now, after having seen them both, I would say they got one near perfect but also one that left me wanting a little more.

As good as ‘Inside Out’ was earlier this year, and with a great message to boot, I feel like ‘The Good Dinosaur’ was a step back. What begins with a simply amazing idea of what would have happened had the great extinction meteor of 65 million years passed us by, led to a story  that ended up feeling like it was a mishmash combination of unused story elements laying around the animation office at Disney.

‘The Good Dinosaur’ is probably the best looking animated film, visuals wise, we have ever seen. The glimpses of what the animators could do at the end of ‘Monsters University’ when it ventures into the human world are fully visualized here in the background scenery. Be it a close up of a lizard, a crashing river or the acres of trees on a mountainside, we have never seen anything like this from an animated film before. Sadly, this is what the film may end up being known for.

With a great premise and the best animation we have ever seen, `The Good Dinosaur` could have been the next big groundbreaking film from Disney and Pixar, but what it winds up being is an above average cross of `The Lion King` and `Homeward Bound`, and one that never truly finds it`s own footing.

Kids will love it however, as it does try as hard as possible to tell a heartwarming story, one with some good laughs and some moments where the feels get a little too much, but one that truly never gets to that level the `Toy Story` franchise or the `Shrek` franchise that transcends being just a kiddy movie into one that is truly for the whole family.

In the end, my biggest takeaway from `The Good Dinosaur` is one of caution. Pixar and Disney are looking to release two films a year, and if it is going to be a success, they need to get closer to films like ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ for that to work, instead of films like ‘Cars’. That being said, ‘Cars 3’ scares me…

As always, for all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. I promise to review more films and get back into the swing of things. Should be easy with the next trip to the theater coming in a couple of weeks with another film being released by Disney. Cheers everyone.

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Inside Out

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For those that truly know me, they know just how much I love the majority of films from Pixar. From all the way back to ‘Toy Story’ to recent films like ‘ Monsters University’, I am a fan of thirteen of the fourteen feature length films that Pixar have released to date. The downside to how they produce films is we can wind up with a year like 2014 where we don’t get a film from Pixar, but we do get two this year, and the first of those is ‘Inside Out’.

‘Inside Out’ spoke to me quite possibly like no film ever has before, and that is truly saying something. After we see films, my fiancée and I always ask each other if we enjoyed what we just saw, and when I was asked today, I looked at her with a tear in my eye and related how I’ve never really seen a film directed at me emotionally before.

Telling a story of how it is okay to be sad at times and now happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week was interesting enough, but a story of how our emotions are actually individualized characters in our brains which work as a team to get us through our daily interactions in life is truly something to see.

After watching ‘Inside Out’ you will start to picture some of these emotions acting out during your day-to-day dealings which is quite humourous when you start to picture a red-faced Lewis Black yelling in your head. And this is what Pixar does best, that after you watch one of their films you will start to wonder if this is actually how things are.

Getting back to how ‘Inside Out’ actually spoke to me on a personal, emotional level, I will lead with this: at the age of seven, my family moved across Canada, from Calgary to Belleville, Ontario, in the process setting myself up for years of self-inflicted issues that I have never, ever truly dealt with. In ‘Inside Out’, Pixar sets up an eleven year old girl for a cross-U.S.A trip as her father moves for employment reasons.

Our emotions, which are our main characters, reactions to this and how it impacts the pre-teen girl they reside in is the main plot of this film but fully reached out to someone like myself who has gone through such a transition in life. The trick here though is that Pixar finally gives those of us who have never fully come to terms with this due to bottling things up to have a moment of self-reflection, and that is exactly what happened for me through the climax of the film and the subsequent car trip afterwards.

I have to thank Pixar for finally allowing me all of these years later to maybe finally coming to grips with one of the worst experiences of my life and realizing that, without it, I would not be here talking to each of you while having just enjoyed ‘Inside Out’ with my amazing fiancee and three wonderful sons. And I guess that is the whole point of this film.

I will end by saying this, ‘Inside Out’ is a bright, vibrant film that explores our societies recent change of outlook into emotions and even our mental health. It, as always with Pixar, is great for both children and adults, and I 100% recommend it to each and every single one of you.

As always, thanks for reading, and for more insights into not just film but life as well, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer. Cheers.

Turbo

turboThe summer of 2013 is going to become known as the summer of over saturation of family friendly films, and ‘Turbo’ is the third release to fall under that classification.  Joining ‘Monsters University’ and ‘Despicable Me 2’, ‘Turbo’ is aimed directly at young children, and some families may be exhausted after having releases every couple of weeks to start the summer.

The visuals for ‘Turbo’ are quite astounding, especially the scenes that are set at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Having watched many an Indianapolis 500 in my years, the computer generated version of both the track and the race looked fantastic.

As for the actual film itself, it was squarely aimed at children.  Taking my two young boys and listening to them laugh consistently throughout ‘Turbo’ more than made up for a real lack of sly adult humour that is usually put into animated films in this day and age.

Visually, ‘Turbo’ is one of the best looking animated films in years, but a weaker story that is aimed directly at children involving unknown characters in a summer full of established, well known and loved characters, will mean that ‘Turbo’ will require a strong life on video to prove its worth.  If you have young children, I definitely recommend ‘Turbo’, and if you have an oppourtunity to see it on a half price matinee, take advantage of it.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Monsters University

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‘Monsters University’ is the first ever prequel from Pixar and was everything that I was looking for out of a movie featuring a younger version of Mike and Sulley.  The main problem with prequels is it can take some of the suspense out of the film as you already know what is going to happen to the main characters, and while that is also true with ‘Monsters University’, Pixar managed to throw enough of a curve ball at the film to make it interesting.

The one thing that I did find to be missing from ‘Monsters University’ was the hidden adult-centered jokes that Pixar loves to do.  Now, I’m not sure if that was just because I was having too much fun during the film and I simply missed them, or if there just weren’t that many this time around, but this film still kept me in stitches throughout.

There were moments during ‘Monsters University’ that I would classify to be Pixar’s best work ever in a feature length film for the level of their animation.  I don’t want to say too much, but there are some scenes near the end of the film that are the best looking computer animation that I have ever seen.

‘Monsters University’ is definitely geared a little younger than ‘Monsters, Inc.’ was, but that is just a natural progression I believe, but one that did not take away from the overall quality of the film.  After a couple of misses in the fun column, Pixar is back in a big way with ‘Monsters University’.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Summer Blockbuster Season – June Edition

May of 2013 has ended up setting a record for the opening month to the Summer Blockbuster season with the best May on record and it will be up to a couple of movies to keep that trend going in June of this year.  While June is traditionally a month for Memorial Day weekend openers to continue their run and Independence Day avoiders to get a week in at the end of the month, this year could be different with Warner Bros. Superman reboot right smack in the middle of the month.

This is the End – June 12

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With ‘The Hangover Part III’ not being a total success at the box office and the floppish nature of ‘The Internship’, audiences could be clamouring for an R rated comedy by the time ‘This Is the End’ is released on the 12th of June, which could mean an opportunity to surprise for this film.

Man of Steel – June 14

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The newest attempt by Warner Bros. to launch a successful DC Comics property other than ‘Batman’ into theatres, the ‘Superman’ reboot ‘Man of Steel’ should be the box office king in June.  The fear of opening a week before ‘Man of Steel’ forced ‘After Earth’ to move up a week to opening on May 31st, a move that still will not generate a positive box office buzz, but such is the power of the Last Son of Krypton.

World War Z – June 21

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Based on the successful novel by Max Brooks, ‘World War Z’ looks to capitalize on the recent run of zombies in pop culture.  However, this film itself has been beset by budget and filming issues that forced it to be pushed back until the 21st of June, to come out a week after ‘Man of Steel’ and the same weekend as Pixar’s ‘Monsters University’.

Monsters University – June 21

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Pixar’s first ever prequel film, ‘Monsters University’ will tell the story of how ‘Monsters, Inc.’ main characters Mike and Sully first became friends.  ‘Monsters, Inc.’ brought in $255 million back in 2001 and the new film is expected to go clear of that this time around as well.  A somewhat below par animated movie season so far this year should bode well for this film and expect ‘Monsters University’ to become yet another huge hit for Pixar.

White House Down – June 28

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The last potential hit of June is the second White House terrorist film of the year, ‘White House Down’.  Following on the heals of February’s ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, this film starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx has the potential to be a surprise hit this summer.

Must See in 2013

2013 Top Ten Must See Movies

I did a light version of this on my Twitter account for 2012, and of the 10 movies I mentioned, I saw 9 (one got bumped back to this year) and of those 9, only 4 made my year end Top Ten list, so excitement does not always lead to quality at the end of the day, but then again, one of the movies that made my year end Top Ten wasn’t qualified because I didn’t look to gauge animated movies, something that has changed for this year’s list.

As we sit in January, there are currently 40 movies being released this year that are on my list that I would like to see in theatres.  I know I won’t get to see all of them, either due to time constraints or the fact they may not wind up playing in my city, much like what happened to Savages, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook in 2012 for me, but if I get the chance to, I will take in most of those 40, plus some others that wind up popping up on my list.

So, the point of this article is to list the 10 movies I am most looking forward to in 2012, and the list is presented in order that the movies are going to be released.  Here we go:

A Good Day to Die HardFebruary 14

diehardYes, I am very excited for a 5th Die Hard movie starring Bruce Willis, and why not?  The original Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all time.  Yes, I went there.  And the second Die Hard movie still makes me wary of airports to this day.  While it has been a long time since I sat down to watch the third film and I have yet to see the fourth one, a recent refound respect for the originals has put ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ on the list of must watches for me in 2013.

Jack the Giant SlayerMarch 1

jackthegiantslayerThis movie, as ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ was on my list of must-see’s for 2012 before it got bumped to 2013 and had a slight title change.  None of that has done anything to dampen my excitement about this movie.  The thought of an English-styled story about Jack and the Beanstalk with middle age knights is more than enough to keep my interest.  Now just to wait and see if it follows through.

Iron Man 3May 3

ironman3This should not surprise anybody at all, as most people know how much I love all of the Marvel Studios films that have been released so far, and the fact that I have long considered Robert Downey Jr. as the perfect option for Tony Stark.  After a drop in quality in ‘Iron Man 2’, I fully expect a return to everything that made ‘Iron Man’ the second biggest film of 2008.

Probably the nicest surprise is the inclusion of The Mandarin, the biggest enemy of Iron Man/Tony Stark in the comics as the villain of the third film and the fact that it is going to challenge the original ‘Die Hard’ as a Christmas time movie full of awesomeness is more than enough to drag me back in.

Star Trek into DarknessMay 17

startrek‘Star Trek’, the 2009 franchise reboot/timeline alteration from J.J. Abrams was so much more than just another standard Star Trek flick.  Not only would I say that it is my favourite movie of 2009, but I would be willing to go so far as to say that is the same for many others, and not all of those people would be classified as pre-existing Trek fans.  That is just how wonderful it was in truth.  As the marketing said, “this isn’t your father’s Star Trek”, and that was very true indeed.

Having seen the opening five to seven minutes of ‘Star Trek into Darkness’, it immediately moved to the top of my list for 2013, and that is saying something in a year that includes a new Iron Man film and the middle portion of The Hobbit, but that just goes to show how interesting and fun this reboot has wound up being.

Man of SteelJune 14

manofsteelWarner Bros. has struggled to make good movies from its stable of DC properties.  Personally, I find that ‘Batman Begins’ was the last truly great film based off of a DC “superhero”.  Both ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Green Lantern’ were subpar efforts and I find that the hype of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ overwhelmed both of those titles as well.

That being said, the trailers for ‘Man of Steel’ have done their job ten-fold on me and I almost hate to say it, but for the first time ever I am truly excited about a DC character to appear on the big screen.

Monsters UniversityJune 21

monsters‘Monsters, Inc.’ is in my top three list of favourite animated movies of all time, and even with scant footage actually released so far for the prequel ‘Monsters University’, I felt it was more than enough to break my golden rule of animated movies to include it in this list.

Usually animated movies are far too hard to judge until you sit down to watch them, and 2012 definitely held true as I was very disappointed with ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ early in the year but completely fell in love with ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ near the end of the calendar.

A return to Monstropolis to see Mike and Sully getting their scaring education is a wonderful idea, and the teaser trailer with disco ball Mike is possibly the funniest teaser I have ever seen.  I still load it up and giggle to it when feeling a little blue.  Sign me up Pixar, you have another winner it seems.

The WolverineJuly 26

wolverine‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ is the worst movie that Fox has put out with the X-Men license, and despite my love for Hugh Jackman as the titular Canadian, I rarely watch this movie.  All of that looks to be fixed with the plot information so far on ‘The Wolverine’.

A film based after the original trilogy but with flashback scenes, based on his experiences in Japan, ‘The Wolverine’ looks to be everything that is right and cool with the title character and completely separate from the last film.  Also, with Hugh Jackman signed on for 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past film, will this somehow tie it together?  I can’t wait to find out.

Thor: The Dark WorldsNovember 8

thorYes, there are four comic book based movies on this list, and all four of them are actually here for different reasons.  ‘Thor’ did an admirable job of introducing the titular character to moviegoers, but the real star of that movie was Tom Hiddleston in his turn as Loki, and he even managed to turn that role into a scene stealer in ‘The Avengers’ as well.

Both Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth are back for ‘Thor: The Dark Worlds’ and it looks like Marvel Studios will be using this movie to further the galactic side to their cinematic universe that we first saw in ‘The Avengers’ and that will continue in 2014’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.  Look for this movie to be a marked improvement on the original as Marvel Studios looks to set up a tent pole for the future in November.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugDecember 13

hobbitI love Middle Earth, as evidenced by the 14 combined times I saw the three Lord of the Rings films in theatres and the 3 times I have already seen ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ so far.  Peter Jackson has crafted probably the most wonderfully amazing world I have ever seen in film, and the return to Middle Earth, even in 3D and in 48fps, as done little dampen my excitement.

I have spent the majority of time after my three viewings of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ trying to figure out what the closing scene will be for ‘Desolation of Smaug’ and while I think I have narrowed in on it, I was wrong with the ending of ‘An Unexpected Journey’ and December is a long way off to try and wait for it.

Jack RyanDecember 25

jackryanGrowing up, I was a fan of three authors:  J.R.R. Tolkien and his Middle Earth; Robert Ludlum and his Jason Bourne series; and finally Tom Clancy and his Jack Ryan books.  Two of those three authors have had their works transferred wonderfully to film, while the third as seen mixed middling results so far.

‘Jack Ryan’ is the chance that fans of Tom Clancy have been waiting for.  Featuring up and coming star Chris Pine, who headlines two movies on this list along with his role as James Kirk in ‘Star Trek into Darkness’, Paramount is upping the ante with ‘Jack Ryan’ as it tries to create a new franchise vehicle, including casting Kevin Costner in a two-picture deal as they try and get another Clancy novel ‘Without Remorse’ off the ground as well.

By casting a younger actor like Pine, Paramount is clearly looking at multiple pictures here.  In the books, we see Ryan go from a young CIA analyst all the way to President of the United States, so there is lots of time to see Pine grow this role if all is done well.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.