Monday, June 30, 2008

More Praise For WALL-E



WALL-E is a hit! It has earned more than $60,000,000 over its opening weekend. Also, WALL-E has earned the rank of #6 on IMDb's top 250 movies of all time, which is a pretty big deal. Even more praise for WALL-E comes from Rotten Tomatoes, where it states that WALL-E is the best movie of the year thus far.

Go WALL-E!

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Rock Band 2: The Sequel


Harmonix recently announced the next edition of Rock Band. It looks awesome. You can either get the whole new set of upgraded and improved instruments, or you can use your Rock Band 1 instruments. Also, they will be allowing third-party accessories and instruments to be made and sold. They want Rock Band's instruments to be like a real instruments: everyone likes different feels and styles of instrument.

Another great thing about Rock Band 2, is that you will be able to use all of your Rock Band 1 songs with the Rock Band 2 game, and vice versa. Oh, yeah, and Xbox 360 owners get to enjoy it as early as September of this year. Where Wii, PS2 and PS3 owners need to wait until "later in the year". There will be tons of more details and goodies to pour over after E3, where more will be announced. For now, here's a really good interview via IGN. You can also see the sweet new guitar pictured below. It will hopefully be wireless, and is said to be quieter and it feels like a real guitar.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Apple and WALL-E: An Unlikely Duo With a Ton of Ties


WALL-E is a hit! It is number one at the box office for the weekend! You may have seen it, and if not, I recommend you read my review.

Now that you've read my review, you know a lot about WALL-E. There are some things about it that you may not know, however. The main thing you may not know, is that the computer company Apple has a ton of ties to the Pixar movie, WALL-E.

Tie #1:
Steve Jobs. He is the CEO of Apple Computers and a major part of Pixar. He was the major stockholder (until it was bought by Disney. But, he is also the major stockholder of Disney) and is one of the biggest contributors. In fact, he was the original contributor for Pixar. Thus, without him, WALL-E would not have been made.


Tie #2:
EVE, WALL-E's love interest, was designed by one of Apple's lead designers, Johnathan Ives. He was one of the major contributors of the iPod design, as well as other Apple products.


Tie #3:
I have heard and read that a lot of people think that when WALL-E turns on, the sound that you hear is the exact same sound made by an old Mac when it boots up. (Update: all Macs make this sound)


Tie #4:
This isn't really a tie, but on the Apple website, there are exclusive WALL-E clips, here's the link.

Tie #5:
This tie isn't really a real tie either. The WALL-E soundtrack is extremely popular on Apple's music store, iTunes. It has sold thousands upon thousands of copies since it was released last Tuesday, and it is the 10th most popular album in the United States. It is also #2 in its genre of soundtracks. It is beaten by another Walt Disney Records soundtrack, Camp Rock.


Tie #6:
WALL-E watches Hello Dolly! on an iPod.

So, now you know all about the ties between WALL-E and Apple Computers. Now you can look out for 'em when you go to see WALL-E!

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A Simple Pixar Chart

In celebration of WALL-E's weekend box office success, I've posted a simple chart of Pixar's past features. The chart includes the year of its debut, the worldwide gross, online critic sites' score, as well as my ratings. Enjoy.

Film

Year

Worldwide Gross

Metacritic

Rotten Tomatoes

IMDb

My Rating

Toy Story

1995

$361,958,736

91

100

8.1

10

A Bug’s Life

1998

$363,398,565

77

91

7.3

8.5

Toy Story 2

1999

$485,015,179

87

100

8.0

10

Monsters, Inc.

2001

$525,366,597

78

95

7.9

9

Finding Nemo

2003

$864,625,978

89

98

8.2

9.5

The Incredibles

2004

$631,442,092

90

97

8.2

8.5

Cars

2006

$461,981,604

73

75

7.6

8

Ratatouille

2007

$621,416,583

96

96

8.2

10

WALL-E

2008

$62,500,000

93

97

9.3

10

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Marty McFly's 2015 Nikes to Become a Reality!

You know those really awesome self-tying Nike sneakers that Michael J. Fox dons in Back to the Future 2? Haven't you always wanted a pair of those? Well, if you have been dreaming of owning your own (who hasn't?) your dream will soon come true. Nike has announced their Nike Hyperdunks (which is a fancy way of saying McFly 2015s). Kobe Bryant will be the spokesperson for these shoes. I'd have preferred Doc Brown, but beggars can't be choosers. I can't wait!



Source: Wired

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Disneyland #1: Toy Story Mania!


I will upload numerous posts over the next week or so. They will all feature bits of info and pictures that I've taken from my recent trip to Disneyland. Some posts will include the Tiki Room's 45th Anniversary, fireworks, and the parks in general. Now, keep in mind that these pictures are taken with a 2-megapixel iPhone, in undesired lighting conditions, and taken while in motion, so the photos won't be perfect.


This post will feature photos, a review, and some interesting facts about the new ride at Disney's California Adventure,
Toy Story Mania!.

Toy Story Mania! is truly amazing. It is a 3D dark ride where you are shrunk to the size of a toy (this is achieved by having gigantic board games and toys along the track). You have a "spring action shooter" that you use to play the various 3D midway games projected on multiple screens. There is:

  • Pie Throw Practice Booth (pie toss target practice game, no points awarded)
  • Hamm & Eggs (egg throw game)
  • Bo Peep's Baaa-loon Pop (dart throw game)
  • Green Army Men Shoot Camp (baseball throw / plate breaking game)
  • Buzz Lightyear's Flying Tossers (ring toss game)
  • Woody's Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gallery (suction cup shooting game)
Each of these games are run by and themed after one of your favorite Toy Story buddies. The spring action shooter that you use to fire the rings or pies or whateever it may be are very cool. The higher you aim the further the projectile travels, like in the real world. Also, if you pop a large balloon, a jet of air comes out at you. There are several moments in the ride where you trigger something by hitting it and you'll get a jet of water or air shot out at you.

Toy Story Mania! is a very fun and interactive game. It is fun to play or fun to watch. Everything is in 3D, and you'll be brought back in time by some of the classic toys that can be seen along the ride. Toy Story Mania! is the best reason I can think of for leaving Disneyland for Disney's California Adventure.

And now, the huge unorganized photo gallery:The spring action shooter used to play the various, virtual midway games.

The entrance of the ride. It is meant to feel like you are actually going into a "Midway Games Playset"

About 3/4 the way into the line you pick up your 3D glasses. And, no, you do not get to keep them.

The entrance, which can be seen while walking along Paradise Pier.


The cars have benches on each side, with two cars per vehicle. In other words, 4 benches per vehicle, and 8 people per vehicle.

The line was always very long. And the worst part was that the majority of the line was in the hot sun!

As you exit the ride, you can see the playset that you were just apart of laying on the floor of an old-fashioned home.

This is the line at about 10:30 in the morning. It stretched all the way up the pier. The wait time was approximately 2.5 hours!

The entrance of the ride from a different point of view.

Another sign notifying the location where you get your 3D glasses.

The very cool Mr. Potato Head voiced by Don Rickles. You can view his little show while waiting in the long line. He tells jokes, sings songs, and can even remove his ear! He is the most sophisticated audio-animatronic figure ever created by Imagineering!

Side view of Mr. Potato Head.

A close-up of the side of one of the cars. Each car has a unique Toy Story Character on its side.


There is one room of the queue line where there are old-fashioned attraction posters representing each game of Toy Story Mania!.

Another old-fashioned attraction poster.

A general old-fashioned attraction poster giving tips and tricks about how to playoy Story Mania!.

A side view of the entrance to the ride, as well as a side view of the car.

The very last section of the ride has some pieces of the box that you are supposed to be going into for the Midway Games Playset.

The 3D Glasses.

The entrance once again!

Now you know all about
Toy Story Mania!. There will continue to be posts featuring photos and information that I acquired from my most recent trip to Disneyland! Next up: Fireworks!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

WALL-E Gave Pixar Its Best Opening Day Ever!


This article from Variety talks about WALL-E's opening day, which, as the title of this post states, was Pixar's best opening day ever! It was shown in about 4,000 theaters and made around $23.1 million domestically. The next best for Pixar was The Incredibles at $20.5 million on opening day.

WALL-E also broke another opening day record! The most lucrative opening day for a G-rated movie was held by Finding Nemo at $20.2 million, but WALL-E beat that by about $3 million. WALL-E is now on its way to beating Pixar's best opening weekend, which is currently held by The Incredibles at $70.5 million over 3 days.

Another record that WALL-E had potential to beat but didn't was the opening day for an animated feature. WALL-E came in third place after Shrek the Third ($38.4 million) and The Simpsons Movie ($30.8 million).

Go WALL-E!

Source: Variety

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Friday, June 27, 2008

My WALL-E Review

I saw WALL-E. I loved WALL-E. It not only was the best movie of the year and a shoe-in at the Oscars, but it was the best sci-fi movie I've seen in a long time, and it was one of the best animated features I've seen in a long time. It had charm, romance, action, mystery, comedy, suspense, morals, and a cute little robot that you couldn't help but fall in love with. I'd easily give it a 10 out of 10.


At the beginning, it is obvious that Pixar realizes you aren't stupid. They don't have a cheesy narrator or a sassy talking animal voiced by Wanda Sykes that tells you whats happening. You must use your observation and inferring skills to determine what's going on, which is what a movie should do. There's almost no dialogue throughout the entire movie, especially during the first half. Due to the fact that there is virtually no dialogue, it gives the movie a certain charm, a certain cool, that no one else could get away with but Pixar.


The main character is a cute little robot named WALL-E. The humans forgot to switch him off when they all abandoned the toxic, trash-infested planet of Earth. WALL-E has been cleaning up trash for hundreds of years. While he does his job, which is to clean up the human's garbage one cube at a time, he collects a bunch of knick-knacks and organizes them in his small garage. His only companion is a small roach named Hal, and his only form of entertainment or fun is
watching Hello, Dolly!.


One thing that keeps coming up in
WALL-E is the movie Hello, Dolly!. In fact, that is what leads to one of the first major plot points in WALL-E. While WALL-E watches Hello, Dolly!, you start to realize how incredibly lonely and lost WALL-E feels in the huge, abandoned world. Later in the movie when EVE joins WALL-E in his garage, there is a funny sequence where WALL-E begins to mimick the choreography of Hello, Dolly! whilst it plays on his make-shift iPod-television. Very entertaining.


WALL-E is an audio and visual feast for the eyes and ears. It shows fantastic landscapes of garbage skyscrapers and gives you a glimpse of the gargantuan space ships. You can hear the talents of Ben Burtt as hundreds of different robots each make their unique blip or bleep, or when the rocket barrels past our familiar solar system at unimaginable speeds. Oh no, WALL-E does not disappoint the senses at all. Also, as if its not enough, you get a moral along with it. Throughout the movie, humans are shown being extremely dependent on technology in every single aspect of their lives. But, eventually, WALL-E brings them all back to the now-habitable Earth and the humans become self-reliant.


Another aspect of
WALL-E that I loved was the short that preceded it. Presto was extremely entertaining, funny, and just flat out amazing. It was about as good as WALL-E was, but much shorter. I'd also easily give Presto a 10 out of 10. There is no dialogue, as with the other Pixar shorts, and it fits a lot of character development and plotting into a short snippet of time. The slightly Portal (the video game) based short's premise was that there was a rabbit and a magician. The magician had two hats. When one thing goes into one hat, it comes out of the other and vice versa (just like the blue and the orange portals in Portal). The rabbit is supposed to have one of the hats on while the magician is on stage so that the magician can pull the rabbit out of his hat, but there is a problem: the rabbit hasn't been fed. Next, hilarity insues as the rabbit uses his portal to the stage to sabotage the magician who hasn't fed the malnourished rabbit. It has a good score and good animation to top it all off.


I would highly recommend that you go and see
WALL-E right this instant. It may not, however, have mass appeal as the other Pixar movies do. This is mainly due to the fact that you need some intellectual capacity to "get" WALL-E, and a lot of people are, well, not too bright. But, hey, if you really hate WALL-E, at least you'll love Presto, which appeals to everyone (someone sticking their finger in an electrical socket is always funny).


So, now you know. WALL-E is an audio and visual feast for the eyes and ears. It is packed full with mystery, love, intrigue, comedy, charm, action, and a cute little robot. It is classy and cool due to its lack of dialogue and need for audience observation. And, to top it all off, it has a truly spectacular short to watch before the movie begins.


Now turn off your computer and go see WALL-E! Or, if you can't, read this interview with Andrew Stanton and at least get a taste of what you're missing.


Or, if you don't like to read a lot, click on the image below or on this link. It brings to a fake site for the Buy-n-Large company. This is the fictitious company that made WALL-E, as well as all of the other robots, etc. The site was a viral campaign. You will find a ton of stuff if you just click around, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of easter eggs on that site. You can spend hours just clicking around, trust me, I did just that.


Andrew Stanton Interview about WALL-E:

Is WALL-E a departure for Pixar?

"We're always trying to be different with every movie. We're a director-driven studio and we're trying to encourage and support the (director's) vision so that every film will be unique, and have its own taste and slant.

"I knew this was more of a major unconventional film, even when we just had the character conceit in 1994 and nothing else. As artists, we thought that (WALL-E's concept) was the coolest thing, but the next sentence was ‘Nobody would ever let us do that’ and we put it away.

“And I’m glad that happened because I think it took 14 years for the technology to be better, for us to be better filmmakers, and for the audience to trust us enough.

“The big drive with (Pixar's first film, 1995's) Toy Story wasn’t ‘this is CGI.’ It was ‘It doesn’t have to be a musical, it doesn’t have to be a fairy tale, it can be something else.’ And so we’re way more proud that Toy Story is the type of movie that it is – the way the story is told, the manner of which it’s shot – than the fact that we used computers.

“I don’t go to a live-action movie thinking that it’s going to have a cop chase, or a long melodramatic scene. I don’t think that way and I don’t know why people do that when you’re using the medium of animation. It’s still just a movie: what’s the story, what’s it about, and how is the best way to tell it?

Do you think it’s because people always think of animation as being for children?

“Which nobody ever did at Pixar thought, from Day One, which is why I think it’s so good here.

“I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I don’t think of the audience at all, because I don’t go to see a movie hoping the filmmaker’s second-guessed what I want. I go to see what he wants, because I like his taste and style, and I want to see what he’s going to do next.

“The day we start thinking about what the audience wants, we’re going to make bad choices. We’ve always holed ourselves up in a building for 4 years and ignored the rest of the world, because nobody are bigger movie geeks than we are, so we know exactly what we are dying to see with our family and kids. We don’t need other people to tell us that. We trust the audience member in ourselves.”

How did you get the film Hello, Dolly in there?

“Isn’t that just the oddest choice ever? I’m going to get asked about that for the rest of my life (laughs).

“I originally used 1930’s French Swing music; I wanted old against the new. And then The Triplets of Belleville came out and I went, ‘I don’t want to look like I’m copying.’ I’m kinda glad that happened because it forced me to look harder and it broadened my scope.

“And so I looked at Broadway musicals, and I stumbled across Hello Dolly. I had done musical theatre in high school, and one of the standards is Hello Dolly. And I heard that phrase ‘out there’ in the song "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and it was a complete gutteral (sic) aesthetic choice: ‘Out there!’ and then you cut to stars, and it just worked.

"And then I realized why it was working for me: because it’s about these two young guys, stuck in a small town, who just want to sneak away for a day, and have a life, and kiss a girl. And I thought, ‘That’s WALL-E!’ So, you’re going to meet WALL-E’s hopes, dreams, and soul in Frame One before you ever meet him.

“And then I found the song "It Only Takes a Moment" and then I looked at the movie footage, and I saw the two lovers holding hands. That was a big ‘Ah-ha!’ moment for me, because I have a character who can’t actually say ‘I love you’ but he can express it by holding hands. And when you get a gift like that from an initial inspiration, you take it as fate. So I ran with it (laughs).”

I’ve noticed both your movies, Finding Nemo and WALL-E, are quest films –

“There’s always a certain element of the quest in any story. In my mind, WALL-E’s a love story and Nemo’s a father-son love story so there are some similarities in that respect."

One of the big ideas I noticed in WALL-E was people making contact, whether it was WALL-E holding hands with EVE, or when the two humans accidentally touch.

“That was my theme: irrational love defeats life’s programming. And that was what these two characters were doing. They were literally programmed, and the irrationality of WALL-E suddenly having a soul and being able to care, would have an effect on everything else.

"We’re starting to be in a society where you’re able to distract yourself so quickly and so easily, and not have to do the real tough, but satisfying job of making contact with the person next to you and pushing relationships forward, which are messy and they don’t go as planned. But that’s the real reason you’re on this planet.

"So I thought, (using the metaphor of holding hands) was the best way to portray that thematically with everything else going on in the background. Because for me, the main story was just these two characters (WALL-E and EVE).”

What were some other inspirations? The title character felt very Chaplin-esque to me.

“We knew we were going into pantomime territory. We’re always going into pantomime with any of our movies, I don’t care how talky it is. If you go to any of our movies and turn the sound off, you’ll see us struggling to convey the story with the visuals, the actions, and the posing. So, we've taken a layer off, to allow you to appreciate that more.

“But it does create a void where all the other aspects of filmmaking – the music, the lighting, the camera work – have to raise their game and help in the story-telling.”

Some critics are going to argue, ‘the protagonist doesn’t have any dial

ogue–'

“To which I would argue, he talks throughout the entire movie!”


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Bill Gates Says Goodbye to His "Baby"


Today was Bill Gates' official last day at Microsoft. Apparently, the event was open only to employees, and there were some tears experienced by Bill himself and by CEO Ballmer. Ballmer praised Gates with things like, "there's no way to say thanks to Bill. Bill's the founder. Bill's the leader, this is Bill's baby."

I also enjoyed this snippet from Engadget: "Ballmer also talked about how he had contemplated leaving Microsoft just a month after joining the company, only to have Gates persuade him to stay by saying 'You don't get it. You don't get it. We are going to put a computer on every desk and in every home.' Say what you will about some of his predictions, but he was sure on the mark with that one."

Here's the video from CES 2008 showing what Bill Gates' last day (today) was gonna be like:


video

And, finally, here's a link to the original Reuters article.

Well, so long, Billy boy. I don't know what Microsoft'll do without you, but I guess this is how its gotta be. So long. Have a good retirement!


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