Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Disney, etc.!

I know the ol' Etc. has been short on posts lately, but I've been too engulfed by the Christmas spirit to use a computer! Sorry 'bout that, folks. After the holidays, expect a return to our regularly-paced, exciting stream of news all about Disney, Pixar, Movies, and everything in-between.

I hope I haven't lost any of you beloved readers due to my recent lack of . . . consistency. More news is to come! Reviews! The rousing Awards Season! What Makes it Timeless! It's all coming your way, and it's all coming very soon.

Until then, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!!

Oh, and watch Mickey's A Christmas Carol tonight. I demand it.

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New 'Pirates' Trailer

Above you will find a brand new trailer for the fourth installment of Bruckheimer's Pirates franchise.

First, let's discuss the trailer itself. More specifically, the elephant in this post--that little intro to the trailer. It was odd. Really odd. But I'll excuse it just because I love the character of Jack Sparrow. In fact, I'm sure that the only reason the peculiar intro was there was to showcase Depp's character even more. But, as I said, I'll ignore its strangeness just because I love the character so much...

Now, the film in general. I am not entirely sure what to make of On Stranger Tides just yet. Being a piratical history enthusiast as well as a lover of Disney and cinema, I am very excited that this new Pirates film will have the historical aspect of Blackbeard in it. I have studied the biography of Blackbeard, as well as other pirates, and am very excited to see how they will treat him as both a brand new character and a historical entity--Ian McShane seems to make a great Blackbeard, and I can't wait to further see how he portrays him.

However, the plot doesn't seem incredibly strong. Similar to my issues with Cars 2, this film seems rather gimmicky and void of true, deep emotion. Granted the only Pirates film with any "heart" was Curse of the Black Pearl, I still wanted to see the screenwriters try a little harder to make the audience fall back in love with Sparrow and new supporting characters. It doesn't seem like there will be much room for this in such an adventure-heavy, emotionless film. However, the lack of emotion will leave much more room for crazy adventures and stunts and hilarity from Jack Sparrow.

Having said that, I'm excited to see Blackbeard, excited for Jack Sparrow, and I'm a complete sucker for pirate adventures. It isn't fair for me to judge the movie before I've seen it, and I'll still be first in line for the midnight showing come May 20, 2011.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Interview with Pixar's 3D Director

Head on over to Collider and watch a video interview with Pixar's 3D director Bob Whitehill. While I, as you know, despise 3D, it is an excellent interview that reveals some new tidbits about TS3, Cars 2, and even Brave. Very interesting.

Watch it here.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

My 'Tangled' Review

I just saw Tangled. I know my review is a little bit late (and that I haven't posted anything for awhile), but I was out of town (at Disneyland!) and have been unable to post this past week.

Anyways, Tangled, directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard (Bolt), was superb. As with any film, story is the most important part, and Tangled really delivered. The plot was filled with conflict, intrigue, and suspense; there was a very good balance between fast, action-packed scenes and those of deep emotion.

Although, the story did suffer slightly due to an inevitable fact: it's a fairytale. I have nothing against fairytales and I think that they can make a wonderful basis for a story, but I think that this fact made Tangled suffer. While it was really funny and engaging, it was predictable and was restricted by the classic form of the fairytale. While I realize that every story is more or less predictable and restrained by a common plot outline (Hero's Journey!), fairytales suffer the most, especially since the majority of Disney's past films have been in this same genre. Still, it did a decent job of pushing the boundaries of the fairytale further than I thought they could. And I don't think it really hurt the movie, unless you over-analyze it like I am. (But I am very glad that Ed Catmull has announced that Walt Disney Animation Studios will never make another fairytale.)

Combined with the importance of story is the importance of character. Tangled didn't fail us here, either. The villain was very evil (and excellently voiced), which is a necessity for any good story, and the audience really cheered for the main characters. One thing that is always missing from a bad movie is that there isn't a forseeable goal or adequate motivation for the hero or villain--Tangled, however, had an achievable goal and lots of motivation for every character. And that made for quite interesting characters.

However, one problem is that the audience tended to root more for the adventurous rogue of Flynn Rider (most likely due to his unparalleled charisma, classic good looks, and spot-on humor), rather than the real hero of the story, Rapunzel. This is due to the fact that the character of Rapunzel was rather flat and uninteresting; she seemed to act as more of a catalyst for action than a thinking being (think Hitchcock's MacGuffin). Perhaps it's the fact that all she seemed to talk about were those darn flying lanterns. Maybe it's just that she was overshadowed by far more interesting characters. But I think the real reason is that I couldn't relate to her. I can sympathize with Flynn's back-story of rejection and longing, but how could I ever empathize with somebody who's been trapped in a tower for 18 years? I can't. Still, the strength of the other characters easily made up for this minor flaw in Rapunzel.

My favorite character of the movie, however, was the valiant steed, Maximus. He managed to get across so much emotion and humor without ever saying a word--he was really, really funny and well-animated. Whoever managed to animate that horse with such flamboyant and exaggerated emotion deserves an Oscar. And a Golden Globe.

And a Nobel Peace Prize.

Similarly, I appreciated how Pascal the Chameleon was just pantomime; it is so much more interesting and fun to watch a character convey emotion through good acting instead of fast-talking dialogue (I'm looking at you, Donkey of Shrek and every character ever voiced by Wanda Sykes...).

The animation of the whole thing was excellent. Each frame could be framed as a piece of art in its own right--the vibrant colors and excellent art direction made for truly remarkable visuals. I also appreciated how the animators made the chase scenes and characters and gags more "cartoony" by adding classic animation techniques like the squash-and-stretch--it is so entertaining to watch. This nod to the traditional forms of animation, most likely inspired by animation legend Glen Keane, has been missed from a lot of CG films, but is welcome back with open arms. Also, the medieval village and vibrant forest backgrounds are very reminiscent of the gorgeous hand-drawn Disney classics. Glen Keane has done it again!

One negative thing, though, were the songs. While I loved the European-inspired instrumental score, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired. Alan Menken, who wrote the songs for classics like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, didn't write one great song for Tangled. I was expecting a Whole New World or Under the Sea, but was left with a generally uninteresting set of melodies. You know it's a good song when you can remember the melody and hum it...and I can't even remember one line from a single tune. It's too bad, really. Disney fairytales are known for their beautiful and catchy soundtracks.

A hot topic that's been surrounding Tangled is whether it is geared towards boys or girls. After the flop that was The Princess and the Frog, Disney's marketing department did a major overhaul of Rapunzel, retitling it, adding pop music to the trailer, and up-playing their male lead and humor. While I think that this marketing technique was an unclassy move for Disney, it seems to have worked, since Tangled is doing fairly well at the Box Office (it didn't beat Potter, but it was the second biggest Thanksgiving opening ever). Back to the issue at hand: I don't think Tangled is aimed at male or female audiences. Like all Disney movies, this movie is for everybody; there are things for the parents, the boys, and the girls. If you enjoy good cinema and have a good sense of humor, you'll enjoy Tangled.

It ain't no Bolt or Toy Story 3 or Lion King, but the great animation, spot-on humor, interesting plot, and overall flow of the story and jokes more than made up for its "fairytale-ness," somewhat weak main character, and lack of decent song-writing. Tangled, Walt Disney Animation Studio's 50th animated feature, is a winner.

9 out of 10.


Friday, November 19, 2010

'TS3': For Your Consideration Ad Campaign

Above you will find a recently-released advertisement--it is part of a "For Your Consideration" campaign by Disney, promoting Toy Story 3 for Best Picture at the Oscars.

There will be numerous more print ads like this one, in which TS3 characters re-enact scenes from films that have previously won the coveted Best Picture prize. This will hopefully convince A.M.P.A.S. voters that animation should be taken just as seriously as any other media of film.

And not only that, but they're going to be super funny. This one is. I can't wait to see other TS3 characters parodying other films...

According to Disney chairman Rich Ross, "We wanted to come up with a campaign that kept our aspirations clear but at the same time used a tongue in cheek approach."

More on the awards season as it develops...

(If you weren't aware, I have already predicted that Toy Story 3 will shatter the Oscars this year and win the Best Picture statuette.)

Source: Deadline


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Trailers: 'Pooh' and 'Cars 2'

Briefly: Below, you will find two new Disney trailers, Winnie the Pooh and Cars 2.

I am so excited for Winnie the Pooh. The 51st animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios is looking great--I am very glad that they kept with the original style of animation. I've got nothing negative to say...

Cars 2. Oh, Cars 2. What will we do with you? Your animation looks exquisite, I am very excited that Michael Caine will be voicing one of your characters (Finn McMissle), and John Lasseter is even directing you. Still, this movie seems to be missing that certain Pixar "edge." It seems too predictable and generic. Sure, it'll be really funny and entertaining, but I don't see how they can possibly fit any heart into the plot. Every Pixar movie thus far has had heart. I don't see any potential for it in Cars 2, but I'm willing to give Pixar and Lasseter the benefit of the doubt.

I think they've earned that at the very least.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A Collection of 'Tangled' Reviews

I have been seeing more and more reviews for Disney's Tangled leaking out within the past week, so I've decided to compile them all right here for your reading pleasure...

The Disney Blog
Movie Viral

I'll update this post as I discover more reviews.

The overall reception for the film is overwhelmingly positive. Many reviewers agree that this film shows Disney "getting back to its roots." It's supposedly very funny with stunning animation...

Although I am disappointed that the marketing campaign took a turn for the worse (by appealing to young boys instead of girls) after The Princess and the Frog flopped at the box office, I am very excited to see this movie. I am expecting great things from Glen Keane, Nathan Greno, and Byron Howard.

The film will be released later this month on November 24. Watch the trailer here.

Also, stay tuned for my exclusive review of Tangled.


'Cars 2' Synopsis and First Still Released!

Above you will find the very first still from Pixar's next feature film, Cars 2, opening June 24, 2011.

Check out the new official synopsis for the film here.

That synopsis makes me a tad bit skeptical. The plot seems too...normal? I'm not sure. It seems like a gimmicky premise that we'd see in a DVD spin-off or something like that. But we'll see; I won't pass any judgments just yet, especially with master story man John Lasseter on hand to direct.

Here's a gorgeous new poster for the film. And, also, stay tuned for the brand new Cars 2 trailer, debuting tomorrow at 11 AM ET/8 AM PT at (The trailer is also set to show before Disney's Tangled.)

(P.S. Sorry for the lack of posting lately. My internet and computer have been on the fritz this past week. But fear not! Regular posting will resume shortly...)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

'Toy Story 3' Link Round-up: Featurettes, Storyboards, the Screenplay, Interviews, and more!

The Toy Story 3 Blu-ray has been officially released, and I'm planning to watch the complete trilogy back-to-back-to-back this weekend. It's gonna be awesome.

Anyways, to coincide with the release of the Blu-ray and DVD, Disney has released a few things online for our viewing pleasure.

The first is this set of previews, letting you in on what you'll get to see within the Bonus Features section of the Blu-ray.

Next up is a set of storyboards from the "Thrown Away" sequence in Toy Story 3. They are huge images, and slightly cleaner than I'd have expected storyboard drawings to be. Still, they get the action across effectively, and obviously did their job well:

NPR's Fresh Air conducted a wonderful interview with Lee Unkrich and Michael Arndt here. It's definitely worth a listen--if you wondered why you cried at the end of the movie (twice), this will satisfy your curiosity. They talk about everything from advances in technology, to the infamous story retreats, to how Lee thinks of his animators as his actors. Give it a listen if you've got the time. You'll enjoy it. I promise.

Also check out Ned Beatty's (voice of Lotso) recent interview with here.

I also thought I'd mention this article published in the LA Times yesterday. It predicted a victory for the Conservatives at this year's midterm elections, based purely on the popularity of Toy Story 3. While I think that this theory is completely absurd, it's an entertaining op-ed piece.

Finally, Walt Disney Animation Studios has released the complete Toy Story 3 screenplay, written by Michael Arndt, for your reading enjoyment here. It is located on their "Awards" site, which also indicates the other categories that they hope Toy Story 3 will be nominated for. These include Best Original Song for Randy Newman, Best Director for Lee Unkrich, and Best Picture for Darla K. Anderson. See the complete list of potential nominations here.

I'm calling it right now: Toy Story 3 will be the first animated movie to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars. Maybe I'm just being blindly optimistic, but that's how I see it playing out. It really is the most critically-acclaimed and the highest-grossing film of the year. It deserves Best Picture.

I loved Toy Story 3, and am now the proud owner of the complete trilogy on Blu-ray. I'm planning on watching every Toy Story, as well as every special feature, this Friday night. And I can hardly wait.

Next stop: Awards Season!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Into the Drawer

Here's a short video that Lee Unkrich released yesterday. It is him, officially, completing Toy Story 3 by placing the Blu-ray into his drawer.


Also check out an interesting, two-part interview with Unkrich over at Upcoming Pixar here and here.


First Look at 'Tick Tock Tale'

Above you will find the very first look at Disney's upcoming short Tick Tock Tale. This is the first I've heard of the short, and it looks interesting. Although the plot is, I'm guessing, almost identical to Pixar's Red's Dream, the score and animation and character acting is enjoyable and every well-done.

My guess is that this short is going to show before all showings of Tangled. But I could be wrong, since it is possible that The Ballad of Nessie could already have filled that spot.

More on this as I find it....


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Big News Day: Great 'TS3' Concept Art, Galifianakis meets Muppets, and Indiana Jones in 3D

With so much news coming out of Hollywood today, I decided to post a bunch of links instead of 10 different, shorter posts. I hope you don't mind.

This first bit of news is my favorite: Cinematical has posted a large gallery of exclusive, never-before-seen Toy Story 3 concept art. It was given to them to promote the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray release (which I can hardly wait for! It's this Tuesday...), and is really great artwork. I wish I could draw like they do at Pixar... Anyways, see two pieces of the concept art above, and the rest of it here.

Above you will find a "first look" at the upcoming Dr. Seuss adaptation, The Lorax. Danny DeVito will be starring as the title character (Yes! I love Danny's work.), and will be joined by Ed Helms, Zac Efron, and Betty White. It is being made by the same people who brought you the recent adaptation of Horton Hears a Who!, so, unfortunately, don't expect much from this production...

In an interview with the lucky folks over at Hero Complex, Christopher Nolan divulged some very intriguing information... He has revealed the title for the next installment of his incredible Batman saga will The Dark Knight Rises, and that the villain will not be The Riddler, as was previously believed by, oh, everybody. He has also thrown Mr. Freeze and a reprise of The Joker out for the count. I think he should have Danny DeVito reprise his role as The Penguin. That would be awesome. Nolan also discussed the fact that he does not want to shoot the film in 3D, but in the IMAX format. Thank goodness for that.

This piece of news might tie with the concept art for my most favorite: Zach Galifianakis will be in the new (currently untitled) Muppet movie!! I cannot believe it. My favorite actor is going to be featured in a reboot of one of my favorite things, the Muppets. Maybe I died and went to heaven? It's entirely possible--this news is just that exciting.

Some other, slightly less noteworthy odds and ends:

Sir Elton John and Lady Gaga will team up for the song "Hello Hello" which will be featured in the upcoming Touchstone film Gnomeo and Juliet. I love E.J. Such great music.

The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson, will be shot in New Zealand.

Unlucky for those of us who actually appreciate quality films, Mr. James Cameron has announced that he will be creating Avatar 2 and 3 as his next two films. Fantastic (add sarcastic tone)...

LucasFilm will be re-releasing its Indiana Jones franchise in 3D. Just as I felt with the Star Wars re-release, this is a good and bad thing. At least now I'll have an excuse to wear a fedora and bullwhip to the movie theater...

Piven to play the villain in Spy Kids 4.

Boba Fett's invoice. Just because. (Oh, and it's awesome.)

Off-Hollywood: An artisanal pencil sharpener: "I'm going to have this nice, authentic, considered reaction with your pencil," Rees said. "I just want to treat it with respect. And get it really freaking sharp."

Well that's all of the news I found for you today. I hope you learned something new and had some fun while wasting some time. I still can't believe that Zach Galifianakis is going to be in the next Muppet movie... Anyways, have a nice day, and be sure to keep checking back at Disney, etc. for all of your news regarding Disney, Pixar, Entertainment, and everything in-between.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Billy Joel joins 'Rock Band 3' out of spite

Billy Joel is one of my favorite musical artists. Only the Good Die Young, Piano Man, Vienna...he's written so many classics. In fact, if I was on a desert island and could only listen to one artist for the rest of my life, I very well might choose Billy Joel.

It is for that reason that I am ecstatic about his presence on the new Rock Band 3 game, being released this Tuesday, October 26. He won't be featured on the actual game disc, but his music will be available in the Rock Band online music store. And I'll be first in the virtual line to buy each and every song.

I'm especially excited about this because I'll be able to use my full-sized MIDI keyboard to play along with Mr. Joel, and be able to learn his guitar riffs on their exciting new pro guitar.

Better than the news of Billy Joel being on Rock Band, however, are his reasons behind the decision.

In the past, Billy has rejected Harmonix and has wanted nothing to do with musical video games. That all changed after a joke during a recent episode of The Office. In the episode, members of the office play a fictitious game, Rock Band: Billy Joel. In his review of the episode for Entertainment Weekly, Darren Franich, in reference to the Billy Joel edition of Rock Band wrote: "God forbid that should ever happen!"

After reading that, Billy Joel told USA Today that he "called my people and said, 'Get me on that Rock Band game.' Then I wrote the critic, saying that every time I get a check, I'll give him a little nod."

You've gotta love Billy Joel. If that isn't some of the cleverest spite I've ever heard of, then I don't know what spite is...

Read the full tale from Mr. Joel himself over at USA Today.


'Cars 2' News!! (Lasseter directing + new logo + concept art)

The title says it all, folks. There's plenty of new news regarding Pixar's next feature, Cars 2.

First of all, contrary to what was previously believed, John Lasseter will be the director of Cars 2. Up until now, we all thought that Brad Lewis (producer of Ratatouille) was set to direct. Instead, he'll be serving as co-director, still not a position to scoff at by any means. It is possible that Lewis was going to direct at one time, but the heavily-rumored development problems probably led to Lasseter taking on a bigger leadership role. Lasseter hasn't found time to direct a feature since the original Cars, most likely due to his busy schedule as the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and principal creative adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering. He is one lucky, busy man...

Up's associate producer, Denise Ream will be producing.

The next bit of news is the above embedded video. Released by the marketing folks at Disney, it has been christened a teaser trailer/logo reveal. No surprises here; it doesn't even showcase any new footage from the film. Although Luxo, Jr. firing a laser was super cool.

Super duper cool.

I still don't know what to make of Cars 2. The first Cars is definitely at the bottom of my Pixar list--don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful, great film. But I don't think that it is of the same caliber as Monsters, Inc. or Toy Story or any of the other Pixar films. I know that Lasseter will focus on story and he knows what he's doing, but I'll remain skeptical until the film's release next year...

Finally, check out some glorious concept art (like the image at the top of this post) here, courtesy of Empire.

Cars 2 will be released in 3D on June 24th of next year.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Marvel to Disney transfer complete (Or is it?)

It was just announced that Paramount has transferred the worldwide rights to two of its Marvel properties, The Avengers and the Iron Man franchise, to Walt Disney Studios for at least $115 million.

When the Mouse bought Marvel a while back, I was wondering how this was going to work out, and I'm still curious. Now it's obvious that Disney will get the lion's share of the box office, including their cherished merchandising and theme park rights. However, who is going to be paying the millions of dollars it takes to produce the films? Marvel Studios (a.k.a. Disney)? Jon Favreau's production studio? Did Disney pay $115 million to get the movies after they were in the can and have no say in what happens during production? It's all very confusing.

It's also worth mentioning that Paramount still owns the rights to Thor and Captain America, Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man, and other Marvel properties have been sprinkled throughout Hollywood over the years. This means that Disney won't get to distribute these films, but will still retain their merchandising, etc.

Don't feel too sorry for Paramount, though, because they still have tons of tentpole franchises they've yet to milk completely dry: Mission: Impossible, Jackass, Transformers, Star Trek, Paranormal Activity, and G.I. Joe.

It may all be very difficult to understand, but the bottom line is that Disney will be distributing The Avengers in 2012, and Iron Man 3 in 2013, which means they'll be basking in the glory of billions at the box office. I'm glad that they're making all of this Marvel-ownership business slightly less confusing, but it is also starting to look like Disney will soon have a monopoly on the entertainment industry...

Oh well. As long as they keep giving Pixar their creative autonomy and don't destroy Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, I'll stay a happy camper.

For a more detailed account of the deal and a little clearing up as far as studio logistics go, check out Variety.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

'Epic Mickey' Featurette: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Every Disney buff knows the story of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the forgotten Disney character that predates even Mickey Mouse. What you may not know, however, is that he has a pivotal role in the upcoming video game Epic Mickey, bringing about a kind of "sibling rivalry" with Mickey.

To learn all about one of my favorite characters, Oswald, and to see just how he will be portrayed in the upcoming Warren Spector video game, watch the above video. Great stuff. I am so glad that, after almost 80 years on the shelf, Oswald is finally getting work again.

He deserves it.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Why You Cried During 'Toy Story 3'

Briefly: TIME has recently published an article entitled Why Adults Cry So Easily in Animated Kids Movies. While the term "kid" is certainly not needed when referring to the films, it is still an interesting topic to try and dissect.

And who better to try and answer this big question than Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich? In the article, Mr. Unkrich states that "Live action movies are someone else's story. With animation, audiences can't think that. Their guards are down."

This is a peculiar thing to think about, but seems more true the more I think about it...

Story, story, story!

Read the full article here.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

For Your Consideration: 'Toy Story 3'

The Walt Disney Company has decided that they will promote Toy Story 3 as a challenger for the Best Picture Oscar at the this year's Academy Awards, reports the New York Times. As awards season nears, expect to see tons of 'For Your Consideration' ads as Disney pushes the Best Picture nom "with all its might."

Only two animated films have ever been nominated for the Oscars' top prize: Beauty and the Beast, and last year's Up, neither of which won.

I will guarantee all of my readers right now that Toy Story 3 will be one of the ten films nominated for Best Picture, and it actually has a decent shot at winning. It is by far the most critically-acclaimed film of the year, and doesn't have much competition, besides Fincher's The Social Network.

Stay tuned for more TS3 and Oscar news...


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Willis: 'Die Hard 5' is on the way

Good news: In the above video, Mr. Bruce Willis claims that the Die Hard 5 screenplay is almost finished, and that filming should take place in 2011. I loved Live Free or Die Hard, and personally can't wait to see more of John McClane's Mythbusters-worthy stunts and fight sequences.

As far as mindless action flicks go, it's hard (if not impossible) to beat Bruce Willis as the New York Cop with nothing to lose.

Stay tuned for more concrete news on the next Die Hard installment...

Source: Ain't It Cool News