Sunday, May 30, 2010

So Sad: Del Toro Quits 'Hobbit'

After the enormous success of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, a two-part prequel, The Hobbit, was slated to be directed by acclaimed director Guillermo Del Toro. Known for his very artistic and quite eerie style, Del Toro is one of my favorite filmmakers, having directed the classics Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, and The Devil's Backbone.

That is why it is with great sadness that I report that Guillermo Del Toro has pulled out of directing The Hobbit. In a statement given by Del Toro, he stated that:
"In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming 'The Hobbit,' I am faced with the hardest decision of my life. After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien's Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures."
It is true that the films have not been greenlit by the studios yet, meaning that financing and pre-production logistics could take quite some time. I can see why Del Toro is hesitant to be apart of a movie that is so unpredictable, because his plate is pretty full at the moment--in the next few years alone he has The Orphanage, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Witches, Pinocchio, Champions, and numerous other projects that he's occupied with. If I had that many film projects to keep track of, I'd do my best to stay clear of unpredictability.

It is a real shame that such a visual and unique director won't be apart of a film adaptation for one of the most beloved stories of all-time. I was really looking forward to seeing how he would interpret Tolkien's genius work. Oh well, hopefully producer Peter Jackson will be able to dig up someone just as creative, or, better yet, just direct the thing himself. After all, he did a perfectly fine job with The Lord of the Rings.

Source: Variety


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Viral Muppets: 'American Woman'

In honor of Memorial Day, the Muppets have released the above video, American Woman. Great! Very funny. I love these Muppet Viral Videos. Keep 'em coming, Jim Henson Company.


My Thoughts on 'Prince of Persia'

When I first heard that the movie giant Jerry Bruckheimer was taking the video game Prince of Persia and turning it into a movie, I thought that he had reached a new low. After all, the best movies are completely original, next come sequels, then comic book adaptations, novel adaptations, and, at the bottom of the list, we find video game adaptations.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. I was expecting an exceedingly weak plot, cheesy one-liners, and a lot of Jake Gyllenhaal staring into the camera. While the film was filled to the brim with those last two, its plot wasn't that disappointing. Sure, it was predictable, but at least it wasn't boring. Its story wouldn't have made a passable novel, but the plot is what it should be: a neutral canvas that they could throw action sequences, funny jokes, and great effects onto.

Although, there were a few scenes when the plot felt very forced. The most obvious example of this was the scene when Dasdan first discovers the dagger's powers and he blatantly states, almost immediately, "Oh, pressing the jewel on the hilt of the dagger turns back time by one minute and only the holder of the dagger is aware that anything has happened!" These moments of the film ruin the illusion that films are supposed to create, and are the result of just plain laziness on the writer's part.

The action sequences were very entertaining and suspenseful. Jake Gyllenhaal must have had numerous stunt doubles for all of the rooftop jumping, diving off of buildings, and other impressive acrobatics he performed during every other scene. That aspect of Prince of Persia, as well as Mr. Gyllenhaal's comedic acting were both positives for me.

Probably my favorite aspect of the film would have to be Alfred Molina. He was the best actor in the film (I was slightly disappointed by Ben Kingsley's weak performance), and his character, Sheik Amar, was really funny.

Overall, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time did exactly what it set out to do: combine big actors, big action, big laughs, and big marketing to create a summer hit that would make Disney (and Mr. Bruckheimer) millions at the box office. While parts of the plot felt forced, I'd consider the story average, but the action was great, and Alfred Molina was the best. I'd recommend going out and seeing it this weekend. Don't analyze it too critically; just be entertained.

I give Prince of Persia: Sands of Time a solid 7 out of 10 stars.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Clip from 'Day and Night'

/Film has posted an exclusive clip from the upcoming Pixar short Day and Night. The clip is only 15 seconds long, but it gives us a pretty good idea about what the style of the short will be.

Watch it here.

I cannot wait to see this short. The character animation looks very classical. Very 50s. Very Eric Goldberg-y, even. Based on the unique style and the character animation, I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be my favorite Pixar short yet.

We'll find out on June 18...


Visa/'TS3' Commercial

I love advertisements that promote both films and a product. Seeing a film's characters in a different environment, telling a brand new (though very brief) story can be a real treat.

That's why I really love the new Visa debit commercial that features your favorite characters from Toy Story 3 (and even the voice of Morgan Freeman!). It's definitely worth a watch, and even a re-watch. See it here.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Disney in 'Iron Man 2'

Hopefully, by now, you are aware that Disney owns the superhero giant Marvel. It was big news back in August, and, ever since, Disney has been raking in the dough from Iron Man 2's box office success and has been loading up its stores with Marvel merchandise.

What you may not know, however, is that the recent superhero flick starring Robert Downey, Jr. (my favorite actor in Hollywood right now) has more ties to Disney than just shoveling money into their bank account.

When you see the film, something should seem very familiar about Tony's father, Howard Stark. You only get to see archival footage of our protagonists' late father, but there is enough screen-time there to make it obvious that he is supposed to resemble Walt Disney. Not only does he have the iconic moustache, a similar hair cut, and a striking suit like Mr. Disney does, but he is shown with a diorama that looks a lot like EPCOT during its early stages. Click on the "Stark Expo 1974" button on the right side of the screen at the viral site to see a video featuring the EPCOT-esque diorama, and the Disney-look-a-like.

But that's not the only connection that Iron Man 2 has to Disney.

When you went to the Stark Expo 2010 website, you heard an instrumental version of a song written by renowned Disney song-man Richard Sherman. The entire song (lyrics and all) can be heard during the end credits of the film, and it is entitled "Make Way For Tomorrow Today." The song sounds an awful lot like the theme song for the Carousel of Progress, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," and, like all other work by Sherman, is great.

All of these ties to Disney make you wonder whether or not Jon Favreau, the director, was trying to make deliberate nods to the recent Disney-buying-Marvel deal. And the answer is a resounding no. Production began months and months before anybody knew anything about the deal. The Disney references in Iron Man 2 have nothing to do with the studio's business deal, but instead have to do with Favreau wanting Tony's father to give off a showman-genius-from-the-50s vibe.

Iron Man 2 is a great film, and is made even better by these subtle references to Walt Disney that only a true Disney fan would notice.

Sources: D23, Jim Hill Media


Monday, May 10, 2010

Star Wars Weekends Advertisements

Disney has just published a slew of hilarious advertisements promoting the Disney parks' upcoming Star Wars Weekends event.

See my favorite one above, some other great ones below, and all of them here at /Film.


Radiator Springs Racers Sneak Peek

Briefly: In 2012, a brand new land at Disney's California Adventure will open: Cars Land. Based on the classic Pixar film Cars, the land is a part of a massive renovation going on at the park that has been in the works for several years.

Above you can see a "sneak peek" at one of the vehicles for the Radiator Springs Racers, an Autopia-type attraction that is being billed as the E-ticket ride for the new land.

Those cars look like they are going to be very cool. This is getting exciting.

Source: Disney Parks Blog


Toy Story = Lord of the Rings?

In a new post on Jim Hill Media, Jim talks about the creative process that went into the creation of Pixar's upcoming, sure-to-be masterpiece Toy Story 3. The article discusses the retreat taken by John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and Jeff Pigeon at a seaside chalet in Marin County to work on the story for the final chapter of Buzz and Woody's saga.

It also talks about the work that went into the script by Little Miss Sunshine's Michael Arndt, the effect that computer advancements have had on the production of TS3, as well as some funny quotes, such as one by Lee Unkrich when he refers to John Lasseter's passion for the Toy Story films: “ … we’re grateful to John Lasseter for lending us his shiny sports car. Hopefully we’ve brought it back without any scratches or dings.”

And the article also analyzes the following quote by director Lee Unkrich:

That just like with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, there's this continuous flow of story from film to film to film. That that the story we’re telling this time around doesn’t feel artificial. That it feels like it came organically out of the first two ‘Toy Stories’.

Makes sense. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That must bee why I love Toy Story so much. Perhaps vice versa...

Anyways, the article is short, sweet, and very interesting.

Read it at Jim Hill Media here.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Still from 'Day and Night'

PixarTalk has just posted an exclusive still from the upcoming Pixar short Day and Night. See it above. This style of putting 3D images within 2-Dimensional characters looks like it will make for a very unique and cool short film that I cannot wait to see.

PixarTalk has also posted a picture of Teddy Newton, the director of this short, taken by Pixar's "photographer extraordinaire" Debby Coleman.

See this short starting on June 18 before every showing of Toy Story 3.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

New 'Toy Story 3' Toys

Toy Story 3 is coming out in just over a month, and I know how excited you must be. So, in order to at least partially quench your Toy Story thirst, here's a comprehensive list of all of the brand new Toy Story 3 toys:

New Additions to the Toy Story Collection:


Here's the synopsis from

This Toy Story Collection: Jessie Action Figure lets you yodel along with your favorite cowgirl. Just pull the string of this interactive deluxe replica of the yodeling cowgirl from the Woody's Roundup TV show to hear 33 sayings from the movie.

It will be available on June 1, and will cost $59.50. It is available for pre-order at

This is one toy from the official collection that, honestly, I could do without. Sure, it'd be cool to own all of them, but I don't think I'd ever actually play with this one (like I play with the other ones, anyways). Oh well, if I ever have $60 lying around, I might pick one up.

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear

Here's the synopsis from

The sweet-smelling star of Toy Story 3 has a lot to say for himself with this Toy Story Collection: Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear Plush by Thinkway Toys. This accurate replica of Lotso has a soft side and responds to hugs, tickles and your voice!

It will be available on June 1, and will cost $59.50. It is available for pre-order at

I am definitely getting this one. Although I haven't seen the film yet, I am sure that I'm going to love Lotso. Plus, he seems to be such a cuddly toy that there's no way I can resist. And, if that's not enough, he's strawberry-scented!

Mr. Potato Head

Here's the synopsis from

Every Toy Story will be hungry to play with this Toy Story Collection: Mr Potato Head Action Figure. Our animated Mr. Potato Head with part popping action and featuring the original movie voice is the definitive collector's edition.

If this toy didn't have the Don Rickles voicebox or the popping parts I wouldn't get it. Enough said.

New LEGO Sets:

I haven't seen any details on these, except for a post at The Disney Blog. Apparently, there are three or so new Toy Story LEGO sets inspired by the third film that haven't been released yet. Take a look at the pictures at the Disney Blog, but be forewarned that they do contain spoilers.

(Oh, and I am definitely getting the LEGO train set.)


If you don't want to spend as much money on a Lotso Bear, they have a cheaper, equally cuddly plush version for only $16.50. And, it's available now. You can see his picture at the top of this post.

Some other new Toy Story plush toys include Chunk ($8.50), Stretch ($8.50), and the super-cool Woody and Buzz Pook-a-looz ($12.50 each).

There's all of the new Toy Story 3 toys! I'm gonna definitely get the Lotso and Mr. Potato Head, but would love to get them all. But, even more than buying the toys, I want to see Toy Story 3! Only 46 days now...