Thursday Movie Picks #300: Movies About Animals

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… MOVIES ABOUT ANIMALS.

There are SO many to choose from in this category… covering multiple genres, so I’m choosing one that’s live-action, classic hand-drawn animation and stop-motion/claymation, all from 3 different studios.

BABE (1995)

Gentle farmer Arthur Hoggett wins a piglet named Babe at a county fair. Narrowly escaping his fate as Christmas dinner when Farmer Hoggett decides to show him at the next fair, Babe bonds with motherly border collie Fly and discovers that he can herd sheep too.

This movie was released in theaters in 1995, which was the year of the pig. Did you know that Mad Max director George Miller wrote and produced this? It took him ten years to bring the story to the screen was because he was waiting for the special effects technology to catch up with his vision for the film. It ended up winning Best Visual Effects at the Oscars in 1996.

I remember loving it when I first watched it and even to this day I sometimes still quote its most famous line…

That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

Who doesn’t love an underdog story, farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) believed in the little piglet (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) against all odds. Such a heartwarming story that still gets me teared up, especially this scene!


A Bug’s Life (1998)

A misfit ant, looking for “warriors” to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe.

There are a few really good animal-themed Pixar movies but I chose this one as it’s the first one in that category, right after their smash hit Toy Story. I loooove this movie about ants, filled with so many wonderful characters and the animation itself is just gorgeous! I LOVE Dave Foley‘s voice as Flik, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Princess Atta, and a bunch of rag tag group of adorable bugs (my personal fave is David Hyde Pierce as Slim).

It’s such a brilliant, clever and hilarious movie that I think is still one of Pixar’s all time best. An epic in miniature proportion indeed!


Chicken Run (2000)

When a cockerel apparently flies into a chicken farm, the chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners.

From the genius minds of Peter Lord & Nick Park of Aardman Studios, this is one of my all time favorite animated movies. It’s just so hysterical, even the shapes of the chicken claymation always makes me giggle!

I absolutely adore the characters, especially Ginger (voiced by Julia Sawalha, who’s hilarious in Absolutely Fabulous series) and Mel Gibson is inspired choice as the voice of Rocky, the rebellious rooster. There’s even a fun reverence to Braveheart when he yelled FREEEEEEEEEEEEDOM! when he escaped out of the circus, ha!

This movie is just SO much fun and a brilliant homage of The Great Escape (1963), even the music by Harry Gregson-Williams & John Powell sounds similar to the Steve McQueen movie.

To this day I’m still quoting the ‘I don’t want to be a pie’ line! 🥧


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

FlixChatter Review – COCO (2017)

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Directed By: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Written By: Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz , Matthew Aldrich & Adrian Molina
Runtime: 1h 49min

Before I get into this review, I want to address one of the main arguments I’ve heard about it: that Coco is a rip-off of DreamWorks’s 2013 film The Book of Life. I don’t think this is a fair assessment. The only major similarity is that they’re both centered around Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday honoring the dead. Besides that, each movie has different storylines, tones, and animation styles. If there are going to be two movies about a holiday from an underrepresented culture, all the better.

The young protagonist Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez)

Coco is the story of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), a young aspiring musician whose family bans music from their home after Miguel’s great-great grandfather abandoned his wife and daughter (Miguel’s great-grandmother, Mama Coco, played by Ana Ofelia Murguía) to become a famous musician. On El Dia de los Muertos, Miguel breaks into the tomb of his idol, the famous Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), to borrow his guitar for a talent contest. As soon as he strums the strings, he is transported to The Land of the Dead, where, along with his new friend and guide Hector (Gael García Bernal) he learns more about his family and their past, and the role music has played in it.

Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt)

This is easily my new favorite Pixar movie. The story is so unique, and there are some surprisingly dire stakes and dark twists, but it’s still accessible to all ages. Yes, it’s a kids’ movie, but it’s a kids movie that is centered around a holiday dedicated to the dead, which isn’t exactly a light subject. The film handles the subject beautifully, though, sending a strong message about the importance of family and remembering lost loves ones, passing stories from generation to generation. And, of course, the end of the movie will make you cry, because PIXAR THRIVES ON YOUR TEARS. If I had to nitpick, I’d say that some of the exposition about Dia de Los Muertos felt like someone reading from a Spanish textbook, not like a grandmother (Renee Victor as Abuelita) explaining it to her grandson (Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel), who would presumably know about the holiday already anyway. It’s not a huge deal, but it still stood out to me.

Renee Victor as the voice of Abuelita

A strong script like this requires a strong cast to bring it to life, and the cast of Coco is fantastic, but there are a couple actors who especially stand out. Anthony Gonzalez is incredibly talented for such a young actor; he manages to be endearing without being cloying and holds his own alongside veteran performers. Gael García Bernal (AKA my celebrity husband ever since I saw El Crimen del Padre Amaro in college) is wonderful as Hector, giving both excellent comedic delivery as well as genuinely touching, emotional performances.

In addition to the acting, the cast is made up of incredible singers. The music in this movie is easily my favorite thing about it, blending a mix of classic Mexican folk songs with original pieces. The styles range from ranchera to Golden Age Mexican cinema ballads, and it’s all masterfully performed by the cast. Anthony’s voice is angelic but surprisingly full; I was delighted when he first burst into “Un Poco Loco,” his big number he performs with Hector. I had no idea Gael could sing so well (my only experience hearing him was in the baffling cover of “I Want You to Want Me” in Rudo y Cursi), but he has such a warm, rich tone, and his lullaby version of “Remember Me” is heart-wrenching.

Miguel with Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal)

I didn’t realize Benjamin Bratt, the actor who voices famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz, could sing as well; I had to check IMDB after hearing his smooth, booming voice to make sure it was actually him singing (the insanely talented Antonio Sol sings for the character for “The World is Mi Familia” and “La Llorona,” but Bratt holds his own in “Remember Me” and “Much Needed Advice”). The musical show stealer, though, is Alanna Ubach as Mama Imelda. Her rendition of “La Llorona” toward the end of the movie is phenomenal. My only complaint is that its her only full song in the movie.

Miguel with Mama Imelda (Alanna Ubach)

The only thing more vibrant than this film’s soundtrack is, of course, its animation. Pixar has really outdone itself with this movie. It’s as technically impressive as its predecessors, with incredibly realistic detail, but Coco is so much more colorful and imaginative than anything I’ve seen from them so far. Their interpretation of the Land of the Dead is breathtaking, and the way they animate the movement of its skeletal citizens is so creative. I especially love the brightly-colored alebrijes, these fantastical creatures ranging from cute and goofy to majestic and intimidating. There’s too much to take in in one viewing-so, obviously, I plan on watching this multiple times.

Not only is this my new favorite Pixar movie, it’s my favorite movie I’ve reviewed this year. It’s incredibly well-written, the acting is solid, the music is moving, and the animation is visually stunning. I strongly recommend checking this out if you get the chance. You will not be disappointed.

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Have you seen ‘COCO’? Well, what did you think? 

Five for the Fifth: FEBRUARY 2016 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

TheChoice1. Well, it’s February and V-day is next weekend. It seems that there are always a slew of romance-themed films coming out in February — and it’s the month that’s undoubtedly cornered by Nicholas Sparks. He’s got yet another one of his romance drivel drama out called The Choice, and it made me realize that I’ve only seen ONE film based on his books, The Notebook and since then I have no desire to see another project of his again.

Heck I’d rather watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ten times over before I rent, oh I dunno, Dear John? [Interestingly enough, the actor who’s in the choice was in Seth Grahame-Smith’s crazy mashup Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, ahah] But hey, obviously Sparks must’ve strike a chord with people otherwise his movies won’t continually get made.

So out of curiosity, do you like Nicholas Sparks’ movies? 
….

2. Speaking of February, glad there are definitely alternatives to romantic films. Yes I know many of you are excited for Deadpool [which I had just watched last night], but another movie out later this month that’s somehow escaped me is Triple 9. My goodness, how in the world have I not blogged about this movie before? This is a movie I’d watch just for the cast! Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr. and Aaron Paul. Check out the character posters below:

A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.

Check out the trailer:


Now granted I haven’t seen any of director John Hillcoat‘s films yet (The Proposition, Lawless, The Road) which all sound so dark and bleak, but I’m looking forward to seeing this one. I always love a good heist movie!

Will you be watching Triple 9? 

3. Apparently February 4 is PIXAR’s 30th Birthday!


Since 1986, Pixar has made so many great animated classics, most have stand the test of time. There are 16 total Pixar films so far, three of them are sequels (per Wiki). With the exception of Cars, Cars 2 and the latest one, The Good Dinosaur, I have seen ALL of Pixar movies and pretty much love them all in varying degrees. Though I’ve been watching Pixar films for a couple of decades, it’s cool that some people have just discovered them. Jordan just posted his review of Inside Out which he loved, and he’s never seen a Pixar movie since he was a kid.

Now, would you name three of your absolute favorite Pixar movies? 
….

4. I’m so bummed that I missed Hail, Caesar! press screening last Tuesday thanks to the darn snow storm. Now, I’m not one of those people who anticipate the Coens’ movie every time it comes out, but I couldn’t wait to see this one so we’ll definitely go see it on Friday night.

I was reading an interview with the Coens on Variety and one of the questions was the frequent collaborations with the same people. Ethan said they’ve done four films with George Clooney and three with Josh Brolin, and probably a dozen with Joel’s wife Frances McDormand.

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The Coens on set w/ Josh Brolin & George Clooney

Here’s Ethan’s answer as to why they tend to work with the same actors:

It’s a combination of things. Personally liking them figures into it. You got to not only work with them, but also have lunch; you’re spending time with them. When they are good at what they do, you want to spend more time with them. It’s self-perpetuating. But frankly, it’s also a bit of a crutch. If you know them well, you think: “What would be interesting for them to play?”

I personally don’t mind the frequent collaborations of the Coens and some of his actors. Some other fruitful director/actor collaborations I like are Christopher Nolan + Michael Caine/Christian Bale, Wes Anderson + Bill Murray and Ridley Scott + Russell Crowe, just to name a few. But even after three films, I’m already sick of seeing David O. Russell movies with Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence combo [shrug]

What director/actor collaborations you think you’d never grow tired of?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Tiffany from Presents from the Past blog! It’s a site dedicated to modern reimaginings of the fashion and beauty of period dramas, so naturally her question revolves around costume design.

Some of her favorite costumes are from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the TV movies Lady Chatterly’s Lover and The Go Between. Click each thumbnail to see a larger image:


For me personally, since I’m also a big fan of period dramas, I LOVE Carey Mulligan’s clothes in Far from the Madding Crowd, especially this one:

Carey_FFTMC

So which 2015 film(s) you think have the best costumes?


Well, that’s it for February 2016 edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailer Spotlight: Finding Dory

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Happy Midweek all! [just three more days until Friday] I’ve been thinking of taking a brief blogging break after the whirlwind film festivities of TCFF at the end of October. Well, I figure I should do that before the rush of holiday movies. I do have a top 10 TCFF picks to do still, so expect that at the end of the week before my temporary hiatus.

Before we get to that, let’s get to those links shall we? 

I haven’t got around to reviewing this but I agree with Josh‘s and Tom‘s take on the excellent Steve Jobs movie.

Some of you already know what I think of Spectre, well it’s interesting to read reviews of opposite spectrum from fellow bloggers. Check out what Mark and Keith think of the latest Bond movie.

SufragettePosterI missed Suffragette at a recent press screening, so check out what Natalie and Jay think about the historical drama. I also missed The Intern screening, but I’m in no hurry to watch it. Based on Mike‘s review however, it sounds like it might still be worth a rent.

One of my top five films from TCFF is Brooklyn, glad to hear that Adam feels the same way.

Margaret reviewed Bone Tomahawk, a horror Western that I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to handle.

TheAssassinPosterJordan‘s been covering Adelaide Film Festivals and posted his review of his martial arts drama The Assassin.

Nostra‘s still keeping up w/ the BlindSpot series, and he recently posted his thoughts on Werner Herzog’s Aguirre the Wrath of Gods, whilst Cindy posted her musings on the absurd (but entertaining) work of Wes Anderson

Some fun music-related posts: Dan did a list of Top 10 films about musicians, Michael posted one of my favorite Bond song Skyfall, and Chris reminisces on the best songs of the 1980s

Last but not least, Chris E. reviewed the pilot of Supergirl, a show I wasn’t all that interested in despite my love for superhero stuff.


And now on to the trailer spotlight…

FindingDoryPoster

Ooooh, what a treat we’ve got here! I’m a huge Pixar movies fan and Finding Nemo is one of my all time faves. So naturally I’m looking forward to its spin-off Finding Dory! I LOVE everything I’ve seen so far, even the poster is so fun, witty and whimsical.

“Finding Dory” reunites the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish with her loved ones, and everyone learns a few things about the true meaning of family along the way. Featuring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, as Dory, Albert Brooks as Marlin, Diane Keaton as Dory’s mom Jenny, Eugene Levy as Dory’s dad Charlie and Ty Burrell as Bailey.

Check out the brand new trailer that just dropped earlier today:

I LOVE Ellen’s voice as Dory, and great to see some of the same cast back. But I’m looking forward to hearing Idris Elba and Dominic West as new voice cast members! Not sure what roles they’d be playing but it doesn’t matter, love those guys, esp Idris whose voice is as sexy and smooth as the Brit himself.

Man, now the worst part is the long wait. Finding Dory‘s released next June 2016!


What do you think of Finding Dory trailer?

 

The Film Emotion Blogathon: 5 films to represent the 5 emotions in Pixar’s Inside Out

FilmEmotionBlogathon

I just heard about this blogathon on Drew’s blog, but it was spearheaded by the Con Man blog, inspired by the Pixar hit Inside Out (which I adore). I love this idea and naturally I had to take part!

Here are the rules for the Blogathon:

  • Pick five films to represent the five emotions in Inside Out. The criteria for choosing these films is listed below. I would be willing to allow a tie, if you couldn’t decide between two films to best represent one of the emotions.
  • What I’m looking for are five movies that make YOU feel a certain emotion. Here’s what to look for:

    JOY: First of all, you want to pick a movie that makes you happy. The kind of movie that you put on whenever you’re in a bad mood that never fails to lighten your spirits. It can be a family film, a romance, a comedy – as long as there’s a smile on your face by the end credits, it should be fair game.


    SADNESS: Now for the movie that made you cry the most. From Bambi to Titanic, there are plenty of tear-jerker movies out there. These are movies where you gravitate towards the main characters and really don’t want to see anything bad happen to them. Maybe a character dies, maybe the guy doesn’t get the girl, but your eyes should be pretty watery by the film’s end.

    FEAR:  This is the movie that gave you the most nightmares. Pretty self explanatory. There are plenty of classic horror movies to choose from, but it doesn’t have to be an out-and-out horror film. If the movie’s about a more subtle kind of fear, or if the movie just has a creepy atmosphere, that should work. Whether blunt or subtle, this is the movie that scares the **** out of you.

    ANGER: This is a movie that you flat out hated. Not a movie that was dull or boring, but a movie that just fills you up with rage just thinking about it. Maybe it’s a movie made by a certain director that had so much potential, maybe it’s an adaptation or a sequel that just didn’t do the original justice. It could also be a movie where your anger isn’t directed at the movie, but at the characters. Ever wanted to scream at movie characters for making such incredibly stupid decisions.

    DISGUST: This last one is a bit tricky, I’ll let you interpret it the way you want. It could be a horror film with a lot of really awful imagery that you don’t want to look at, it could be a comedy with a bunch of gross-out humor that you can barely listen to. It could even be a movie that you like, but your disgust comes towards the basic premise in a grander sense, like being disgusted by what you see in 12 Years A Slave or Schindler’s List. Either way, this film should make you cringe.
  • Write out five paragraphs, (one for each film) talking about the movies and why you chose them.

So here are my picks:

JOY

The Gods Must Be Crazy

As the criteria is a movie that never fails to lift my spirits and puts a smile on my face. It’s got to be my childhood favorite that still holds up to this day. Right from the witty & sarcastic opening monologue that’s poking fun at modern civilization… “For instance, if it’s Monday and 7:30 comes up, you have to dis-adapt from your domestic surroundings and re-adapt yourself to an entirely different environment. 8:00 means everybody has to look busy. 10:30 means you can stop looking busy for 15 minutes. And then you have to look busy again…”

GodsMustBeCrazy

There are sooo many hilarious situations that never fails to get me in stitches. The main character Xi the traveling Bushman & his Coca Cola bottle + the clumsy research scientist Mr Steyn w/ his decrepitude jeep are simply hysterical!! The movie is also very quotable. To this day I still find myself quoting from this movie: “It’s really an interesting psychological phenomenon…” or my personal favorite “ayayayayay” 😀

I picked this movie for a ‘A Movie That Always Make Me Laugh‘ Meme a few years ago and I still think so today. I think What We Do in the Shadows will become a perennial favorite comedy of mine, too!

SADNESS

Legends of the Fall

I struggle with this one as I initially thought of Schindler’s List and the two Disney movies Bambi and The Lion King because those films made me cry buckets. Heck even just listening a few notes of Itzhak Perlman’s violin music of Schindler’s List on the radio gets me teared up. But at least those films end in a hopeful note. So for this category, I have to go with Legends of the Fall because it’s one of the biggest tear-jerkers I’ve ever seen.

LegendsofTheFall

The story itself is just sad and tragic – families torn apart by love and war, everyone ends up losing the one they love. The romance is as devastating as can be given most characters didn’t get the love of their lives. I just listened to the beautiful, aptly melancholic score by James Horner recently and watched some clips of the film, and it still gets me sobbing all over again.

FEAR

The Exorcist

This is an easy one as I don’t watch hardly any horror films but I did see this one in college and to this day, it still scares the **** out of me. I remember after I saw it, my then boyfriend who’s now my hubby actually slept in the living room of my apartment as I was too scared to spend the night by myself. Even just looking at a photo of Linda Blair in full demonic makeup as Regan still gives me the creeps. I couldn’t even google Regan’s photo to include here, so I just typed in ‘Exorcist poster’ instead.

Exorcist

There was a Chinese horror flick I saw as a kid that I didn’t know the name of that I found pretty chilling, but I think Regan is probably the most horrifying character I’ve ever seen. I think what makes it even scarier is the fact that it’s inspired by a true story and people do get possessed in real life.

ANGER

Transformers: Age of Extinction

For a movie I absolutely loathe with a passion, it’s hard to top this one. I’ve only seen the first one and the only reason was because we were at a friend’s house. And I saw this one as I interviewed the two young actors, and thought, well how bad could it be? Well, I wanted to punch Michael Bay and whoever financed this stinker, an abominable of gargantuan proportion. It fills me up with rage how movies like this continues to get made… I mean one movie is one thing, but five??! It’s even more aggravating as there seems to be no end in sight as this franchise continues to make money 😦

TransformersAgeExtinction

It’s as if appalling dialog, stupid characters who continually make idiotic decisions weren’t enough to insult us, there’s the gross female objectification and obtuse gender/racial stereotyping. Don’t get me started about the overwhelming CGI, I mentioned in my review that I actually took my 3D glasses off a few times just to give my tired eyes a break. It’s really a sensory overload in the worst possible way. If only this franchise would go extinct!!

DISGUST

The Whistleblower

I raked my brain for this one as I could technically put down The Exorcist again for this category as Regan is just a disgusting creature and the vomit stuff & a bunch of other demonic scenes are so stomach-churning. I choose to include this little-seen film because it also deals with deplorable crimes against humanity issues like Schindler’s List and 12 Years A Slave. Human trafficking is a disgusting crime that has no part in any society, and it’s even more heart-wrenching that this film shows nobody’s willing to stand up for the victims.

TheWhistleblower

Rachel Weisz played the title role, a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia who outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal. As if the living condition these girls are subjected to isn’t appalling enough, they also had to endure some truly brutal stuff. There’s one particularly barbaric scene that’s absolutely painful to watch, I literally felt sick in my stomach that I had to look away. What’s most depressing is that these atrocities are still allowed to continue as the perpetrators are not persecuted due to diplomatic immunity. Check out my full review.


What do you think of my picks? Which films would YOU select for each of the five emotions?

Everybody’s Chattin’ and Teaser Trailer Spotlight: Pixar’s Inside Out

EverybodysChattinWinterHello all! It’s yet another combo post today, as I want to highlight some of my favorite posts from fellow bloggers as well as highlight a brand new teaser trailer from Pixar. I was going to do a Music Break of Into The Woods since I’m going to the press screening tonight, but I’ll save it ’til next week. I’m also going to the Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb screening early Saturday morning. I haven’t seen the first movie but hey Dan Stevens is playing Lancelot!

I might be blogging about my reaction to the SAG and Golden Globes noms, boy they all seem to be coming out at once! Oh and stay tuned for Ted’s review of Exodus tomorrow. If you’ve read yesterday’s post, you might’ve guessed what he thinks of it 😉

So here are what blogger’s been chattin’ about this past week:

CR_FelixLeiterAfter having finished the audio book Carte Blanche (read by my dahling Toby Stephens, natch!), Michael talked about one of Bond’s most loyal allies: Leiter, Felix Leiter.

One of my fave bloggers Cindy B. always have such insightful and perceptive posts. Her latest is on the point of view of Books vs Films and why the latter often doesn’t live up to its source material.

A few month-in-review posts are still trickling in. Kristin and Eric just posted what they’ve watched last month… and Kristin also talked about what she’s anticipating in December.

Those with music in their minds … Josh posted his list of Top 25 Songs of 2014, whilst Chris picks his Top 100 songs in batches.

Lots of great reviews of movies I haven’t seen yet:

Mark reviewed Whiplash, Stu reviewed Calvary, and Zoë reviewed FURY. Meanwhile, Mikey and Katy are both impressed by the movie I wish I had seen: Nightcrawler.

ConradHall-RoadtoPerdition

Last but not least, check out these two great lists … Alex picks his Top 10 Conrad L. Hall films, whilst Dan/Top10Film‘s contributor listed Top 10 Horror Films from the USA.

 


Now time for that awesome teaser trailer …

I hadn’t been following Pixar’s next project but oh, I absolutely LOVE this story concept! Inside Out is Pixar Animation Studios’ fifteenth feature film and glad they’re going back to an original story since Brave in 2012.

Pixar_InsideOut

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters.



Now I’m not too crazy about the name (wonder what other titles were tossed around). But hey, the premise does sound promising and the trailer definitely grabbed me. This looks like it could be right up there with Toy Story and Wall•E, both of which are written by Pete Docter and he also directed Monsters Inc. and UP for Pixar. Docter is the sole screenwriter of Inside Out and he’s also one of the co-directors. I quite like the voice cast too: Diane Lane, Amy Peohler, Kyle MacLachlan, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader. So color me excited for this one!


What do you think of ‘Inside Out?’

FlixChatter Review: Monsters University

MonstersUnivBanner

I remember rolling my eyes when I first heard of Pixar making a prequel of Monsters Inc., one of my favorites from its canon of animated features. But then I saw the trailer and I thought it looked pretty funny, and got me curious if revisiting the world of the colorful monsters would be well worth the effort.

Well, after seeing it a week ago, I can happily say that I enjoyed it immensely!! Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed green monster with Billy Crystal‘s high-pitched voice, remains one of my all-time favorite Pixar characters. Here Pixar crafted yet another ingenious storyline, an ‘origin story’ if you will of how the Mike + James P. Sullivan (Sulley), the best ‘scarer duo’ at the Monsters, Inc. end up working together and what the job meant to them.

Right from the get-go, I felt glad to be back in Monstropolis. Ever since he was a youngster, Mike has always been enamored by the profession of collecting screams from human children for the city’s power supply. A school field trip to Monsters Inc. got him all wide-eyed about becoming one of those scarer himself… it’s akin to how a field trip to NASA made some youngsters yearn to be an astronauts! So when Mike’s enrolled in Monsters University (modeled after Univ of Cal Berkeley according to the campus website), he was pretty gung-ho about learning to be the best scarer he could be. I LOVE how they introduce him walking around campus as a freshman, it’s such a fun character development that’s classic Pixar, and visually it’s as beautiful as I had expected. It’s interesting how Mike’s roommate is none other than the chameleon Randall (he still goes by Randy here), who seems pretty harmless and even nice at first, but of course his sinister side is later revealed.

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His meeting with Sulley is a memorable one, both hilarious and moving at the same time. Y’see, Sulley came from a legendary family of scarers, in class the professor actually mentioned the Sullivans by name and holds it in high regards. So Sulley is one of those students who could get by with not much efforts on his part, which infuriates Mike as in contrast, he’s the kind of guy who’s always been told he’s not scary at all, that he’s not cut out to be a scarer, etc. So naturally, he’ll do everything in his power to prove everyone wrong.

MonstersUnivDeanHardscrabbleAs with many Pixar films, it’s chock-full of awesome characters and this one is no different. The fraternity students where Mike & Sully end up belonging to are a hoot, they’re the nerds in school that the cool crowds make fun of, so immediately I sympathize with them. Plus they’re just such a hilarious bunch! One of the most memorable characters is definitely Dean Hardscrabble, a red dragon-like creature with millipede legs and bat wings. Voiced by the great Dame Helen Mirren, she’s quite a terrifying character that’s no doubt feared by everyone at school. Another British actor I like, Alfred Molina, also lends the voice of the professor of the Scaring Program.

I find the story to be quite engaging from start to finish, I was fully invested in Mike’s journey and the plot surrounding the Scare Games is definitely well-crafted. The beauty of this movie, as with many Pixar movies, is how relatable the story is. Even though we’re dealing with weird-looking creatures, the emotional issues they face (disappointment, betrayal, inferiority, etc.), are situations we could all identify with. But of course, they didn’t forgot about the sense of fun and that aspect is definitely here. The scene at the library is perhaps one of the highlights for me as I was in stitches the whole time, and also the finale of the Scare Games that’s action-packed and emotionally-charged.

If you’re a fan of Monsters, Inc. and its fabulous characters, I think you’ll enjoy this movie as much as I did. The chemistry between Mike & Sulley is still the primary strength of the film, and Billy Crystal and John Goodman are such excellent voice actors. Having just rewatched the original though, I still rate that one higher than this. The moment the duo met Boo in the beginning of the movie was pure comedic gold that’s tough to beat, even by Pixar itself. Now, as charming and entertaining this prequel is though, I do hope Pixar will return to delivering fresh, innovative ideas instead of recycling their old ones.


4 out of 5 reels


What say you, folks? Did you enjoy this one?