Toy Story 3

Pixar, for the second year in a row, has made it into the Best Picture Nominees with an animated film, Toy Story 3. This is now only the third animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture. First it was Beauty and The Beast in 1993, and the second time was with Pixar’s Up.

The deep and complex story of Toy Story 3 appeals to the academy awards but at the same time, it is still has a simple family friendly story that children love. The duality of the story really shows the level of care and quality Pixar puts into everyone of their films. When announcing a third in the series, it brought fear to many people including myself, but clearly Pixar pulled it off.

The story starts with Andy growing up and no longer needing his toys. Very sad moments. Something bought melting to death. I cried. A new little girl. I cried more. Credits.

It goes without saying that the advancements of technology are really noticeable with Toy Story 3. It is very interesting to compare the latest film to Toy Story 1 (1995) and to Toy Story 2 (1999). Each a great distance from each other, that they show good benchmarks of how Computer Generated Images have advanced over time.

In the end, Toy Story 3 is a really had film to judge. There are just so many factors to think about. For starters, its the third in a trilogy, with the first two considered two of the greatest films in movie history. I will really need to watch all three again to truly compare. Then you have to compare Toy Story 3 to the award winning collection of Pixar films, not to mention the entire film history of animated films. And now, since its nominated Best Picture, it is compared to nine other live action films. Not matter what way you look at it, Toy Story 3 is a very unique film that is hard to compare too.

5 out of 5

The Princess And The Frog

The Princess And The Frog is the return of traditional animation by Disney. The film is Disney’s own take of the fairy tail, The Frog Princess, but with a new twist. The story is about a young African American girl named Tiana. All she has ever worked for in her life was to make enough money for her own restaurant. She wishes upon a star for her dream to come true. The interesting thing is, the fairy tale of The Frog Prince actually exists in the films world and the characters are aware of it. So after making her wish upon a star, she sees a frog and sarcastically questions if she needs to kiss him to turn him into a prince. Since it is a talking frog, she finally grudgingly agrees to kiss him. Since this is a twist on the original tale, instead of the frog becoming a prince, Tiana herself becomes another frog. The story continues from there in the classic Disney animation style of the two going on an adventure while meeting new friends along the away.

I think Disney did a very good job at creating the characters of the film. They are not the stereotypical fairy tale or classic Disney characters that we are use too. This is the first Disney Princess film in a very long time to feature the Princess with a mother. Out of the eight former Disney Princesses, there has only been a single Princess with both a mother and a father. The past five Disney Princesses only had a father and no one ever mentioned a mother. In this film, Tiana actually starts with both parents until her father passes away. After his passing, Tina’s motivation is living up to her fathers dream. Which is a very strong motivation for any character. The princess himself, is actually very poor. Trying to get rich again is his motivation. This seems very shallow and negative at first, but this allows room for his character to grow and change is ways and become a more dynamic character. I even teared up during a very sad moment during one of the final scenes of the film. I was completely surprised and still unable to think of another one of Disney’s animated films to have same emotional rich plot point in the film.

Not only is The Princess And The Frog a return to traditional animation, but also the classical idea of it being a musical. I had almost forgot completely about the idea of singing in an animated film. It was very rare for any animated film over the past decade for a character to brake out in song and dance. This film featured many songs, maybe too many. I am not a fan of this musical style of animated films any more. It might of been fun when I was a kid, but I enjoy a more traditional way of telling a story now. Instead of a character braking the flow of a story by singing their feelings and motivations. The only saving grace was that it just reminded me of all my favorite classic Disney films and their song and dance numbers of my child hood. I actually enjoyed the very first song, because the character’s did not stop what they were doing to sing and dance to it, instead the music was just background music during montage like sequence. I hope Disney loses the complete musical style format, and instead make it more subtle background music.

A very important note is that, spoiler alert, Tiana does becomes a princess. This means she is the first African American Disney Princess. There had been so many Western European Princesses, a Middle Eastern princess, a Native American Princess, an Asian Princess, and even some kind type of Fish Princess. So after already having the majority of races, and even a fictional one, it was finally time for Disney to have African American Princess.

Since The Princess And The Frog is brand new, of course it is missing the nostalgia factor of all the classic Disney animated film. But I can easily see how a young generation and generations to come will classify this film in the same nostalgia category that my generation and I do for Aladdin and The Lion King.


Up is a fully computer animated feature film created by Pixar and Disney. It is an adventure film, and like all Pixar films, it is meant for the entire family. The story is about an old man named Carl Fredricksen, voiced by Ed Asner, trying to achieve his dream of one day going to South America. He attaches thousands of balloons to his house to make it fly. Mistakenly, a little boyscout named Russell tagged along. As the two adventure on, they meet new friends and enemies, that will help them and hinder them on their journey.

Up is a very emotional film. At the very beginning of the film it shows a montage of Carl Fredricksen and his wife’s life. There are two extremely sad moments in the montage that that will leave a grown man crying, myself included. Even multiple viewings still make me tear up a little. Then through out the rest of the film, Carl comes up agents struggles that are hindering him from achieving his dream. These moments are also very emotionally overbearing. Little Russell talks very briefly about his personal life, and it is very sad. The friends that Carl and Russell meet up with also have problems of being hunted and outcasted by others.

If I had to fault Up for anything, it would be the evil old man villain story line. I felt that was much weaker than the rest of the films plot. It was kind of weird to have an evil old man villain, contrasting with a emotional journey to achieve someones dreams. I understand that they needed a major conflict in the film, but I think they could have come up with something better. Maybe Pixar should have extended the journey itself and made it a bigger conflict than it already was.

Like all Pixar films, the art direction and animation was outstanding. They created a very interesting world that was familiar but different. The character designs are stylized enough that they will never look out of date. These things make this film an instant classic. It is sadly not my favorite film created by Pixar, but it is many unique qualities that separate it from the rest of the collection. I would have to place Up on the top half of my list of favorites out of the 10 best picture nominees. I am happy this film is nominated for best picture because it is very rare for animated features to be nominated. Up is only the second ever to be nominated, Beauty and the Beast being the first.

Epic Mickey

An 81 year old cartoon mouse is now in the hands of a prolific video game designer. Warren Spector is turning Mickey Mouse into a unique platform action RPG video game exclusively for the Nintendo Wii. It will be called Epic Mickey. Warren Spector has had a long history as a video game designer, involved with over 20 video games. Now that he has a hold of the highest profiled cartoon character of all time, only good can come of it.

Mickey Mouse has been in many video games over the years, but it has been a long time since Mickey has stared in a new video game that is not watered down garbage geared only towards kids. The last notable adventures are the Disney’s Magical Quest games and Mickey Mania from the early and mid 90s. Classic platform video games placing Mickey in different worlds inspired by his cartoons of the past. Which Epic Mickey sounds like it took the key ideas that made those games great and brought them to a new generation.

Another notable mention would be the Kingdom Hearts series, which at first glance sounds like Epic Mickey. Instead, Kingdom Hearts collided the Final Fantasy universe with the Disney universe resulting in a strange world of contrasting properties. Mickey is not the star and the main playable characters are Final Fantasy inspired, playing through Disney’s most memorable modern feature films.

In Epic Mickey, the Disney universe collides with itself.  Almost collapsing, leaving behind a bizarre and twisted amalgamation of its former self. Instead of modern films, Epic Mickey feels to be inspired mainly of retro films and creations. Any thing created by Walt Disney himself or the Disney company, from the minds of Imagineers or from classic cartoons, actually used or unused has the possibility of being thrown into the mix. Some of the first concept art depicted a dark steam punk and decaying world. Newer concept art still has a dark tone but features classic Mickey cartoons mixed with current theme park rides, unused concept art, retired rides and forgotten cartoon characters.

The most important of them all is Walt Disney’s own forgotten creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald is bitter that Mickey became super famous and himself forgotten and left in the past. He is the primary antagonist in Epic Mickey and responsible for gathering together all the forgotten Disney creations to dethrone the top mouse. First creating the chaotic mixed up world with the help of the sorcerer Yen Sid.

Epic Mickey’s world is dynamic and changes by the character’s direct and indirect actions. Most situations Mickey will be presented with, the player can fight, run away, help or ignore and end up changing the world around him by whichever action is chosen. Mickey will have the ability use paint and paint thinner to modify or erase objects in the world. Actions will also physically change Mickey himself between three different morality alignments. Changing between the good Hero Mickey and the bad Scrapper Mickey, with a Mickey that fits in between. You can fight your way through the game and become the Scrapper Mickey or you can correct the world and befriend the enemies and become Hero Mickey. The game goes as far as being able to avoid boss battles with the right actions. The game feature both a full 3D world and in between levels where Mickey is sucked into a movie screen and plays a side scrolling platform level inspired directly by one of his classic cartoons.

The game is set to be released on September 16th, 2010. Warren Spector wishes for Epic Mickey to become a trilogy of games. If it is successful enough to deserve two more games, I will be wishing for it to be turned it to at least an animated short film. Warren Spector is also rumored to be wanting to create a brand new DuckTales video game. I believe anyone who has played the original NES version or it’s sequel would want a current generation version and would ask for more moon, please.

Steamboat Willie was released November 18th, 1928, making Mickey Mouse 81 years old today. Even though technically Steamboat Willie was not Mickey’s first cartoon, it is popularly recognized as such, so today is recognized as his birthday.

Happy 81st Birthday Mickey Mouse!