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The first trailer for Soul is here!

Soul, Trailer

Posted by Simoa • November 7, 2019

And it is gorgeous!

“What would you want to be known for on earth? We only have a short time on this planet. You want to become the person that you were born to be? Don’t waste your time on all the junk of life. Spend your precious hours doing what will bring out the real you; the brilliant, passionate you that’s ready to contribute something meaningful into this world.”

That’s Jamie Foxx’s distinctive voice-over in this new trailer. Gorgeous shots of New York City dominate, as gangly Joe Gardner goes about his day. And it turns out, it’s simultaneously the best day of his life – and the last. With jazzy music and piano undercutting his words, we’re already fully immersed in his world and his mind. He excitedly asks for a haircut because he finally got his dream gig. He avoids pins on the sidewalk, banana peels, even a speeding motorcycle, before he falls into a manhole. Already these few minutes illustrate what we learned about the theme of Soul just yesterday – how we can be so consumed by art to the detriment of everything else.

After his body whooshes downward into the manhole, Joe is transformed into a glowing bluish-green version of himself, his soul. The cityscape is replaced by a vast starry expanse. And there Joe is joined by 22, who speaks with Tina Fey’s unmistakable voice.

Pixar fully convinced me with Inside Out about the way our emotions work, and I’m really eager to see how they portray the inner workings of the soul. This trailer seems to have just enough humor and is also fully grounded in the day to day to balance out the metaphysical.

There’s also a gorgeous poster too!

Be sure to let us know what you think and your own theories! Soul will be released on June 19th, 2020.

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Pixar’s got Soul

Pete Docter, Soul

Posted by Simoa • November 6, 2019

Where do we go when we die? Is there some part of us that lives on when our bodies are buried beneath dirt? Some form of disembodied consciousness? Does it still wander earth or does it exist in a liminal space? What is the soul? Nearly every religion believes in the existence of a soul, and science can neither prove or disprove it. No one knows what the soul looks like, but Pixar’s going to show us their idea of it, in Pete Docter’s newest film.

An exclusive new look comes to us courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, as well as a new look at protagonist Joe Gardner, played by Jamie Foxx.

Soul’s writer and co-director Kemp Powers describes Joe as someone “who’s lived his whole life like he was meant to do this one thing [music] to the exclusion of pretty every other thing.” Powers also characterizes that single minded pursuit as similiar to anyone involved in the arts: it’s an almost religious obsessiveness you have to have to have success and a career in the arts.”

If you want to avoid any more plot details about the film, read no further. Joe dies in an accident right after he scores his dream job. His soul doesn’t journey to the afterlife, but to the You Seminar, where souls are given personalities and sent to inhabit human bodies. Like Docter’s Inside Out the film ventures into the interior. Instead of examining the emotions of the mind, this one will portray the essence of a person. At You Seminar, Joe meets 22 (Tina Fey), a human hating soul who Docter describes as a teenager with an attitude. She teams up with Joe to reunite his soul with his body on earth.

The film will surely ask some existential questions and get us all thinking about those concepts outside our realm. Docter hopes it makes us introspective.

“What are the things that, at the end of the day, are really going to be the important things that you look back on and go, ‘I spent a worthy amount of my limited time on Earth worrying or focused on that’?”

Soul flies into theaters on June 19, 2020.

 

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The new Onward trailer tells all and makes us dissolve in laughter and tears

Onward, Trailer

Posted by Simoa • October 10, 2019

Every time I’ve gone to the movies this year, I’ve seen the same preview for Onward, and so has everyone. I could practically recite it by heart. I wondered when we would get new footage and if it would ever play in front of whatever animated movie was screened before the year was out. Well now the newest trailer has officially debuted! And it’s one of the best from Pixar in recent years.

This trailer reveals quite a lot of plot! That’s a first for our favorite animation studio. For the first time, I don’t need to speculate about what’s going on, nor am I left guessing. This can only mean that even bigger surprises are being kept under wraps.

A narrator explains what we already know, namely that this new world once had magic and doesn’t anymore. It is still inhabited by mythological creatures, but they’re just like you and me. It resembles our world a little bit, but it feels like it even more.

Inside and out, the world of Onward looks beautifully fleshed out – familiar and fantastical all at once.

Ian and Barley Lightfoot, in another Pixar first, are siblings who embark on a quest. That’s par for the course in fantasy fare, but this is unlike any other quest you’ve journeyed on with your favorite characters in movies and books. On this quest, they are going to find the rest of their father. They use a wizard staff, gifted to Ian on his birthday by their dad, to bring him back, but only his bottom half! The trailer features one touching moment, that it seems only Pixar could do. Just the tap of a foot and I was reduced to tears.

Anyone who loves Monsters University like I do can see director Dan Scanlon’s distinct MO, which brilliantly blends hilarity with heartbreak. There’s so much going on in the trailer; snarling monsters and unicorns; colorful explosions; car chases; and fire. But it’s edited so well that none of it overwhelms.

Whatever excitement I had for this movie has just had a growth spell put on it. It’s huge!

Onward cometh soon, on March 6th, 2020.

Have a look at the newly revealed poster:

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International Onward Poster Revealed

Coco, Onward, Round-Ups, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • September 16, 2019

D23 is over, the next Pixar theatrical release seems an age away, and the ‘buzz’ from Toy Story 4 (pun intended) is slowly fading. It may seem like we’re going through a dry spell on the Pixar news front, but there’s actually plenty happening behind the scenes. Here’s a quick Woody’s Round Up from the past few weeks.

International Onward Poster

A really unique and beautiful Chinese Onward poster has been revealed. It has some paper-cutting and vector influences – very artistic and eye-catching. Take a look below:

Onward‘s scheduled release date is March 6th 2020.

Coco Live Performance

Coco is going to be brought back to life – live! On November 8th and 9th, Coco concerts will be held at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, hosted by Eva Longoria and Benjamin Bratt (voice of Ernesto de la Cruz). Miguel actor Alex Gonzelez will also make a guest appearance, along with Alanna Ubach (Mama Imelda) and Jaime Camil (Papa).

What could be more memorable than hearing “Remember Me” live on stage with the stunning visuals of the movie as a backdrop?

Toy Story 4 – Digital/Physical Release

Toy Story 4 is still affecting me all these months later. I’m not over that ending, everyone. But maybe I’ll be able to come to terms with it with repeated viewings at home. As usual, the physical and digital release dates are slightly different – Toy Story 4  will be available digitally from October 1st, and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 8th.

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Pixar sneak peeks at D23

D23, Dan Scanlon, Dana Murray, Disney+, Onward, Pete Docter, Soul, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • August 26, 2019

D23, Disney’s official fanclub, hosted its bi-annual expo this past weekend. There’s been a drought of Pixar news recently, barring Toy Story 4‘s billion dollar box office earnings, but now we’ve got a nice trickle of news! Attendees were treated to previews of the newest Pixar films in theaters next year: Onward and Soul. And that’s not all, since the expo is always packed with lots of celebrations and giveaways for fans. This year, there were booths for a sculpting demo with longtime Pixarian Jerome Ranft, the Pixar archives, and designing toys. Guinevere, the truck from Onward, also made an appearance.

Here’s what we can look forward to in 2020!

Onward

Described by director Dan Scanlon as a modern fantasy quest, the film follows two elvin brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, living in a fantasy suburbia that has lost much of the former. Pixar’s films usually bring magic into the real world, but this time they’re taking audiences to an imaginary one where magic has faded.

I absolutely love this poster’s design. I’m a rookie pin collector, but I’d love to get my denim jacket on this level! Notice the cassette tape simply marked with Dad. It’s not as flashy as the others, but my eyes are drawn to it anyway. The Disney Store could even sell some of these pins; I covet that unicorn.

If you’d like to read more about the storyline, Collider has a great write up but beware of spoilers! Knowing how personal this film is for Dan Scanlon, those brief details about the footage screened at D23 is quite moving.

Soul

Pete Docter’s latest venture after probing the human mind in Inside Out will now plumb the depths of the soul. This film is already a challenge since many people don’t even believe in the existence of a soul. Pete hasn’t disappointed us yet though. And it’ll be the studio’s first ever full length film with a black protagonist! The synopsis over on Polygon also has a handful of plot details if you’d rather avoid those.

Soul tells the story of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), on a quest of his own like the Lightfoot brothers, but an entirely dissimilar one. Tina Fey also joins the cast as 22, along with Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, and Questlove. The soundtrack will be provided by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Jazz musician Jon Batiste. The newly unveiled character art:

Tina Fey as 22

concept art

Forky+

Pixar’s got a new shorts collection debuting on the new streaming service, Disney+, starring Forky! In “Forky Asks a Question,” Tony Hale reprises his role and revealed the other characters who will be joining our favorite spork as he unravels the answers to life’s questions. 

The Forky series will be available on Disney+’s November 12th premiere, but we still have many months to go before Onward and Soul. Looks like the drought is over!

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Toy Story 4 Becomes 4th Pixar Movie To Surpass $1 Billion

Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • August 16, 2019

It’s taken under 2 months for Toy Story 4 to cross $1 billion at the global box office, marking it as the fourth Pixar movie to do so. It has joined the ranks alongside Finding DoryToy Story 3, and Incredibles 2.

Sequels may have been causing some controversy lately, but this really shows that Pixar know what they’re doing – and they’re doing it well. Not only have these 4 sequels performed amazingly well, but they’ve also each been remarkable in their own ways. I don’t know about you, but I have seen Toy Story 4 multiple times in theatres already.

With Pixar’s upcoming movies all being originals, it’ll be exciting to see how they perform. The world may generally enjoy franchises and familiar characters, but Pixar movies are in themselves familiar (in a good way!). We can’t wait for more information on Onward and Soul to come out soon.

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The Ending Of Toy Story 4: What Just Happened?

Opinion Piece, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • July 5, 2019

‼️ Warning! Major spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t seen Toy Story 4 yet. ‼️

Okay, I’ll admit it: I didn’t cry at the end of Toy Story 4.

I could see all this emotion and devastation happening in front of my eyes, but I didn’t cry. Woody was embracing Bo – the love of his life – saying goodbye to his faithful companions of many years, nodding his farewell to Slink, hugging Buzz Lightyear for presumably the last time… And, I didn’t cry.

My main emotion during the climax of Toy Story 4 wasn’t sadness. It was complete disbelief. Weirdly, I could see something like this was coming right from the beginning of the movie. As soon as Woody wasn’t chosen by Bonnie for play time, a pit began to form in my stomach. All the momentum of the film was leading towards this ending, and I could feel it, but I still stubbornly chose not to believe it. Honestly, the toys all seemed much more contented with this ending than I did. “How dare they?” I thought. “How dare they just go along with this?” Woody has Bonnie’s name written on his boot. Woody has a kid. And Bonnie made a promise to Andy! WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I left the cinema feeling betrayed by a cowboy doll and a 4 year old child.

I trusted you, Bonnie.

Needless to say, I did still enjoy the movie. It’s fast-paced, hilarious and beautiful, and I really do admire the direction they took it in. But that ending, though. It’s taking me a while to process.

Seeing it a second time, though, has made me look at the ending differently. In fact, it’s made me look at myself differently. There’s a moment in Toy Story 4 where Woody and Bo are convincing the great Duke Caboom to pull a stunt for them. And this is how Bo changes his mind: she says,

“Be the you who you are today.”

For a second, you can see a lightbulb flicker in Woody’s head. And the same happened for me too.

Toy Story 4 has lots of brave, confident themes. It’s about love, leaps of faith, and loyalty. But it’s also about letting go, and recognising that staying true to your past self isn’t necessarily staying true to yourself. When Woody and Bo are stood on top of the carousel preparing to part ways again, Buzz helps Woody realise that ‘being there for Bonnie’ is a duty that Woody doesn’t have to hold onto anymore. Andy grew up, Bonnie’s growing up, and Woody’s changing too. People can move on, and that’s okay. His past self would have leapt back into that trailer immediately, but he isn’t his past self now. He’s himself!

I think I was guilty of not letting go too. When you think about it, of course Woody is going to be happier living alongside Bo and helping toys around the country find their owners. And of course Bonnie is allowed to have her favourite toys and give Jessie the sheriff badge (in fact, I 100% support that last part in particular). I was stubbornly holding on to the past, and not embracing the joy of the current situation. I didn’t want Woody to leave, but why? Because I wanted things to be how they always were. But that’s impossible.

Anyway, I still didn’t cry at the ending of Toy Story 4 the second time around, but my eyes did begin to well up a bit. Maybe by the third viewing, the disbelief will have subsided and a few tears will be shed.

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Toy Story 4 Continues To Be The Number One Movie In The World

Bud Luckey, Round-Ups, Toy Story, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • July 1, 2019

We’re still reeling a bit from seeing Toy Story 4, so here’s a quick ‘Woody’s Round-up’ of how the sequel’s been doing in the theatres since its launch on June 21st.

Toy Story 4 – The Number One Movie In the World!

Toy Story 4 has been the number one movie in the world for two weeks running! If you’re into box-office ratings, then no, it hasn’t been doing as well as other Pixar movies – Incredibles 2 is still staying strong as Pixar’s most successful movie (at least in terms of box-office performance). Toy Story 4 brought in just over $120 million in its opening weekend, so it’s by no means a flop. Are box-office figures the best way to measure a movie’s success anyway? I don’t think so.

Reviews have also been hugely positive – people’s hearts all around the world have been captured by the movie’s surprising messages. Forky has become an instant favourite, Bo’s return has inspired generations, and the ending has sparked debates. We can’t wait to see how Toy Story 4 settles into being part of the franchise, and part of the world!

A Recreation Of Woody’s Old Character Design

Now instead of looking forward, let’s cast our minds back to the original Toy Story. In fact, let’s cast our minds back even further to when the concept of Woody was first being conceived. The toys went through a lot of redesigns – one of Woody’s first looks was of an old, western ventriloquist doll.

Old concept art for Woody by the great Bud Luckey

The Unit Photographer Steven Wong Jr. of Laika Studios is currently documenting, through his Instagram, the process of artist Michelle Mello creating a hand-made puppet of this old Woody design. It’s absolutely fascinating, and the final reveal is very soon! Click on through to Steven Wong Jr.’s Instagram below to catch up:

View this post on Instagram

With the 4th installment of Pixar’s #ToyStory just around the corner, what better time to step #behindthescenes as talented artist Michelle Mello (@mellomade) brings the original Bud Luckey concept version of Woody to life! ✨ Swipe left to see legendary animator and character designer Bud Luckey’s original concept and follow along for each step as Michelle handcrafts Woody from sketch to finished #puppet!💫 . . . . . . . . . 📸: @stevenwongjr 🎨: Bud Luckey #characterdesign #stopmotionanimation #animation #modelmaking #claymation #miniatureart #makersgonnamake #artistsofinstagram#maker #sculpey #filmmaking #sculpt #miniatures #pixar #makerslife #visualeffects #characteranimation #stopmotion #puppets #handmade #puppetmaking #sculpture #instaart #disneyanimation #disney #toystory4 #disneypixar

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Review: The Bittersweet Brilliance of Toy Story 4

Josh Cooley, Review, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • June 21, 2019

 

Why did Toy Story 4 have to get made? It’s a question that director Josh Cooley asked himself. His answer was that every ending has a beginning. Just because the toys’ journey with Andy was over didn’t mean their journey with Bonnie was. In the nine years that have passed between the third and fourth films, there have been three Toy Story Toons and two TV specials. Life size Lego figures of Woody and Buzz stand beside the reception desk at Pixar. As Toy Story 4 producer Mark Nielson put it, those guys are in the fabric of the studio. How could this movie not get made?!

Toy Story will mark its 25th anniversary next year. For some of the animators on Toy Story 4, the 1995 film is the first they ever saw. I can’t imagine the joy and thrill of being able to animate characters that you spent your childhood with. And not only that, but you get to work on new characters for this world, who may end up being just as iconic and beloved as the original ones.

Those original characters, our old pals, are happily being played with by Bonnie. All except one. Woody, who once enjoyed the vaunted position of the favorite toy, and by default, leader of the rest, is now none of those things. He gets tossed in the closet with toys Bonnie has outgrown and no longer plays with. It’s a dull and lonely existence, but Woody still firmly believes in his purpose to be there unconditionally for his kid. That’s why he stows himself away in Bonnie’s backpack on the first day of kindergarten. He’s not supposed to. Toys aren’t allowed. But Bonnie is having such a tough time facing this newest adventure that Woody just can’t let her do it alone.

So when Bonnie makes a toy out of a spork and names him Forky (Tony Hale), Woody is actually privy to a very special moment. Bonnie loves her little oddball creation immediately. The way she looks at Forky, that love she has for him that he doesn’t even understand or want to reciprocate, are things Woody no longer enjoys. And that’s why he’ll do anything to keep Bonnie from losing Forky.

 

Bonnie does lose Forky quite a bit while on a road trip with her parents and all the other toys – she just doesn’t know it because of Woody’s singleminded pursuit of him. Forky runs longingly to any trash receptacle he can find. “Trash! Trash! Trash!” is his gleeful refrain. He makes his final escape out of the window of the RV, triumphantly yelling, “I’M LITTER!” Yes, it’s just as glorious as it sounds. 

Forky doesn’t get far before Woody finds him, and a heart-to-heart chat about what it means to be loved by a kid convinces Forky to return to Bonnie.

But Woody and Forky have to take a couple of detours before either of them can go back.

The first of these detours takes place in Second Chance Antiques, where a familiar lamp sits in the window. Bo Peep’s lamp. Woody’s love that went away all those years ago isn’t inside the shop, which Woody and Forky find out for themselves when they go looking for her. They meet the unsettling Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) instead, a pretty little doll in a prim dress, and her horde of even more unsettling ventriloquist dummy henchmen. These guys inspire so much terror – the way they move is the worst. People are going to have nightmares and it’s Pixar’s fault.

Woody does eventually find Bo Peep after that frightening horror movie ordeal, and their reunion is awash in sunlight. When we talk about the most meaningful, inspired, symbolic Pixar movie scenes, this is going to be one of them. It’s just a brief interlude where neither of them speak because a child is playing with them, and that’s the beauty of it.

 

Though it’s been 20 whole years since we last saw Bo Peep, though her presence in this series was so slight even before she was written out of Toy Story 3, her inclusion in Toy Story 4 just feels right. It’s the most natural thing in the world. For Cooley, story supervisor Valerie LaPointe and others, this porcelain shepherdess was the reason they wanted to make the film. I predicted that Bo would be so much more significant, but even I couldn’t have guessed just how much! Again I ask, how could this movie not get made?

In addition to reintroducing Bo Peep, the film achieves yet another marvelous feat with its introduction of distinct and lovable new toys. Forky is joined by Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and Ducky and Bunny (Keegan Micheal Key and Jordan Peele). (For anyone who’s seen Peele’s Us, the fact that he’s playing a rabbit in a carnival toy game is eerie and awesome). While it’s a little disappointing that the new toys get more screentime over the older ones, that ultimately served the story best. (This is why we need more Toy Story toons). And then there’s Gabby Gabby. I was so prepared to hate her, but something kept telling me I would be proven wrong. I’m glad I was. Gabby isn’t what she appears to be. There’s always a certain value in stories where the villains aren’t what we expect at all.

Reeves and the comedy duo of Key and Peele are so fantastic that I would love to hear them again in another Pixar feature or a future Toy Story toon! Tony Hale had so much fun recording, that even if I hadn’t seen the footage of him in the booth, it wouldn’t matter; his enjoyment is palpable. Christina Hendricks also does memorable, heartbreaking, versatile work as Gabby. I’d be remiss not to praise yet another cast member in their Pixar debut, Ally Maki, as the impossibly adorable Giggle McDimples. That giggle and voice of hers are so infectious! The veterans, namely Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, and Tim Allen, are still at the top of their game.

Toy Story 4‘s other big feat concerns the plot. There’s so much of it, but it doesn’t once overwhelm the characters or feel unwieldy. Without its precise pacing, the film would suffer, it would just be a lot of noise. With Randy Newman’s subtle updates to his iconic score and the newer pieces, Toy Story 4 feels a lot like home; it’s a comforting nod to the past that is still looking forward. The nostalgia is potent but not overdone.

And it’s unbelievably hilarious too. I can’t remember the last time I heard so much raucous outbreak of laughter in a packed theater before. This movie is much wackier than the three that came before, but it’s just as beautiful, unforgettable, and devastating too. It might actually be the most heartbreaking of them all.

I simply can’t wait to watch it again.

Toy Story 4 is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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Pixar has just announced a new movie!

Pete Docter

Posted by Simoa • June 19, 2019

A single tweet. That’s all. Just one tweet about a brand new, never before heard or hinted Pixar film which debuts in theaters exactly one year from today, on June 19th, 2020.

We are getting two Pixar films next year! Both one word titles that involve mystical journeys, although Soul has a more philosophical bent than Onward‘s fantasy adventure. Oh man. It’s so cryptic! Just a simple logo with the lofty goal of answering life’s most important questions. Which are not simple! Here is one question I have: who is the heroine of this story? Please tell me Soul has a female lead.

A longer description from The Wrap:

Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams and your interests come from? What is it that makes you… YOU? In 2020, Pixar Animation Studios takes you on a journey from the streets of New York City to the cosmic realms to discover the answers to life’s most important questions.

And guess what? Pete Docter is directing! His first film as Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer and his first since Inside Out, which coincidentally turns four today! The similarities to the former film are undeniable. First we were in the mind, now we are venturing to the soul.

There does seem to be another connection to Onward. While that film takes our elven heroes out of a suburb, Soul will leave the streets of New York city. Existential pondering leading us out of the places we know  that can sometimes be a bit stifling into the unknown. At least that’s my take on it.

Let us know what you think! We will update this post with any more details and will be doing lots of Soul searching in the coming year!

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