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Day & Night – The Pixar Short Of The Week

Day & Night, Pixar Short of the Week, Short Film, Shorts, Teddy Newton

Posted by Joanna • December 7, 2018

“Day & Night” is the much-loved Pixar short that played before Toy Story 3 in 2010, and it still stands as one of the most unique shorts in the studio’s history.

It explores the inspired 2D-3D world of Day and Night – two polar opposite characters with, to begin with, a total lack of empathy for each other. The short opens with a fully 3D animated scene, and the audience is lulled into a false sense of familiarity: Pixar does 3D animation! This is what we’ve all come to expect (the genius Ratatouille short “Your Friend the Rat” is a clear exception here, along with lots of creative credits scenes). This is where “Day & Night” hits us with the first of many clever surprises – this 3D world we’ve been looking at is all inside not one, but two 2D animated characters. Inside Day are sunny fields, bright mornings and singing birds, while inside Night are moonlit meadows, glinting stars and chirping crickets.

These two characters live in the same world – in fact, the entire short only uses a single camera – but the “Day & Night” crew managed to pull off this seamless day-night contrast between scenes inside each of the characters. They live in the same world, but they see it so differently. It’s only as they discover more about each other that they begin to see the beauty in their opposite’s perspective. This is such an important message – one that can apply to absolutely everyone who’s had the joy of watching the short.

There are so many things to appreciate about “Day & Night”: the particularly relevant message, the knitting together of wildly different animation techniques, the use of sound… Initially, director Teddy Newton wanted to use only natural sounds to create the soundtrack of the film, but eventually Michael Giacchino was enlisted to compose music for it too. The music was only used where music would naturally be – playing on a radio on the beach, or blasting out of Las Vegas casinos.

There are so many smart visual and audio gags in “Day and Night” – ducks quacking to mimic laughter, squeaky bicycle wheels to imitate Day rubbing his eyes. Here, Night is hanging off a cliff edge.

The finale to “Day & Night” is perhaps what sticks with people the most – Day and Night are distracted by a radio broadcast, which is a snippet from a Dr Wayne Dyer (author and motivational speaker) lecture.

“Fear of the unknown. They are afraid of new ideas. They are loaded with prejudices, not based upon anything in reality, but based on … if something is new, I reject it immediately because it’s frightening to me. What they do instead is just stay with the familiar. You know, to me, the most beautiful things in all the universe are the most mysterious.”

It’s after hearing this recording that Day and Night finally understand the beauty in one another’s world views – it’s people’s differences that make our world so full of wonder. A synchronised sunrise and sunset show that Day and Night may be very different, but it’s still possible to connect with one another.

In the commentary for “Day & Night” from director Teddy Newton and Camera Polisher and Stereographer Sandra Karpman, Newton comments on the fact that many viewers’ favourite part is when Day and Night almost seem to become each other and switch places. He explains that they don’t turn into each other. “They’re still who they are. They’re still the same person. It’s just that the thing inside them has changed. They come out of the experience seeing the world in a new way, empathising with the other’s world view.”

That’s a pretty brilliant message to be putting out there.

Some fun facts:

  • Director Teddy Newton would hear this recording of Dr Wayne Dyer while he was growing up because his mother owned an audio recording of one of his lectures. He felt the quote so perfectly fit the theme of “Day & Night” and it couldn’t not be included.
  • Pixar treated Dr Wayne Dyer to a screening of “Day & Night” as a way of saying thank you.
  • Initially, Newton came up with the idea of a keyhole character with the 3D world inside it. In the end, he decided the characters needed to be more mobile to be able to tell a story, so the keyhole concept gradually evolved into the walking and (kind of) talking Day and Night characters that we see now.
  • Newton lent his voice to Chatter Telephone in Toy Story 3 and Mini Buzz in the Toy Story Toon “Small Fry”.

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Incredibles 2 Nominated for Golden Globe Award

Awards, Brad Bird, Golden Globes, Incredibles 2

Posted by Joanna • December 6, 2018

The nominations for Incredibles 2 keep rolling in – just after receiving 11 nominations at the Annie Awards, it has now been nominated for Best Animated Motion Picture at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Incredibles 2 sits amongst fellow worthy nominees Isle of DogsMiraiRalph Breaks The Internet, and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

The Golden Globe awards will air on January 6th, so we’ve just got a month until we find out the result! Regardless of the outcome, it’s great to see Incredibles 2 receiving so much praise – we’re beyond happy for the entire crew.

Following the nomination announcements, director Brad Bird revealed that he was initially worried the sequel wouldn’t prove as popular as the original – he was afraid superheroes wouldn’t be ‘in’ any more. (Ironic, given the fact that the new animated Spider-Man movie has also been nominated for best animated feature.) But he realised that Incredibles is more than a superhero movie – family is at the core of these films, even during those classic fight scenes.

“I thought, two years from now — because it takes a while to make these things — are people going to be sick of superheroes? But then I remembered that what drew me to the idea and made the idea appealing to me in the first place was that it was primarily a film about families — and they just happened to be superheroes. And to me, family is an endlessly fascinating subject because it’s in everyone’s lives.”

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Domee Shi: Pixar’s Newest Source of Creative Power

Bao, Domee Shi, Pete Docter, Shorts

Posted by Joanna • November 29, 2018

It was recently revealed that Domee Shi will be directing a feature length film for Pixar Studios.

Domee Shi, best known for directing Pixar’s newest short “Bao”, has been fuelling the studio’s movies with fun and creativity for a number of years now. She started out as an intern, contributed to Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, and Incredibles 2 as a storyboard artist, then had her directorial debut as the first female director of a Pixar short, which received an overwhelmingly positive response for several reasons. Firstly, “Bao” is wonderful. It beautifully represents Domee Shi’s Chinese-Canadian background while still depicting a very universal message. It’s also a sign of a great leap forward for Pixar and the animation industry as a whole to not only see a female director, but a female director who is actively bringing more diversity onto our screens, and in such a heartfelt and personal way.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Shi was recently interviewed by Deadline, and the interview as a whole really fills you with confidence about Pixar’s future. There are some very important and exciting things to be taken away from this chat with Shi, the most obvious one being that Shi is working on a new feature length film for the studio! This is huge. Only one Pixar film has been directed by a woman (Brenda Chapman for Brave), and she was replaced by Mark Andrews midway through the film’s development.

 “We’re just developing the story for it right now,” Shi says. “It’s super early on, but I’m really excited to play in this new 90-minute film format.”

Shi originally had to pitch three different ideas for a Pixar short, so it’s clear that she has plenty of imagination to offer. Shorts are often more experimental in their stories, concepts, and character designs, but here’s hoping that Shi’s experience as a short director stands her in good stead for creating a unique feature film for us to look forward to.

Completely charming concept art for “Bao” by Domee Shi

It’s also incredibly encouraging to hear how Domee Shi feels about Pete Docter’s new role in the company, and how she’s excited about the studio’s future. Pete Docter was officially named as Chief Creative Officer for Pixar Animation Studios this June, and this was pretty much unanimously met with enthusiasm – Docter’s films (Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out) are seen as many as some of ‘Pixar’s best’. It’s comforting to hear that within the company he is viewed as a good mentor, a “humble and down to earth” man, and someone who values creativity and diversity.

We’ll leave you with these particularly heartwarming quotes, but the full interview is definitely a worthy read.

“I think [Pete Docter]’s always been a huge supporter of unique voices at the studio. You can tell he’s really curious and interested in different types of stories, different types of characters—and he always wants to try new things.

 

“I feel like Bao was a pretty huge example, for me, that Pixar is fully behind supporting diverse storytellers. I think Sanjay’s Super Team and Coco were the two other films at Pixar that really helped pave the way for Bao to be made, and because those two productions were done before Bao, it gave me confidence, knowing that Bao isn’t just going to be a trend, or a blip.”

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New Toy Story 4 Poster Sees Woody Walking Off Into The Sunset

Poster, Toy Story, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • November 28, 2018

A new Toy Story 4 international poster has been revealed! The new poster features Woody standing a similar pose to a previous teaser poster, seemingly tipping his hat and walking off into what looks like a sunset (and a very beautiful sunset at that).

This stance suggests that Woody is saying a farewell of sorts, and if the little teasing comments from Tim Allen and Tom Hanks (voices of Buzz and Woody) are anything to go by, it seems like there’s a reasonable likelihood that this is exactly what the end of Toy Story 4 is going to involve. But remember – Pixar really do like to throw their curveballs! The only thing that can be guaranteed is that it will definitely surprise us.

Also worth noting is the carnival in the background. We’ve already seen a teaser trailer featuring Ducky and Bunny, two characterful fluffy toys that may or may not be carnival game prizes. Pixar have described Toy Story 4 as “a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends” – it looks like the carnival is going to be a significant stop on the toys’ journey.

At this point, we can still only speculate! But with Toy Story 4 coming out in just over 6 short months, we’re sure more details will be revealed in due course.

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Piper – The Pixar Short Of The Week

Piper, Pixar Short Films Collection, Pixar Short of the Week, Shorts

Posted by Joanna • November 13, 2018

The Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 3 is out on Digital and Blu-ray today – why not give “Piper” a watch and then dive into this little Pixar short exploration?

Since premiering before Finding Dory in June 2016, “Piper” has quickly become a firm favourite with Pixar fans, and even went on to win the 2017 Oscar for Best Animated Short. This is our first post in our ‘Pixar Short Of The Week’ series, where our Twitter followers vote on what short they’d like us to delve into next. “Piper” won with over 50% of the votes in this week’s poll – I think that alone tells you how beloved it is. It ticks all the boxes – very cute, heart-warming message, a sense of humour, beautiful to watch… And I’ve found that I appreciate it even more now in 2018 than I did when I first watched it in theatres two years ago.

Piper concept art

This is, in part, due to my new-found passion for birdwatching. I don’t know how many people share this joint interest in Pixar and birdwatching, but if any of you are out there, I’m sure you’ll agree that “Piper” is the dream.

Fun fact (maybe): On pixar.com, Piper is described as a Sandpiper – director Alan Barillaro was inspired by ‘watching Sandpipers react to waves and run on the beach’. But ‘Sandpipers’ are actually a large family of birds. Piper is in fact a Sanderling (Calidris alba, as opposed to Hungrius Littlus Birdis) – these are the birds that run in and out with the waves, poking around in the ‘intertidal zone’ for food. They are also the only birds in the Sandpiper family that lack a hind toe – and look!

No hind toe! (Especially obvious if you look at Piper’s mum’s feet).

This is what I love so much about “Piper” – it achieves this perfect balance of realism and magic. On the one hand, the level of detail is such that I can do bird identification, but it’s also a short about a precious baby bird expressing real human emotions and overcoming her fears through a friendship with a tiny crab. It’s a technological triumph, but – and this is the key to the success of the film – it’s also a wonderfully told story.

“Piper” actually started out as a project to push the limits of new animation technology, which is made apparent when you see the animation of individual grains of sand, the frothy movement of the waves, and the independent fluttering of feathers. I love that people appreciate the sheer skill that has gone into the creation of the short, but are also able to just enjoy it and immerse themselves in it.

Look at that feather animation! Look at the sand!

Piper concept art. They even got the Sanderling plumage spot on.

The birds are stylised, but realistic. You can tell the aim wasn’t to fool the viewer into thinking they’re watching a live action sequence. Honestly, it looks better than live action. It looks better than real life! The way they experimented with camera movements and depth of field makes it all so captivating. And the “Piper” crew was able to design the characters in such a way that they can express more emotion.

This is important, because “Piper” is also amongst the many Pixar shorts that have zero dialogue – the connection you feel to the characters is not brought about through words, but is instead completely reliant on their facial expressions and behaviour, along with the music (by the legendary Adrian Belew). It’s the subtle yet complex animation that makes all this possible. Barillaro was inspired by Andrew Stanton’s WALL-E when finding ways to animate communication between non-speaking, non-human subjects. Their gestures are understandable, but the birds haven’t been so heavily anthropomorphised that the ‘otherworldly charm’ is lost.

The message that I take away from “Piper” is that fear is there to be overcome, and life will feel all the sweeter once you’re on the other side of it. By the end of the short, Piper not only gets over her fear of the waves, but completely submerges herself in them! It’s not unlike what Poppa told Arlo at the beginning of The Good Dinosaur in the warm light of thousands of fireflies: “Sometimes you gotta get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side.”

“You gotta get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side.”

Some more fun facts:

  • Yes, Piper is a girl.
  • The composer for Piper, Adrian Belew, is perhaps best known for being in the band King Crimson and working alongside stars such as David Bowie and Frank Zappa.
  • Barillaro took a go-pro to a Hawaiian beach, where the water was nice and clear, to get research footage for the underwater scenes.
  • They recorded pieces of the soundtrack being played underwater in the Pixar pool – these recordings were used in the surround sound during the underwater scenes.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter so you can vote on what next week’s Pixar Short Of The Week should be!

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The Toy Story 4 Teaser Is Here!

teaser, Toy Story 4

Posted by Joanna • November 12, 2018

Toy Story 4 is set to release in June 2019, so we knew it was only a matter of time before a teaser was coming our way. But that doesn’t make this news any less exciting!

Pixar posted a Toy Story 4 teaser today – you can watch it below:

It’s surprisingly touching to see all these beloved characters in action again, even though we have been spoiled with Toy Story Toons over the past few years. It seems very little is being revealed about the plot at this stage – the toys are simply joyfully holding hands and spinning around in slow motion with the classic ‘Toy Story clouds’ as their backdrop. It’s oddly dreamlike, especially with Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now playing in the background.

With the news that Bo Peep is making a return in Toy Story 4, I was almost expecting her to slowly come into frame as the camera panned round, but perhaps that would have been an obvious twist… The strange spork creature, on the other hand, is not something I could ever have predicted.

Forky – a spork turned toy?

Here is Pixar’s description of Toy Story 4 so far:

“Woody has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called “Forky” to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy. Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”) and produced by Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”) and Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”), Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019.”

So is Forky going to be a central character of sorts? Is the movie going to explore the concept of what makes a toy a toy? Can we assume these ‘old friends’ will include Bo? All will be revealed in time, but it’ll be hard to stay patient!

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Incredibles 2 – Digital And Blu-Ray Release Dates Revealed

Blu-Ray, Incredibles 2

Posted by Joanna • August 21, 2018

We now know just how long we have to wait until we can finally watch Incredibles 2 from the comfort of our own homes. The reveal has come a little earlier than expected – Incredibles 2-themed treat bags being given out at the ‘Not-So-Scary Halloween’ events at Disney World were sneakily footnoted with the Blu-Ray and digital release dates. Incredibles 2 will be available for digital download on October 23rd, and can be bought on Blu-Ray on November 6th. Have a look at one of the treat bags below, posted by @laughing_place on twitter.

There’s no news on any special Blu-Ray features yet, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for plenty deleted scenes, commentaries, and behind-the-scenes peaks. No doubt the equally incredible short Bao will be included in the Blu-Ray (we’re kind of hoping for lots of Bao special features too).

Keep an eye on our blog for when the special features do get announced, most likely within the coming month. So – will you be buying Incredibles 2 on October 23rd, or will you wait until November 6th for a physical copy? And how many evenings in a row are you planning on watching it?

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Incredibles 2 Has Passed $1 Billion Worldwide

Incredibles 2

Posted by Joanna • July 31, 2018

Incredibles 2 may have been introduced to the US over a month ago, but the sequel has been steadily amassing box office takings as it’s been released in countries all over the world. In fact, lots of countries are still waiting!

Its reception has been more than positive across the globe, and Incredibles 2 has now made the staggering achievement of passing the $1 billion mark at the global box office. It’s also in the top 10 fastest movies ever to reach the $500 million milestone, and is the only animated movie in this lineup.

Finding Dory previously held the title of “biggest domestic animated movie opening”, but Incredibles 2 has succeeded in overtaking it, becoming the first ever animated movie to gross over $500 million in the US. This makes it the highest-grossing Pixar movie domestically. Superhero movies are totally dominating the theatres these days, and yet Incredibles 2 is already the 4th highest-grossing superhero-genre movie out there, even overtaking the likes of The Dark Knight. 

But enough of all those statistics… What’s really important is that Incredibles 2 has clearly lived up to fans’ expectations and the super talented team of super-movie makers at Pixar have done themselves proud. We can’t wait for those of you around the world who are still patiently (or not so patiently) waiting to see the movie for themselves! Incredibles 2 releases in Japan tomorrow, and residents of Germany have to wait until September 27th. Hang in there, superheroes!

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Pixar Pier Highlights

Disney Parks

Posted by Joanna • July 2, 2018

The new entirely Pixar-themed area of Disney California Adventure Park – Pixar Pier – enthusiastically opened its gates on June 23rd, and it’s got more than enough to offer to all the fellow Pixar fans out there.

First up – the attractions!

There are currently 3 attractions at Pixar Pier – The IncredicoasterToy Story Midway Mania, and the Pixar Pal-A-Round –  with more due to be added in 2019 (Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind and Jessie’s Critter Carousel). Toy Story Midway Mania makes you feel like you’ve shrunk down to the size of Woody and Buzz while you compete in a variety of target shooting games, while the Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris Wheel lets you sit back, relax, and take in your surroundings and the wonderful views. If you’re looking for more of a thrill, there are swinging gondolas too!

The Incredicoaster is an Incredibles 2 themed rollercoaster, complete with Michael Giacchino’s iconic soundtrack. And this isn’t just the movie soundtrack – Giacchino arranged music specifically for the Incredicoaster, to play alongside a high-speed race to catch Jack-Jack. If you’re looking for an immersive experience, then look no further than this super-powered ride.

“People when they’re riding it…they’re gonna have an emotional connection right off the bat. They’re gonna feel like they’re really in the movie. And I think that they’re gonna walk away from this, humming the music and saying ‘we have to go and do that again’.” – Michael Giacchino

Watch Disneyland’s feature on the orchestration below:

What else?

This isn’t anywhere near the extent of what Pixar Pier has to offer – there are all sorts of snacks taking inspiration from our favourite Pixar movies (a ‘Jack-Jack Cookie Num Num’, anyone?), including the Poultry Palace, which you may recognise from the Toy Story toon Small Fry. 

“Some Nutrients – Many Preservatives”

There are also plenty of games (with prizes!) to try out – the La Luna themed one being my personal favourite. The WALL-E Space Race comes in as a close second though.

I love how the team who came up with concepts/designed/built Pixar Pier were clearly driven by creativity and a sense of fun. I think that’s why I feel the most excited about the Lamplight Lounge (and that’s why I saved it until last). The Lamplight Lounge is a ‘restaurant celebrating creativity’; its walls and ceilings are adorned with posters, concept art, promotional art and memorabilia from Pixar movies spanning all the way back to Toy Story.

 

Have you been lucky enough to visit the Pixar Pier yet? If so – please share your photos and experiences with us! What was your favourite part? Did you sample all the snacks? Let us know on Twitter.

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Was Incredibles 2 ‘Worth The Wait’? – Incredibles 2 At The Edinburgh International Film Festival

Incredibles 2

Posted by Joanna • July 1, 2018

Ever since The Incredibles came into our lives back in 2004, fans have been pining after a sequel, and now, 14 years later, we finally have one! But was it ‘worth the wait’? For those of you that are still patiently waiting – minor spoilers ahead!

Incredibles 2 releases in the UK on July 13th, almost a full month after the US release. By now, as a resident of Scotland, I’m used to usually having to wait a little longer to see Pixar movies in the cinema, but I was beyond excited to discover that I was able to attend the Edinburgh International Film Festival (or EIFF) this year and see Incredibles 2 on June 24th. It wasn’t so much the slightly earlier screening that I was excited about – it was the atmosphere. Seeing Incredibles 2 in the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh has made my first viewing of this fantastic movie, and the wonderful short Bao, even more memorable and unique than I could have imagined.

It was surreal to be sitting in a theatre traditionally built to house opera and ballet performances while listening to Michael Giacchino’s Incredibles soundtrack in the background and watching kids running around with balloons and superhero facepaints. It was surreal, but also oddly fitting. It felt so right to be sitting in an audience of over 1000 people, enthusiastically awaiting the next Pixar movie. The release of a new Pixar movie is absolutely something worth celebrating, and this was my first time really getting to be a part of the celebration.

EIFF Artistic Director Mark Adams and Pixar’s Fran Kalal, the Tailoring Lead on Incredibles 2, were there to thank the audience for coming, and were even joined on stage by Bob and Helen Parr themselves! Or at least…people in Bob and Helen Parr costumes. Like I said – it was all very surreal. Kalal said this was her first time visiting Scotland, which was very exciting to her since she helped design Merida’s dress from Brave. And then, in true theatre fashion, the curtains were raised and the film started playing.

From my experience as a UK cinemagoer, audiences are always relatively subdued. It’s unusual when someone makes any sort of exclamation during a movie, and even more unusual for people to actually applaud when the credits start rolling. I think that’s what made my EIFF experience so special. When the little dumpling in Bao first came to life, its eyes bursting open in horror when it realises it’s about to be eaten, there was the biggest uproar of laughter from the audience, and the laughter barely had a chance to die down until the very end of the short. It was to the point where I had trouble making out the music and sound effects – and I’m not even complaining! I was so moved by being able to hear the audience’s reaction to something I’m so passionate about – in the moment – instead of finding out through online communities afterwards. With Bao’s particularly shocking twist (you guys know what I’m talking about), I can’t think of a better short to see in this atmosphere. We all applauded as it came to an end, and I found myself applauding Pixar movies in general, making up for all the applause opportunities I’ve missed over the years. The fact that an actual Pixar employee was out there in the theatre somewhere made it feel like we were personally saying ‘thank you’, all 1,900 of us.

The same goes for the whole of Incredibles 2 – with the audience gasping, erupting into laughter, and going eerily quiet, I could immediately tell which scenes, gags, and reveals were going to stick in people’s minds for years to come (Jack-Jack and Edna taking away the trophy for ‘most memorable Incredibles 2 moment’). I was in the ‘upper circle’ of the theatre, and two kids in front of me could barely sit down from the excitement of all the action scenes – they’d moved past the ‘on the edges of their seats’ stage, standing on their tiptoes and holding onto the bannister as Elastigirl had her stunning face-off with the Screenslaver. Honestly, I wish all my cinema experiences could take place in as dramatic a setting as the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

So – was Incredibles 2 ‘worth the wait’? For me, I don’t know if I was even waiting for a sequel to The Incredibles before it was officially announced. I love The Incredibles, its family values, and its characters, and I was content in revisiting its world simply by watching the original movie whenever I had the urge. That said, when Pixar announced that a sequel was in the works, I was eager to see where it could take the Parr family and how current day animation techniques could flesh out their world and its designs.  It wasn’t exactly ‘worth the wait’, not because it didn’t live up to my expectations, but because I wasn’t even waiting for it! I didn’t know what to expect! However: it was more than worth a trip to Edinburgh, more than worth bravely attending a screening on my own, and more than worth seeing. And I think that is what’s really important.

I’m looking forward to seeing it again once the UK release date officially rolls around. Maybe it won’t be as magical as my first viewing, but the magic that Pixar managed to capture in Incredibles 2 through its action-packed sequences, its attention to detail in the animation and settings, and its messages on everyday, heroic acts is unquestionably enough for me.

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