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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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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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Love in the Details of Toy Story 4

Behind The Scenes, Pixar, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • June 19, 2019

There is something Ling Tu, the Sets Shading Lead on Toy Story 4, said during the It’s All in the Details presentation at the studio back in April that I think is very important. She hoped that we could feel the love that was put into the sets. The intention and purpose of Pixar films are not only the result of painstaking research, but painstaking love too! And that love extends to the locations as much as it does to the characters. The level of detail in Toy Story 4 is so intricate that even the sharpest eyed viewers might not notice – and that’s exactly the point. Regardless, each detail is both deliberate and necessary.

Tu was joined by Characters Shading Lead Alex Marino and Graphics Art Director Craig Foster to give us an in depth exploration of all the details.

As we’ve learned, the goal of the Toy Story films is to allow audiences to see everything from a toy’s perspective. Achieving that in Toy Story 4 relied on a number of factors, like making the sets characters with their own backstories and conveying the journeys of the toys through subtle visual hints. Something that was emphasized throughout were the imperfections in each detail, which allowed for greater authenticity and added a richness that would otherwise have been missing if the filmmakers aimed for perfection.

While it might be impossible to spot them all, here are some details (and Easter eggs!) to keep an eye on when you watch Toy Story 4.

Top 5 Sets Details

  • The leaves in the reunion scene between Woody and Bo Peep make Woody appear smaller and toylike. Pay attention to their texture, as they have the same veins and holes as real leaves do.
  • The reunion scene takes place in a dried creek bed. There’s a sprinkler box there to remind the audiences that this is still happening in the human world.
  • Dust in the antique store is very specific and just the right amount had to be applied. Take a look at the comparison image below – there’s a clear difference between them. The final frame still conveys the store’s age and unique history, but the dust isn’t distracting as it is in the first one.

©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

  • Another crucial element of the antiques store is that it makes Woody feel out of place. It’s also the last place any toy wants to be, which is why Gabby Gabby is so eager to leave. The subtleties make it feel that way, without the filmmakers being obvious about it.
  • As Tu explained, carnivals draw you in with flashy lights and colors, but they’re actually shabby when you take a closer look. One of the ways they zeroed in on the shabbiness was the carnival prize grid where Ducky and Bunny spend all their time. The image below is fascinating because it’s something we take for granted and it’s distinctly unglamorous. But the filmmakers still took the time to include it for that extra layer of credibility!

©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved. Lots of Easter Eggs here too!

Top 5 Characters Details

Photo by Marc Flores. ©2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Just like the antiques store, it was important to show how our toys have aged too. This was achieved by taking their journeys and motivations into account. Alex Marino also explained that subtle updates helped integrate the characters into the new settings.

  • Pay attention to Buzz’s stickers – they’re peeling. He’s no longer the glossy space ranger in mint condition.
  • Woody we know, has been through a lot. The micro scratches on him clue us into that and remind us that he and Buzz aren’t new toys.
  • Bo Peep’s porcelain isn’t as pristine as it was before, which makes sense considering that she’s been living as a lost toy. Her garments are a little shabby too.
  • Gabby Gabby is inspired by dolls of the 1950s and 1960s which were mass produced, but her hand painted features and the nylon quality of her hair are a contrast to the more generic features.
  • Since Gabby has been sitting on a shelf for so long, her dress is desaturated. She’s often in the dark, which would explain why her eyes are ominous rather than soft and inviting.

The Toy Story 4 art gallery, as seen on March 18, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Top 5 Graphic Design Details and Easter Eggs

Here’s something you won’t see in Toy Story 4: Woody’s Round Up. Craig Foster was deliberate about that because Woody is meant to feel out of place wherever he goes. To that end, no Western style fonts appear in the film either. Here’s a handy list of (more than) five Easter eggs to be on the look out for instead! And these are just the ones we were told about. A good chunk of the 8,000 graphics in the film reference past Pixar films.

Photo by Marc Flores

  • A Victrola in Second Chance Antiques has a record of Ernesto de la Cruz songs.
  • Paintings in the film include one of Alpha which is reminiscent of  John Singer Sargent; the classic ‘dogs playing poker’ with Dug, Muntz and the other hounds of Up; Riley’s dad as a conquistador (?!); and Angel Kitty from “Toy Story That Time Forgot” in Margaret Keane’s signature style.
  • Fun ads in the film include 1940s Triple Dent Gum (and now I’m humming the jingle of course); 1950s era Eggman Movers from the first Toy Story; Hud’s Garage, a reference to Doc Hudson; and “Small Fry’s” Poultry Palace, also from the ’50s.
  • The pinball machine has a tiki theme and naturally, the tiki heads from Finding Nemo are there.
  • A really cool graphic is Duke Caboom‘s maple leaf. Not only is it a symbol of his Canadian heritage, it looks like an explosion too!

As always, this visual storytelling expertly reinforces the film’s main themes. The labyrinthine aspect of all these details doesn’t overwhelm the characters; they blend into the background of the story and beckon us to take a closer look.

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Grab Your New Toy Story 4 Interactive Talking Action Figures This Week!

Disney, Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • June 17, 2019

With only four days to go until Toy Story 4 is finally released in cinemas, there’s no better time than now to peruse your local Disney Store or check out Shop Disney Online and pick up your own interactive action figures of your favorite Toy Story characters!

The ol’ gang is definitely back and ready to play! You’ll be able to find action figures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Rex, and Bullseye in stores. The exclusive line-up also features the new and improved Bo Peep and the loveable Forky, which you can see in the gallery above. The interactive action figures each have 10 unique expressions when they’re playing alone but when they’re paired with another figure, they unlock special phrases with their new interactive features. The toys are even able to sense when another interactive figure is nearby and they instantly start “talking” to each other, making you believe you’re right in the middle of a Toy Story film.

Has anyone bought their own figures yet? What are some of the special sayings you’ve heard when putting the toys together?

I don’t know about you, but I’m bringing all of mine to the cinema this Friday to watch Toy Story 4! We hope to see you there!

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Toy Story 4 “Takeover” Is Coming to a Disney Store Near You

Disney, Events, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • May 30, 2019

Good news, Toy Story fans! On June 1st Disney Stores around the U.S. and Canada will be transforming their locations and giving guests the opportunity to enjoy an immersive shopping experience, putting them right into the world of Disney/Pixar’s upcoming film Toy Story 4. Not only will there be loads of games and trivia for the whole family to enjoy, but new Toy Story 4 inspired toys, accessories, and clothing will also be available to purchase in stores.

If you have the chance to visit a Disney Store, you’ll be able to delight in the following activities:

  • Free Toy Story themed events and trivia
  • A new game called “Star Adventurer” where you’ll be able to practice your tossing skills to help fuel a rocket’s engine for take-off
  • Two new Toy Story 4 interactive digital games that will showcase all of your favorite characters from the film
  • In New York at the Times Square Disney Store, you can score a limited-edition pin if you decide to opt in for a paid photo experience on the Disney Store Times Square Spectacular screen
  • And if you decide to participate in any of the events, you’ll get a free sticker and have the opportunity to purchase special edition Ducky and Bunny figurines

Luckily you have the entire month of June to explore all of the fun and games at a Disney Store near you. And don’t forget to check out Toy Story 4 when it hits cinemas on June 21st!

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Onward – First Poster, First Trailer

Onward, Poster

Posted by Joanna • May 30, 2019

We only just got our first glimpse of Pixar’s next original movie Onward yesterday, and now Pixar are immediately surprising us with more Onward firsts! On Twitter, they teased us with a ‘magical riddle’ of sorts – if you reply to the tweet and solve it correctly, you’re rewarded with a beautiful poster. And a trailer is coming later tonight…

If you’re not wise enough to crack the code (or if you’re just impatient like us), then have a look at the poster below!

Isn’t it stunning? It looks like the city centre has lost some of the magic that the suburbs are still clinging onto. It’s surreal to see such a civilisation surrounded by jagged mountains and overseen by two crescent moons. Perhaps Onward will explore the fact that our world is a little like this too – huge cities can block out the beauty and wonder that our planet has to offer.

Also, can we just appreciate that van? And that it’s called Valor? What a beautiful paint job it’s had done on it. And look at that magical staff Ian has in his hand!

The excitement doesn’t stop at the poster though – the very first Onward trailer will also air tonight during the NBA final! Stay tuned to hear our thoughts on it, because we’re sure to have many!

Onward cometh to theatres in March 2020.

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Onward we go! First Look at Pixar’s Newest Film Arriving Next Year

Dan Scanlon, Onward

Posted by Simoa • May 29, 2019

Meet the cast of Pixar’s 2020 feature film – a family of elves! People has the exclusive and even sat down with director Dan Scanlon who shared more details about Onward. The film stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as elf brothers living in a fantasy suburbia. Julia Louis-Dreyfus will appear as the pair’s mother. Octavia Spencer also rounds out the cast, but we don’t know yet what role she’s playing. And now here’s what we’ve all been waiting for, images from the film itself!

I like it! The premise is new territory for Pixar and siblings are at the center. I’m digging the clothes on the elves, and the fact that they have cars and dragons in their world. As Scanlon describes it, the brothers are on a quest to find out if magic still exists.

Ian (Holland’s character) is the younger of the two. He’s shy and awkward, while Barley, the older brother (Pratt), is much more outgoing and wild.

Of the film, Scanlon says:

“My hope is some of the questions that I’m asking in the film will be questions other people are asking about their own lives. And I think that’s what a lot of the times gets us to connect to a movie.”

We’ve got lots of questions of our own, and can’t wait to get more answers over these next couple of months! Onward will be released on March 6th, next year. Let us know what you think of it so far.

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10 Years Later Up’s Opening Sequence Still Packs An Emotional Punch

Anniversary, UP

Posted by Nia • May 20, 2019

It feels like it was only yesterday that Up premiered in cinemas and we fell in love with some of Pixar’s most iconic characters: Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, Russell, Dug, and of course, Kevin. It’s unfathomable to think it’s been 10 years since we all laughed, cried, and went on one of the biggest adventures of our lives as we followed Carl on his epic quest to reach Paradise Falls.

There are obviously a lot of amazing things about Up that still hold the test of time: the breathtaking reveal of Carl’s balloon house as it soars out of the city for the first time; the sweet depiction of Dug and his adoration for his humans; even the delicious villainy of Charles F. Muntz. But the greatest part about Up, and one of the finest moments in animation history, is the opening sequence, otherwise known as Married Life.

What makes the sequence so special is the fact that Up’s director, Pete Docter, decided to tell the story of Carl and Ellie’s relationship without dialogue. I’ve always been a firm believer that you don’t need dialogue to tell a story – so much can be achieved with a subtle glance or the character’s body language, how they carry themselves across the screen or interact with the world around them, that 10+ pages of dialogue can never achieve.

The Married Life opening depicts the entirety of the couple’s relationship without words but through images of their life together, little snippets of the good and the bad parts of any relationship – starting from Carl and Ellie’s wedding and ending with Ellie’s funeral. Their relationship could’ve spanned at least half of the film, there’s even a feature length film in there somewhere about the duo, but it was told brilliantly in less than five minutes. We didn’t need dialogue to tell us that Carl and Ellie were in love and what they went through in the course of their time together. Instead, with the clever way the talented folks at Pixar animated the sequence, we saw their love for each other in the brief glimpses of their relationship as they built their dream home and worked at the zoo. We saw their hopes about the future and their goals of traveling to South America and starting a family. We saw how they were able to overcome adult problems like home-owning and having a flat tire, and we even saw their struggles with infertility and how that affected them both in different ways.

Another reason why Married Life works so well is because of Michael Giacchino’s heartbreaking score; the sequence simply wouldn’t be the same without it. If you closed your eyes while listening to Giacchino’s Married Life theme, you could almost picture the story, scene by scene, in your head. The melodies that follow Carl and Ellie on their journey together are simple and just as unique as the old-fashioned couple; the score perfectly follows the ups and downs of their relationship, giving us some lighthearted and catchy tunes while also pulling at our heartstrings at the more somber moments. Michael Giacchino even went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Up at the 82nd Academy Awards.

I have no doubt in another 10, 20, or even 30 years, the Married Life sequence in Up will still break our hearts and fill us with as much joy and devastation as it did the very first time we watched it. The opening sequence is a testament to the brilliance of animation and that with this art form, there are SO many ways to tell a story; not everything has to involve dialogue or spelling it out for the audience.

So, happy 10 Year Anniversary, Up! And congratulations again to all the amazing and incredibly talented people who worked on the project many moons ago. Adventure is out there! 

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