Short Review Means I’m Still Speechless: Wreck-It Ralph Review

With the amount of videogame titles (not to mention snack foods) incorporated into Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, from an easter egg standpoint, it was already guaranteed to deliver. But what about in terms of story?

Minutes into the movie, we’re introduced to the land of videogame characters. The varied cast interacts with each other in a way similar to that of the toys in Toy Story, except switch out Andy’s room with an arcade where all the videogame characters intermingle through means of their shared plug outlet. Within the shared videogame world, amazingly enough, is an established set of rules/game logic that helps push the story forward, never once contradicting itself—a difficult task when dealing with such an “anything goes” mentality of videogames in general.

We’re introduced to Ralph, who’s been a certified wrecker/antagonist for the arcade game “Fix-It Felix Jr.” for a good 30 years now, and by this point in his life, he’s starting to consider what it means to be a bad guy and how much better his life would be if he was simply made to be a hero instead. It’s a rather simple concept that ends up being executed exquisitely. Rather than being too caught up in standard definitions for “good” and “bad,” Wreck-It Ralph understands and acknowledges that living by “how you’re programmed” is a murky topic and as such takes a cautious, yet satisfying, approach to the subject.

But what I especially loved about the movie was the progression of its story. What initially comes off as a gag or minor detail is not only mentioned again later in the story, but helps flesh out the plot significantly. It reaches the point that you can really tell just how much time and effort was put into the story’s structure.

I feel like I’ve kept the review incredibly vague, but I swear that’s only because I was so taken away by this movie and to delve further into it would only give spoilers. Just watch it and you’ll see.

DVD Purchasing 101: The Waiting Game

Earlier last week, I finally caved and bought Evangelion 2.22 on Blu-Ray, Summer Wars on Blu-Ray, and FLCL on DVD—three very awesome titles that would normally cost closer to $60 even on a good day, and I got ‘em for $30 (minus the damn shipping, but even considering it, it was still a good buy) all thanks to playing the waiting game.

If you aren’t interested in being the first kid on the block to have the latest and greatest title on home video release, then you’re probably better off playing the waiting game—holding out on buying said product in question until it lowers in price. While such a law holds true for all purchases, there are certain “sub-laws” which one should abide by in terms of picking up movies or TV shows. Here are just a couple that come to mind:

What is the fanbase of the series in question?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—the types of people that would buy something like The King’s Speech are a different type than those that would pick up something like say an anime release. As such, the guys pushing for these releases try to get into the minds of said people, trying to think about just what their shopping habits would be. Not to cause any offense on my own demographic, but anime fans (at least the type that actually purchase what they like) are more likely to immediately pick up a title, while more casual buyers would probably have more practically things to prioritize for.

Keeping this in mind, the titles aimed at the more casual fans are more than likely going to decrease in price sooner than releases aimed at a more “hardcore” audience. I don’t even think it was a month before I was able to pick up King’s Speech on DVD.

How “Special” is this “Special Release?”

I fucking hate Disney. More so because they’re good at making money than for the fact that I had a traumatizing experience at their theme park.

I’m sure most home video consumers are aware of Disney’s little concept of “The Vault”—which essentially plays the “limited time only” card, keeping the release widely available for only a short amount of time before it goes off the market again, giving second-hand sellers an excuse to bump up their prices to insanely high prices just because they know that the item’s no longer in circulation firsthand. And you might think that because of this ridiculous money-making scheme that you’re essentially forced to pick up whatever good title Disney throws at you for whatever price they put it up for. And you’d be half-right.

This is when you start to look at the grander scheme of things (but not too grand, otherwise you’ll get into the whole “worldly possessions” thing). Honestly, the shift from VHS to DVDs as a standard was a much higher step than DVD to Blu-Ray, or even to 3D Blu-Ray (or whatever the hell that one’s called). And while it doesn’t apply to all items out there, there are a decent amount of titles that will have multiple releases on the same video format. Sticking to Disney, The Lion King already had a previous release filled to the brim with extras and the like. When it went back into Disney’s Vault, its price skyrocketed to the triple digits. However, with a new release coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray/3D, prices have sunk to well below its initial MSRP. Multiple releases will more than likely mean variations between each one, though, so some compare and contrasts will have to be done before a final decision’s made.

Who’s Releasing It?

I’m sure warriors of way back when and even today’s modern soldiers would roll their eyes if I were to use “know your enemy” in the context of DVD purchasing, but whatever. In this case, the enemy is the distributor—the guys trying to make the item appeal to you to the point that you’d be willing to pay an extravagant amount for it. This is when knowing a little bit about the companies at hand will save you a good sum of money.

I already mentioned Disney and their tendency to put out limited releases, but there are plenty of other distributors/companies that act in a different manner. In Funimation’s case, they’re fully aware that the anime titles they’re releasing will be gobbled up by the fans, who have little to no choice when it comes to deciding who to buy from, since most other US anime distributors have gone under within the past few years. This has led to Funimation taking every option available with their titles, releasing them as many times as the consumer is willing to double dip for it. For example, a good number of their bigger titles were released in 13 episode chunks before being re-released in 26 episode chunks for the same price. Something similar can be said about WB and Harry Potter, re-releasing each movie so many times that I honestly lose track of it all. Though, their oversaturation of the Potter series has led to some apparently good quality releases for cheap, with certain Blu-Ray releases going for as low as $10.

Bonus Content

We’ve reached a point in our home video world that bonus material is practically mandatory for movie releases. While this is true, however, this results in bonus content ranging in quality from interviews with the cast/crew essentially saying “yeah, I’m in it, so you should buy it” to the more considerate interviewees that actually provide a more in-depth look at the movie that you wouldn’t get otherwise. So your mileage may vary.

Television series are the polar opposite, however. While newer series will stick to including at least a handful of special features (again, your mileage may vary), there still exist a good chunk of series out there that are severely lacking in any special features outside of your bullshit ones like anamorphic widescreen and subtitles. Which leads to the next point to consider…

Episode Count

It’s not 10 years ago, so I shouldn’t even have to say that $50 for a 26 episode series is an outrageous price to pay, especially when the release in consideration is a “bare bones release,” containing only the episodes/movie without any bonus content. Plenty of distributors have realized this and have made their price per episode ratio significantly lower than what it used to be. I’d say around $30 for a typical season set of around 26 episodes is a good average price to pay, though that’s assuming that you enjoy most if not all the episodes on that release.

My cousins have a “3 songs” rule when buying CDs, where you have to have at least three songs on that release you like to justify the purchase. A similar thing can be said about television series and their releases. Though you shouldn’t start to split hairs too much. I mean, as much as I like overanalyzing my purchasing decisions, going as far as a price per minute ratio could be considered a bit too much.

DVD Purchasing 101: April Decisions

On a personal level, I hold April 12th as one of those days in me-history that’s helped make me a better person. For the rest of you, it’ll be one of the more interesting DVD-Tuesdays we’ve had in a while.

While I’m sure a number of you can name a good handful of other releases to be looking out for in the coming days, three particular titles have caught my interest: The Incredibles, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and of course The King’s Speech.

But, of course, being a poor college student that still has the decency to buy nice things when he can just so he can say he supports official releases, you can see the problem here. No way in hell would I ever buy all three in one go, but being able to buy at least one of them on release day would be enough to satiate my fanboy needs. So, like all complex conundrums in the world, things would be better if they were split up into easier, more digestible, chunks.

Let’s start off with the easier to deal with of the three: The King’s Speech. As much as I loved the movie (read: “loved the movie before it won for best film”) I will say that as a general rule of thumb, live action movie dramas are one of the first DVD releases to put on hold. As a whole, the expected demographic that would be interested in purchasing such a movie (as demonstrated by the demographic that was in the theater I was watching it in) are older types that aren’t as aggro about the things they’re interested in. And as such, this is without a doubt bound to be one of the better movies that will be getting a price drop in less than a year’s time.

On the complete polar opposite of the spectrum is the release for Deathly Hallows Part 1. WB, especially WB with a franchise as big as the Harry Potter series, absolutely loves milking what they’re presented with. Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure the preceding HP films have at least five different releases, from standard releases, to boxed sets, to combined special edition boxed sets… It’s a franchise with so many different types of releases to choose from that best takes advantage of those aforementioned aggro fanboys with their quick-draw purchases. Add to this the highly likely fact that they will be releasing some kind of Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 set in the near future and this is definitely one of those times when the waiting game will pay off in the (short) long run… though that snazzy $16 Blu-Ray listing on amazon is tempting.

Enter the release for The Incredibles. Pixar has not only made an excellent job with their movies, but have also had an equally excellent track record when it comes to releases for said movies. The Incredibles’ initial release on DVD in 2005 still stands out to me as a release with special features that are just as good as the movie itself—having a commentary that actually keeps me interested throughout the entire movie including the credits definitely says something.

But wouldn’t already having such a release automatically null out any possibility of me daring to double dip with the upcoming Blu-Ray? Not necessarily. For one, I had the misfortune of getting the DVD release in full screen, which would be another beast entirely if you don’t get what the difference in aspect ratio means to film. Furthermore, it’s because of having the older release that I’d even have enough money to pay for this new release in the first place. As much as I hate Disney releases just because of that whole concept of “The Vault” keeping the prices for previous DVD releases at an all-time high, I will say that they do have their bases covered when it comes to double dip buyers. Currently, Disney’s movie rewards site has been giving out $10 discounts for double dip purchases, as long as you’ve got the UPC code for your older purchase, thus finally taking down the List Price in this case from a ridiculous $45 to Best Buy’s alright $25 to a downright cool $15. Of course, this is all relying on the fact that Best Buy will be willing to accept the coupon and all its vague limitations. Generally speaking, Disney/Pixar is fully aware that their films are awesome in smexy true 1080p and have been incredibly stingy with the price tag on most if not all of their releases because of such. So when it comes to getting any kind of deal on those titles, you take it even if it means brown-bagging it and biking to school if you have to. Yes, it’s that important.

Top 5 Series That Have Forever Ruined How I Interact With Girls

Being a blogger, it’s almost expected in clear “racist against bloggers” fashion that I’d be expected to avoid the holiday that is Valentine’s Day, or at the least bash it to death with a Mario-style mallet. On the contrary, while my feelings for Singles Awareness Day are neither here nor there, I felt like the “holiday” at the least was opportunity for me to make another List entry. So here we go, in typical blogger fashion, I shall be blaming my “one is the loneliest number”-ness on my top 5 series that have forever ruined how I interact with girls.

5. Disney Movies

Yeah, I’m starting things a little vague here and figured I’d get into particulars later on. Unlike most children (wow, if that didn’t sound like something spoken in a rehab clinic…) I didn’t grow up on your standard Disney movies. My sister’s a good five years older than me, so I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that my entire life, I’ve always had the option to pop in any ol’ Disney movie from our collection into the VHS player. And yet when I think back on the movies I remember watching, two of the five or so I remember come to mind that apply to my list: 101 Dalmatians and Robin Hood. With your typical American female growing up on the prince charming delusions brought to you by the folks at Disney, it makes one wonder just what exactly they’ve done to equally jade young impressionable boys throughout the world through their animated musicals featuring anthropomorphic animals in the main leads.

Robin Hood basically worked as a male version of a Disney Princess story, telling it from the perspective of the male lead instead, with the two leads pretty much destined to end up together. 101 Dalmatians takes a different approach, not really being classified as a guy meets girl story, even though that’s what gets the movie started.

Opening scene of the movie, male Dalmatian Pongo leads human owner Roger to the park so he may conveniently bump into female Dalmatian Perdita and her human owner Anita. After some bits of dog-dragging-owner-here-and-there scenes, the two couples finally meet, in what has become one of the most overused movie methods for guy meeting girl: falling into a lake together. The two couples laugh off the incident and are next seen getting married. From my perspective, there are two things Disney is trying to tell me here: 1) Pongo going for a dog of the same breed suggests that interracial (“interbreedal?”) relationships are out of the question and 2) Marriage is as easy as one comedic yet heartwarming instance of guy meeting girl—no questions asked.

5. The Adventures of Pete and Pete

In Nickelodeon’s heyday, live-action shows actually meant something more than a money-grab via some kind of soundtrack tie-in (though ironically enough, this was the only live-action Nick show to have a soundtrack). Pete and Pete told the story of two red-headed brother, both of who go by the name of “Pete.” While the younger Pete has offbeat adventures, the older Pete tends to either go along with them or have his own side-story, usually involving a “flavor of the week” girlfriend.

Oddities of the show aside, I thought it strange for some series to carry along a strict continuity between episodes, while other didn’t. In the case with P&P, characters remained consistent, but their relationships with each other were certainly not set in stone. In particular, the relationship with platonic female friend Ellen was covered multiple times throughout the series’ three season run. However, as was mentioned by the creators in the first season DVD release, older Pete and Ellen tended to fall in and out of love as the episode’s story called for it. So as offbeat and well-written as the series was, it was that same offbeat-edness that made my own awkward years growing up that much more awkward.

4. Boy Meets World

Nothing even has to be said about this series, but for those reading this probably born past 1995, BMW was your classic coming of age story told in a sitcom-style format, spanning from main lead Corey Matthew’s years in the 6th grade to his college years. While the series was able to go strong for the bulk of its 7 season run, you wouldn’t be able to tell that from its first season alone. The show started off humbly enough with standard stories from the 6th grade told in classic sitcom fashion with appointed bullies, jocks, nerds and the like. It wasn’t until its second season that writers found something to milk with the relationship that was Corey and female lead Topanga. The complete polar opposite of older Pete and Ellen, Corey and Topanga’s relationship practically made the series for a majority of viewers to the point that writers must have been pressured to maintain their relationship its entire run. This resulted in the Corey and Topanga power couple: a force so ridiculously unstoppable that any characters that even made an attempt to mess with their relationship were quickly done away with. Nobody past, present, or future will ever have the same relationship-might that was Corey and Topanga, so why even bother?

3. Doug

While it never got as big as Rugrats or Ren & Stimpy, Doug has a right to stand tall with its fellow Classic Nicktoons for making a respectable name of itself (at least until Disney acquired rights to it) even though its main lead was a dull as an eraser head. Sure, the series had a handful of notable episodes, but at the end of the day, you just spent 30 minutes watching the trials and tribulations of a pre-pubescent boy with nothing all that interesting about him, but just happens to have substantial enough people surrounding him that you were fooled into thinking such.

Of the handful of notable things about title character Doug, one most people would remember was that he constantly wrote in his journal about his everyday mundane life—including his super secret crush on Patti Mayonnaise—you know, the one that he would constantly bring up, no matter what the situation. You know those overly chatty guys that can’t help but brag about having a girlfriend? Now imagine that except he doesn’t even have anything to brag about, leaving nothing but long rants about longing and the like from an 11 year old. I only hate the kid more when I realize I’ve gone through such a stage myself.

2. Bakemonogatari (Ghostory)

Okay, heading into more obscure turf now. Released in 2009, Bakemonogatari, based on the light novels of the same name, would be considered a harem-genre anime if it weren’t for the fact that it’s so self aware of the fact that it takes on certain aspects of said genre and taking it in a slightly more dignified manner… well dignified in that you only get an average of one panty-shot per episode.

The story revolves around a recently-turned-vampire-then-turned-normal-again human, Araragi, who finds that a number of females around him have developed what he refers to as “oddities,” usually based on a type of old-school ghost curse. Every female in question always seems to be around our lead character at the most convenient of times that at one point the character himself asks if the sudden obtainment of a babe magnet was from his previous encounter with a vampire. It’s that kind of self-aware writing that makes the series for me… though also kills my perception of reality when I look up and am at an odds as to what to think when I realize I’m the sole guy in a study room full of girls.


“You wanna throw everything away and come with me?”

Okay, so my previous entries might have hinted at this. Like many have said before, this series calls for multiple viewings to even begin to understand what it’s about, but once you begin to piece things together and realize that it’s the basic story of guy meets girl at its core, it makes all those viewings worth it.

Comprised of only six episodes, the series revolves around 12 year old Naota, who’s become incredibly bored of his town and everything that happens in it… until a certain inciting incident in the form of female Haruko literally slams him in the face with something to talk about. Through the short series, you’re led to question Haruko’s true intentions with Naota and whether or not Naota’s decisions are actually right or not. In the end, you’re still unsure as to who would be classified as the series’ heroes and villains, but that’s what makes things that much more interesting and relatable. Of course, leave it to the most bonkers series out there to make the most sense when applied elsewhere.

Top 6 TV Show Episodes Based on Schoolyard Games

With school starting for me next week, I thought I’d do something a little different and combine two of my favorite past-times—TV and Top (Whatever) Lists.

Being the man-child I am, I’ve watched my fair share of cartoons and shows relying on adults that watched cartoons back in the day. And while there are plenty of unique and interesting shows out there, I have noticed something of a trend among the episodes I’ve enjoyed the most—they revolve around simple schoolyard children’s games. Besides the charm of creating an entire episode based on a game you used to play when you were younger, each of the following episodes does an excellent job of either wrapping everything up nicely, fleshing out the characters and how they interact with each other as a unit, or giving a ridiculous enough conclusion that viewers have no choice but to accept it.

So without further ado, here are my Top 6 TV Show Episodes Based on Schoolyard Games.

6. Salute Your Shorts- Capture the Flag (Season 2, episode 10)

In its short two-season run as one of the first handful of live-action shows on Nickelodeon, Salute Your Shorts is easily one of my favorite shows falling under the category of “those ragtag kids.” For the uninitiated, it’s based on the book Salute Your Shorts: Life at Summer Camp (similar to how Little Rascals stemmed off of Our Gang), and as you’d expect, covers life in summer camp from an all-boys cabin and all-girls cabin as they team up and go on ‘90s style adventures under the nose of clueless authority figure Kevin “Ug” Lee. Like most shows of the time, the main cast consists of your typical tweenage stereotypes—jock, pretty girl, trouble makers, book-nerd, eco-nerd, and straight man—pitting them together under a common setting to find out what happens when they stop being polite and start getting… oh wait.

As typical as the show is, I enjoy it for its on occasion quirky episodes. This time around, the gang plays a game of capture the flag, with stereotypical fat kid Donkeylips (one more reason to watch this show) disgruntled by the fact that the crew chose him along with his other less physically inclined companions to be on guard duty while the rest of them take the offensive and hunt down the opposing team’s flag. I honestly cannot count the number of times this has happened to me in my childhood and enjoy how the episode continues from there, with the offensive team all ending up captured and the others taking it upon themselves to save them and win the game. Predictable, yes, but oh so satisfying.

5. Rocket Power- Capture the Flag (Season 2, episode 15A)

Although most shrugged off this creation from Klasky Csupo Productions about a group of ragtag kids into extreme sports, the series did have at least some redeeming qualities.

The sibling rivalry between brother Otto and sister Reggie Rocket was one of the more major driving forces of the earlier episodes, with Otto always wanting to be the best at whatever sport he takes on, with his sister acting as the killjoy. Similar to the Salute Your Shorts episode of the same name, this Rocket Power episode takes the game of capture the flag, pitting not just the main cast, but some of the supporting cast, against each other when they run out of time during recess to finish the game and continue it to take place on the entire pier. Otto is glad to continue the game on a bigger playing field, until he falls prey to the sacred rule of being out until counting to ten in “real Mississippi seconds.” Besides being a great idea to follow through on your own, the episode stands out from the series, being one of the few to make use of all the kid characters in the show outside of the main cast. Sure, its premise comes off more as an excuse to use those characters more than anything else, but their interactions are much welcome.

4. Community- Modern Warfare (Season 1, episode 23)

For those losing faith in television sitcoms, watch Community. It takes the standard “those ragtag kids” genre and boosts the average age of the characters to their early adulthood. What is especially intriguing about the series is its writing. While every main character isn’t an exact archetype of what you’d expect, you forget that entirely due to the character Abed, who is in essence a troper, leading to a great majority of the dialogue being self aware, something that more shows would be better off being.

While the series hasn’t even started its second season, most will agree that Modern Warfare is a fan favorite… even though the story itself has been told numerous times before in other shows. The community college has become a warzone as everyone has entered a paintball competition with the grand prize being every college student’s dream: priority registration for classes. Besides the horrors of war being depicted in an unexpected form, the episode also plays up the dynamic of the cast as a unit, seeing if deception and manipulation will be enough to break them. But, as always, what ultimately makes the episode is Sr. Cheng.

His presence alone makes me wanna run off to Kinkos and make a poster-sized copy of this.

3. The Weekenders- Pudding Ball (Season 1, episode 7B)

The Weekenders was basically Disney’s Recess except taking place on the weekends, which turned away most viewers while it aired during the latter run of Disney’s One Saturday Morning cartoon block. But while the show was of the “those ragtag kids” type, it was far from your standard one, and like Community after it, was incredibly self aware. On one occasion, the cause of everyone’s problems was actually solved by merely analyzing a TV show episode with a similar plot and acting accordingly—definitely not your run-of-the-mill show.

The name of the game is “Pudding Ball,” which is basically paint ball using leftover pudding from the soon out-of-business pudding-filled hot dog company. The game starts off simply enough, with the group unwillingly split into two competing amongst the entire community. And while the game’s prize isn’t as cherished as priority registration, that only makes their obsession over the game worse. The chemistry between each of the characters is great to say the least, which makes it that much more disheartening once you see it diminishing with each pudding ball throw.

And of course the one to suffer the most from this pudding ball obsession isn’t any of the kids, but the unwillingly stuck-in-the-middle Coach Colson as voiced by none other than Phil LaMarr (Futurama’s Hermes among other roles).

2. The Office- Office Olympics (Season 2, episode 3)

I’m not the most avid viewer of The Office; it’s not like I don’t enjoy the show or anything (I use dry humor in my everyday vernacular), but I just feel like I can’t fully appreciate the show unless I’ve experienced a mediocre life in a cubicle firsthand—it’s the same reason I don’t normally read Dilbert.

Of the handful of episodes from the series I’ve seen, this episode always seems to be on… not that I’m complaining. Steve Carrell’s character and his sidekick of sorts, Dwight, leave the office for the day to house shop. The entire workplace unattended, the office workers decide to go all-out and have an Office Olympics, consisting of all the menial games they get away with doing while working minus the fear of actually being caught.

From what I’ve seen of the series as a whole, focus is clearly more on certain characters over others, so I really enjoyed this episode for making use of the full cast, having everyone interact with everyone else. Not only that, but the way the Office Olympic’s story ties together with Carrell’s House Shopping story works out so well that you can’t help but smile at the end of the episode. Golden yogurt lids for everyone!

1. The Boondocks- The Red Ball (Season 3, episode 3)

Aaron McGruder’s newspaper-comic-gone-TV-series has always faced an uphill battle in that a majority of the content was just too controversial for television, resulting in only a handful of good episodes in the series’ first two seasons. With cancellation looming near, though, it seems as if McGruder’s finally hit his stride with season three, finally covering the perfect balance between entertainment and political/race commentary.

The merry little suburb of Woodcrest is in economic crisis as all its money is gambled in a game of kickball between its sister city, Wushung China. That said, a (you guessed it) ragtag team of misfits in basically all the main and supporting cast of the series is brought together to take on the incredibly skilled Wushung kickball team. Even ignoring the nods to anime action scenes during the actual game, the episode excellently makes use of every character in the series, each of them making use of their shtick when the plot calls for it making even the most despicable of characters enjoyable in their moment of truth. Oh, and I guess there’s something in there about how world leaders take advantage of their people in meaningless scuffles, too.

But who could pay attention to morals when a gust of wind is summoned from a kickball?

… And Beyond-er! Toy Story 3 Spoiler-Free Review

For the last couple months, I don’t think it would be an understatement to say that the hype behind Toy Story 3 is comparable to that of any Star Wars movie. Just the other day I was at Target to find that I literally couldn’t turn a corner without seeing some product from batteries to apples (seriously) advertising the second sequel in Pixar’s Toy Story series. But given the number of “3” movies not exactly coming out at their most spectacular (:coughcough: Spider-Man 3) was all the hype honestly worth it?

Lemme first start off with one particular way the movie has been hyped—in particular to college-aged students. We live in a very strange society in which aspects seen as punishable by excommunication back in the day are now slowly becoming more acceptable, if only slightly. That said, today’s young adults are growing up in a time when aspects of their childhood, from cartoons to toys and videogames are being taken by the media and being re-packaged in a way that is appealing to the type of person they are today. In some senses, the advertising campaign for Toy Story 3 really played up said description, resulting in, well…

I’ll just say that considering how my demographic is seen in the eyes of corporate suits (redundant?), I really, really hate being pandered to.

Besides tangible flyers being put up around select college campuses disguised in forms such as “Now Hiring Pizza Planet Drivers” and “Senor Buzz Spanish Tutor,” college-specific hype drowned the internet, especially on facebook. There, Pixar’s official page would put up trailers for the movie filled with synth/R&B music as well as internet slang seen in the form of a chatroom conversation. Personally, I think the fact that the guys down at advertising think that people my age must be swayed by such dumbed-down advertisement is just insulting and very much works against the messages brought up in Pixar’s films in the first place—a big “for shame” on all of you.

But advertising aside, if the movie’s something to talk about, I guess I can put all that aside.

Entering the theater just a few hours ago, floods of people came in from all ages, covering children, young and old, as well as adults, young and old. Conclusion: college-age-centric ads are a load of, especially for Pixar films which rake in all demographics anyways.

As for the movie itself, it very much lived up to the hype. I would have said “the hype and much more,” but I wouldn’t go that far—it was a good movie that knew its bounds and exactly what audiences wanted from a second sequel movie. With it being a whopping eleven odd years since the release of Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 takes a rough time jump, with Andy about to head off to college and the main cast of toys simply learning to deal. Certain lines and scenes were obviously made to explain what’s happened in the toy’s lives so far, but none of it came off as blatant, all coming off playing up the audience’s nostalgia factor, with mentionings of “the claw” as well as familiar elements such as “Pizza Planet,” the cloud wallpaper from the younger Andy’s bedroom, and a guest-appearance of a certain old character (you’ll know him when you see him). Though, that’s not to say that the film is completely ripe with the nostalgia and the nostalgia alone (this isn’t exactly, Turtles Forever).

While we see a handful of throwbacks and references here and there, the main force driving the film is the story and even moreso the themes surrounding it. In a nutshell, Woody, Buzz and the gang find themselves in Sunny Side Daycare and need to find their way back home to Andy—an alright enough plot that at least makes sense for the toys at this point in their lives. Now while a majority of the themes surround Andy and his ultimate decision in relation to his remaining toys, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the story itself focuses on him. In classic Pixar style, the toys have the center stage, with everything told from their perspective. Having seen better days, the toys are now in a slum of sorts. With their duty as playthings to their owner now long past them, they are at an odds as to just exactly what they’re meant to do next.

While a great deal of new toys have been introduced to the cast, very few of them donate to the overall movie—just a minor gripe. Unlike Toy Story 2, which made full use of its new cast of characters, TS3’s new cast is used more as a stepping stone for the old cast to make use of in their overarching story. Lots-o’-Huggin’-Bear (interestingly hyped up with a fake retro commercial posted up on YouTube) acts as one of the only major characters, and while he has an oddly similar backstory to the last sequel’s new character, Jesse, it’s different enough not to come off as a re-hash.

As advertising for the movie has made a point to demonstrate, the movie tagline this time is “No Toy Gets Left Behind.” With owner Andy having grown apart from his toys, the main cast has shrunken and has no one else to rely on but themselves. That said the point of family and sticking together through thick and thin is played off rather well. Also taking into consideration the time jump for this sequel, certain elements are at an all-time high this time around. We trade in the risk of disappointing a child Andy if his toys aren’t back home in one piece with the risk of the toys themselves in a world where they’re unsure just where they stand in the world now. Without Andy as a cliffhanger-cushioner, climaxes in the story reach their peak, with even the viewers unaware of what’s ultimately in store for the toys this time around.

As a whole, Toy Story 3 acts like any conclusion to a series should, taking its time to calmly work its way through the plot, saving its energy until the very end to deliver a satisfying conclusion for our favorite cowboy, space-ranger and crew.

External References:
– Pixar’s Fan Page (
– Other TS3 Campus Fliers (DaemonCorps’ Photobucket)

… And Beyond! Toy Story Blu Ray Reviews

As of this writing, my local Fry’s is having a deal on Toy Story and Toy Story 2: $20 each, or buy both and get an additional $10 removed—that’s $30 (~$32 with tax), or $15 for each movie… on Blu Ray! Considering how both releases have both the DVD and Blu Ray version of the movie (that’s a rant all its own) and that the retail price for each release is $40, I must say two things: 1) buy both releases on Blu Ray now, (even if you don’t have a Blu Ray player, you still get a DVD copy of the movie); 2) I can actually do a somewhat early review of the releases… at least early in comparison to most stuff I review.

For the uninitiated, there was actually a time when CG wasn’t the norm for a majority of things. That said, Pixar was the first group of people to create a movie that was entirely CG in the form of their first full-length film, Toy Story. And unlike its quasi CG predecessors (like, oh iunno :coughcough:TRON:coughcough:) Toy Story actually holds up over time, not using its nifty graphics as a crutch for the story, but as a different means to express itself.

The plot of both movies (and based on trailers, the upcoming third one as well) revolves around the concept of toys “coming to life” when the humans aren’t around, and goes off from there covering just exactly what a typical toy goes through on a normal basis, and in particular the role they play to their owners and how that role changes as their child owner grows up. I honestly can’t say more than that since well… if you honestly haven’t seen these movies yet, then for shame.

Now being the head honchos when it comes to CG movies, Pixar has always gotten the better end of the stick when it came to Disney releasing their films to DVD. That said, both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 have already been released to DVD five years ago for the first movie’s 10th anniversary.

… so is it really worth making the double dip purchase?

Honestly, when it comes to movies of this caliber, I say that re-buying the movies is perfectly fine. Then again, I was too cheap to get the DVDs when they first came out.

Both the DVD and Blu Ray menus have a theme focusing more on the behind the scenes stuff than anything else. And while this doesn’t lead to any compromising of the movies themselves (both the Blu Ray and DVD versions of both movies are crystal clear), it does make it clear that these releases were trying to appeal to the double dip customers with “ooh, look, new special features!” In terms of new special features, however, they are somewhat shallow. Besides an audio commentary track, both films have a handful of new things, going into slightly more detail about the production of the movies, including some personal stories some of the staff went through during the production of each movie in the form of a cutesy doodle-style animation.

And while seeing Pixar’s creative process in action is something I never get tired of, I have to admit that these new special features seem to be more of a last second tag-on than anything else.

The one new bit of information I was glad to see was the “Black Friday” animatic that made Disney threaten to shut down production of the first Toy Story. I would always hear Pixar staff talk about how bad Woody was originally in other Pixar special features, but it wasn’t until now that the actual animatic has been released… and for good reason. Man, Woody was a douche.

… and for those wondering about the special features on the original 10th anniversary DVD releases, the guys at Pixar were nice enough to also include all those in this new release as well for the non-double dippers out there. Sadly, they can only be accessed from the Blu Ray discs, and not the corresponding DVDs packaged alongside them (could they possibly be included in these DVDs coming out in May?), but that was probably done more so to further push for Blu Rays being the future, which is something I’m not surprised Disney would pull off.

Conclusion? Pixar never seems to disappoint, both in their movies and their home releases. And considering that the Fry’s deal for both movies on Blu Ray is good until November, I say you have no excuse to pick both of these up. Now.

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