"Toy Story 4" Movie Review

After my first thoughts video (here), I usually like to take a couple days before I write out a more full set of non-spoiler thoughts. This time, with Toy Story 4, I took an extra day. Mainly because I'm having trouble getting how I feel about this film across. I watched the originals, 1 a day before going into this one, & that could've been a mistake. Those films, being animated perfection with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 100%, 98%, & 100%, set the bar pretty high. And while this fourth installment is great, I didn't feel it made to that original level. That's where I'm having trouble with this one. It's a really good, if not great film, there's just something about it that didn't give it that extra nudge into perfection for me. Hands down, this was probably the funniest installment. The new characters dominate this latest Toy Story, & they are hilarious. Forky, Ducky, Bunny, & Duke Caboom totally steal every scene. This installment is very heavy on the new characters. Especially if you include Bo Peep with her new look. It's pretty much all them with Woody, & a little Buzz on the side. Bonnie almost even gets more screen time than the rest of the toys we all started this ride with or accumulated along the way. And even though this may be the funniest Toy Story, I feel like ending aside, it just didn't give me the "feels" this series up until now has been known for. A small gripe to have when a film is this entertaining. My only other gripe would have to be tossed aside as having to do with my own expectations going in. I wasn't much on the villain. Though the ventriloquist dolls were terrifying, Gabby Gabby just didn't give me the payoff I was expecting. I don't want to get to spoilery, I'll just say I was expecting more villainy to this character than I got. We seem to do that a lot more now though. I didn't hate it, just was hoping for something far more sinister. There were no extreme gripes at all  really, except for it not living up to perfection status. It's still a highly satisfying film. I do also have to throw in that Pixar is making this whole animation thing look easy now. Insane levels of detail throughout the film has these toys looking almost real at times. All in all while I feel this franchise didn't need a fourth installment, it still manages to pull it off nicely. Turning a great sendoff into what should be a now definite sendoff,  that while may not be a 100% entry, dosen't fall below 95% on my scorecard. That said, as much as I did enjoy this, I'm not sure i want a round 5. No matter the direction they choose to take. Unless they're opening it up for a series maybe. Very funny film though, even the end credits. Any Toy Story fan will leave happy. It's hard to even meet perfect, but this one definitely gives one heckuvan effort. 


"Incredibles 2" DOUBLE FEATURE Movie Review

Alright, after getting my first thoughts out (see here), I've took a couple days to really let the Incredibles 2  DOUBLE FEATURE sink in. Since we're dealing with 2 films & a short I'm gonna break this into 3 sections.

Incredibles:  This was my first experience with the classic Pixar film on the big screen, & it was impressive on a while new level. The story, action, & comedy stand up to time so well. In fact, the only sign that this was a classic, was the dated Pixar animation. Which even 14 years ago would stand up against any other animation studio today. The movie blends classic golden-age superheroes, James Bond like locales, & a strong family dynamic seamlessly. I still say to this date, this is actually the best Fantastic Four  film we have recieved. Set in that golden age of heroes like the old Superman cartoons from the 50s, superheroes have been made illegal due to ever growing lawsuits against them. Honestly, the most realistic reason ever, & then the "Supers" are out on a form of Witness Protection. Part of the catch is they can't use their super powers any more. Mr. Incredible can't stop dabbling in heroics though, & eventually requires help form the whole fam. That's the ultra simple version of an animated film that holds it's own with major live action comic book films of today. Ultimate storytelling in what is one of Pixar's best. The cast of characters are intriguing, with so much depth for animated characters, that only Pixar can add. Seeing this on the big screen gave me a even bigger love for this movie. Depending on what day I wake up, this goes back & forth with Toy Story  & Coco  as my favorite Pixar film. If you haven't seen this film, where have you been for 14 years? Anyone with a love for superheroes, golden age heros, Pixar, James Bond, or just all around great feels all around films this one is definitely for you, & leaves you begging for more.


Bao:  For me this short film was an intermission film. For anyone seeing a non-DOUBLE FEATURE, this will be what opens Incredibles 2. In a nutshell, without spoiling it, this short is about a lady who makes a dumpling that comes to life. She raises this adorable dumpling as her own child. From there the clip uses this as a metaphor for growing up & letting go. I never knew so much emotion could be contained within about 5 minutes. You could feel the emotion radiating throughout the audience when this was over. It's a very powerful short, quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. 


Incredibles 2:  Here it was. We had all waited 14 years for this. 14 years, & they definitely made it worth it. Picking up exactly where the first left off to the second, there was one notable difference. Pixar has come a long way in 14 years, & it shows in the best ways. This was probably easier to see due to the DOUBLE FEATURE aspect, but the difference was like HD versus classic film. Everything immediately looked so much more alive. Other than that though, if you wouldn't have told me this was part 2, I'd have thought I was watching an Incredibles  extended edition. Not only does this pick up right after, it just take the ball & keeps running. The story progression feels more natural than almost any sequel I've seen. The story takes those moments at the end of the first to segway right into fixing the illegal superhero problem. With a brother/sister pair enlisting Elastigirl to put Supers back in the limelight. This has Mr. Incredible playing Mr. Mom while wifey does all the hero stuff. Opening up the reveal of baby Jack Jack's powers by the way. Had me laughing in tears for what felt like a solid 5 minutes. All the main characters return, not skipping a beat. Meanwhile, favorites Frozone & Edna Mode get some more screen time this time around, sprinkled along with some new Supers. There was an awesome villain that felt straight out of Batman, even if the reveal was a little telegraphed. All in all, this movie was as good, if not better than its predecessor. I've got my fingers crossed we don't have to wait another 14 years to cap this as a Trilogy. I do suggest to anyone that does see this film, it benefits highly from coming directly after the first. Revisit Incredibles  as soon as you can prior to seeing the sequel. I'll probably never watch these films another way. That's my full thoughts though. Love to know yours. Put em in the comments, like, & share.


"Coco" Movie Review

If you haven't seen my first thoughts video on this amazing animated film from Pixar, you can do so here. This is where I like to give a more detailed look after I really get to sit & think about it. First, we'll start with the opening, not so short, short film that opened the film, Olaf's Frozen Adventure. There's been a lot of controversy, & hate thrown at this short. Most of it seems to fall under a little cynicism it seems though. Mostly complaints about the length, or not knowing it would be there in the first place. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. Olaf is quickly becoming one of my favorite Disney characters. The way he sees things wrong, yet at the same time sees things more right in the process is just great. He goes to find holiday traditions for Elsa & Anna, & some of his descriptions of them are hilariously on point. The music was alright, really good for a holiday special. I found myself really liking the song sang while building the ice-tree. All in all I really liked this long short. It will definitely be on my Christmas list of must watches every year. I love the fact that Disney & Pixar have restarted the use of opening shorts, I hope the reaction to this one's presence doesn't hurt the chances of future ones. I don't even care if they're this long. If you want to give me a free movie in front of my movie, then thank you. Especially if it's as laugh out loud enjoyable as this was.


Now, with that aside, we can get into the main feature. Coco is quickly going to jump to the top of many people's Pixar lists for so many reasons. This movie has filled itself with so much Mexican culture, I'm going to have to see it again just to attempt to catch all the many references. The first real standout is the music. That & family is what this film's all about, & it shows. I purchased the soundtrack early, something I usually don't do, & never regretted it. I not only can't find a favorite, I can't find a song I don't like. My only drawback to the soundtrack is there's not more of it. The amazing music just highlights the beautiful animation. In which, Pixar really out did itself. The Land of the Dead is one of the most amazing things I've seen that studio do. Speaking of the studio, this is really what I want to see out of Pixar. Though animated, this movie plays like a live action feature film, pulling no punches. In fact, at one point when I was figuring what's the big deal, this film blindsided me with some very well done twists & turns. I want to say, that's probably do to the amazing voice performances all around. You're so tuned into them, you don't even see the curveball coming. And that's just on top of trying to soak in all the many details placed literally everywhere. I'm sure there will be some that frown on some of the "novella" aspects of this movie, that at times seemed a little mature (especially after Cars 3). At it's heart though it is all about family & understanding, containing very strong messages for both children & adults. Strong messages, that I hope aren't wasted. Like I said in the video, I dare the strongest person to not shed a tear throughout this film. You are devoid of all feeling if you can attempt this feat. I want to go into more, but I'm too scared I'll get into spoiler territory. And I would hate to spoil anything about this masterpiece. Enjoyable for all, I would suggest this film to anyone. I can't wait to own this one, so I can check it out again & again. I saw this in 3D, & if that's not your thing, I still suggest going to see this in a theater, & bring your family.. That way you can see all the beauty of this amazing film as it was meant to be seen.


"Cars 3" Movie Review

Everything starts off with LOU, the opening cartoon. I'm really liking Disney & Pixar's efforts to bring back the opening short. I didn't really know what to expect from this, even with the clip that was released earlier in the week. About a Lost & Found "monster" helping out some children from the school bully, I was blown away by this short. It did what Pixar does best, but in about 5 minutes. It had me laughing throughout, & then out of nowhere, BAM, the feels. It goes from hysterical to make you cry before you even realize it's happened. Great short. Then we get to the main event, Cars 3. This movie takes the focus all back where it should be, racing. The third entry in the Cars franchise features an aging Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) dealing with the younger, faster, up & coming racers led by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Then after a crippling injury, has to mount a comeback with some help along the way from another newcomer in the form of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo). All the old pals from Radiator Springs pop in too, but definitely as supporting cast. I thought this was a really good sequel. I loved the original Cars. It's one of my favorite Pixar films. On the flipside, Cars 2 totally missed the mark for me. So it was refreshing to be able to say with this one they definitely redeemed themselves. Mainly because, as I said earlier, this one brings the focus back to racing & away from the  "look at these cars doing people stuff". Though it's not as good as the first, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loved the first outing. I enjoyed it all the way through. There's a twist at the end that almost didn't really do it for me, but I felt they smoothed it out pretty well all in all by the end. It had some genuinely funny moments scattered throughout. Especially the whole demolition derby scene shown in the trailer. It also has some emotion. A lot of which, much like the first, comes from a sense of nostalgia. The rest from the various relationships developed throughout the course. They also went ahead & realized Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) might be best in small doses. It's funny I went in expecting a version of Days of Thunder, & instead I got a version of a Rocky movie. That's what this really felt like if I had to compare it to anything. I even got that vibe from some of the training montage. I can't end this without mentioning the actual animation. Pixar has come so far, this movie looks amazing. It has a blend of realism with cartoon elements on a level I've never seen. Some of the backgrounds in this film are absolutely  beautiful. Overall, as a sequel, I liked this, I will be adding it next to my copy of the original Cars. Seen the movie? We want to know what you think as well. Let us know in the comments, like, & share.