Category Archives: animation

Film: Review – Toy Story 3

The 2010 summer blockbuster season continues with a return to Andy’s room in comedic adventure flick Toy Story 3.

After a decade away from UK cinema screens (save some fancy 3D re-releases in the past year) Woody and the gang are up to their old tricks once more.

Andy, who’s voiced by John Morris (the same chap as in the first two films and now a 25 year-old!), is leaving for college and his beloved toys don’t want to be forgotten or thrown away.

Despite their best efforts the gang can’t tear Andy’s attention away from the all-too-familiar vices of modern life and after a mix-up they find themselves being donated to a daycare centre.

Here there’s a host of new, and often familiar, characters, but things aren’t as ‘sunny’ at Sunnyside as they seem.

In typical Disney (well…Pixar) style the story unfolds as organically as a modern fairytale, with some impressive little touches showing the depth of their characters, such as Jessie’s claustrophobia from her trauma in TS2.

The climax swaps the airport setting from its predecessor for a waste disposal plant, frighteningly realised as the fiery Hell on Earth for all toys, as well as alluding to the chilling dystopia from previous work Wall.E, but on a far larger (relative) scale.

The villain of the piece Lotso’ Huggin’ Bear pushes the limit on evil as well as teaching Disney’s usual lesson about why jealousy and bitterness are bad.

Stand-out character is easily Michael Keaton’s Ken, who defines the modern ‘metrosexual’ stereotype with some unusual fashion choices, while pig money box Hamm is graced with his usual selection of cynical quips and Buzz finds a whole new level of comedy after a botched factory reset…

With the rivalry between Woody and Buzz long forgotten the team work together seemlessly as the film builds to a climax with an incredibly touching moment as they are held on the brink of oblivion.

This proves to be only a hint at what’s to come though as the final coda sets tear ducts on maximum as the characters and audience alike say goodbye to a group of characters who they’ve known for over 15 years.

While some suggest the film is merely a vehicle for further merchandising; it’s obvious writers John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (who also directed) have put heart and conviction into this (surely) final chapter to a series which sparked the beginning of a new age of animation.

Rating: 4/5

James Michael Parry

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3D or not 3D? The future of cinema is…the past?! This Is Entertainment looks at Ice Age 3 through 3D specs

I saw my very first ‘Real 3D’ film yesterday. I felt as though it should have been a massively significant moment, as if it would change the way I looked at films forever and warp my mind in ways never before experienced.

So, I got to the cinema, fashion-disaster 3D glasses in hand, went into the screen, sat down to enjoy the Odeon Digital 3D experience and…

…got a headache.

The film itself, Ice Age 3(D), was reasonable. Your classic kids’ film mix of cliché, parody and talking animals sees Manni, Sid and Diago return in another slapstick adventure with added family, another inevitability in kids’ film sequels.

While the endless toils of the acorn seeking Scrat raised a smile or two, if hand-in-hand with some eye-rolling moments, the deminishing return of the jokes from the first film was now began to show.

That said, Simon Pegg quickly turned a limited stereotypical role into a filled out comic relief machine. As the other characters collected and toyed with their collective baggage, Pegg’s ‘Buck’ (“short for Buckington”) riled off one-liners and delightfully mad mannerisms to keep adults, as well as kids, entertained.

The 3D effect though is an interesting beast. At times the effect was sublime, drawing you into the picture with perfection to make the events on screen grab your attention and ‘come to life’ all the more. One particular highlight was when the camera flew right through a torrent of molten lava, peppering the screen (your eyes) with intense colour and forcing you try to move your head to dodge it.

Often though, particularly when changing scenes, the action moved too fast for your eyes to keep up with, making the 3D animations blurry and difficult to concentrate on. Too often I found myself longing for characters to stop moving to save my retinas.

The glasses are reasonably comfortable, compared to the red/green specs of old, but if you didn’t have to wear them things would have been far more comfortable, particularly since the 3D magic stopped at the edge of the film screen and not the glasses.

The only comparison to make is with IMAX, the only significant 3D experience I’d had before, and it was so much more immersive. Part of that is the far-bigger-than-a-standard-screen aspect, but in Odeon’s favour their film was far more entertaining than watching underwater creatures.

Since 3D has been around for so long, Hitchcock famously imagining Psycho and Vertigo in 3D back in the mid 20th century, it’s staggering it’s taken so long to get from the early stages of the technology to where we are today, and the fact that it still underwhelms is disappointing.

For glasses wearers the toil and trouble is even worse, since you’re forced to balance them precariously on the end of your nose to fit your own glasses on in between. Price is another factor, with even a student 3D ticket costing a meaty £8.50.

All in all there is definite glimmers of potential in the technology, but we’re not quite to virtual reality film-watching, and with the escapism of film being one of its strongest points, do we really want to be?

Cast of Tintin film "Secret of the Unicorn" announced

After all these months (or years, if you’re a slightly older chap/chapette) there are finally some concrete details on the trilogy of Tintin adventures coming to the big screen.

The Times tells us today in a piece on The Times Online that the all-star cast will include Mr Bond himself, Daniel Craig, Middle Earth’s most weird-talking minion Gollum, Andy Serkis, and as the jolly ginger journalist himself…

The boy from Billy Elliot: Jamie Bell.

Also said to appear are Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as bowler hat-wearing detectives Thompson and Thompson, which is interesting when you consider a comment on the story made by Mark from Woking:

“They gave Simon Pegg, the guy who is the spitting image of Tintin, the part of one of the Thomson detectives…?!?! “

Of course, since it’s a CGI animation, you won’t be too confused by Pegg’s ginger-ness (even if it would be concealed below a hat) but he is clearly a man you think of when you think of ginger stereotypes.

Directing duties go to the on-again/off-again film-making wizard Steven Spielberg, who’s teamed up with Lord of The Rings helmsman Peter Jackson to make “up to three films” starring the plucky young Belgian.

Aparently there are even a few new characters, such as Tintin’s (seemingly nameless) Editor, who surely should be played by a ruffled Steven Fry (in a mash of the mild-mannered QI host and spagetti-brained General Melchett), since the poor man received only one story from Tintin throught the entire 24 story series.

The real question though, is: will it work?

We all have some knowledge of Tintin, even if it’s just “Isn’t that the ginger Belgian fellow?”, but can this largely Brit cast directed by Americans do justice to a franchise which is as close to bizarre adventure as Indiana Jones? (which Spielberg also directed let’s not forget)

Being animation, there’s infinitely more possibilities to what can be done, but it’s not that which will be the problem, it’s what can be done ‘convincingly‘.

Either the film will take itself seriously and go for action, suspense with a slice of comic relief (what else are Pegg and Frost going to be for?) or they take things with a pinch of salt, be true to the character but stray from the well-established story and before you know it there’s aliens and flying monkeys everywhere…sound familiar?

That said, it is early days, and despite being a bit of a fan myself (you really don’t have to look far to find me with my branded tshirt and messenger bag…) we should definitely give it some time to take shape for we form too many pre-conceptions, but probably the most important thing for the team to remember is:

It just wouldn’t be Tintin without Snowy.