June 29, 2019 : Spirited Away vs. Toy Story

Last weekend, Toy Story 4 topped U.S. box office receipts. The results had one of two narratives:

    – It was the fourth best opening for an animated film ever, and the best yet for the franchise.
    – It fell significantly short of projections, indicating audiences were wary for another chapter in the franchise.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed the Toy Story movies but would prefer new material versus sequels That said, I am sure the movie is solid and will eventually watch it.
What I found more interesting was with China’s Box Office. Specifically, the premiere of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away more than doubled Toy Story 4’s receipts.

To be fair, Spirited Away played at more theaters (with about a 3:2 ratio), and I don’t believe China was previously exposed to any of the previous Toy Story films. Still, I always love me some Miyazaki love, and this should not be viewed necessarily as a knock on Toy Story but praise for Spirited Away – and who doesn’t like that?

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:59 pm

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December 16, 2013 : The Making Of A Pixar Short Blog

Saschka Unself directed The Blue Umbrella, the Pixar short released with Monsters University. The short hasn’t really lit up the awards scene, but Unself has given animation fans a present with a cool Making Of Blog for the short. Each day in December through Christmas Eve, the director unveils a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of the short.

The site gives unique insight into Pixar’s process for creating the short, and I am sure in many ways it mirrors what is done for features (just on a much smaller scale). You can easily find the film online; and while I didn’t think it was their best work, it was original and had its moments. I would recommend watching it out before you delve into the entries – it allows you to get a better appreciation for the development of the short as it progressed through the process. It is definitely an interesting read.

posted by Pi Visuals at 3:51 pm


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June 25, 2010 : Cars 2 Sounds Even Worse Than Expected

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Pixar (although I haven’t formally declared this on Facebook); and it’s also no secret that I’m not a huge fan of sequels. That is to say, I don’t like sequels when they’re made simply to cash in on a franchise’s popularity. A great story can warrant a sequel; but more often than not, it’s better to leave things alone.

Luxo, Jr.

One of the reasons I respect Pixar (more so than say Dreamsworks) is that they tend to believe in the art of animation – rather than the business aspect of it. With Toy Story 3 now out, I’m fairly confident that the story will be decent. But honestly, I’d much rather see original material – especially considering the sequel heavy releases expected to come from Pixar over the next few years.

Meh... although I'm sure it'll be solid.

Speaking of which, the next Pixar movie to be released is Cars 2. Cars was by far my least favorite movie of theirs – and critics seemed to agree. I hated the premise, the story, the execution, the voice acting… everything. So news of a sequel being made felt like a kick square in the nuts. To make matters worse (yes, it gets worse), an interview with John Lasseter gave insight to the idea of making Cars 2:

When I was traveling around the world doing interviews for Cars, I just had the characters on the brain. I kept looking out thinking, ‘What would Mater do in this situation, you know?’

Yes… the thought process of making a sequel to this horribly disappointing movie was Mater – the most annoying character in the original movie (and quite possibly in all of Pixar’s pictures). And as a result, the story will have more Mater in it (ugh). In fact, one of the key story points will be:

Mater gets involved in a “Hitchcockian” case of mistaken identity, saves the life of a British secret agent called Finn McMissile (voiced by Jack Black), and becomes embroiled in a huge spy thriller.

If you’re anything like me, you plan on visiting a doctor over the next few days because you’re worried reading the above passage gave you cancer.

The logo is pretty cool, but that's about it.

So to summarize: a horrible first movie combined with the death of several original cast members (Paul Newman, George Carlin, and Joe Ranft) doesn’t lead to shelving any sequel plans. Instead, it gives more screen time for an obnoxious character with a bizarrely inane premise and a new character with a British accent (shine your tires, gov-nah?).

I am getting more and more convinced that Cars 2 might be the first Pixar movie I won’t see.

posted by Pi Visuals at 2:45 pm

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July 6, 2009 : Oh Yeah – I Almost Forgot

I figure I’d follow up from a previous post. I ended up seeing Up a few weeks ago.

A Touching Moment Early In The Film

As expected, I liked it. It’s tough to say how high it ranks with some of my favorites. Personally, I like most of Pixar’s movies (although there are a few exceptions), it is only the ones that I find really good that stand out above the rest.

Is Up one of them? That usually takes some time thinking about the movie – story, animation, characters, etc – before any conclusion could be made. In either case, it was very well done; and it definitely had its moments. Also, it’s story did travel an untraditional route, so props for that.

posted by Pi Visuals at 9:37 pm

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June 8, 2009 : Not Much Of A Surprise

So it’s no shocker, but Pixar’s Up is killing at the box office. Plus, it was very well received critically (again, nothing new here).

I believe a giant cake is off screen (yeah, I made a fat joke)

I have yet to see Up, but the plan is to watch it in the next few weeks. It looks really sweet and has had nothing but positive reviews.

Despite the fact that I have seen every movie of theirs, this will be only the second Pixar movie I have watched at the theater – and the first willingly (I saw the sub-par Cars at the theater, but that was not up to me).

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:03 pm


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January 3, 2009 : America Likes Animation (and Action)

Check out Box Office Mojo’s link of the Top Domestic Grossing Movies for 2008.

A few notes of interest:

While these are just the domestic figures, the international numbers won’t change the general landscape of the year’s top movies. 

Either way, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the big bucks is in action and special effects.  The shocker is how successful some of the animation films did this year.

posted by Pi Visuals at 7:56 pm

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December 3, 2008 : Raskolnikov Filibuster Deoxymonohydroxinate

Yeah, it’s been too long since my last post.  Between the holidays and things being generally hectic, it hasn’t left very much time to post anything new.  However, there have been a few cool things worth sharing.

Soak it all in because now I’m spent.  Later.

posted by Pi Visuals at 2:28 pm

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