Jump Inside To See Pixar’s Creativity Come Out!

Inside Out

            We all are victim to our emotions, always susceptible to a tantrum or sobfest that overruled our logical side. The trigger for these outbursts can vary in form, a bad day at school, a breakup with a boyfriend, or in my case sitting through bad movies. Whatever the cause, have you ever stopped to picture what is going on in your mind to cause this? Pixar has, and their latest film has brought those thoughts to life in a way only their studios can. Today I review Inside Out and take a look at what creative sparks lie in their studio.

Pixar has been on the sequel train for quite a while, so I was thirsty for a drink from the original pool. Inside Out emerges from that source we fell in love with years ago, and brings it back ten fold in the world of young Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) mind. Inside Out is a beautiful personification of the inner workings of the mind, filled with colorful visuals that pop off the screen. A high tech “head”quarters for the cortex looks like something from Star Wars, where futuristic control panels govern all the memories and thoughts that govern our being. Outside command central, Pixar gives you more of their magic in their creations; forming a maze for long term memory, a movie studio as the source of your dreams, and an obvious train for your train of thought. Tacky as some of the puns are, Pixar puts their wit back into the game to design a unique world that is sure to entertain many, as well as become the next theme park attraction.

As the emotions transverse the chaos that is our brain, Pixar not only takes you on a physical adventure but an emotional one as well. Of course being a kids movie there are a lot of comedic moments that had me, as well as other audience members, laughing. Slapstick humor involving bodily harm, one liner puns that will appear in memes, and plenty of witty dialogue that represents the internal struggle of indecisiveness. In particular Anger’s (Lewis Black) ranting had me laughing the hardest, as the simplistic yelling and rash threats to curse were to my tastes. Sadness (Phyllis Smith) had to be my second favorite, more so in how she presented her lines with that perfect twist of depression to make it funny, and yet sad at the same time.

Yet while comedy is a big portion of this movie, Pixar/Disney always manages to bring other emotions into the mix. Seeing as one of the emotions is Sadness, you can guess there are a few moments that can bring tears to your eyes as Riley’s memories unfold before your eyes. Joy offsets these moments though, with beautifully crafted sequences that cover those special times in life. And all of it is edited together at just the right times to make the emotions hit home, building slight tension, but delivering a satisfying finish. Pixar represents this emotional instability both inside Riley’s mind and outside in her actions, really capturing the look and feel of someone troubled, hence the title. It’s balanced well with the humor, and gives older audience members a tether to the film to keep their interest.

Voice acting though is the factor that really brings things to life, as each emotion is matched with their voice counterpart. Poehler’s optimism shines bright in joy as she rambles off her ideas to keep Riley happy, and you can feel the actress in the character. Phyllis Smith brings her character to life, her whispy voice selling the hopeless emotion, and yet still bringing a comedic edge to her lines that made her humorous. Lewis Black is perfect for anger, his ability to play heavily angry roles where his character consistently yells has been established, and he fits right at home with the emotion he plays so well. Mindy Kaling as Disgust was another good choice, the shallow, image obsessed emotion playing strong to that sassiness we love from her. And Bill Hader cleans up with fear, bringing the anxious tone of fear, while also providing that dry sarcasm.

For all the good this movie has there are a few quirks that took away from this movie. The first is a few of the jokes are beaten to death and lose their comedic intensity. In addition the trailers have also given you a lot of the funny moments, which for those who are heavy Disney watchers will be lost from the constant barrage of commercials. As a movie overall, Inside Out has some decent editing, but there are times where the editing needed to be tweaked. The ending of the movie was very drawn out at times, and lacked suspense for me because of the obvious ending to come. I would have liked them to sacrifice some of the prolonged and slower scenes, and give us some glimpses at the personality islands they kept bragging about, or perhaps more time in the darker recesses of the mind. Diving into that creativity may have offset the predictability a bit, and played to the strengths of this movie more.

Overall I was impressed with Inside Out and loved to see Pixar’s classic performance shine once more. Audience members of all ages are sure to enjoy this film, with the younger generations laughing in high shrills and the older appreciating the emotional side of things. It holds that creative magic we love of Disney, and keeps you entertained despite some of the longer moments. While not the best, Inside Out certainly shows promise for the studio’s future works and more fun adventures to be had. I would say it is worth a trip to the theater for any age group and strongly recommend you see this film.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Comedy/Drama: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Welcome Back To the World: Nostalgia, Action, and Predictable

Jurassic World

            The year is 1993, you go to the theater for Dinosaurs and get the thrill of your life watching humans run from mega sized monsters with the urge to kill. Spielberg’s classic Jurassic Park instilled in us a sense of wonder, excitement, and for some of us nightmares as the monsters devoured our cast. Following that, the series hit some rough patches that while visually impressive, lacked the quality the first one did. After a fourteen year hiatus, a fourth installment has finally emerged from the primordial soup to bring us back into the adventure. Tonight I review Jurassic World, so let’s jump into the excitement and see if it lives up to hype.

Jurassic World reintroduces the park, which has been upgraded with the latest toys of the modern era. This installment brings us back into the excitement of the park, as you become part of the crowd and experiencing the exhibits first hand. Stunning CGI visuals have once more brought the prehistoric monsters to life, animated beautifully to parade about the park. While not as realistic in terms of textures as the animatronic cousins from the 90’s, this reviewer was impressed at the detail they put into making Jurassic World pop off the screen. You’ve seen most of the magic unfold already on the trailers, but trust me that there is still plenty of sights to behold on the big screen. Seeing the Mosasaur leap out of the water, or watching the terrifying Indominus Rex storm across the fields, the terror you felt back in the day returns with it. When combined with the special effects and sound editing, the scenes are even more thrilling and immersive, so much that you forget you are even watching a movie.

The visuals aren’t the only thing that will have you reminiscing back to the original trilogy though. No my friends there are plenty of tributes paid in Jurassic World that had me smiling in delight. It’s obvious the design team went back to the roots to craft this adventure, (finally), and managed to pull some of the best qualities from World’s predecessors, such as locations, kills, and plot elements, and put a new twist on them. Most of the twists often have are involve action, exciting moments where the orchestra’s melodies booming over speakers as our heroes strive to survive. Yes, you read right, Jurassic World is certainly not boring or slow, with almost the entire two hours thrilling in some aspect. And believe it or not the filming and editing itself is on target as well. Camera work is stable, all details captured to maximize the carnage and chaos of the digital images while also capturing the emotions of our group.

While most of the movie is action, don’t think that is the only thing you will get in this movie. Amidst the excitement are plenty of touching, emotionally heavy moments that are sure to move you in some way. Some of the scenes involving the dinosaurs and Chris Pratt’s character had me almost tearing up, while other times I rolled my eyes at the preachy messages they painstakingly made. Fortunately there is humor thrown into the mix that had me laughing more times than not. Most of the comedy was intentional, some of the dialog timed at just the right moment to break the tension. Some of the jokes were a little pushed on me, but I must say that overall it works, especially with Pratt leading the group in his dynamic ways. The emotional spectrum is well done in this film, and goes back to all the aspects of the first one you love.

Like always though there are some pieces to this movie that aren’t all there. First off the build up in the park wasn’t there for me in the film. Normally there is an epic buildup to the inevitable dinosaur busting out to hunt, but this film didn’t have quite that much thrill that I was looking for. Things progressed too fast before the crap hit the fan, it did leave me a little disappointed. That minor point aside there are times where the ridiculousness of Jurassic World gets stretched a bit much, and no I don’t mean the raptor training bit that actually worked. Sure this is a movie where dinosaurs are no longer extinct, but there are a few moments that are a little too stretched or hard to swallow, but again this is a minor moment. The major weakness to this movie is how predictable it is. World’s plot writing team really laid out the plot of this movie in the first half hour such as: who would die, how they would die, and how the problem would resolve itself. Thus you can guess I wasn’t too terrified or surprised by most of the moments in this movie, though there were some nice surprises. I don’t think this will be a problem for most, but this reviewer has to dock some points for this weakness.

Jurassic Word is on point as my friend would say, and is a great reintroduction into Crichton’s world. That excitement you felt visiting the park returns once more, and despite the lack of suspense build up, the tale has a much better story than I expected. It certainly is one of the Action/Adventure movies I’ve seen in a while, and the visual effects are certainly worthy of a big screen visit. Do you see it in 3-D? I can’t answer what it did for the movie, but the 2-D movie was certainly great. So my recommendation is go see it soon.

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5-8.0

A Decent Prequel, But Is Losing It’s Scare Factor

Insidious 3

            Good morning my friends, today we’re going to take a stroll down horror lane, a genre that often doesn’t know when it is time to quit. Today we get to analyze Insidious III, a series that has provided decent scares over the last few years. But can a third installment continue the thrills, or has it reached the end of its life? As always, it’s my job to analyze, comment, and inform about whether or not this film is needed.

For fans of the series, Insidious does a decent job at spinning a tale that provides some meaning to the nightmares. This prequel veers from the Lambert family and takes focus on the Brenners, a broken family that is going through some tough times. In particular is Quinn (Stefanie Scott), a high school senior who is trying to move on with her life by auditioning for acting and trying to contact her dead mom… With the means for the ghost and the warning to not contact the dead, the Insidious III is a simplistic plot filled that exists mainly to open us up for scares. Quinn’s tale has some backbone and detail to it, but soon becomes diluted by the horror element with an occasional touching moment to develop character. All her supporting cast held shallow roles in this movie, most only involved to open up for a scary scene before falling through the cracks. Some of her issues and qualities are hastily developed, quickly addressed despite these issues dragging through the movie. The better story is Elyse’s (Lin Shaye), that provides some insight into her life including the origins of her abilities and relationships to the demons of the Further. Sure some of the elements are a stretch, and many provide more questions than answers that are sure to lead to another sequel.

Okay story is mediocre, but was it scary? For my friends who accompanied me, yes the movie is scary. Plenty of times during the movie they jumped out of their seats, occasionally screaming, at what emerged from the dark. Insidious III continues the trend of silhouettes outlined in shadow and the unholy sounds they make. I’ll admit the design team crafted some intense moments with this demon, giving him a serial killer edge that amped up the threat factor. Unfortunately that edge is lost some times with the Darth Vader like breathing that fit better with the Star Wars icon.

Yet the creepiness is only one piece of the scary pie. Insidious still provides those moments where something pops out at you, often accompanied by a loud sound of an orchestra pit blaring. You can see the scares coming from a mile away, the obvious tactics being used to set up for that moment that dilutes the scariness. In addition a lot of the scary scenes were shown in the trailer and by the time new scenes were shown, the tactics had lost their edge I was looking for. However, if you are one who jumps at every thing in a horror movie, then none of this matters and you will still have a good scare. I could go on about the technology aspects of the horror, but it is important to discuss the acting, a component that is essential for selling the terror.

Insidious’ cast plays to their strengths to keep the tale interesting and alive. The star is Shaye, who brings multiple aspects to a simple role. Shaye mixes terror with sass, confidence and humor to make Elyse one of my favorite horror characters. Some of her moments are a bit overdramatic for me, but I like the edge she brings to the part. Stefanie Scott was also good at her performance of the teen tormented by a stalker spirit. Her screams were not too overwhelming or annoying, and she sold me that she was in pain from the haunting. Even her darker moments impressed me as she captured the desolate energy of someone having their life drained and her makeup further accented the performance. As for the duo Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson), they once more had their roles down. The ghost hunters were pure comedic relief, their clumsy incompetency helping relieve the tension of the “exciting” climax. Other characters did their roles justice, but were not involved in the film enough to really analyze.

Insidious III is a decent sequel that helps shed some light on the backgrounds of our ghost hunters, while opening up more questions. Fans of horror will find more than their share of scares in this film, but not as much as the first installment did all those years ago.   Is it worth a trip to theater? Not really, unless you are a major fan of the series, susceptible to scares, or simply just a horror fan. Otherwise leave it for a rent and enjoy being terrorized in your own house.

My scores for this sequel are:

Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.5