Finding Dory (& Piper)

In the thirteen years since Finding Nemo was made, Pixar’s animation has advanced considerably.  We got a reminder of that before Finding Dory even started playing, in the form of the short in front of it: Piper, a charming little movie about a sandpiper chicklet, which uses the newest techniques to make CGI birds look so realistic, you have to remind yourself they’re computerized, especially they’re wandering through sand and waves that look like they came straight out of a live-action movie.  The story is one that might have just carried an obviously animated short, but the filmmaking turns it into an awe-worthy one.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. & Inside Out (and Lava)

Went to the movies for both of the last two weeks; it’s been a while since I’ve done that.  I went to see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. first, because that one had been a big deal on my Twitter feed since about the time the Comic Con trailer dropped, then Inside Out, because I’d heard it raved about so much, and hey, you don’t want to miss too many Pixar films.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a fun movie to watch.  It was very slickly done, and with a lot of good jokes(the listening device exchange was priceless).  But despite all the squeeing I’ve been reading over the bromance of the two main characters, I didn’t buy it, the going from adversity to suddenly dashing like mad to rescue each other without any clear feeling as to why.  I didn’t really sympathize enough with either of them either(I especially didn’t care for this Napoleon Solo).  I would have sympathized more with the main female character, except I saw her first plot twist coming from about the time she was first introduced and suspected her second one was going to happen as well.  Hugh Grant stealing the show from everyone late in the movie didn’t help.  If a sequel came out, I might or might not go see it, but I wouldn’t feel any great loss if there wasn’t one.

Inside Out actually had two things prefacing it besides trailers, and the first I was not happy to sit through.  First we had the creators preaching to us about how we have to come see their movies, which is not the way to induce us to do so.  Thankfully that was short, and accompanying short film, Lava, was a sweet love story involving volcanoes that educated us about how volcanic islands form in the ocean while making us go “Awwww” during a volcanic eruption(never thought I’d be doing that one).  Although to be fair, I think I may have only gotten the lesson because I knew its contents already, but hey, it was still a very sweet little film.  Considering the point Inside Out makes in both the promo materials and then the film itself(with a pair of psychologists even listed as consultants in the credits) in educating us a little bit in how the mind works, it made the two films a very good match for each other.

Inside Out too was a great film to watch, but it was more than that.  It was very imaginative, for one thing, creating a whole and fascinating original world even while anchoring it in the behavior of the human brain, a very fully realized one where by the end of it you understood the rules and didn’t need to be told the stakes to get them.  It also brought us a set of characters, both human and otherwise, that we came to care about, until when one of them makes a heartbreaking decision late in the film you feel sad right along with the main character.  It also deals with depression, and in a way that hits home for anyone who is familiar with it.  As a bonus, the three most important characters in the movie are all female(although I suppose you can argue the two non-human ones might or might not have a full gender identity).  When it ends with a sequel hook, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. did, you want to see that sequel.  Also, it was screamingly funny at times, especially during the credits.

Not sure when I’ll next go to the movies, given I’ll be watching tennis and then going out of the country for a week and a half.  Although apparently the next Pixar movie comes out before the end of the year…

Brave(& La Luna)

Before Brave Pixar’s short film was an imaginative piece called La Luna.  It featured a moon covered with glowing stars, dialogue that consisted completely of grunts, and a premise that echoed aspects of some older stories while still being more or less its own idea.  These elements mixed together resulted in an atmosphere je ne sais quoi, and the result feels magical regardless of the viewer’s age.  One of the best shorts I’ve seen before a Pixar feature.

Of course, that raised expectations for the movie to come a lot, and for the first half hour or so, I was beginning to feel disappointed.  The supposed premise of Brave felt cliche, the drama overdone, the characters caricature.

But that was only because I was assuming the plot was going to go the way the trailer implied.  I really ought to have known better to trust a trailer over Pixar.

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Saw Brave today

My brain’s still processing it, so there probably won’t be a full review here until next week.  For now I will say it’s a good movie, so is the short before it, and don’t trust the trailer; it’s nothing like it’s advertised.

Also, I was dreading the commercial breaks during the Olympics when I started realizing I’d have to endure all the political attack ads, but after seeing this before the movie today, I think I shall be mollified if there will also be commercials of minions doing gymnastics:

I noted while watching both this and the trailer for The Hobbit in the cinema this morning that they’re really making these movies nowadays to depend on the 3D, to the point that even in the 2D they’ll animate it to short-of include the extra dimension.
I probably won’t see the movie, though. I didn’t see the first one. I’ll just watching whatever various minion vids I spot on YouTube.