Posts Tagged ‘Pixar’

LIGHTYEAR – Michael Giacchino

June 21, 2022 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

In November 1995 the upstart studio Pixar released the film Toy Story, and kick-started a revolution in animated filmmaking. Within years most of the main studios had their own animation departments and were churning out massive amounts of content for kids, but the origins of the boom all traced back to a simple story of a little boy, his toy cowboy, and his toy astronaut. That astronaut was, of course, named Buzz Lightyear, and the in-movie conceit was that he was an action figure from a movie in that universe that none us of had seen: we just had to accept that it was real. Well, now Pixar have actually made that movie – the Buzz Lightyear origin story that the toy in Toy Story is based on! It’s a classic sci-fi adventure in which Buzz, a hotshot Space Ranger astronaut in Star Command, becomes marooned on an apparently hostile alien planet after suffering the effects of time dilation on his space craft, and has to find a way back home – all while confronting a threat in the form of the evil Emperor Zurg. The film is directed by Angus MacLane and has a voice cast that includes Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, and Taika Waititi, with Evans replacing Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz. Read more…

LUCA – Dan Romer

July 9, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Luca is the 24th Disney-Pixar animated film, but also (curiously) one of the least-widely marketed. It’s a shame, too, because on the whole the film is a pure and whimsical delight, an easier and more approachable story that eschews the profound existentialism of recent films like Coco, Onward, and Soul, to instead tell a simple story about an idyllic childhood and the need for friendship and acceptance. The film follows Luca, a lonely young sea monster who lives with his family off the Riviera coast of Italy in the 1950s. Sea monsters are feared and hunted by humans, but Luca is lonely and obsessed with life on the other side of the ocean; things change for Luca when he meets another sea monster, Alberto, who says he lives among humans, and tells Luca that sea monsters look exactly like humans when dry, but return to their true forms when wet. Thus begins a summer of adventures for Luca and Alberto, who begin to spend more and more time in the nearby human town of Portorosso, and make plans to buy a Vespa motor scooter and travel the world together. The film is directed by Enrico Casarosa – who based the story partly on his own childhood growing up in Liguria – and features a voice cast including Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan. Read more…

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SOUL – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste

January 1, 2021 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

It’s been quite fascinating to observe the gradual tonal shift in Pixar’s movies over the years. Although their earliest entries – Toy Story in 1995, A Bug’s Life in 1998, Toy Story 2 in 1999 – contained their fair share of interesting adult and emotional themes in amongst the toy-and-bug based comedy and antics, in recent years the studio has become much more interested in exploring deeply existential themes of life and death. 2017’s Coco saw its Mexican protagonist journey to the fabled ‘land of the dead’ to seek a deceased family member, while Onward from earlier this year saw two alternate-reality fantasy elves trying to spend one more day with their deceased father. Pixar’s new film, Soul, may be the most ambitious one yet. It follows the story of Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician; after an accident on the way back from a gig audition Joe finds himself literally separated from his soul and on his way to the ‘great beyond’. However, when Joe rebels against his fate because he doesn’t believe he has achieved what he was destined to do, he instead finds himself acting as a mentor to a pre-born soul named 22 who has been unable and unwilling to find the ‘spark’ she needs in order to achieve life on Earth. The film is directed by Pete Docter and features the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, and Rachel House. Read more…

THE INCREDIBLES 2 – Michael Giacchino

August 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

14 years ago, in 2004, Michael Giacchino became the first composer to successfully make the transition from video games to movies when he was asked to score a Disney-Pixar animated action adventure super hero film called The Incredibles. Giacchino’s career to that point had been filled with high quality scores for games such as The Lost World, Call of Duty, Secret Weapons Over Normandy, and several entries in the groundbreaking Medal of Honor series, plus work on TV shows like Alias, but The Incredibles was his first film work of any significance. It was a sensation – the combination of jazzy John Barry-style big band arrangements and broad, exciting action music was a breath of fresh air, and essentially launched a career which has seen him become one of the most in-demand and well-loved composers in Hollywood, with his musical fingers in multiple franchise pies comprising Star Wars, Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Planet of the Apes, Jurassic Park, several Marvel super hero movies, and many other Pixar films, including the Oscar-winning Up. Now, after all this time, Giacchino is returning to the place it all started, with his score for the long-awaited sequel The Incredibles 2. Read more…

COCO – Michael Giacchino

November 14, 2017 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Coco is a beautiful animated film from Disney and Pixar centered around the traditional Mexican holiday of Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The story centers around a young boy named Miguel Rivera, an aspiring musician who idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz, a popular singer/songwriter and film star, who died years previously. Unfortunately, Miguel’s family despises music because his great-great grandfather abandoned his family to achieve his musical dreams. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel plans to enter a talent contest in order to convince his family of his love of music, but things go awry, and circumstances contrive in such a way that Miguel finds himself ‘crossed over’ from the land of the living to the spirit world – not dead, but unable to return home without help. After reuniting with long-deceased members of his family, and meeting with an insouciant rogue named Hector who agrees to be his guide, Miguel embarks on an epic adventure in the Land of the Dead in a desperate attempt to cross back to the human world before time runs out and he is stuck in the afterlife forever. The film is a wonderful amalgam of music, emotion, humor, excitement, and staggeringly beautiful visuals; it’s directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, and features the voices of Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, and Benjamin Bratt. Read more…

CARS 3 – Randy Newman

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The creative relationship between Pixar Animation and Randy Newman goes back more than twenty years, all the way back to 1995 and their first foray into feature films with the original Toy Story. Their collaboration has since continued through titles like A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Cars, Toy Story 3, and Monsters University, each of which has been enriched with Newman’s tuneful songs and warm scores. Cars 3 marks the eighth Newman Pixar score (him having been dropped in favor of Michael Giacchino on Cars 2); the film, which is directed by Brian Fee, follows the continuing adventures of the anthropomorphic race car Lightning McQueen, who this time round finds himself locking horns – fenders? – with an upstart racer named Jackson Storm, who embraces all kinds of new racing technology and threatens to replace McQueen at the top of the grid. Read more…

INSIDE OUT – Michael Giacchino

August 20, 2015 3 comments

insideoutOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The last couple of Pixar movies – Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University – have been comparative disappointments by their ludicrously high standards, and a turnaround in fortune was required. As such, directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen stepped up and produced Inside Out, a beautiful, moving portrait of what it means to grow up. The conceit of the story is built around the theory developed by renowned psychologist Paul Ekman that the human experience is built around six core emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and joy. The film follows Riley, a happy 11-year-old Midwestern girl, whose carefree life is thrown into turmoil when her parents move to San Francisco. Inside Riley’s head, the five emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) – try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event; throughout her life to date, Joy has been Riley’s dominant emotion, but ever since the move Sadness has been inexplicably compelled to move to the forefront. After one particularly traumatic event on the first day at her new school, Joy and Sadness are accidentally swept out of the Headquarters where Riley’s conscious thought is processed, and into the labyrinthine storage area where Riley’s long-term memories are kept; as such, the mis-matched pair must find a way to return to HQ, where Anger, Fear and Disgust have been left in control. Read more…

TOY STORY 3 – Randy Newman

October 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The second sequel to the groundbreaking Pixar animation comes 15 years after the original, but despite the passage of time has not lost any of its magic or charm. As well as being an excellent (and very funny) diversion for children, it’s also an imaginative, nostalgic, pathos-filled treat for adults, dealing with such mature themes as obsolescence and loss. The majority of the original voice cast – Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn – return to join up with newcomers Ned Beatty and Michael Keaton in a brand new story where the toys are accidentally delivered to a day care facility when their beloved owner Andy goes away to college. At first happy to be played with again, the toys quickly find out that life in the day care is not quite as rosy as it seems, and hatch a plan to escape. Read more…

UP – Michael Giacchino

May 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When we look back on his career, 2009 could well be seen as a watershed year for Michael Giacchino in terms of public awareness and his place in the film music hierarchy. Film music fans have known about Giacchino for a long time, of course, initially through his work on the Medal of Honor video game series and the TV shows Lost and Alias. This year alone he has already scored the rebooted Star Trek movie and a new big screen version of Land of the Lost. However, it is his new status as one of Pixar’s go-to guys (alongside Randy and Thomas Newman) that may cement his reputation. The Incredibles was a critical and commercial success, Ratatouille earned Giacchino his first Academy Award nomination, and now he has Up, which many writers have acclaimed as the best Pixar movie to date. Read more…

WALL·E – Thomas Newman

June 27, 2008 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

If one was to try to work out the most financially successful film production company (adding up all the grosses, and dividing by the number of films), I would hazard a guess that Pixar would be up there with the most successful of all time. Since first appearing on the scene in 1995 with Toy Story, every single one of their films has grossed over $200 million at the US box office, with the highest – Finding Nemo – ratcheting up $389 million in 2003. Similarly, the scores for Pixar films have been almost universally lauded amongst critics; seven of the eight films to date have received Oscar nominations for score, or song, or both. Randy Newman won his first (and only) Oscar for Monsters Inc in 2001. The only score to miss out was Michael Giacchino’s The Incredibles in 2004. Read more…

RATATOUILLE – Michael Giacchino

June 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

First of all, let me say that I often have trouble just getting past the opening of this album… because I love it so very much. It’s a song called “Le Festin”, performed in French by Camille, and written by Michael Giacchino. It’s one of those lovely tunes that can make a hot room feel cool and a cold room feel warm. You know the sort of song… the kind that makes flat-footed klutzes like me feel like dancing, the kind of song that makes you want to rush out and kiss someone (my co-workers have grown increasingly uncomfortable around me over the past couple of months). Read more…

THE INCREDIBLES – Michael Giacchino

November 5, 2004 Leave a comment

theincrediblesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Within our little world of film music, Michael Giacchino is already pretty famous. Having written some of the most spectacular game scores in history for Dreamworks’ Medal of Honor series, and having contributed music to the hit ABC series Alias since its debut in 2001, Giacchino has gradually built up a strong fan base of admirers who fully expect him to develop into one of film music’s major players in the next 10 to 15 years. When it was announced that John Barry, the original choice of composer for The Incredibles, was no longer attached to the project, and that Giacchino would be his replacement, a great whoop of delight was heard: finally, a big screen vehicle worthy of his talents! Read more…

FINDING NEMO – Thomas Newman

May 30, 2003 Leave a comment

findingnemoOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

The last person you would expect to score a Disney family movie would be Thomas Newman; the last person you would expect to score a Pixar movie would be Thomas Newman, especially when the monopoly on these has hitherto been held by his cousin Randy. But, in an attempt to break away from the usual sound and go down a different road, Pixar and director Andrew Stanton asked Newman to score Finding Nemo, the excellent animation studio’s offering for summer 2003. The truly unexpected thing about the end result is twofold: firstly, it has provided Newman with a perfect opportunity to employ the services of a much larger orchestra, and to write broad themes and largely more upbeat music. The surprising thing is that, by and large, is also a little disappointing. Read more…

TOY STORY 2 – Randy Newman

November 19, 1999 Leave a comment

toystory2Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When Toy Story first appeared in the scene four years ago, it revolutionized the world of animation. The first computer-generated feature film in motion picture history, and featuring a voice cast line-up that any live action movie would drool over, the film made stars of its fictional lead characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear, launched “to infinity and beyond” as an international catchphrase, and gave the Pixar animation studios carte blanche to develop their production as they saw fit. Now, after the record breaking success of A Bug’s Life two years ago comes the inevitable sequel – Toy Story 2. Read more…