Triumphant return of Pixar after the disappointment that was CARS 2? Another daring redefinition of the family film from the people who turned a near-dialogue-free tale about a love-struck robot, an adventure about a cantankerous, air-bound septuagenarian, and a fantasy about a culinary-obsessed rat into worldwide, critical and commercial hits? Uh, no, not quite. But if BRAVE’s chronicling of a headstrong Irish lass (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) who struggles against her parents’ (Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly) plans to marry her off — to the point where an unfortunate magic spell is invoked — doesn’t restore the vanguard CG studio to its widely accepted position of dominance, it does offer many charms to accompany its few stumbles. Come join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski and Dan Persons as they examine the film in depth and express relief that at least the storyline isn’t commandeered by an affable, country-bumpkin tow-truck.
Also, Dan weighs in briefly on the romantic apocalyptic comedy, SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD; plus, what’s coming to theaters June 29th.
The official Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots movie is still in the planning stages, but until then, we have REAL STEEL, the Disney/DreamWorks family-friendly take on a world in which the squared circle has been commandeered by mechanical pugilists while the humans stay safely in their seats. Wrapped in the redemptive tale of an absentee father (Hugh Jackman) bonding with his son (Dakota Goyo) in order to rescue a hang-dog sparring robot from the junkyard and turn it into a populist sensation in the ring, the film features director Shawn Levy’s assured way with top-level special effects, not the least being Jackman’s formidable physique. Join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons as they discuss whether the project goes the distance, or should just retire and open up a night club in Florida (strained boxing analogy ahoy!).
Also: The gang offers an appreciation of Steve Jobs and discusses the recent spate of announced projects taking on the Frankenstein legend; and Dan gets all sloppy over the deliciously bizarre J-Horror film, THE SYLVIAN EXPERIMENTS. Plus: what’s coming in theatrical and home video releases.
Think of it as one spiritual brother reaching out to another over the span of almost an entire century: Bill Plympton — the innovative animator known for his edgy surrealism and distinctive, hand-drawn style — has decided to rejuvenate the work of one of animation’s first fathers, Winsor McCay, the man who painstakingly and single-handedly created such elegant, landmark films as GERTIE THE DINOSAUR and LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND. Plympton has reached into McCay’s catalogue to pull out THE FLYING HOUSE — an UP-like adventure in which a married couple take wing in their homestead — and with the help of a small corps of volunteers, is busy cleaning up the footage, adding a soundtrack voiced by Patricia Clarkson and Matthew Modine, and, in a move that’s controversial only until you see how pretty it looks, added a delicate color palette to the original black and white footage.
Plympton and I talk about the McCay project, as well his work on the new Weird Al video, TMZ, and his new book, the comprehensive survey, Independently Animated: Bill Plympton: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation (which you can purchase here, if you’re of a mind). Click on the player to hear the show.
Kids love cars, and kids love CARS — that seems to be the calculation behind Pixar’s latest animated offering, CARS 2. Abandoning the original film’s theme that celebrated the romance of exploring off-the-beaten-superhighway U.S, director John Lasseter and crew have devised an espionage plotline for this sequel, with cocky racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and kids’-fave country-bumpkin tow-truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy, a.k.a. Daniel Lawrence Whitney) embarking on a whirlwind world tour to compete in an international racing competition, and finding themselves dragooned into a deadly conspiracy being battled by suave superspy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and his sexy (check out those steel-belted radials!) partner Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). With beautifully crafted settings and numerous, exquisitely choreographed action sequences, does CARS 2 overcome the problems found in the first installment, a film that many feel is Pixar’s weakest effort? Join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons as they examine the movie.
Also in this episode: Steve offers his thoughts on Woody Allen’s hit fantasy/comedy, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, Dan discusses the level of human misery he’ll inflict for the sake of saving a few lousy bucks, and the gang discusses the inscrutable artistry of Michael Bay.