Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back at 2013

Here we are, once again at the end of yet another year. While not without its fair share of saddening tragedies in the Pixar realm, this year has nonetheless seen the release of not one, not two, but three fantastic new works from the folks down in Emeryville.

Unfortunately, this hasn't quite been the best year for Pixar. We saw the removal of Bob Peterson as director from The Good Dinosaur - making this the fourth time a director at the studio has gotten the boot. This eventually lead to nearly 5% of the staff being laid off.

Then in October came the headline that probably devastated me most of all - Pixar Canada was shut down. It's a real shame; the Vancouver-based satellite studio had made some remarkable shorts since opening in April 2010, and the studio itself was filled to the brim with talented artists. Those who have followed this blog for a while now may know that I was fortunate enough to visit Pixar Canada this January and tour the studio (you can read about my visit here). I'm more thankful for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity now than ever before, so a big thank-you is due to Amir Nasrabadi (general manager and vice-president of Pixar Canada at the time of its closure) for allowing this dream of mine to become a reality. The studio itself may have closed, but it built quite the legacy in the short three years that it was operational. So long live Pixar Canada!

Now let's talk about some of the more exciting things that happened this year.

Of course, Monsters University, the studio's fourteenth feature-length film and prequel to fan-favorite Monsters, Inc., hit theaters in June and its reception was generally quite warm, despite a select stubborn few still riding that old bothersome 'Pixar is losing it' bandwagon. Oh well, you can't please everybody. Let them keep riding that bandwagon while we look forward to the studio's future wildly ambitious projects.

The latest short film to be pumped out by Pixar, The Blue Umbrella, also made its debut this year alongside MU. While perhaps not as groundbreaking as, say, Day & Night or La Luna, it's arguably still a splendid and very creative work of art, accompanied by an irresistibly catchy soundtrack, not to mention its gorgeous photo-realistic visuals.

More recently, in October Pixar released its first ever television special! Toy Story of Terror saw the return of Woody, Buzz, Jessie and co. and delighted audiences across the globe, proving that the folks at Pixar are more than capable in handling the half-hour special format. Needless to say, Toy Story of Terror left audiences hungry for more Pixar TV specials, so here's hoping they're cooking up some more for us to enjoy in the near future.

All in all, it's been another great year. 2014 will likely be quite a quiet year in terms of Pixar news, what with no new feature film until 2015, but who knows, maybe the studio will surprise us with another television special later in the year. Whether that happens or not, let's make 2014 another memorable year.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pixar Kicks Off 'Monsters University' FYC Campaign

We've come full circle once again. As the year comes to a close, awards season is in full swing as we look back at the year's greatest accomplishments in film. Despite being inexplicably robbed of a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature this year, Pixar is pushing hard to earn Monsters University some recognition at the 86th Academy Awards, focusing primarily on the Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score categories.

Here are two For Your Consideration posters that have been released:

The Oscars will take place on March 2, 2014 and will be hosted by Dory herself, Ellen DeGeneres. Stay tuned for more awards season updates!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November Pixar Update

There hasn't been a heck of a lot of exciting Pixar news this month, but here's a brief recollection of the little tidbits that have dropped over the past few weeks.


'Good Dinosaur' Delay Leads to Layoffs

Some sad news indeed. After the sudden and tragic closure of Pixar's offices in Vancouver, Canada last month, the studio announced last week that nearly 5% of its current staff will be laid off in the wake of The Good Dinosaur's recent 18-month delay.

The official statement:

"At Pixar, we are constantly re-evaluating the creative and business needs of our studio. With the release date change of The Good Dinosaur, we have realigned our production and support priorities, which includes a small reduction in our staffing levels." 

My condolences to those who have lost their jobs, and best of luck to them in their future endeavors.

Ed Catmull's New Book Gives In-Depth Look At Birth of Pixar

Pixar president and co-founder Edwin Catmull will provide the public with the first ever first-hand account of how a struggling division of Lucasfilm once known as the Graphics Group eventually became the animation empire it is known as today. Co-written by Amy Wallace, Creativity Inc. is 368 pages long and will be available April 8, 2014. You can pre-order it now through Amazon.

'Monsters University' Enters Race For Academy Award Nomination

The fourteenth feature to be pumped out by the animation powerhouse, Monsters University, has been submitted alongside 18 other films, including DreamWorks' The Croods and Blue Sky's Epic, for contention to receive nominations at this year's Academy Awards. The real competition, however, lies in Walt Disney Animation's Frozen, which hits theaters tomorrow (or today, depending on when and where you're reading this) and has received wildly enthusiastic reviews thus far, many going as far as calling it the studio's best since The Lion King. Pixar will have to once again butt heads with their sister studio to claim the title of Best Animated Feature; Brave's win in February over Wreck-It Ralph stirred controversy and outrage among many who believed that WDAS had produced the better film.

Read Scripts For 'Monsters University' & 'The Blue Umbrella'

If you're interested in becoming a screenwriter some day, or you just like going through the scripts of awesome movies and shorts, then you'll be thrilled to hear that the screenplays for both Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella are now up on the Walt Disney Studios Awards website for your reading pleasure. I spent a good while the other day just reading the first 60 pages or so of MU's rather brilliant script, and The Blue Umbrella's is equally delightful - it reads almost like a poem. Check out both scripts here and here.


Like I said, nothing particularly thrilling, but the gap between autumn and the awards season is usually pretty quiet anyway in terms of Pixar-related news.

Are you upset by the layoffs at Pixar? Will you be getting Ed Catmull's new book come April? Which film do you think will win Best Animated Feature this year? Do you enjoy reading the scripts for films and short films? Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monsters University: Blu-ray Review

Pixar's fourteenth feature film made its way onto DVD and Blu-ray late last month, and most Pixar and animation fanatics seem to have picked up a copy. I just recently finished getting through all the phenomenal bonus features on the release (or most of them anyway) and thought I'd have a go at writing my first ever Blu-ray review. If you're a follower of this blog you probably already know that I quite thoroughly enjoyed the Monsters, Inc. prequel back when I first saw it in June (you can read my review here), so I was thrilled to be able to see it again at home in all its high-definition glory, as well as delight in all the fantastic in-depth bonus features that fans have come to expect from Pixar releases. So let's begin...

Picture Quality
Well, there's not much to say here really, other than that this flick looks absolutely stunning on Blu-ray - not that one should expect anything less from a Pixar release. Monsters University is one of this year's most colorful and vibrant films so far, and those colors really pop on the screen; the film's spectacular palette will leave you dazzled. The image is crystal clear, with lots little details, like Sulley's blue and purple fur and Randy's scaly skin, that are quite striking. Simply put, MU's Blu-ray presentation is visually flawless.

3D Quality
I did purchase the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" of the film, which comes with the Blu-ray 3D disc, and while I questioned whether I just get the 3D version for quite some time before buying the film, I am happy to say I do not regret my final decision. The 3D presentation retains the impeccable attributes of the regular 2D version while adding great visual depth to an already ravishing feast for the eyes. The college campus stretches deep into the display, making you feel as if you're really there with Mike as he first steps foot on the university. Like I said in my original review of the film, 3D isn't an essential element of Monsters U, but the film definitely makes for a beaming 3D experience.

Audio Quality
Brace yourself, as your surroundings may start to rumble after Sulley delivers one of his terrifying roars. Much like the visual presentation of the film, MU's audio is impeccable. Dialogue is nice and clear, and the wide array of monstrous sound effects throughout the movie is just as resonant.

As usual with Pixar films, there is an entire disc dedicated entirely to the countless of special features for Monsters University that give you an inside look at the Emeryville-based studio, famous for its fun and wacky antics. The extras should keep you occupied for a good while, and are complete with deleted scenes, some great featurettes, and even a virtual tour of the university campus. Needless to say, MU's bonus features live up to those of previous Pixar releases.

The Ultimate Collector's Edition of Monsters University delivers on all fronts, and not only does it meet its relatively high expectations, it exceeds them. Another bonus is that, as usual for Pixar Blu-rays, all four discs come with artwork on them, something that has become quite a rarity in Blu-ray releases these days. The slipcover is also very nice, and while I originally wasn't crazy about the artwork on this particular edition, I must say I've warmed up to it, even if I prefer the cover art for the regular Collector's Edition.

So if you've got some extra cash to spare and are looking for a superb addition to your movie collection, I strongly recommend you pick this one up!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Leaked [Unofficial] 'Good Dinosaur' Poster Hits

The above poster for Pixar's upcoming (and recently delayed) The Good Dinosaur has been making the rounds online over the past few days, although it has been confirmed by a source at the studio that this mock-up is indeed unofficial. The character designs on the poster, nonetheless, do seem legitimate and certainly match the concept art for the characters that was shown at D23 Expo. Now, given that the film is still two years away from its intended release in theaters, not only would it be illogical for the studio to release a teaser poster for Dinosaur now (especially when Inside Out is currently next in the pipeline), but the finalized character designs we see in the finished product could very well differ from what is seen here, although I must say, I quite like the look of the characters on this poster. They strike that wonderful balance between cartooniness and realism, a trend that most of Pixar's character designs seem to follow.

It is obviously quite a bit of a bummer that we won't be able to see this very promising film until November 2015, but as has previously been stated, those additional 18 months give the filmmakers all the time in the world to perfect the picture, and after all, isn't that all that we want?

Monday, October 21, 2013

'Toy Story of Terror' Delivers on all Fronts

Last Wednesday night, fans were treated to Pixar's first ever television special, the spooky Toy Story of Terror, and needless to say, it did not disappoint.

Toy Story of Terror is essentially everything you loved about the Toy Story films packaged into a 22-minute short. It's fast-paced and filled to the brim with witty humor, quirky writing, references to classic horror films, and even character development. That's right! Character development in a television special! Under all the laughs and hijinks there is some actual depth to this short.

The story revolves around Jessie and her withstanding fear of being trapped inside boxes. Without giving too much away for those who have yet to see the special, she must muster up all the courage she can in order to confront her fear to save her friends and return safely to Bonnie.

I was amazed at all this short managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time. It took the already very fleshed-out character of Jessie and added yet another layer to her, which is exactly what these new Toy Story shorts and television specials should be doing, and it excites me to see Pixar pulling it off so well. We get to revisit this phenomenal cast of characters and see parts of them we've never seen before, all without ruining an already perfect trilogy. Brilliant.

We're also introduced to a wide array of fantastic new characters, including Combat Carl (voiced by Carl Weathers), who hilariously refers to himself in the third person. A personal favorite of mine, however, was his 1/3 scale counterpart, Combat Carl Jr., also voiced by Carl Weathers, albeit in a slightly modified, higher pitched voice. I'm a sucker for squeaky voices. All the new characters are a welcome addition to the Toy Story universe, and I really do hope we get to see more of them in the future.

Michael Giacchino provides an excellent score that adds a hint of spookiness to that classic Toy Story-esque music we're used to.

Other highlights include the always entertaining Mr. Pricklepants, who really steals the show here, and the gorgeous animation, which is, well, pretty much flawless.

All in all, Toy Story of Terror is a delight in practically every aspect, and destined to become a Halloween classic in the years to come. Also, between this and Small Fry, I'm starting to become a pretty big fan of Angus MacLane's work.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #10: Hannah M

If you are a regular follower of this site, you may have noticed The Luxo Limelight has been on hiatus for a while, almost two months. If I left you hanging, I do apologize. However, I am happy to bring you an all-new very special issue, featuring a longtime follower of both Pixar and this blog who currently resides in Texas, USA. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the lovely Hannah!


What is your favorite Pixar Film? What is your favorite Pixar Short film?
As most Pixar fanatics would say, it's like choosing between your children, you're proud of all of them and love them equally. But of course, there is always one film that you reach for first, and for me Monsters, Inc. is the one I would pick. The film is genuinely hilarious and has an original plot. I remember going to see it with my dad at least twice in the theaters, and what I remember the most is him laughing...a lot.  My sister and I would always watch the film and then sing 'Put that thing back where it came from or so help me!' for hours. It's a movie that I would (and still do) watch over and over without getting bored of the plot or characters, and that takes amazing writers, directors, and producers. As for short films, my favorite was Presto. For one, it's funny, and two, it's just cute. It keeps you laughing throughout the whole short, and it has original slapstick comedy, which is hard to come around these days. It's a short film I would watch any day, every day. I also have to mention For the Birds which is also original and just adorable.

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
Oh man, hard question. I love all the characters, as I've grown up with them, but the one I could relate to the most would be Merida. She's a girl (duh), but that's not the reason I pick her, and it shouldn't be. As teenagers we all have trouble with our parents, relating to them and such, and I just happen to be going through that phase right now. I love my parents, and I respect them, but sometimes I have trouble communicating with them and agreeing with them. Merida has the same problem (hence the plot) but she learns to get over it and see things from her mother's point of view. I also learned that if I don't obey my mother she might turn into a bear.

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how they inspire you?
I'm going to have to go with the classic John Lasseter. Growing up watching the bonus features, he's always the one that stuck out. He was always so excited about what he was saying and loved his job. He just has so many creative ideas and thoughts and has created some really cool movies. Oh, and his themed Hawaiian shirts, those are pretty cool.

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
As I've already mentioned, I grew up with these movies. The first movie I ever saw in a movie theater was Toy Story 2. On 'movie night' my family would almost always watch The Incredibles. When my mom wanted my sister and I to be quiet for an hour she would put on Toy Story 2, and yes, I do in fact have still have my Jessie, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear toys. For my 14th birthday my family surprised me by taking me to go see Toy Story 3. My family would ALWAYS watch the bonus features after a movie, and my favorite would always be the 'behind the scenes'. These movies were my childhood, and I think that's were the 'fan' part of fanatic started.

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most?
I think it's a tie between The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out. The Good Dinosaur just has such an interesting theme. I have no idea how it's going to turn out, and that's why I'm so intrigued. Pixar also has an opportunity to create some really cool characters. I'm excited to see what the dinosaur's personality is going to be like. As for Inside Out, I also have completely no idea where they are going to go with this movie. Additionally, Pete Docter is a really good director, and I'm excited to see what he's going to come up with. 

Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there?
Yes. Very much so. For about three years I have been dreaming to work as an Animator at Pixar. Before then I was like 'Wouldn't it be so cool to work there?' and then I realized that I actually could work there. I've been taking some classes at school and it really is something that I enjoy and find extremely interesting. Working for any animation company would be amazing, and that's probably where I'm going to have to start off, but Pixar has a very different way of creating movies. They put the story first, and I love that.

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?   
I think they tolerate it. :) They definitely do support me, and understand when I freak out about the newest trailer for Monsters University. They listen to me when I am going on about who is directing, producing, writing, editing, animating, voicing and scoring the next film. They do ask me to chill every once in a while, especially on the way to a midnight premiere. But they get excited along with me, and that makes me feel good.

Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Stunning. Funny. Perfection.

Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of the lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
I remember reading in a blog discussing Monsters University that this film teaches people a very hard life lesson. Your dreams don't always come true. Even if you work your hardest at it, it might not be what you are best at. It isn't something that I've used yet because the film came out like two weeks ago (at the time this was written), but I think it's something that might help in the future. 

You are in an argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
They have their opinion, and I have mine, even though theirs is wrong. I would simply state that Pixar is a very strong studio. They have had hits back to back, and even what people say are weak films, they are still stronger than most films companies put out nowadays. Just show that guy the facts.

Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence.
The quality of the story. They know how to write a good story that is consistently entertaining. That is something that is hard to come by nowadays, and I hope they don't lose it.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
Thank you. You have created a company that has already made a huge impact on the entertainment industry. You have created a company that makes unforgettable films with lovable and inspirational characters. Your perseverance and love for animation has greatly paid off.


A big thank you goes to Hannah for sending in her magnificent responses.

If all goes well, I'll be able to return to making The Luxo Limelight a weekly event again from now onward. But I need your help! If you are a Pixar superfan, please feel free to send me an email to pixarcornerunofficial@gmail.com stating you would like to be featured on a future issue of The Luxo Limelight. Anyone of any age, size, shape, or nationality is qualified to participate. We want to hear your story!

Stay tuned for more of The Luxo Limelight!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Terrifying Tidbits

Don't worry, that headline was a pun. This is actually some pretty good news!

With Halloween just around the corner, Pixar is getting audiences pumped for their first ever television special, Toy Story of Terror (stylized as Toy Story of TERROR!), which airs October 16 on ABC. The special is directed by Angus MacLane (who previously directed the Toy Story Toon, Small Fry) and features the voices of all the original voice actors from the trilogy returning as Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang. Here are some tidbits regarding the special that have been dropped over course of this month.

Entertainment Weekly debuted this poster for the upcoming special. It's not much, merely a previously seen shot of Jessie, Buzz, and Woody pasted on top of a spooky background.

These nifty banners were recently spotted near Disneyland promoting the new short (via The Rotoscopers):

We also got this funny little Sky Broadband commercial starring Bonnie's toys. Check it out:

Be sure to also watch this exciting, fast-paced trailer for the special:

Finally, here is a colorful gallery of stills from the special, which give us a first look at some of the new toys which we'll be introduced to this coming month, including newcomer Combat Carl, voiced by Carl Weathers. You might remember how the notorious Sid blew up a Combat Carl action figure back in the original Toy Story. The one seen in Toy Story of Terror seems to be a different figure than the one that was obliterated but from the same toy line.

Prepare yourself and ready your DVRs, because this October, the toys are back in town!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Year Without Pixar...

Pixar's The Good Dinosaur is now scheduled for release in Fall 2015

It was bound to happen. The upcoming Pixar feature The Good Dinosaur recently lost its original director, Bob Peterson, and no new director was announced. The Pixar veteran soon took to Twitter to share a few words on how he was doing after being removed from the project:

Fortunately, Peterson is still with the studio and reportedly working on a new project, but nonetheless, the upcoming dino flick was left out in the cold without a set director and a  fast-approaching release date less than a year away. So I guess we all should have anticipated that the film would eventually end up being pushed back.

The news broke on Wednesday that The Good Dinosaur had been pushed from its original release date of May 30, 2014 all the way to November 25, 2015. The new date was previously held by Finding Dory, which has now consequently been moved to summer 2016 (boy, Ellen sure isn't going to be too happy). Pete Docter's Inside Out remains untouched and is still scheduled for release on June 19, 2015 and is now the next Pixar film that we can expect to see hit theaters.

So what does this mean? Yes, folks, there will be no Pixar film released next year. 2014 will be the first Pixar-less year since 2005. And while it all does seem very sad, I very much trust the studio's judgement. They wouldn't just push back a film many are dying to see just for the sake of it. If this decision benefits the finished product, then I think another 18 months of waiting is worth it. Pixar president Ed Catmull puts it perfectly:

"Nobody ever remembers the fact that you slipped a film, but they will remember a bad film. Our conclusion was that we were going to give the film some more time."

I think we can all agree that we'd much rather have The Good Dinosaur not come out until 2015 and have it be absolutely magnificent as opposed to seeing it this coming May but having it turn out a mediocre effort. John Lasseter once said, "Quality is the best business plan", and I think it's refreshing to see the studio sticking to that philosophy, even if it means have a Pixar-sized hole in next year's movie schedule.

So let's focus on the bright side of things, shall we? Now the studio has time to nurture all of their upcoming projects to perfection. Also, 2015 will now see the release of two original Pixar movies! That's right, two films within the same year, and two original ones no less! Pretty freaking exciting, isn't it? And if you're still bummed out that you won't be able to go on a new Pixar adventure until 2015, just think of all the other promising movies coming out next year - Disney's Big Hero 6, DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2, and many, many more.

Turn that frown upside down, Pixar is merely taking a quick break so that they can provide us with the best film they can give.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

D23 Madness! Part 3: Finding Dory

Concept art from Pixar's Finding Dory

Pixar really shocked us all back in April when they announced that the beloved Finding Nemo was getting a sequel, scheduled for release in November of 2015. I mean, sure, there had been some rumors flying about prior to the big reveal, but I had personally taken them with a grain of salt. It took a while for me to accept the fact that this was happening (for years I had dreaded the idea of a second Nemo film), but I've really warmed up to the idea now. Whereas some people will cry out "Why? Why, Pixar? Why?", I try to instead ask, "Why not?". Finding Nemo introduced us to an amazing cast of characters who lived in a magnificent setting that looked absolutely glorious in an animated film, so I'm actually now quite looking forward to diving back into the big blue with Nemo, Marlin, and of course, the adorable Dory, who just so happens to be the lead this time around. In Finding Dory, we'll learn more about the forgetful fish's origins and along the way, meet some of her long-lost loved ones. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres are set to reprise their roles as Marlin and Dory, respectively, but the aquatic sequel will see some great new additions to the cast as well.

  • Diane Keaton voices Dory's mother, Jenny
  • Eugene Levy voices Dory's father, Charlie
  • Ty Burrell voices a beluga whale named Bailey

Nope, no Bill Hader in this one. No word yet on who will provide the voice of Nemo, although it's probably a safe bet to assume Alexander Gould (now 19 years old) will not return to voice the curious clownfish, as Finding Dory is set only one year after the events of the original film, so having Gould back would make for quite the awkward transition between films. Unless, of course, clownfish age really fast...

The plot details that were dropped at the Expo last month really grabbed my attention. As previously mentioned, the film takes place just a year after the first movie and sees Dory now living with Marlin and Nemo (whether she lives inside or outside the anemone is a mystery to me) when a traumatic event occurs that causes her homing instincts to kick in and hence go on a journey across the sea, determined to find her family.

With what seems to be an interesting premise for a sequel and Andrew Stanton back as director, I think Finding Dory is on track to being a worthy follow-up to one of the greatest animated films of all time. Will it be as good as or better than its predecessor? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows. But that's a relatively tall order. As long as it's a solid continuation that complements the original and allows us to spend some more time with these amazing characters, it'll be fine.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

D23 Madness! Part 2: Inside Out

Concept art from Pixar's Inside Out

Known as the filmmaking mastermind behind beloved works like Monsters, Inc. and Up, Pete Docter is back in the director's chair in the highly-anticipated Inside Out, set to hit theaters June 19, 2015. Audiences will delve into the peculiar world inside the human mind, or more specifically, the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. Her various emotions make up much of the film's array of characters. The voice cast is as follows:

  • Amy Poehler voices the emotion of Joy
  • Phyllis Smith voices Sadness
  • Bill Hader (Whaddaya know!) voices Fear
  • Mindy Kaling voices Disgust
  • Lewis Black voices Anger

Again, another phenomenal bunch of voice talent. I've always admired Pixar for never selling out and hiring big, extremely well-known celebrities just for the sake of drawing more people to their film (*ahem* Epic, anyone?). I mean, sure, every now and then they do hire famous A-list actors and actresses (Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, etc) to voice characters in their films, but that's only when the filmmakers feel the actor actually suits the character. Also keep in mind, when they do hire famous celebrities, these celebrities are always actual actors. They would never go out and hire, I don't know, Pitbull perhaps? Nicki Minaj? Anyway...

Inside Out follows the aforementioned Riley as she moves to San Francisco and has to adjust to her new life while trying to make new friends. Meanwhile, we are taken inside her head and see how her different emotions react to her everyday experiences. Now here's where it really gets interesting. Riley's emotions apparently all work inside her mind in some sort of headquarters (Get it? Headquarters? Because it's all in her head?) and each character has a screen that allows him or her to see Riley's perspective. Here they perform various tasks, such as storing memories and adjusting her emotions. The mind has many different sections, such as Dream Production, Imaginationland (described as a Disneyland-esque amusement park), and Long-Term Memory. Everything is connected by the Train of Thought, which is, of course, portrayed by an actual train. The plot is set in motion when Joy and Sadness get the boot and are made to leave the headquarters, which means it's up to Fear, Anger and Disgust to operate Riley.

All I can say is...wow. This sounds absolutely flabbergasting just by reading about it! Anyone still convinced that the folks over in Emeryville have lost their "touch"? No? Good, that should mean everyone here is sane. Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves. Because in 2015 Pixar is treating us to what could very well be the most original film in years.

D23 Madness! Part 1: The Good Dinosaur

Concept art from Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

This is one film I'm extremely pumped for. Pixar's fifteenth feature The Good Dinosaur, scheduled for release on May 30, 2014, showcases another one of the fascinating "what if" scenarios that the studio is known for expanding upon in their pictures. This time, we'll get a look at what the world would be like if the dinosaurs had never gone extinct. Prior to the Expo, we knew relatively little about the film, but the folks at Pixar decided to treat us to some juicy plot details, voice cast announcements and astounding concept art from the film.

  • Lucas Neff voices our protagonist, an apatosaurus named Arlo
  • John Lithgow voices Arlo's father, Poppa
  • Frances McDormand voices Arlo's mother, Mama
  • Bill Hader voices Arlo's brother, Forrest
  • Neil Patrick Harris voices Arlo's other brother, Cliff
  • Judy Greer voices Arlo's sister, Ivy

That's quite the voice cast, huh? This will be Bill Hader's second role in a Pixar production as he also previously voiced the poor little "I can't be late on the first day!" slug monster in Monsters University. Now, onto the plot details.

We learned that in the alternate reality the film portrays, dinosaurs have become the dominant species on the planet and they are farmers, who use their different physical characteristics as farming tools. The protagonist, Arlo, is the odd one out in his family as he is dazzled by bugs, whereas everyone else just seems to want to get rid of them. He soon encounters a young human boy named Spot, whom he mistakes for a large beetle upon first glance. Interestingly enough, the dinosaur characters in this film talk, while the human, Spot, does not. The film apparently follows the unlikely duo of Arlo and Spot leaving the farm and going on a journey across several different climates and terrains.

Now, I had previously expressed my fascination with The Good Dinosaur, but after these announcements, it has grown...well, larger than a dinosaur. Granted, I probably say that for pretty much every new Pixar film at some some point, but I find this one project exceptionally intriguing. Bring on 2014!

D23 Madness!

This month was a huge, exhilarating one for animation aficionados across the globe, as both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios made a splash at this year's D23 Expo. We got awesome first looks at most of the films on the both studios' slates, and let me just say, they all look pretty freaking amazing. In the next three blog posts, I'll be sharing my thoughts on the Pixar-related news that broke this month, regarding the studio's batch of upcoming projects. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fans Build Life-Size WALL-E Robot

People can be rather brilliant, sometimes. Check out this awesome video that was uploaded as a part of YouTube's Geek Week, where we are taken into the workshop of Michael McMaster, part of a group of rather intelligent film fans who brought movie magic to life by building a life-size WALL-E robot, identical to the one in the film in almost every aspect. And yes, their replica does indeed say the character's signature phrase, "WAAALL-E."

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #9: Sam of Pixar Central

This week I chatted with a friend from all the way in London, England, who also runs a blog where you can read all about his thoughts on Pixar's films, characters, and so forth. He's contributed some very well written answers, so without further ado, here it is: the ninth issue of The Luxo Limelight...


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
I've always found it so hard to find a favourite Pixar film. Each of them have moments of brilliance, which define Pixar so well. Admittedly, some are better than others (not naming any names, but I think you know which one I'm talking about), but my favourite HAS to be Toy Story 3. It's beautifully animated for a start (something a lot of people take for granted) and both the story and characters are brilliant. It's such a fluid and deft continuation of the series, even better than I expected. My favourite short is another matter entirely. For instance, I love the warmth and originality of Day and Night. I adore the use of hand drawn animation to make it unique and I love the premise. Then there's The Blue Umbrella, with a charming story, cute characters and frankly peerless animation. But, Presto has to be my favourite. It's certainly one of the funniest, particularly because slapstick in animation is pretty hard to pull off. Not many short films can pull off humour like that, but I respect Presto for doing so.

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
If you've read my blog on this, you'll know how hard I found it to choose my favourite Pixar character. For me, a character has to be original, have a great design, a great voice behind the design and a solid script behind the entire story. So, although Dory and Russell give him great competition, I simply can't choose anyone else but Dug. Bob Peterson is sublime and Pete Docter includes him in the story so expertly. I have a dog and I can imagine him saying precisely the same things if he could speak, just another reason why you have to love Pixar's attention to detail.

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
Ah, these questions are hard. Although he's moved away into live-action recently, it has to be Brad Bird. He has a real eye for detail, crucial in animated films. Ratatouille is one of my favourite Pixar films and I love the darker style he introduced to Pixar in The Incredibles. I also love his variety of talents. He can act, animate, direct and write. What's not to like? 

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
I've always had a soft spot for Pixar. I think it must've been after the release of Toy Story 3 (which I saw three times in the cinema), it occurred to me that Pixar are consistently stunning. It was then when I began to explore the films more, watch them in more detail, etc.

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
I, naturally, am very excited for Finding Dory (Nemo ranks 3rd on my ranking of the films), but the concept and premise which fascinates me the most is Pete Docter's Inside Out. The idea of using emotions as characters is completely new, something which will prove very intriguing. Then there's Docter himself, who created the hilarious Monsters, Inc. and the heartfelt and stunning Up. Where can it go wrong?

Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there? (If not, you can skip this question.)
I'd love to work at Pixar! Who wouldn't? Imagine working where your childhood heroes were created. It would be amazing. If I had to work anywhere, it would be in the story department. I'm an amateur writer, so I'd love to learn more about how professionals do it and improve my skills too. I'd be a useless animator, I haven't got the patience!

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
A lot of my friends and family share my love for the studio. Me and my two closest friends are always very excited about Pixar. We watched Monsters University three times at the cinema haha. It's nice that so many people can enjoy Pixar, they are great at entertaining everyone (even my dad - who generally despises animated films - loved Finding Nemo and Up).

Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Exhilarating, exhausting, sublime.

There is no better feeling than seeing a new feature from Pixar, but I do feel tired at the end, I feel like I have to soak all of the detail up in the first viewing, which is stupid of course, but I never learn.

Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
A lot of the morals of Pixar's films are reflected in everyday life. Brave inspired me to improve relations with my parents (and be grateful that they do so much for me). Up showed me that whilst I may achieve my dreams, it may not be how I expect and there's nothing wrong with that. Conversely, Monsters University taught me that I might not achieve these goals, but that's okay, because sometimes you can get there a different way, or maybe what you get instead is better than your dream. I love how bold Pixar were to include that in a children's film, something no other studio would do.

You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
I've been in an argument like this before. I always focus on Pixar's positives. The conversation is steered away from Cars and Cars 2, to the humour in Ratatouille and The Incredibles and the heart of Up and Toy Story 3. Films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story are universally adored, they often come in handy when defending Pixar.

Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
I hope that Pixar retain their reputation for being original, funny, moving and most importantly, entertaining all ages. Everyone from my little cousin to my grandparents have seen Toy Story. That kind of magic and dazzle is possessed by no one anymore. Even Disney have lost the ability (not since Fantasia 2000 have I felt that same sense of wonder) to make all ages smile. I hope Pixar hold onto that as long as possible.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
If I could say anything to John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs (amongst others), it would be thank you. Thank you for persevering with your ideas, thank you for not giving up when the going got tough and thank you for having the guts to go against everyone and defy their expectations completely.


Sam runs two different blogs; one dedicated solely to Pixar, and another where he posts reviews of non-Pixar flicks. Don't forget to visit both Pixar Central and Central Films, and add them to your bookmarks! Follow him on Twitter at @PixarCentral. And as always, if you enjoyed this issue of The Luxo Limelight, shoot me an email at pixacornerunofficial@gmail.com and you'll be featured in a future issue of this column!

Come back next week for the 10th issue of The Luxo Limelight - the only column on the web written for Pixar fans, by Pixar fans (I just came up with that slogan. Clever, eh?).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

EW Premieres Breathtaking Concept Art from 'The Good Dinosaur'

Pixar and Disney Animation honcho John Lasseter recently sat down for a chat with Entertainment Weekly to talk about the latest features in the Disney animated roster, including Disney's Frozen (in theaters this November) and Pixar's own The Good Dinosaur (slated for May 2014). Both films will be previewed at D23 Expo in Anaheim, California this week, but before all that action takes place Lasseter and EW took it upon themselves to wet our appetite for what's to come at the convention and, more importantly, the future in Disney and Pixar animated films.

Above is an a never-before-seen piece of absolutely stunning concept art of Pixar's fifteenth feature film, The Good Dinosaur. EW unveiled the artwork alongside their interview with Lasseter (read the full article here). We know very little about the Bob Peterson-directed film as of now, but expect many new details to begin flooding in once D23 kicks off tomorrow!

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #8: Dan the Pixar Fan

First of all, apologies for not being able to bring you The Luxo Limelight last week. But never mind what happened last week, because today, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the one and only Dan the Pixar Fan. Currently residing in Rexburg, Idaho in the USA for college, he is originally from Stratford, Connecticut and enjoys collecting all sorts of Pixar-related trinkets and knick-knacks. He and Pixar go way back, so learn all about that in this week's interview!


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
 Boy is this a tough one! When it comes down to it though, I have to say Toy Story…can I count the trilogy as one? :) Toy Story started it all and started my love for Pixar. I was 5 years old and it completely captivated me. I can’t say I remember actually seeing it at the theater, but I can say I remember very anxiously waiting for it to come out on VHS. A story I can vividly remember is while I was waiting for it to come out on video (it took a LOT longer then), I would sneak down to the computer at night and my mom would find me playing the “Toy Story Animated Storybook” game. It was my way of getting some of the Toy Story magic and visit the characters while I waited to see it again. As you can tell, Toy Story impacted my life - as it did the world - and has a special place in my heart.
Again, to choose a favorite short film is difficult but I’ll go with the first one that came to my mind…Partly Cloudy. The story is just so cute and original and I love the tone, design and music. It has that Pixar magic and charm that made me love the studio in the first place and was an instant classic/stand out for me.
Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
Hmmmm… well what I love about the all the characters that Pixar creates is that they are all imperfect. They make mistakes but they always have the courage to grow and fix those mistakes, which make them so lovable. It’s amazing how they can take mostly non-human characters and give them such human flaws, emotions, dreams and dilemmas that we can all relate to. There are too many great ones for me to narrow it down, but if I had to pick my favorite and most relatable currently it would have to be Mike Wazowski. He was always one of my favorites since Monsters, Inc., but his story in MU impacted me even more, as it’s very similar to where I’m at in my life right now.
Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
Again, they are all so great. None of them have disappointed me. They have all brought something so special and unique to the Pixar table and all have a ton of heart (which you can see/feel in all of their films). That being said, I’ll have to choose John Lasseter as my Pixarian favorite. Without him, there would be no Pixar-or at least not as we know it. Even though he had a rough start with his career, he did not give up. He didn’t let anyone get in the way of his dream. He’s passionate, innovative and I’ve always admired his enthusiasm and positive attitude. Being the director of Toy Story, he really set the tone, heart and humor that we still find in Pixar films today (I have to stop and give credit to all the Pixarians again though as these films are such a collaborative effort when it comes to the heart, story, screenplay, emotion, etc…). There are many other reasons why John Lasseter stands out to me as a favorite (like his love of toy collecting like me) but I’ll just leave it at that!
How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
I touched on this a little in the first question but I’ll expand a little bit. Again, I was 5 when Toy Story came out and was such a little fan. I had Toy Story bed sheets, collected the toys, played the soundtrack (on tape) over and over, put the green army men in my Christmas tree/reenacted other scenes from the movie, made my own box buildings (like the ones you see in Andy’s room) and was Buzz Lightyear for Halloween the following year. I really don’t know why I loved it so much (as I was too little to really understand the tremendous quality of it - or maybe I did) but I think it just really captured my imagination and I loved the characters. Everything thing about it captivated me. It’s interesting to look back almost 20 years ago and try to get inside my little 5-year-old mind to figure out what stood out so much to me. All in all, it did stand out to me and I anticipated the release of the studio's next film, A Bug’s Life with much excitement. As the years went on and other computer animated films from other companies started trickling out, even as a little kid, I knew the big difference between a Pixar film and, say, a DreamWorks animated film. Now there are SO many CGI films, that many young kids (and even sometimes some adults!) probably don’t even know how or care to distinguish a Pixar film from any other company…I always knew the difference, always trusted the Pixar name and always will.
Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
I’m REALLY looking forward to The Good Dinosaur! It feels like a perfect/natural addition to the Pixar lineup. So far they have touched on all the classic things that all young kids seem to love at some point (toys, bugs, monsters, super heroes, cars, space, etc…) and dinosaurs fit right in there! I know I went through a dinosaur phase and I know this film will capture my inner child once again. The images and story points released so far are fantastic and the design of the little boy (well from what I've seen so far) remind me of me when I was little. :) You put a little boy and a dinosaur together and you know it will be a touching story…and the fact that Bob Peterson is directing (co-director of Up, a writer on so many favorites and the voice of some of the most memorable and funny characters in Pixar’s history…seriously this guy is going to nail it) and Peter Sohn (director of Partly Cloudy - again, my favorite short film - and also the voice of many memorable characters and a great story artist) co-directing just solidifies it for me. It’s gonna be great!
Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there?
You got it right…just a dream! I've woken up from a few dreams where I was working at Pixar actually. :) Working there would be incredible but I’m not going into animation. I really wish I had that talent though!
How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
Most of my family understands why Pixar is the best out there but some of my siblings don’t really see a difference between Pixar films and other animated movies. It’s more like if their kids like a movie than that’s good enough for them. My mom has always understood my love for Pixar films and I think completely knows the difference. My dad likes just about any animated movie that comes out and thinks they’re all hilarious (whether from Pixar or not) but I think he still knows that Pixar puts out the best quality and (thanks to me) he always knows about/anticipates the yearly release. Luckily, I married someone who completely understands Pixar and is so supportive about it! My wife Brita loves Pixar a lot, loves learning more about the films from me and understands that the Pixar quality always comes through.
Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Yet another classic!!
Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
Oh many times! That’s one of my favorite things about these films is that there is always a lesson to be learned…and it never feels cliché. After each film, I always like to look deeper and find the important themes and messages. Since it’s the most fresh in my mind, I’ll choose the message in Monsters University as one that I've implemented lately. It has actually helped me develop a different attitude towards what success is and that even though I may not have some of the talents others have, it doesn't mean I’m just "OK". There are so many incredible messages in that film that I can relate to that I can’t even begin to start writing them all. :)
You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
Well, film is so subjective. What I love, some others hate (and vice versa). This person I’m “arguing” with is probably debating Monsters University vs. Despicable Me 2, haha. I would probably not try to convince them or argue with them but I would listen to their opinion and then give mine, which is: I like quality, classy things and I’m very detailed oriented. Pixar to me is my type of humor, beautiful animation (the best out there by far), lovable/relatable/iconic characters and the heartwarming/genius stories…they’re quality, classy and extremely detailed. :) The movies are more than an “all star cast”, pop culture references, bathroom humor and a hip soundtrack. If that’s your style than that’s fine! But it’s not mine. :) In short - Pixar films are timeless and for everyone of any age and that’s how I like it.
Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
Stay classy Pixar! In my opinion, you’re 14 for 14 films with no need to go the more “worldly” or lazy route like some of these other animated films out there...
If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
…Just keep doing what you’re doing! Thank you SO much for YEARS of magic and I'm looking forward to many more years of magic to come! :) You’re the BEST!


Dan currently runs his own blog, where he frequently uploads photos and commentary on the latest additions to his ever-growing collection of Pixar gems. He encourages you to comment to give him any pointers on Pixar collectibles he may not know of yet, and likes to chat on Twitter as well - be sure to reach out to him at @PixarFanDan, right after you check out his fantastic blog, of course.

And as always, if you enjoyed reading this week's issue of The Luxo Limelight, remember you can always email me at pixarcornerunofficial@gmail.com if you are interested in being the next participant in the column!

Tune in again for the next issue of The Luxo Limelight next Friday!