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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Support a Short Film and Get Rewarded: 400

Indeed it's been over a year since I've posted here-- Trust me I do intend on returning to it some day. However, right now I come to any remaining readers for help. I am a part of a short film that's in need of your help.

In order to make the best film possible we've set up a Kickstarter where you pledge money to the cause and support the movie. In return you get rewards for being a part of the film's fruition.

Understand that if you decide to help out you're only pledging money right now. Deposits are not made until AFTER the final day pledges can be received. Even then, the project only deposits the money if it makes it's goal or higher. So if the project does not hit its goal, or higher, by the final day it will not receive any of the previously pledged funds. So it's very important we meet our goal.

We need all the help if possible. Make sure you spread this along to friends and family. Thank you.

You can watch the teaser video and read what the film is about here:

LINK TO THE KICKSTARTER PAGE:

CLICK HERE TO READ AND HELP AT THE KICKSTARTER FOR THE SHORT FILM: 400

VIDEO:

WIDGET

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl TV Spots

Missed the best part of the Super Bowl? I'm here for you. Except when it comes to making the videos fit in my blog space. That's on you. I'm sure a little right clicking and finagling will do worlds for you:

Cowboys & Aliens
My second favorite spot of the Super Bowl event. It's such an insane idea... it just might work. Harrison Ford hasn't looked this cool in decades. Teaming him with Daniel Craig, in a western that replaces Indians with aliens, sounds like the most fun we'll have this summer.


Thor

We need another superhero flick like I need another bill to pay. So I hope Thor is better than the spot is-- Which simply screams high levels of generic. Over time this film has become less and less interesting to me. Still, I'm curious what Kenneth Branagh brings to the genre. (Assuming Marvel gave him any creative control.)


Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I know. "Why?" Right? But Michael Bay cuts such convincing trailers you have to marvel at how he's able to make such material look like a world changing event. I won't get my hopes up, but this movie looks more like a straight forward invasion flick than a psuedo-war picture. Points for looking different and maintaining Optimus Prime's badassary.

Transformers 'Dark of The Moon' Super Bowl Trailer (720p) from Michael Bay Dot Com on Vimeo.



Captain America: The First Avenger
Honestly? It was one of my favorite spots of the evening. I didn't think a Captain America movie would work. I'm no fan of the character and I don't think he's aged well enough to be relevant. But this holds my interest over Thor. I like the period setting. It should be a fun flick.


Battle: Los Angeles
I don't really understand the hype surrounding this dog. Jonathan Liebesman's resume isn't very impressive and yet some critics/journalists are throwing his name next to Neill Blomkamp, Gareth Edwards and Zack Snyder. Why? Maybe Battle: LA isn't as generic of an action flick as it looks in this spot. I'd like to think Aaron Eckhart only chooses really interesting scripts.


Super 8
My favorite spot of the night. Something original and fresh. Something that doesn't come from a comic book, isn't a sequel, isn't a preexisting material and doesn't come from a cereal box. And yet... it's so familiar. J.J. Abrams' new flick feels so much like a Spielberg movie from the 1980s it's enough to claim as my most anticipated film of the summer. Watch:


There were a few more, but these are all I really care to pass along. If there are any broken links, let me know.

Monday, January 31, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW - The Social Network

Since I saw this film in September I’ve been toting it as, “one of the most important films of our generation.” It seems I’m really good at spitting fire, but hiding the fuel tank. “So why, G? Why is The Social Network so important? And why should we care?” Answer:

Does everyone remember Citzen Kane? I’m fully aware I’m not the first to liken The Social Network with what the AFI claims to be the greatest film of all time. However, I do want to sit on this comparison for a moment. Both movies are inspired by real events that follow young corporate juggernauts out to find love on their own terms. (Thank you Mr. Leland.) Whether either of these films was accurate doesn’t matter. What matters are the main characters depicted in Citizan Kane and The Social Network used what was popular and innovative, for the time, to gain power. The Social Network reminds us the dangers of Charles Foster Kane's errors still live, but in a much different way.

The difference between Kane and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the latter created a new communication network to influence big business. Currently, Facebook is the epicenter of web communication. It has carelessly transformed the word “friend” in to a meaningless web of contacts you may or may not communicate with. Knowing this makes The Social Network all the more tragic. Zuckerberg’s hijacking of various networking ideas causes an escalating “friends list.” But the people who inspired his project sure as hell aren’t on it. The poster reads, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” The poetry behind this tagline is really incredible. In the film his enemies are right in front of him; face to face. The people on his "friends" list? I can't be sure I saw any onscreen.

Zuckerberg's business triumphs mixed with his social failings make the movie. It hits hard when he’s left alone with his own creation, watching his profile in hopes to earn a “real” friend. Though it also shows how vicious one entrepreneur must be to reach success. Apparently you don’t make $500 million without making a few enemies either. So while parading Zuckerberg as a tragic “asshole,” the movie also establishes the grit and initiative needed to create a corporate flagship like Facebook. Aaron Sorkin’s script plots through the ideas of Facebook’s evolution without feeling like it's needless exposition. The characters remain as entertaining as ever while the ideas of success are presented to the audience.

I must say I was one of the first to turn my nose up at the idea of this movie. But placing it in the hands of Sorkin and David Fincher brought real heart to the film. They know Facebook is a monster that has taken up our generation’s time with needless worries of what Gracie thinks about Ellen’s picture. Or updating statuses. Or seeing if Sondra is still dating Bob. The list goes on, but The Social Network comes down to why we do this. It turns out the creator wanted Facebook for the same reason we do: Instant gratification. Now we can all feel important with a simple click.

Accurate or not, it makes for great storytelling. I wonder if Mr. Zuckerberg really does get that instant relief when logging in to Facebook. He might also feel empty knowing his monster is just an existential time-waster. Is Zuckerberg sitting in front of his laptop waiting to utter, "Rosebud?" Nah, we've seen that story. He’s probably just counting his checks.

**** out of ****

Sunday, January 23, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW - Inception

By now the world has been exposed to the word, “inception.” I won’t place bets on everyone, but chances are most will remember it as a movie and not the word they memorized for their vocabulary test. Oh, but those who were exposed to the “big word” during their 5th grade spring semester probably have a better chance at understanding it than others. But that’s one reason why Inception is praiseworthy. It doesn’t treat its audience like idiots. It respects us enough to trust we will follow every line of dialogue and understand the mammoth that is Christopher Nolan’s mind at work. We should beat down the door for more movies like these.

I won’t bother with a synopsis. If you haven’t seen the movie by now, get the hell out and start feeding it to your eyes. Meanwhile, I’ll struggle to provide new insight to a movie that’s been reviewed in to the ground. Praising the script, effects and acting only goes so far. But loving it-- ah, well, it seems appropriate for a movie that respects its audience so well. Christopher Nolan loves his job. He loves it so well that it pours on to the hearts and minds of filmgoers much in the same way that Spielberg, Lucas and Scorsese had. The best example of this, in actuality, is pointing out the film’s “shortcomings.” I use the word shortcomings, because Inception’s lesser moments have been dubbed flaws.

I won’t say the film is flawless, but I won’t call a lack of “emotional connection” or “underused” supporting cast members a flaw by definition. I fully admit Inception had an amazing cast of decidedly underdeveloped characters. And I didn’t feel as stricken by Dom Cobb’s predicament as I did Harvey Dent or Bruce Wayne. But when did this movie call on an overwhelming amount of emotion or supporting character development to be key to its success? At the core, the movie is a heist flick with stakes higher than money or power. It’s about a man who wants to see his children. Like all heist movies the exposition is high, but clever. The supporting characters become outlets for the audience. They aren’t on screen to grow; they’re here to humanize a bizarre plan so we believe people can actually enter the mind of a person. Mission accomplished. The rest is on Leonardo DiCaprio and Nolan.

Never once does DiCaprio waver as a man in desperation, yet fully embracing his talent in the world of corporate espionage. The character tiptoes through Nolan’s flowchart of ideas that, miraculously, ends with no holes. Roger Ebert cracked that writing Inception must’ve been like, “playing blindfold chess while walking a tight-wire.” Such an exercise actually seems easier in hindsight. In the ten years it took Nolan to finish this script, I wonder if there was ever a doubt such an elaborate idea would work. And even when the bible of dream navigating was finished, would it have enough of a human element for audiences to relate to? Whether it did on paper or not, Nolan was wise to choose DiCaprio for the job.

Whelp, lets tread on the ending. Some believe they saw the top waver! “It was about to fall!” Others think he was still trapped in the dream. Me? I have my theory, but broadcasting it doesn't interest me. I believe Nolan meant more than an ambiguous ending. Today filmmakers, producers and hacks are forcing audiences to feel a part of a movie with this 3D fad-o-crap. Nolan probably wants to invite audiences in as well, but he goes about it more subtly. Leaving us with the dreaded spinning top does more than what 3D accomplishes. It puts us in the same shoes as Dom Cobb. Throughout the film our hero obsesses over reality and figments of the mind. He must know the truth! And so must we. Bummer.

The genius of Inception doesn’t stem from it being a perfect movie. A great movie is rarely perfect and believing otherwise invites words like “masterpiece” to be overused. Its brilliance lies in its careful crafting and loving trust that the movie will work and we will understand it. It's not simply that I will praise a movie with, ahem, “shortcomings.” Rather, I enjoy awarding (and loving) oceans of talent pushed against all odds. Inception should’ve failed. Mr. Nolan continues to be venerated.

**** out of ****

Monday, January 10, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW - Copout

I shan’t be spending too much time on this review. Not because of how terrible it is, but because I love Kevin Smith. I love his movies. I love his scripts. And I adore Bruce Willis. But Copout isn’t simply a weak movie; it’s a waste of a movie. Period.

If you’ve seen any buddy-cop flick you know what you’re in for here. The fact that this sub-genre is still alive after Edgar Wright demolished it in Hott Fuzz is astounding. What’s worse is that Kevin Smith couldn’t even come up with any new gags to make it stand out. It is about as dumb as you can imagine it is.

Bruce Willis is an actor always worth paying to watch. He’s just an entertaining individual and if there’s anything nice to say about Copout, it is the simple fact that Willis graces it with his presence. If I were to pick the worst aspect out of the film, it would be Willis’s opposite, Tracy Morgan. Watching Morgan attempt lines is about as enjoyable as having a diseased chimpanzee shit in your mouth.

And no tragedy of cinema would be complete without an appearance from Sean William Scott. Although Smith was nice enough to grant me the pleasure of watching him dragged behind a car. It’s these small moments the film sparks, but once the flash is gone we get the deep void that is Copout.

The best example is the interrogation at the film’s start. Morgan’s attempt to scare a man by using classic movie lines gives Willis plenty of commentary to satisfy Kevin Smith nerdom. It was a reflexive moment that could have carried the entire film, but this is not your typical Kevin Smith outing. It’s a studio attempt at another movie with two dysfunctional cops getting in trouble. It doesn’t have to sound as lackluster as it is, but since the concept has been explored so many times I suppose the writers figured, “Why bother?”

So what does Copout have? Well Morgan is having marital problems, so we get to see the fascinating subplot of a cop spying on his wife. Oh, don’t worry! I won’t spoil whether or not she really is cheating on him! There’s a damsel in distress somewhere in there. Gee, and what buddy-cop movie would be complete without the main characters’ suspended from active duty? It raises the stakes, man! They have to soldier on despite having their shields revoked! Think of the suspense.

Apparently Smith took a huge pay cut to make this movie and did it as a career move for future projects. I can certainly understand that. To move up in the world you have to make some unflattering plays. It doesn’t excuse the ugliness. A platypus is still a platypus and a bad movie is still a bad movie. I could dance around everything that’s wrong with the film all day, but that’s too depressing. The movie is called Copout, do you need any more of a warning?

* out of ****

Saturday, January 8, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW - Tron Legacy

“The Grid.” Says the brilliant Jeff Bridges, “A digital frontier.” It’s almost like the beginning of a Star Trek episode. It forewarns something mysterious and unknown coming our way. In a way this monologue is still an advertisement for the movie. After two years of waiting and a rumored $120 million spent on advertising alone, Tron Legacy’s hype ended under the dim lights of the multiplex. Is it bad I’m starting this review with the film’s absurd hype?

For those who haven’t seen the original Tron, you need not bother. One of the sequels great strengths is that you need virtually no understanding of the first. Right out of the blocks we’re introduced to younger versions of the main characters, Kevin Flynn (Bridges) and his son Sam. After Flynn’s unexplained disappearance it takes twenty years for Sam to find his father in “The Grid.”

I find it odd that there’s no mention of Sam’s mother, but maybe that’s asking too much. Should we care? Director Joseph Kosinski doesn’t bother too much with those petty details. Oh, but why should he? He has a world built on lights, glass and sexy motorcycles to worry about. If anything, Tron Legacy is a magnificent technical achievement. The costumes, sets and special effects are so beautifully realized it’s like watching a ballet of lights. Dare I risk heresy and say it was more enchanting than Avatar.

But above the aesthetics are flaws that have plagued far too many blockbusters in the last decade. The film’s pace screeches to a painful halt when Kevin Flynn explains a novel’s worth of back story. This voice-over exposition is so long-winded that I can’t help but wonder if it might have made a more interesting movie.

Even Clu, Flynn’s alter ego, gets a flashback worth cutting from the film. Although the scene’s attempt to humanize the antagonist failed, I must admit, watching the young Jeff Bridges is mesmerizing. I can’t say Bridges' face, digitally enhanced to look young, is a slam-dunk; but despite the flaws I’m more impressed with how close it looked. It wasn’t as impressive as Schwarzenegger’s face in Terminator Salvation, but to keep up the look for a whole movie must have been taxing. I'm interested to see how far this technology goes in the future.

In a sense the effects behind Clu’s face represents Tron Legacy well. After all, much of the movie’s pseudo-philosophic banter is about the merging of technology with man. That’s certainly what’s happening when a very human Sam gets integrated to a “memory-disc.” And you could also say the young, CGI Bridges represents the quality of the film itself: Close, but not quite.

The ultimate problem with Tron Legacy is its inability to build any real excitement. Sure, the universe looks enticing, but, like the original, the ideas are more promising than the presentation. There’s no awe to this “digital frontier” and by the time the movie climaxes you wonder if you missed a segment of build up. Still, it’s those ideas that kept me watching. While I’m probably rating this film to leniently, I can’t shake how cool Tron Legacy seems. It’d be nice to see how cool it could be one day.

**½ out of ****

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW - Harry Potter and the Deathly-Hallows Part I

Praising the Harry Potter film franchise has become something of a given. Even at its lowest there’s charm to it and at it’s highest they’re some of the best films in the genre. Rebounding from that low point, the sixth movie, David Yates presents us with the most heart pounding chapter in the franchise.

I was one of those who cursed Warner Brothers for the decision to cut the seventh book in half. Obviously they wanted to milk more out of the cow, right? I still stand by that sentiment, but if you’re going to split a storyline in half, you might as well make it count. The Deathly-Hallows may be half a story, but it is most definitely a complete film. This is the Empire Strikes Back of The Harry Potter movies. The chips are down, the heroes are battered and the baddies have the upper hand.

Accompanying the journey with our heroes is the dreaded feeling of abandonment. Harry, Ron and Hermione have no one to turn to, nowhere to hide and running only does so much. The series has finally rammed home just how evil Voldemort is. Following a tense opening sequence that ends with a wonderfully terrified Jason Issacs and a dead Hogwarts teacher, (a.k.a. snake food) Voldemort’s power over the wizarding world becomes air tight. The Ministry has converted to a fascist regime. It’s not just Harry that’s in danger, the end of humans, or “muggles,” is nigh. This is how the Potter universe should feel. We should be weary of every corner the characters turn.

Meanwhile, under the very best performances of Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson to date, the heroic trio come to blows over the seemingly futile quest to end Voldemort and… Hermione? Of course Harry has it bad for Ginny, and the film makes no secret about it—Bypassing the cutesy, shoe-tying crap from movie six for Harry zipping up her dress and kissing her like he means it. But with Hermione going all out for her friend, Ron is succumbed to jealousy. Does he mend his relationship with the two later? How triumphant would it be if he redeemed the situation by saving the day. Right?

And yet, it’s the scenes between Harry and Hermione that grab me the most. (Again.) Completely platonic, Harry has nothing to give the young woman in return for all she’s sacrificed. So with the radio pumped up he picks her up and dances with her just to get a smile on her face. These kids may have grown in to action heroes, but they’re still very human.

While the characters, acting and gorgeous cinematography are at a series high, I can’t believe some major events happen off screen. Character deaths and massive shifts in the wizarding world are revealed through word of mouth. While this may have been fine for the book, it leaves me a little baffled. We see Harry's flashes of Voldemort interrogating people; why not see how he took down the Ministry of Magic?

Though it isn’t the epic battle between those in charge and Voldemort that make The Deathly-Hallows. It’s the emotional journey of three characters who have grown up to fight a war they’ve been dragged in to. In some ways this story is reminiscent of what many in today’s world feel like. With a cliffhanger ending that does anything but ease that feeling, the Harry Potter series is set up for one hell of a triumphant finale. I pray the quality of this film carries over.

***½ out of ****

Monday, January 3, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW - The Last Airbender

I’m not entirely certain what is more confusing, this movie or M. Night Shyamalan’s career. The man threw down three of the most entertaining thrillers of my time and now he’s the Brett Favre of cinema. If there’s a trailer for his film, it will read “From the director of The Sixth Sense and Signs.” Nothing he’s done in the last seven years is worth a mention and his resume is now filled with as many blunders as Jimmy Fallon.

And yet my sympathy for the man still runs based on those three early triumphs. It may be that’s why I can’t condemn The Last Airbender as the worst movie of the year. Or maybe I really do believe it’s more worthwhile than say, Copout. Regardless, there’s no refuting The Last Airbender’s gaping void of decent filmmaking.

The Last Airbender
has the story of those classic epics. A dark empire is running over the land and a young, reluctant hero must go on a quest to gain the powers necessary for peace. The difference between this film, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings is that the latter two treated their characters like Christ and His Apostles. Instead, the special effects get that respect in The Last Airbender.

Noah Ringer, the lead character Aang, isn’t terrible considering he’s had no prior acting experience. Yet I’m astounded, with all the talent in the world, Shyamalan decided being a black belt in taekwondo is more important than delivering lines. Was there a stunt man strike I wasn’t aware of this year?

Despite having more experience the rest of the cast isn’t any better. It makes you wonder what director Chris Columbus and the casting director of Harry Potter could’ve done. After Last Airbender, I dare anyone who criticized the early performances of Daniel Radcliff and Rupert Grint to tell me it couldn’t have been worse.

And as if having a poor script for poor actors isn’t bad enough, I’ve come to question Shyamalan’s shot choices as well. It was becoming evident in The Happening that his eye for great cinematography was waning. But The Last Airbender has shots that would only make a SyFy channel movie director proud. The director is supposed to make his actors look good. It’s an unwritten rule based on trust and collaboration. M. Night didn’t get the memo. He drenches the adults in even more ridiculous garb than the children and reveals the hokiness of the sets with very wide and puzzling cinematography. The 360 degree stuff worked in The Matrix. It even worked in Godzilla: Final Wars. It doesn’t even begin to work here.

And yet, with all the poor choices made with this movie I seem to have a soft spot for it. Perhaps the word-of-mouth that this was the worst movie of 2010 prepared me for something much worse. The Last Airbender is far from a good film, but it can be fun. Like I said, the story is a classic epic—Pure myth that we can all enjoy and look up too. Maybe that’s not a reason to have sympathy for a film and its director, but I’ll take it over The Happening.

*½ out of ****

Saturday, August 14, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

If cinematic originality is suffering, like so many internet trolling experts say, then my reply would be that it’s not always how original the story is, but how you tell it. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an example of that reply biting me in the ass. The age-old story of a warrior battling for his true love is retold as a video game/comic book hybrid. I was originally interested in this idea and the prospect of another comedy by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). I was even willing to set aside my hatred for Michael Cera and Beck Hanson to enjoy this film. But try as I might I just couldn’t embrace Scott Pilgrim.

When Scott Pilgrim cheats on his current girlfriend for the mysterious Ramona, karma catches up with him in the form of her seven evil exes. From there he goes through each ex, fighting for Ramona while trying to maintain a relationship with his band and roommate.

As if it were hard to choose, the best part about Scott Pilgrim is the nerd driven battles. Piled with video game nods ranging from Guitar Hero to Street Fighter, these fight scenes aren’t only creative acid trips, but hard hitting action sequences too. When Pilgrim smashed his fist in to the first “evil ex” I was really impressed with the way the visuals made me feel the impact. It makes me wonder if the wire-fu from the Matrix Trilogy is going to stand the test of time. Oh, yeah, and they’re pretty damn funny too. The fight with a vegan Brandon Routh peeks when Thomas Jane and Cliff Collins Jr. make a cameo as the “Vegan Academy” security. Brillant.

But beyond the ball breaking action scenes lies Michael Cera who was terribly miscast as Scott Pilgrim, a character far too confident to carry Cera’s trademark inelegance. (Or as I like to call, dumbassery.) Not that the writing is particularly excellent anyway. It tries to be quick and witty, but it’s handicapped by painful moments of awkward humor that made me shrivel up in my chair and wish I was watching any other movie. Why is it that Cera is a magnet for these types of moments? Is it in his contract to implement the clumsiest, eyeball puncturing moments in every movie he pollutes?

Oh, but Cera isn’t the only one to blame. There are plenty of poor actors in this movie and if it weren’t for the quick editing none of the lines would be saved. But should they be saved? It’s never a good thing when I’m halfway through a film and want to take an axe to the run time. What purpose did Pilgrim’s first meeting with the lesbian ex serve? It actually ruins the fact Ramona dated a girl. (Spoiler) Then there’s the long exposition between her and Scott. Why? This is a movie with a guy fighting a league of evil exes not My Fair Lady. Oh, right! I nearly forgot. What would we do without those important shots of Cera embarrassing himself? How would the world turn?

If you feel the need to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I’ll grant you can do a lot worse this summer. But it’s not much of an improvement either. It’s an overly long venture in high-octane special effects mixed with misfired humor and the occasional L.O.L. I can understand the need to do something different; to do something fun and to try something new. I can even appreciate the effort. But when the result is as alienating as this film what did it accomplish? Mr. Wright, you’re too good for this. P.S. Dear Beck, stop. Just stop it.

** out of ****

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW - Toy Story 3

Ah, Pixar. Once again I write a review about a film that was loved before it was released. Such is the case with most Pixar films. I suppose I was one of the few not totally enthralled with Ratatouille. And I don’t think the internet has enough bandwidth to relay my scathing hatred for Cars. So what of the final episode in the Toy Story trilogy? Should I praise it because it’s another Pixar home run? Should I hail it because it’s the best ending to a trilogy I’ve ever seen? Or should I just give it a thumbs up for being a solid movie? I contemplate this with such cynicism only because of my misplaced belligerence toward Pixar’s perfectionism. I don’t think Toy Story 3 is Pixar’s best film, or even the best Toy Story; but if there’s a textbook example of it’s astonishing (see: sickening) mastery over cinema—Well, here it is.

Toy Story’s finale sends Buzz and Woody on a quest to find a new home as Andy gears up for college. Though parting ways is hard on many different levels. The toys find a replacement daycare “paradise” that turns out to be hell on Earth. Meanwhile, Woody partakes in his favorite pastime (getting lost) and plans to rescue the others.

I read one film theory that claimed this movie was actually a retelling of the Holocaust. Whether that’s true is up for debate, but it’s certainly an interesting look at the story and gives it a little more dramatic weight. But if you wish to pay attention to the film’s political construct or not, rest assured Toy Story 3 has a heavy focus on the emotional aspect of its break-neck adventure. Almost immediately the film’s heartstring-plucker gets to work when we see a grown Andy and his dwindled collection of toys eager to be played with. While the Andy's coming-of-age subplot is certainly an important aspect of the story, most of the film is about moving on-- Times of change where one must let go and embrace the future. So which is more gut wrenching? Coming-of-age? Or moving forward? I suppose it doesn’t really matter since you’ll have to contend with both ideas at the movie's tear-jerking conclusion.

Not that it's perfect. I felt like the villain was too close to the previous film’s antagonist, what with his nice-guy/troubled past persona that turns out to be a fa├žade. Then there’s the fact that the toys are fretting over Andy getting rid of them. Toy Story 2 established that they knew this day would come and they act as if they’ve forgotten about that. Perhaps my cynicism is kicking in again. Maybe the point I’m missing is that accepting fate doesn’t make the process any easier. Still, while the situational focus on the toys’ relationship with Andy is intriguing, I miss the franchise-defining camaraderie between Woody and Buzz. (Whom I felt was nearly wasted.)

Yet if the Toy Story series has shown me anything, it’s that they know how to end a movie in the most poignant way possible. After Pixar’s most armrest clenching showdown of their twenty-five year existence comes another high in emotional endings. I use the word “high” only realizing that if Toy Story 3 were a drug everyone would be on it and under Pixar’s control. Maybe we already are considering the immediate love for this film. Frankly, I can’t say it doesn’t deserve it. After all, how many beloved series end this well? Any takers?

***½ out of ****