#disneydare, pixar

#disneydare: toy story 4

Another year of Disney and Pixar putting out sequels instead of original content. But that will change next year!!!

Toy Story 4 poster.jpg

Regarding this particular sequel, I mean, did we really need another Toy Story? The third one was perfect and wrapped up the story extremely well. I’ve enjoyed all the little specials on ABC to show the toys’ new life with Bonnie but was intrigued when they said it would focus on Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and Woody (Tom Hanks). I was down for a prequel-type situation but that’s not what we were given. And that’s not a bad thing!

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#disneydare: cars 3/coco

Cars 3 poster.jpgCars 3 (2017)
Thoughts: I loved this film. By mixing the better elements of the first film (including Paul Newman’s Doc again was a great touch) and developing the character of Lightning more, it really impressed me. It really affected me emotionally too with Cruz Ramirez. I was not expecting to cry twice during this movie to be honest. It’s not as beautifully animated as the first nor silly fun like the second but the overall story here is what elevated this movie to something more like Pixar’s other films.
Best Character: CRUZ RAMIREZ. I had read some stuff prior to seeing the movie talking about Imposter Syndrome and how women are raised to not be as confident they can do the same things men can. It was chilling to see this in a children’s movie but watching her overcome her obstacles, many in her own head, was so inspiring. She was so positive even when she wasn’t actively achieving her real goal. I needed that. Little girls need that.
Villain: There’s one real villain and one stealth villain. (Also, patriarchy but I won’t get into that) The real villain is Jackson Storm. But he’s not the normal villain, more just an antagonist to propel Lightning and Cruz on their way. Prior to knowing about Cruz’s plotline, my main reason for seeing this aside from my seeing all Pixar movies in theatres and having a soft spot for the franchise was that Storm was voiced by one of my faves, Armie Hammer. I literally yelled “Armie Car!” whenever I saw his poster (and in Disney…) He was a jerk but I loved it.
My Rating: 4 stars

Coco (2017 film) poster.jpgCoco (2017)
Thoughts: What a beautiful movie. I’m hoping this really starts Pixar’s turnaround. I loved learning about another culture. I thought I knew Dia de Los Muertos but it definitely has more complexities than I thought. I also kind of wish that my culture had something so wonderful to connect to their dead relatives. Even though the movie was a celebration of life, it had very dark undertones. I honestly feel like it was Pixar’s darkest movie but with the bright colors and lively characters, I can see how others may miss it. It’s all about family which is lovely. Miguel is similar to most kids: rebellious and only wanting to achieve his dream, no matter how hard it is. I think Michael Giacchino’s score was great and I adored the original songs. I really loved it but there were some predictable moments. Also, gotta give props for keeping the cast pretty much all Latin American/Latino actors (except for John Ratzenberger of course!).
Favorite Song: This is the first Pixar movie to really incorporate songs into the plot. “Remember Me” is sung multiple times and each one breaks my heart to be honest. I have to say I’m more fond of “Un Poco Loco” though because Anthony Gonzalez and Gael Garcia Bernal’s voices go together great and it’s a fun song.
Best Character: Ooh, hard. I like Miguel, but he wasn’t my favorite. I think I’ll pick Hector. He was funny and the type of character I always adore: a bit of an asshole with a heart of gold. His story was tragic and the twist, while I kind of guessed it, was pretty good. I think he is the real hero of the film.
Villain: I won’t spoil who the real villain is. Miguel has some moments that can be construed as villainous toward Hector and his family. He believes his family’s music ban is wrong so we are supposed to take his side and be mad at them as well. The actual villain was pretty great, I had weird feelings about the character and the twist was somewhat shocking to me (more the extent of what had happened than the reveal) and they definitely got what they deserved…twice.
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

#disneydare, disney, pixar

#disneydare: finding dory/moana

Finding Dory.jpgFinding Dory (2016)
Thoughts: Even though it’s a sequel, I think this is where Pixar started to get its mojo back. Inside Out was great but more of an anomaly for what they had been putting out for like 5 years. Getting Andrew Stanton back to direct was a godsend and even though the movie is similar to its predecessor, it still has a fresh voice. A big difference I noticed is that this movie doesn’t feel as sad as Nemo, which is weird because Dory has been alone for years but due to the fact that she is optimistic and upbeat, the loneliness doesn’t attack her as it does others. All of the new characters are fun with an incredible voice cast and the final act contains a crazy sequence that I don’t believe I’ve seen since Toy Story 2, which was interesting. It’s not as good as Nemo but still fun to get back into the world. My one complaint is that the otters were not used as much as I was led to believe.
Best Character: Destiny! Dory’s best friend as a child was a whale and she’s voiced by Kaitlin Olson, whom I adore, and she is so helpful while struggling with her own setback. I also enjoyed Hank, the curmudgeon octopus who is forced to help Dory in order to achieve his goal of leaving the aquatic center.
Villain: No villain this time. I can’t even fault humans because they’re not a focus at all. I guess the sea lions can be a villain to Gerald, but that was more played for laughs than anything else.
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Moana Teaser Poster.jpgMoana (2016)
Thoughts: Ah, this movie. I adore it so much. I can’t believe we got Zootopia and this in the same year. They tackle very different issues (as this one is more of a princess story) but they were both done so well, you know the Oscar race was basically between these two. There is just so much to love. It’s extremely bright and optimistic. The journey is incredible and it’s not a love story! One huge advantage in this movie is allowing a Hawaiian teenager to voice Moana. Auli’i Cravalho brings so much to the role and it shows. I appreciate what Disney did here (and what Pixar did with Coco and Anthony Gonzalez). Big names have definitely been fun, like Dwayne Johnson as Maui is great, but allowing younger actors really become their characters? True magic right there. I also liked learning about another culture and how she becomes a leader. Oh, and Maui’s tattoos! What an innovative way to give more character development and humor!
Favorite Song: Honestly, this movie has the best songs. I wish Lin-Manuel Miranda had gotten the double nod at the Oscars over Pasek and Paul to be honest. My favorite song flip flops all the time because that’s how good they are. “How Far I’ll Go” and “I Am Moana” make me cry. “You’re Welcome” is absolutely incredible and I am blown away by how well Johnson tackled the song. But right now (and almost always), I’m going to say my favorite song is “Shiny”. A Bowie-inspired song sung by Jermaine Clement who plays a giant crab all about how much he loves treasure? It is the best.
Best Character: MOANA. She is exactly who I want to be. She knows her role but wants more. Her relationship with her grandmother guts me (it struck me that recently, more of the deaths in these films are grandparents vs. parents) because I lost mine fourteen years ago. I rail against society’s expectations while also following them. This time around, I got more of a Mulan vibe from her which is a huge plus in my book as Mulan is one of my favorite princesses. But I really have to commend Cravalho’s voice acting here. She literally is Moana and it makes the movie that much more special. (I had hoped Pua would have more of a role since he’s adorable but Hei Hei got priority…)
Villain: Moana and Maui have some entanglements from the Kakamora and Tamatoa but they are merely stops along the way. Maui could be construed as a villain because he is to blame for Te Fiti’s “death”. Te Kā is I guess considered the real villain as the major standoff occurs between him(?) and Moana but the motives honestly seem fair.
My Rating: 5 stars

#disneydare, disney, pixar

#disneydare: the good dinosaur/zootopia

The Good Dinosaur poster.jpgThe Good Dinosaur (2015)
Thoughts: It’s really interesting that you can tell when there’s behind the scenes drama in Pixar. This and Brave have suffered the most. Yet it’s not my least favorite movie. It doesn’t have a strong story or characters but I still like watching it. Though for one of Pixar’s shortest films, boy does it drag. There have been quite a few criticisms of this film lately and I recently read that people dislike the movie because Arlo is an annoying character. I don’t feel that way. He reminds me of Simba and is Simba annoying? Yeah, sometimes but he’s also a child. Arlo is not an adult character and his fear of everything makes sense even if it does lead to the death of his father (spoiler?). The animation is lovely and the scene with the sticks illustrating family between Arlo and Spot has made me cry both times I’ve seen this movie. It’s low on the list but not the lowest.
Best Character: Spot. His character design is similar to Baby New Year from “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” and even though he doesn’t speak, his motives come across strong. He just wants a friend. I find Forrest Woodblush hilarious but he’s not the best character.
Villain: I could see Arlo being a villain but there isn’t a strong villainous presence in this movie. The pterodachyls become the villains but they don’t appear until like halfway through.
My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Zootopia.jpgZootopia (2016)
Thoughts: And Disney continues their hot streak with two incredible films in 2016. I adore this movie. It’s super relevant for current events and overall a fun and interesting universe. I love that the message is both to try and not to judge others based on their appearances or origins. I love that all the animals live together in one bustling society and each of their neighborhoods were fascinating. Most of all, I love the partnership of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. And the case is brilliant, everything about it works it so well and it’s important that we show children issues like this even if they won’t understand them fully. The voice cast is amazing with Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman as leads. Love love love.
Best Character: Finnick. I’m not kidding. He is adorable and I love that his voice doesn’t match his body at all. Okay, fine. Judy is also awesome. She’s optimistic but also makes mistakes and owns up to them. That’s very important to see. Nick is great too; his sarcasm makes him a catch and he has some troubling memories that I’m glad were explored a bit.
Villain: Though I imagine almost everyone has seen this film by now, I’m not going to spoil the villain. They were stealthy the whole time and the reveal was good. Seriously, blindsided me the first time but I can see the cracks now. Another villain is definitely discrimination and prejudice. Don’t do that guys. Be a better person.
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

#disneydare, disney, pixar

#disneydare: big hero 6/inside out

A big white round inflatable health robot assistant.Big Hero 6 (2014)
Thoughts: It’s no secret I love superhero movies so of course, I’m obsessed with this one. It’s actually a Marvel property and I’m kind of surprised that it’s not mentioned anywhere. I know they changed the characters a lot but still. It is really an entertaining superhero film in addition to being a great Disney movie. What I love most is the science. I was never great at science class (except Chemistry, go figure) but I’m always impressed with scientists and fully support STEM education and this movie proves how important it is. The movie also touches on grief way more than other Disney movies and with the death toll in previous ones, this is refreshing to see. I adore the mashup of San Francisco and Tokyo and it really brings life to the story. I also don’t dislike a single character in the movie. Fred can be a bit much (hey TJ Miller) but he’s so excited about being a superhero! And Hiro is a typical teenage boy with major angst which is understandable as I mentioned above so a teeny bit grating but you know where he’s coming from. I wish we were getting a sequel but I’ll settle for the cartoon on DisneyXD.
Best Character: Obviously, Baymax. I need him. So bad. He is adorable and super helpful and I bet he could fix my depression and anxiety. Science, make him now! I also love the females of the group, Honey Lemon and GoGo. They never apologize for their intelligence and are accepted no matter what. I love that they presented female characters this way and that Honey Lemon also got to be feminine with her outfit and purse! If I had any artistic ability, I’d make that bag in order to cosplay her.
Villain: I’m not going to reveal the identity of the Kabuki mask guy. He was a very good villain though and when you figure out who he is and why he does everything is extremely heartbreaking. It doesn’t excuse him for letting Tadashi die though. Oddly, Pixar and Disney’s superhero movies may have better villains than the Marvel ones, hmmm…
My Rating: 5 stars

Inside Out (2015 film) poster.jpgInside Out (2015)
Thoughts: One of the high points in Pixar’s recent films. This is a rough one for me. It is a brilliant movie, extremely innovative and complex. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, the lead character of Joy really bugs me. I really have a hard time with her and that has nothing to do with Amy Poehler’s performance. I, as a sad person, find her annoying and her treatment of Sadness is cruel. Back to things I like, Riley is a great character. Eleven is a rough age, I wouldn’t go back to that, and moving is always hard (despite the fact that I have never done so). I also adore the other emotions. The voice cast is incredible and I love the character design. And the inside of Riley’s brain, the islands and such. So vivid and imaginative. It’s also the perfect runtime of 94 minutes. They pack a lot in but don’t overstay their welcome. More films (especially animated) need to do this.
Best Character: I honestly don’t know who I would consider the best character. I relate to Sadness the most, Fear second. I think Disgust and Anger are funny. Bing Bong is tragic. But I can’t really single someone out as the best. Weird.
Villain: This film also doesn’t have a standard villain. The abstract villain is growing up and moving, which could be tied to Riley’s parents but I don’t buy that. The emotions try to make Sadness out to be the villain and even convince her that she’s the problem. It’s not true. I (and a recent article my friend found) tend to believe Joy is more of the villain. She constantly tries to keep Riley happy without exploring her other emotions to the fullest extent. She puts her own needs before Riley’s, villain.
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

#disneydare, disney, pixar

#disneydare: monsters university/frozen

Monsters University poster 3.jpgMonsters University (2013)
Thoughts: When they announced they were making another Monsters, Inc., I was mildly excited. My opinion on the first film has waned in the passing years but I was looking forward to getting back to the universe. While I would have loved more a sequel, I think flashing back to when Sulley and Mike first met was somewhat of a better route. Unfortunately, that required some retcon and it never really recovers. I liked that it was somewhat of a college film, like Revenge of the Nerds and Animal House (which I will admit, I have never seen, either of these movies), and in a children’s movie, that sounds odd. Mike was a bit more sympathetic here; the first scene is heartbreaking. And the outsiders trying to beat the in crowd was nice, despite Sulley kind of being a jerk most of the film. It’s also weird about how many times Mike and Sulley blatantly break the rules set in the universe, when they act like they’ve never done so in the first one. See, retcon! It’s hard to reconcile the two stories. Therefore I rank this pretty low in the Pixar field, between the first two Cars.
Best Character: Art. Charlie Day in any movie is a treat and his animated characters are always great (I also appreciate Benny in The LEGO Movie). Plus, Art looks like a Muppet and is hilarious.
Villain: This is hard. Mike and Sulley can both be considered villains at certain points. Dean Hardscrabble (excellently voiced by Helen Mirren) is clearly the antagonist as she is the reason Mike and Sulley team up but her actions are not motivated by anger but by what is best for the school and the monster community at large. The Roar Omega Roar fraternity brothers are also villainous.
My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Frozen (2013 film) poster.jpgFrozen (2013)
Thoughts: Before this movie came out I was very worried. I didn’t like that the character design was so similar to Tangled (but now I know it’s due to the fact that they created a whole new animation software program that cost a lot of money) and the previews were vague focusing more on Olaf who I was sure I was going to hate because I had a negative opinion of Josh Gad (I didn’t like any of his previous work). I wound up absolutely adoring this movie. As someone with two sisters, the whole storyline revolving around Anna and Elsa really struck me. I know it doesn’t follow the actual fairy tale, but really which one does? It’s funny and sweet and the voice cast is really great. I could do without the trolls though as Olaf is definitely enough (and not annoying like I thought!) for cute merchandising opportunities.
Favorite Song: This is probably one of the strongest soundtracks in the latest era. “For the First Time in Forever” is perfect. “Let It Go” is a great anthem. “Love is an Open Door” is quite possibly the best love song which is infuriating for reasons I will get to below. However I’m mad that Jonathan Groff got stuck with such a measly song.
Best Character: Elsa. So I’m the middle child between two sisters. I am both an Anna and an Elsa. I feel like I identify more with Elsa because I am extremely emotional and everyone always tells me to keep things inside. My younger sister and I have only recently started to get along so I really understood where Elsa was coming from regarding Anna.
Villain: Well, here’s something fun. Let’s do a rundown of all the villains or could be villains from the beginning. Anna and Elsa’s parents are definitely villains! While I get they were only trying to protect Anna, what they did to both of their children is child abuse, plain and simple. Anna pushes Elsa to reveal her powers by being stupid which makes her a bit of a villain. And Elsa is considered a villain by the public because she triggers an eternal winter and injures some people, mainly Anna. Though there are many clues to who the real villain was, I was blindsided when I first saw it because Santino Fontana is perfect and did not deserve to voice that traitor Hans! He was extremely cruel at the end and I definitely hate him now.
My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

#disneydare, disney, pixar

#disneydare: brave/wreck-it ralph

A girl with long, curly red hair stares at the viewer holding a bow and an arrow. Behind her is the film's title while at the left shows a bear staring at her.Brave (2012)
Thoughts: I really do love this movie but 2012 was an amazing year for animated features and this one was definitely my least favorite and should not have won the Oscar (in my opinion, ParaNorman deserved it, or the film I’ll talk about next). It is a beautiful film but the story is a bit uneven. I have a complicated relationship with my mom so it guts me in that way but it meanders a bit and you can tell there may have been too many people working on it. I like that Pixar tried to make a princess movie and actually, I realized that since Tangled, all of the princess movies have not totally been about finding a prince or having a handsome male help them out. Progress! I’m so glad they used Scottish actors for the voices. I remember when Reese Witherspoon was attached and man, that would have been a very different movie. All in all, I do enjoy the movie: the humor, the main story, the characters, the lush Scottish scenery, Patrick Doyle’s score, but wish it had been just a little more.
Best Character: Merida! Most relatable princess! I wish I was better at archery, but as a Sagittarius, always respect it. I love that she rails against society and her mother. She never loses herself even when she understands where her mother is coming from. Definitely one of my favorite princesses.
Villain: Here’s where it gets a little weird. Mor’du I guess is the villain? But he really only comes for Fergus. The whole Mor’du plotline really needed to be fleshed out more. So, the witch can be the villain? I mean, who goes turning people into bears all the time?! That does not seem like a good way to fix anyone’s problems.
My Rating: 4 stars

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Theatrical release poster depicting Ralph along with various video game charactersThoughts: I absolutely adore this movie. I love video games but I am terrible at them. I need cheats and everything. What works about this movie is that the universe created is amazing and makes sense. It’s also a great subversion of the hero story as Ralph is the “villain” of his game. It’s so bright and colorful and all the characters are fantastic as is the voice cast. Everyone is solid and brings so much more to the role than you would think. I’m so burned out that I’m having trouble verbalizing what I love about this one but it really makes me happy and that’s all we really need.
Favorite Song: Not a typical Disney film with songs but I really just need to say how much I love the song that plays over the end credits “When Can I See You Again” by Owl City. It got a bit of a second life because it plays in the best Disney Parks parade, Paint the Night, which I miss terribly. Also, “Sugar Rush” is super catchy.
Best Character: Vanellope! Expertly voiced by Sarah Silverman, she only wants to race and be respected by everyone. She is considered a glitch and everyone shuns her for it but she doesn’t care. She is surprisingly optimistic for all the bullying and the fact that unlike everyone else in the arcade, she can’t leave to visit anyone else. She can be a bit annoying but she’s awesome and the twist is incredible.
Villain: Ralph is the villain of his game but he wants to be a hero. Most of the inhabitants of Fix-It Felix Jr. are mean to him but I don’t think they’re really villains either. The inhabitants of Sugar Rush are definitely villainous to Vanellope and to an extent, Ralph, as he tries to help her. The biggest one is King Candy who is revealed to be someone else and it is crazy. Knowing the twist, I tried to see if there were any real hints throughout the film and no, it is so solid, it’s insane.
My Rating: 5 stars

#disneydare, disney, pixar

#disneydare: cars 2/winnie the pooh

Cars 2 Poster.jpgCars 2 (2011)
Thoughts: This is the worst reviewed Pixar movie.When I first saw it though, I really liked it. I thought it was better than the first one. My opinion has changed somewhat though and I’m ranking Cars a smidge (seriously, very tiny) higher than this one. I don’t know what happened. Cars was very successful merchandise-wise so they *had* to make another one and making it into a spy adventure was kind of genius. They couldn’t rehash Lightning being a jerk again so let’s go crazy, go outside the box. I respect that a lot. (There was also personal problems for Owen Wilson I believe, so sidelining him a bit made sense) I also genuinely like Mater. I know Larry the Cable Guy can be a bit much but he does a good job with Mater. It’s a solid accidental-spy romp with some great voice performances (Michael Caine, John Turturro, and Eddie Izzard) and I loved them going outside Radiator Springs for London, Italy, and Japan. It lost my interest this time around and I don’t know if it’s because I was tired or losing focus more lately but I still don’t believe it should be as reviled as it is.
Best Character: Holley Shiftwell, a female spy who helps Mater out (in more ways than one). Emily Mortimer is great and I love how she’s more James Bond and Mater is kind of the Bond girl. She’s smart, quick, and respected by Finn. Pixar has gotten criticism for not doing enough for female characters but she is pretty incredible.
Villain: Professor Zündapp is the main villain but it’s clear he’s working for someone else. He’s the typical Bond villain, thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and causes some hefty destruction. I don’t know if I want to spoil the real villain in case any of you actually care but I feel like it was well-hidden the first time around but even though I hadn’t seen the movie in probably six years, I remembered exactly who Zündapp was working for. I guess you could also say Lightning is a bit of a villain to Mater here. His attitude toward Mater after the first race kind of leads Mater into this whole situation.
My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Winnie the Pooh Poster.jpgWinnie the Pooh (2011)
Thoughts: This is the last traditionally animated Disney movie. The fact that it was a Winnie the Pooh movie makes this even more heartwarming. I really liked this movie. It felt more cohesive than The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and it never tried to be anything but a Pooh Bear movie. Every character is as they should be. Sometimes I have issues when I’m used to specific actors playing legendary characters but as I also grew up with Jim Cummings as the voice of Pooh and Tigger, no complaints here. Christopher Robin’s voice though, meh. I adore the wordplay in this film though. The “issue”/”achoo” section is charming, the whole Backson mishap is adorable, and the “I cannot knot” sequence has me rolling on the floor every time. It’s a short and simple film but the little touches by the filmmakers really helped.
Favorite Song: “The Backson Song” is amazing. I love She & Him’s interpretation of the classic theme song and “So Long” is good as well.
Best Character: I’m a Pooh girl for life but more and more Eeyore is my guy. The whole plot kind of revolves around him and he never changes. He’s a sad but wonderful character. I also like Owl here but that’s more because Craig Ferguson does the voice.
Villain: No real villain as the Backson doesn’t exist.
My Rating: 4 stars