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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Although it falls short of the best Pixar has brought to the screen over its long association with Disney, it’s nevertheless worth a trip to the theater, especially for kids.
-James Berardinelli, ReelViews

Very, very late in these 106 minutes, we get a startling blast of meaningful Pixar storytelling that reminds us of what this team can do when they bring their A game.
-Jeffery Overstreet, Looking Closer

Just reach deep down and let the scary out!
Pixar, the once invincible animation house that could do no wrong, has really let us down with their last 2 efforts. After essentially a perfect run of 11 straight great films, (the original Cars possibly being the only exception) they went for a cash grab with Cars 2 and put out a very mediocre take on fairy tales with Brave.

What’s interesting is that their streak of below average work all comes after the Disney acquisition. Could an upstanding company like Disney be so bold to put financial gain ahead of artistic integrity? With yet another sequel to a franchise with unlimited merchandising potential a la Cars, does Pixar get back on track with their unique brand of emotionally driven story telling? Or do we see more evidence of their recent films being influenced by the money grubbing paws at Disney?


A monster road trip?
Fortunately for us, Monsters University is VERY good. It’s obviously not going to reach the heights of the glory days of Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3, but it’s no throwaway cash grab either. It perfectly stands on it’s own as a film, but also enhances the characters and story of Monsters Inc. Although not as emotionally moving as the original, or most of the recent offerings from Pixar, this might be their laugh-out-loud funniest film to date. Monsters University never lets up on the one liners and slapstick and is more or less hilarious because of it.

Technically, Monsters University looks absolutely fantastic. Despite the decline of their recent scripts, Pixar always put out a gorgeous looking movie and this is no exception. There are dozens of intricate and complex monster character designs on screen at the same time, it’s hard to imagine the hours it took to animate this. Down to the finest detail (you can see every last strand of hair on the furry characters), it is an incredible achievement and needs to be seen.

Wanna join Oozma Kappa? We have cake.
One complaint I do have is how inconsequential Monsters University seems compared to the original. Because of how sweet and heartbreaking Monsters Inc. was, matching those same emotional heights in a prequel with the same characters again is tough task and University never quite gets there. It does have a fantastic third act that reverses some roles and ratchets up the stakes but still just doesn’t hold quite the same weight.

Monster College – obviously a rite of passage for all young monsters
MUCH more satisfying than the Cars films and Brave, Pixar seems like they’re back on the right track with Monsters University. It’s a little less consequential and “deep” than their best, but it is definitely a worthy successor to the original Monsters Inc. Visually outstanding and hilarious, Monsters University is a must see.
If you’re not scary, what kind of a monster are you?

FilmFire review:
4/5 forms


There’s plenty to like in Snyder’s hectic, rowdy film. But by the time we reach the bludgeoning excesses of the last half-hour it’s hard to shake the sense that this was an opportunity at least partially missed.
-Christopher Orr, The Atlantic

DC still has much to learn from rival Marvel in the filmmaking realm, but Man of Steel at least offers hope. Hope, and a slight headache
-Tyler Hanley, Palo Alto Weekly

Every person can be a force for good, free to forge his own destiny.
Superman has never been one of my favorite characters. I don’t care much for any of the previous film incarnations of the Superman mythos, in fact I think Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns from 2006 is pretty atrocious. To me, he always seemed more of a god than a superhero. I much prefer characters like Batman or the X-Men who are more human and relatable, with actual weaknesses. Given all of that, I was extremely excited for Man of Steel. The trailers were mesmerizing, the cast is phenomenal, I bought in to the hype and was ready to love this updated take on the hero.

Unfortunately, this film is a bit of a mess. Most of the individual scenes are fine by themselves, but there is an extremely jarring pacing between them. The film opens with an overlong sequence on Krypton explaining how baby Superman found his way to Earth. Not only is it a very confusing and abrupt way to begin, the events of what happened don’t entirely get explained until much later on.

The film cuts to various flashback sequences that break up the main storyline in somewhat awkward ways. All these flashbacks are excellent and really help flesh out Superman’s character, but when it comes to the the main plotlines that are driving the movie forward, they are real momentum killers.


General Zod is getting angry.
The pacing is a real issue, but the film still does a lot of great things. The cast, in particular, is incredible. If this wasn’t a summer movie based on a superhero, Michael Shannon would be considered for some major acting awards for his off-the-wall crazy take on General Zod. Russell Crowe redeems himself after his humiliating Les Mis performance with an eloquent portrayal of Jor-El, Superman’s Kryptonian Dad. Though he doesn’t have nearly enough screen time, Kevin Costner does his usual great work playing Jonathan Kent, adoptive Super Father. Lastly, Henry Cavill puts on a really fun performance as the Man of Steel himself, putting Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) to shame.
You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.
Man of Steel is a really dark film. For being a seemingly fun summer blockbuster with aliens who wear capes, it’s strangely lacking any sort of comedic touch or light hearted moments. If it’s not diving into gritty moments from Kal-El’s backstory, it’s showcasing the absolutely brutal fight sequences between Superman and Zod’s army.

Speaking of the fight sequences, they are almost insane to the point of being incomprehensible. The complete utter destruction and mayhem these characters cause is fun to watch, but quickly becomes mind numbing after the third or fourth time a ripple effect from a sonic boom destroys a skyscraper.


Nope, no religious imagery here
Overall, I was entertained. It certainly doesn’t live up to the crazy positive hype and outstanding marketing campaign over the last year, but it is still leagues better than Bryan Singer’s failed attempt at a reboot in 2006. The cast is great, the action is bonkers and there are some really well done individual sequences. Unfortunately, the sum isn’t quite equal to the parts here and it feels like at least a slight disappointment. Hopefully we can just chalk this up to growing pains and a slow start to what should eventually become a fully realized DC Cinematic Universe concluding in a Justice League film.
My father believed if the world found out who I really was it’d reject me. He was convinced that the world wasn’t ready. What do you think?

FilmFire review:
3.5/5 forms