‘Just keep swimming…’
Title: Day & Night
Director: Teddy Newton
Length: 6 minutes
How to make a solid sequel…
The first How To Train Your Dragon movie was not only a huge commercial success but also a hit with the critics as well (It currently sits at #150 in the IMDB top 250 films of all time after receiving two Oscar nominations).
When making a sequel however Dreamworks had every reason to be wary after rival studio Pixar put out the disappointing Cars 2 and the patchy Monsters University. Luckily Dreamworks made a number of solid decisions with How To Train Your Dragon 2. Keeping the original cast and director on board was important and bringing in Cate Blanchett and Kit ‘you know nothing’ Harrington didn’t hurt either. Secondly the decision to make this second instalment the second part of a trilogy gives director Dean DeBlois breathing space to expand the characters and the world that they
The main obstacle then in the face of cautious optimism was the general premise. Baring in mind the dragon training promised in the title was delivered in the first film, it was vitally important that the sequel was not a retread of the first story. This is mostly done successfully with the introduction of a couple of key characters as well as vital plot points ensuring that How To Train Your Dragon 2 is not just a stepping stone to the final film in the trilogy but an enjoyable spectacle in its own right.
Dreamworks will always be viewed as inferior to Pixar but they have still put out some of the most beloved animated films of all time and How To Train Your Dragon 2 sits nicely amongst the Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Madagascar franchises.
Dreamworks jewel in the crown.
Despite enjoying huge commercial success with the Shrek and Madagascar franchises plus box office hits like Monsters vs. Aliens, Dreamworks animation still has to hide their envious glances towards Pixar as they have have tied massive profits with universal critical acclaim and adoration.
While Shrek is a decent film and there have been a couple of others on the Dreamworks roster that I have enjoyed, How To Train Your Dragon is the first film that I have loved as much as some of Pixar’s output. In Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig and Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse director Dean DeBlois has assembled some of the finest comic actors currently working today with Gerard Butler adding his gruff, more dramatic voice to sweeten the pot.
The beauty of Pixar is the emotional attachment they make you feel about futuristic robots or lost clownfish and I can safely say I was with Toothless the dragon all the way through this movie and it’s hard not to root for any character played by Baruchel.
Dreamworks output before and after How To Train Your Dragon has been patchy and inconsistent but this is a film to rival anything that either Disney or Pixar have released. Don’t wait five years to see it like I did.
IMDB TOP 250 #150
The most stellar of stellar casts come together to tell a truly beautiful story about a hotel.
.I have been cantankerously suggesting for a long time that live action directors need to take a look at Pixar for inspiration in terms of imagination and style, I am pleased to say that Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenanbaums, Rushmore etc) has managed to do that with The Grand Budapest Hotel. This film is quite simply one of the most beautiful looking films ever committed to screen. Imagine all the glorious colours of WALL•E brought to life and you are somewhere close.
It is always easy to see a comment about how good one of Andersons films looks and think ‘Yes, yes we know all about that, what is new though?’. Well don’t expect the same old same old from Anderson here. Every shot is absolutely stunning, the colours are enchanting throughout, the score is absolutely perfect. Grand Budapest Hotel feels like a musical without the singing in as much as it is choreographed to perfection. Ralph Fiennes is hilarious and brilliant as the poetic Gustave, all the Anderson regulars do what they do (Arkin, Murray, Owen Wilson, Ed Norton etc etc) Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum and Harvey Keitel are as good as ever. Saoirse Ronan continues to impress and newcomer Tony Revolori is also excellent as the protagonist.
It is hard to compare this film with my other current best film of 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 so I wont bother… just treat yourself and watch them both.
IMDB TOP 250 #185
WON 4 OSCARS (9 NOMINATIONS):
Best Costume Design
Best Makeup and Hair
Best Original Score
Best Production Design
Scottish princess rebels against her imminent betrothal with un-bear-able consequences.
At this point Pixar had just completely stopped giving a fuck about making appealing movies:
‘Unpronounceable movie about a rat becoming a chef in France’
‘Robots fall in love, barely any dialogue for the first twenty minutes’
‘Film about a country where the people have accents nobody understands, ridiculous and mental plot twist half way through, no recognizable stars’
Fuck you, we are Pixar, we do what we want.
Unfortunately Brave isn’t the unmitigated success that Ratatouille and WALL•E are. That is not to say that it isn’t beautiful in places and actually surprisingly touching throughout (especially the ending *sobs*) and anything involving the marvellous Kelly Macdonald gets my approval.
It remains to be seen whether Cars 2 and Brave are just a dip or the bursting of the bubble at Pixar but there is no doubting they don’t live up to previous releases. When there is still so much humour, fun and imagination on show however, does it really matter? Rob loves Pixar 4 eva.
Woody and co return for a Halloween themed story.
If you hadn’t already got this by now I will spell it out one more time. I FUCKING LOVE PIXAR. I wasn’t expecting much from this with it only being a TV special but it is just as hilarious and imaginative as everything else they produce. It doesn’t have the visuals but when it is so much fun it doesn’t really matter. Worth watching for Combat Carl alone (voiced by Carl Weathers).
Rat becomes chef.
Ratatouille, whilst not in the same league as the Toy Story series or the special genius behind WALL•E, is still a brilliant piece of cinema and became an important turning point in the Pixar series.
Ratatouille marks a departure from films meant for kids but with adult elements (the still superb Finding Nemo for example) into films that appeal just as much to both age sets (Up and Wall-E followed). In short Ratatouille was a bold move for Pixar.
Obscure food references, the name of the film itself (which had to be spelt out phonetically on the poster), a nod to When Harry Met Sally (made in 1989) and just generally poking fun at the French will all go over the heads of kids watching but this bravery pays off in spades. Like every Pixar film Ratatouille is funny, clever, visually stunning, warm without using cheap sentimentality (take note Disney), and a joy to watch. Ratatouille is further proof that there is a strong argument for the Pixar series to be the best film series ever made. I loved it.