Take a Flying Leap, Robot

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Will Robinson found a robot. He saves the robot’s life. Will and the robot are now friends.

Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot later reveals that Will’s robot is a killer and the reason the Robinson’s are now stranded. Despite this dramatic revelation, Will loves the robot for who it is now. He fights for the robot to be accepted by his family and fellow survivors.

The story seems to communicate that the robot, a highly advanced artificial intelligence, is learning to be good. But after an incident where the robot tries to protect itself from an attacker, flinging Will’s dad across the room in the process, Will makes a drastic decision.

A Boy and His Dog

I keep seeing articles and comments that Will and the robot’s story are similar to a boy and his dog story. Stories that make me think of:

  • Old Yeller
  • Sounder
  • Where the Red Fern Grows
  • Even Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur

The problem with saying that Will’s relationship with the robot is like a boy and his dog story is that the robot is an advanced AI. An AI capable of thinking and perhaps even feeling on some level. When Will commands the robot to walk off a cliff, therefore killing the robot, Lost in Space takes a big poop in the story pool. Flushing half a season’s worth of “the best part of the story” (as Wyatt puts it) down the toilet.

Having a young boy suddenly see no hope for his robot friend and ordering said friend off a cliff is dark. Even darker, having the robot looking at Will, knowing what Will is ordering it to do, and doing it anyway. I have no doubt that the writer’s are trying to set up an “evil robot” storyline down the road… but really, suicide as the only answer in a family show? This is dark and gross, Netflix.

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

Indeed.

Florence

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Out of Melbourne, Australia, developer Mountains has crafted an interactive story about love and life titled Florence. Florence features an exquisite mixture of stylized graphics, music, and creative gameplay mechanics. The end result is what I’d best call a Pixar Short Film experience in video game form.

My most favorite part of Florence were the way emotions were conveyed through gameplay. When Florence first meets her boyfriend, her conversations with him are presented as puzzles. A complete the puzzle to continue the conversation sort of thing. In the beginning of her relationship, the puzzles have more pieces/are more complex. As the relationship matures, there are not as many puzzle pieces to put together as communication has become easier.

I enjoyed my time with Florence. Even though I’d say that the story is slightly predictable, the execution is flawless. Check this out if you get a chance. Florence is short (30 minutes) and sweet.

5/5 – Florence is one of those video game experiences you need not miss.

Title: Florence
Developer: Mountains
Platforms: iOS and Android
Reviews on: iOS/iPad
MSRP: $2.99

Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy

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I first experienced the power of Twine during the opening of Campo Santo’s Firewatch. The stirring combination of text and sound reduced me to tears in moments. Who knew a videogame could capture the weaponized emotional power of Pixar’s UP?

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Across the Internet, there exists a man I only know as Nelson. I first came across him while he was mixing videogames and the Bible. Now, he creates games in Twine.

Nelson’s latest game is titled Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy. This interactive work of fiction is an invitation into the surreal. A late night experience in a place both foreign and familiar.

Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy demonstrates the power of the Twine platform. Allowing the player/reader to transcend the text and share a brief moment with a friend. I was surprised at how personal the game is; how quickly I was sucked in.

I want to invite you to take the journey too. You can do so here.

Wave Splinter* Mazurka – A Ghost in Italy was reviewed using a code provided by Nelson.

Chump Change

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On June 24th, Disney-Pixar’s Cars 2 skids into theaters. This time, Lightening and Mater have accelerated past Radiator Springs on their way to a road trip around the globe. The movie’s trailer (found here) exhibits racing, travel jokes, and a spy-theme overlay. Will Cars 2 signal the end of the Pixar-touch?

Take a look at Pixar’s current release schedule:

  • Cars 2 – June 24, 2011
  • Brave – June 22, 2012
  • Newt – 2012 – Cancelled
  • Monsters University – June 21, 2013
Notice that there is only one new storyline/ concept being offered. The other two films are sequels. For awhile now, Pixar has seemed to be interested in delving deeper into the sequel goldmine. Perhaps they have found a rich vein of creativity they think they can tap into? More power to them. However, who made the decision to make a sequel to Cars? Cars, which is an average Pixar film in my opinion, was not deserving of a sequel. Especially when the previous film released by Pixar, The Incredibles, almost screamed for one. I personally think that Pixar is not being driven by creativity and imagination anymore; No, I think that Pixar is being driven by the almighty dollar. Do you disagree? Check this out:
Estimates from the New York Daily News indicate that sales of Cars merchandise two weeks out from the release of the film amounted to US$600 million. Estimates put out in November by the Walt Disney Company peg total sales for the brand at around $1 billion.[27] 
Cars merchandising is huge! Who wouldn’t want to capitalize on such a thing? In the midst of all this branding and merchandising business, who is profiting? Disney. So, is Pixar really the driving force behind the sequel-itis it seems to suffer from or is it Disney? Either way, on life’s highway, I can only hope that Pixar doesn’t lose it’s soul.

UP

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Sat down last night and watched a bit of Pixar’s UP with my son. Ever since I first saw the movie, I have been wary of watching it again due to its emotional impact–yeah, UP makes me cry, I admit it–. Watching UP with my son, I cried so hard when the couple found out that they couldn’t have children. However, I was reminded that my wife and I have been blessed with a little boy. In that moment, I hugged him tight and told him that I loved him. Thank you Pixar for reminding me of what I have and to treasure the boring moments in life.

A Pixar Afternoon Revisited

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Today I bring you a follow up to A Pixar Afternoon, this time written by my friend Jacob. Enjoy!

Greetings, My name is Jacob Ingalls and I’ll be telling you why Bryan is wrong about his Pixar Reviews. The following list is compiled in order of what I think the best Pixar movies are:

1. Up

When historians look back at this time period in Cinema in the United States and the chapter is written on the studio that is Pixar. Up will be considered the Everest of this fantastic studio. The range and depth of up is un-parallel by almost any film in any genre. Coming out in the same summer that included Star Trek and Transformers 2, the cartoon character of an 80 year old man was the best action hero of that summer.

2. The Incredibles

Intense, Philosophical, Dark, Beautiful, Imaginative and a great leap of faith, these things are what makes Pixar’s The Incredibles the second (and an extremely close second) best Pixar movie ever. The Incredibles is a bit of Ayn Rand for 12 year olds, it deals with being different, being better and the absolute mortality of fame and getting old. More so than any Pixar film, The Incredibles examines the human condition and the want to be normal in an un-normal world. “Remember you are special, just like everyone else”.

3. Wall-E

I’m not entirely sure where to begin or end with this movie, butWall-E is a masterpiece, an amazing work of art that will stand the test of time for generations. Pixar has never been a stranger to taking risks and this one was their biggest. Wall-E is almost completely silent but manages to tell one of the purest love stories ever. Even though it was wrapped in a kids film wrapper it really strikes the most chords with the 20-something generation.

4. Finding Nemo

A great story about a Father and his boy, Finding Nemo never ceases to make one smile and ponder what it means to be a parent or a child for that matter. In my opinion one of the funnier Pixar movies Nemo manages to incorporate a beautiful love story has a side plot while also seamlessly integrating a coming of age story alongside a letting go story. So much is packed into this 90ish minute film that it’s hard to absorb it all in one sitting.

5. Ratatouille

My personal favorite Pixar movie, this movie take dead aim all that those who point fingers and blame just to feed their ego (odd that it’s also the villian’s name? I think not). Remy is one of the most accessible characters in all of Pixar, his dreams might be simple (to be a great chef) but seem so out of reach because of him being a rat. This movie is for all the dreams and all those who wanted something that seemed so out of reach.

6. Toy Story 1-3

Let’s look at this franchise as whole, From the first Toy Storythat changed movies forever, not just animated movies, but movies as a whole forever to the third that put an amazing end to the franchise. Toy Story is great for many reasons, but one of the biggest and one of the most over looked reasons is its ability to deal with death in such an amazing manner. Woody’s character in particular struggles with his own mortality throughout the films and with the “inferno” scene in 3 that mortality is brought full circle from fighting to acceptance and is one of the most powerful moments in all of Pixar.

7. Cars

This movie is simple and fun and extremely well written. It’s what I consider to be a second rate Pixar are movie but it’s still Pixar which means it’s better than 99% of the animated movies out there.

8. Monsters Inc.

Another truly funny movie from Pixar, While the main characters are nowhere near human you can’t help but connect and fall in love with them. Pixar does a great job of setting up the world in this movie.

9. A Bug’s Life

The second Pixar film was their look into the dystopian through the lens of the oppressed ants and their struggle against their overlord grasshoppers. All in all probably the worst Pixar film, it’s cute and fun and funny but borders on not being worthy of carrying the Pixar name.

To follow Jacob on twitter, click here.

A Pixar Afternoon

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Ah yes, Friday afternoons. After a busy week, things are finally winding down in the office. What better time than to take some time and compile a list! A list you say? Aren’t those a bit cliche? Why yes they are good sir or madam. However, this will be no ordinary list. For the list we are to compile today chronicles one of the top animation studios on the planet. Dreamworks Animation? No. Walt Disney Feature Animation? Nope. The studio I am hinting towards is none other than Pixar Animation Studios. This list of personal favorites could be hard…onward ho!

1. Wall-E – Showcasing what I believe to be one of the finest depictions of love in a movie (and its silent!), Wall-E is an absolute masterpiece.

2. The Incredibles – This movie has a special place in my heart as it was the first movie that I ever took my wife (then girlfriend) to. The pacing, realistic depiction of family, and overarching rant against a society that insists that everyone is special makes this movie top notch in my book.

3. Ratatouille – This Brad Bird film never lets go of the accelerator and never allows itself to fall into normal movie cliches. And I thought the movie was going to linger on the paternity issue, bah!

4. Toy Story 2 – My favorite Toy Story movie. I should note though that I do think that Jessie’s sad song is a bit over-done.

5. Toy Story – Full of great quotes. I will never forget the look of shock on Buzz’s face when he discovers that he really can’t fly.

6. Toy Story 3 – A perfect end to an amazing series.

7. Cars- “Speed.” This movie never fails to make me smile. Although, the pacing can drift a bit into the slow lane at times.

8. UP* – UP takes the award for making me cry, hard. I enjoyed its bittersweet story of an old man who learns that he still has much to contribute despite his advanced age. This movie showcases the emotional depth Pixar can infuse into its stories.

9. Finding Nemo – I find this movie long and poorly paced. Sue me.

10. Monster’s Inc. – Clever. Perhaps too clever? Multiple viewings have killed this movie for me. Be happy I even mentioned it.

11. A Bug’s Life – Perhaps I need to watch this again (its been years), but I found this film boring.

Favorite Non-Pixar Movie: Meet the Robinson’s (woo hoo!)

*Note: UP is certainly in the same category of Wall-E in terms of quality, storytelling, and pure emotion. However, I do not find it to be a movie that I want to watch time and time again.