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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing guy for Captain D's. Hockey fan, photographer, and father of 2 awesome boys.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

pixar goodness

I took a half-day off from work today to go see Ratatouille with Christy. We went to see it at the theater near Rivergate mall. Very nice actually. Well, not very nice, but very good and certainly nicer than most. The only 'nicer' theaters i could name would be Green Hills or Opry Mills and those theaters still show most movies in...[shudder]...film. This theaters has already converted to digital, like other smaller theaters. But the overall experience was much better than the one at the Hickory Hollow theater.

To the movie.
(I will do my absolute best to avoid anything like spoilers)

Very good. I have to say i went in somewhat skeptical, yet really excited. This was Pixar, and for those that don't know, i am a huge Pixar fan. I love their work, their self-awareness, and most of all, the heart and depth that their movies have. They hold my interest as an adult with intelligent story lines, thoughtful characters, and truly funny jokes - not potty humor like some other studios - but real funny situational comedy. In the end though, i am a firm believer that most of the Pixar movies, had they been made with real actors and not animated, would have been in the running for best picture. The stories, characters, and writing are that good. Through all of that though, they are also movies that you can take anyone to see. They are not just PG, they are waaay G. But still very good movies for adults.

The one exception to that however, was The Incredibles. Don't get me wrong. Fabulous movie. 4.5 out of 5 stars for me. But not the 5+ that the other Pixar movies garner to me. It fell just a little short in both the all-ages category and in the story. Again - don't get me wrong. I still got choked up at some parts, but it was a little heavy handed. A little obvious and i felt like my emotions were being manipulated. I felt like i was watching a great movie - but i felt like i was watching a movie. Ironically, i think with most of the other Pixar movies, when the emotional climax to the movie comes, i always feel like i am watching real characters interact and cameras are catching real action. It feels so honest. Which is ironic of course considering that The Incredibles is the first movie where it is people on the screen and not talking bugs or toys or fish or whatever.

Because of all of that i went in skeptical. Ratatouille was written and directed by Brad Bird, the same guy that did the Incredibles. He is not one of the Pixar guys to me (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, etc). Good writer/director, but his movies feel different than Pixar.


This was a really good movie. I recommend everyone see it. Though I will say that this isn't a "must see" for theaters. It is not an action movie or anything and unless you can see it in digital, i fear you may not be able to truly appreciate the amazing animation details. That's really about the only thing that was extremely 'cinematic' about this movie. I think that may have been one of the disappointments for me. The movie felt small the vast majority of the time. While this sounds logical given the movies central character is about 6 inches tall, Pixar proved in A Bug's Life that you can make a movie about miniatures look like an epic. But hey, with the type of story it was, maybe that was on purpose. I just think the movie could have used a little more scale and power. Every time we see the "beauty" of Paris it is through a window. Most of the shots are very tight. Just not a lot of scale to the movie.

The other factor that was a little disappointing to me was that yet again, like the Incredibles, this movie is a very PG movie to me. It got a G rating, but if i had children under the age of 6 or 7, i would have been a little uncomfortable with a couple of scenes. Nothing horrific mind you, and nothing like the Incredibles. But there were two scenes in particular that would take either eye-closing for a little one or some explaining afterwards, or both. Again, one of the things i really love about most Pixar movies is that you can show them to anyone and they will enjoy them. Adults get a lot out of them, but any kids can watch them. They are innocent but not simple. This movie was a little lighter on innocents and a little heavier on simplicity.

Overall though, great movie. I was laughing out loud quite often, especially early in the movie. Very funny. Worth seeing. I will probably see it again in the theater and will definitely own it when it is released on DVD.

Compared against the 5+ of other Pixar's this fell short of my high expectations, but it was still a solid 4.5 out of 5.

Now...as to the part that i really loved...

The teaser trailer at the beginning of the movie for the next Pixar film, Wall-E. It is coming out just next summer, which i am really excited about. Increased computing power and better and better software mean they are able to crank out Pixar films faster - and the extra budget from them buying out Disney, Disney merging with them Disney buying them out and putting all of Pixar on the board doesn't hurt either. Best part, is this is a "true" Pixar film. Back to Andrew Stanton.

Without further ado, here's the trailer for Wall-E.

High Def quicktime version here.

Here is another teaser/ad/viral video that was released with the Ratatouille video game.

That video mentions a website at the end, which really does exist: www.BuyNLarge.com. Check it out. Click on the little red dot at the bottom. This will be a fun site to watch in the coming months.

One last interesting couple of notes about the movie:
1) Pixar has re-rendered the opening title shot of their logo (featuring Luxo Jr, the bouncing desk lamp). The lighting has obviously been redone and it looks great. Again, see it on film and you'll probably miss this.
2) There is a short at the beginning of the movie. Very funny, though a little strange. Ok, a lot strange. But very funny.


Danny Dare said...

What a well-written and enjoyable review - thank you! I'm based in England, and we unfortunately have to wait a good while longer to see Ratatouille over here than you guys "over the pond" (we're only just into Shrek the Third here now - another great all-CGI movie). Still, I'm looking forward to seeing Ratatouille even more now after reading your honest appraisal. It promises to continue to be a wonderful year for movies, perhaps the best ever.

All the very best,

Pete (another Pixar-loving Geek).

Paul Nicholson said...

thanks. glad you liked it.

i was afraid that for all my disappointments, people wouldn't hear me say that it was a great movie.

G Nicholson said...

Just so' you know, I saw it at the Thoroughbred Cinema in Franklin and it was genuine DLP Texas Instruments DIGITAL! They've joined you in the 21st century.

Loved the movie! I'm a pushover, but the whole thing was great. I agree that there were a couple of moments that were a little inappropriate for very young ones.

I was WOWed by the rushing water in the sewer scene (one of the times it got too intense for some... but awesome animation)

kaye said...

I too greatly enjoyed the movie and agree to a couple of quick bits to intense for youngest viewers. For only the second time in my life I enjoyed being in a theater when people burst into spontaneous applause at the end of a film! Really fun evening.

Paul Nicholson said...

yeah. good movie.

i'm thinking i'll have to go see it again before DVD, seeing that it wont be out in DVD until Christmas i'm sure.

most Pixar gets better and better with further viewings, which i have to remind myself. so no, it doesnt seem as good to me right now as the movies i've watched 30 times each.