Cars: Mater-National (2007, Open-World Racing, 360) – 6/10 game review

Cast / crew
Lead Designer: Mark Buchignani
Lead Programmer: Eric Patrick
Lead Artist: Paul Rheinfelder
Lead Animator: Wil Paras

Cars: Mater-National (2007)

Lightning McQueen is building a racing stadium in Radiator Springs and competitors from all over the world want to prove their worth against him on his home turf.

6/10

It’s just fun when cars go ‘ouch’ when you bang into them or a car trash-talks you while overtaking going backwards. Mini-game Tractor Tipping is an unresponsive nightmare when it should be a neat diversion but most of the other mini-games are fine. The best one is Ghosting Mater where the controls are reversed and Fuel Frenzy where you have to pick up diminishing fuels cans to last a certain number of laps. Both have simple rules but are just a little more interesting than usual. Lightning McQueen proves to be a bland (at best) star but the supporting cast are great and it was a joy to see SPOILER Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. Mike’s car is especially brilliant.

Classified 3+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 3 or over.

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Up (2009) – 7/10 Disney Pixar fantasy adventure movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Pete Docter
Co-Director: Bob Peterson
Producer: Jonas Rivera
Writer (Story): Pete Docter
Writer (Story): Bob Peterson
Writer (Story): Tom McCarthy
Writer (Screenplay): Bob Peterson
Writer (Screenplay): Pete Docter
Story Supervisor: Ronnie Del Carmen
Supervising Technical Director: Steve May
Supervising Animator: Scott Clark
Ed Asner: Carl Fredricksen
Christopher Plummer: Charles Muntz
Jordan Nagai: Russell
Bob Peterson: Dug
Bob Peterson: Alpha
Pete Docter: Campmaster Strauch

Up (2009)

After a long happy marriage, widower Carl Fredricksen decides to do the one thing he and his wife never managed: travel to South America and Paradise Falls in Venezuela. So, he attaches hundreds of helium-filled balloons to his house and embarks on a new adventure.

7/10

Opening with what may be Pixar’s strongest-yet sequence (welling up at the beginning of a movie, blimey) as Carl Fredricksen goes from boy to man, through love and marriage and the heartbreak of infertility and death, Up then takes to the skies, arrives in South America and, only then, struggles to suspend disbelief rendering the remainder of the movie good but obviously manipulative and non-sensical. 10/10 for the first part, 6/10 for the rest. Michael Giacchino supplies a terrific central theme which is highly evocative of Chaplin, delivers the strong emotional power of the wordless ‘married life’ montage and helps give the movie an agreeably timeless feel. Amazingly, you can’t buy it on CD.

This movie contains violence.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Monsters, Inc. (2001, Animated Fantasy Adventure) – 8/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Director: Pete Docter
Co-Director: Lee Unkrich
Co-Director: David Silverman
Producer: Darla K. Anderson
Writer (Original Story): Pete Docter
Writer (Original Story): Jill Culton
Writer (Original Story): Jeff Pidgeon
Writer (Original Story): Ralph Eggleston
Writer (Screenplay): Andrew Stanton
Writer (Screenplay): Daniel Gerson
John Goodman: [James P. "Sully"] Sullivan
Billy Crystal: Mike
Mary Gibbs: Boo
Steve Buscemi: Randall [Boggs]
James Coburn: Waternoose
Jennifer Tilly: Celia

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

James P. Sullivan is the top scarer at Monsters, Inc., the company that provides Monster City with its electricity. They get the electricity from children’s screams, harvested by sending terrifying monsters through their closet doors. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to scare children in their modern world and the fact that children are toxic to monsters is not helping matters.

8/10

Remarkably accomplished adventure that has all kinds of layers and resonances and works for children and adults without resorting to dirty jokes. Unusually, it’s messages (laughter is better than fear, parents anger scares children even when it is not targeted at them) are entirely positive and delivered without bitterness while technically it’s astonishing. Sully, the obvious stand-out, looks better than the many real-life versions of him that you can buy and the scene where he has snow-tipped hair fluttering on the Himalayas is totally remarkable. I think that, in Pixar’s first decade, even though they’re all good, this is their best film.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.

Cars (2006) – 7/10 Disney Pixar CG animated sports movie review

Cast / crew
Director: John Lasseter
Co-Director: Joe Ranft
Producer: Darla K. Anderson
Writer (Original Story): John Lasseter
Writer (Original Story): Joe Ranft
Writer (Original Story): Jorgen Klubien
Writer (Screenplay): Dan Fogelman
Writer (Screenplay): John Lasseter
Writer (Screenplay): Joe Ranft
Writer (Screenplay): Kiel Murray
Writer (Screenplay): Phil Lorin
Writer (Screenplay): Jorgen Klubien
Supervising Animator: Scott Clark
Supervising Animator: Doug Sweetland
Owen Wilson: Lightning McQueen
Paul Newman: Doc Hudson
Bonnie Hunt: Sally Carrera
Larry The Cable Guy: Mater
Dedicated to 1960-2005: Joe Ranft

Cars (2006)

Lightning McQueen is the arrogant, cocky, fresh-faced superstar rookie of the Piston Cup stock car racing series. After a remarkable season, three drivers tie for the championship and an extra race is scheduled to decide to the champion. On the way to the final race, McQueen finds himself stranded on Route 66 and on the wrong side of the law in tiny one-street town Radiator Springs. Sentenced to several days community service in repairing the main road (which he destroyed) means that he may never make the raceā€¦

7/10

While it lays the life message on with a trowel and has a clumsy mid-section, this visually stunning and environmentally imaginative movie never loses the magic that is required of all quality animated movies. Outstanding and convincing racing sequences (including the best photo finish of all time) bookend the movie and reverse the mid-section feeling that the movie is disappearing up it’s own tailpipe. Overall, this is another good ‘un from Pixar.

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Ratatouille (2007) – 9/10 Disney Pixar movie review

Cast / crew
Writer (Screenplay): Brad Bird
Director: Brad Bird
Producer: Brad Lewis
Writer (Original Story): Jan Pinkava
Writer (Original Story): Jim Capobianco
Writer (Original Story): Brad Bird
Patton Oswalt: Remy
Ian Holm: Skinner
Lou Romano: Linguini
Brian Dennehy: Django
Peter Sohn: Emile
Peter O’Toole: Anton Ego
Brad Garrett: Gusteau
Janeane Garofalo: Colette
Will Arnett: Horst
Brad Bird: Ambrister Minion
Co-Director: Jan Pinkava

Ratatouille (2007)

Remy is a rat with a refined and delicate sense of smell and though he is prized within the rat community as a rat poison detector he dreams of using his talents in a culinary capacity.

9/10

A wonderfully polished slice of animated goodness from Iron Giant director Brad Bird and Geri’s Game creator Jan Pinkava. Like most Pixar films to date, the feeling of quality is remarkably high (despite the central marionnette concept which doesn’t really work) but there is that last pinch of salt missing. This results in a feeling of calculatedness that just keeps an audience and their emotions at arms length. It may be the computer graphics medium itself that’s at fault. Though they are excellent pieces of work, I haven’t yet cried or even been moved emotionally at a Pixar film (this review was written before Up) and I don’t absolutely love any Pixar film (I still don’t). If they ever nail that, the result will be very special indeed.

This movie contains violence and mild sensuality.

Classified U by BBFC. Universal: Suitable for All.