Saturday, June 19, 2010

Two down, one to go...

Summer, to me, meant three movies. Two of them released on the same day and, in a flash, 2/3rd of the summer is over. Verdict? Mixed, so far... Read on...

Toy Story 3 (and Day & Night) :

Out of the three movies, this one I was least excited about. I know I shouldn't have been. It is Pixar, after all. Still, a part of me was never quite convinced that Pixar could do what Godfather and Star Wars couldn't - come back after decade(s) to make a worthy sequel. Specially, because this TS3 seemed to be a consequence of Disney taking over Pixar. One could never be sure of what direction things will be going. Is is just Disney forcing Pixar into their usual 'make box-office-hay while the sequel-sun shines' model or did the Pixar wizards REALLY have something Pixar-worthy to offer? After all, the other sequel in the pipeline is Cars 2!!! What other reason can they have to go back and make a sequel to the only Pixar movie that seems to be less than adored by everyone other than model-car loving toddlers and the merchandizing-loving Disney execs. If that is not a Disney finance-driven decision, I don't know what is. And yet, isn't this exactly what I had thought when Miramax had announced that "Quentin Tarantino's Fourth Film Kill Bill" was actually going to be "Quentin Tarantino's New Films Kill Bill Vol 1 & Vol 2". We were all cynical about it and chuckled when Quentin said "it really makes complete sense. This is a creative decision." Turned out, they were right all along. How can anyone even imagine combining KB1 and KB2 now? We learned that there are some things we should take on faith. When QT says something, listen. And if there is one thing you can have full faith in, it is that Pixar never fails. It just does not. Nope. Not possible. Having said that I am still apprehensive about Cars 2, but if TS3 is anything to go by, I need not be.

One of the reasons I was apprehensive about TS3 was that I have never really been as much a fan of the Toy Story movies as almost every other Pixar movie (other than Cars, and perhaps A Bug's Life). And I have never really understood why that is so. Every time I see TS or TS2, I end up thinking "hmm.. this was really entertaining.. why do I not seem to love this as much as the others"? I think the reason is that as good as they are, they are still probably the closest Pixar comes to making a Dreamworks' like movie. You know, an action/adventure/comedy movie targeted mainly to kids that seems to be full of pop culture references a la Shrek. The problem with that is that as great as you might make it, you can perhaps give me full paisa-vasool entertainment for my money, but you are never really going to touch the greatness reached by things like the "Carl and Ellie's life together" sequence in Up or the entire cute, touching, astounding first hour of WALL-E.. or the scarcely believable decision to make "critique of critics" sequence the climax of Ratatouille. Now, THAT is what Pixar can do. To me, the least impressive parts of Pixar movies are those fast paced action/adventure parts that they do as well as anyone else, but doesn't make them stand out in any manner. The "run from the pack of dogs" sequence in Up, the "malfunctioning robots spreading chaos in Axiom" in WALL-E.. the "chase among the thousand doors" in Monsters Inc.. the climactic battle in The Incredibles, etc. And Toy Story movies, as well as they are made, seem to always leave the impression in my mind that they are almost entirely full of just these sequences. And I find that I am wrong every time I see them again. Perhaps the other things aren't as memorable in them as in other movies. Anyway, the bottomline is, Pixar has made another Toy Story movie and it has done it as well as the first two.. maybe even better. This one is, again, just a REALLY well made and entertaining action/adventure/fun movie for about 70% of its length but it ends on a note that makes it entirely worthy of those other great Pixar movies. For about 70% of its length it seems another great Toy Story movie (and that itself isn't something easy to do... how many movies do we know where the essential charm doesn't completely vanish after the first sequel?), but what they do with the last 15-20 minutes took my breath away. And I came out of the theater entirely satisfied, and appropriately ashamed of my lack of faith in Pixar.

This isn't a review. It wasn't meant to be. It doesn't have to be. After all, all of you are going to see it anyway, aren't you? :) Rest assured that if you liked the first two, there is absolutely no way that you aren't going to love this one too.

Oh... and there is also the small matter of catching one of their cutest short films. Day & Night is as good as most other Pixar shorts (which makes it a masterpiece :P). Go, watch NOW!

Coming up next... How Mani made a disconcerting movie that seemed bad enough for me not to recommend it to others and yet intriguing enough for me to want to go and see it again....

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