Friday, 30 July 2010

Film Review: Toy Story 3

Director: Lee Unkrich

Screenwriter: John Lasseter & Andrew Stanton (story), Michael Arndt (screenplay)

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Michael Keaton, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, Blake Clark

Runtime: 103 minutes

Certificate: U (UK)

Brief Summary: The toys are mistakenly delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college, and it's up to Woody to convince the other toys that they weren't abandoned and to return home.


It's been nearly 10 years since we last caught up with Woody, Buzz et al and the gang have grown up a lot since then, much like their beloved owner, Andy, and, most importantly, their original audience. The creators are cleverly aware of their main audience, the young adults who grew up with the first two films and can shamelessly indulge in the nostalgia of the final movie in the trilogy. Andy's journey almost parallels those viewers who have equally moved on to college (university) and/or left home for good. (Although... it may just be me, but when I went to university, there was no need to strip my room completely bare and sell all the contents, especially as I was back within mere months for Christmas). I watched through misty eyes as the toys came to terms with the notion of moving on and parting from those they know and love, and recognised it as my own journey from the past few years, both leaving home for university, and then leaving university itself.

Poignancy aside, Toy Story 3 could easily sit alongside The Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape as one of the best prison escape films of all time. The action is executed BRILLIANTLY, and includes a perfect mix of hilarious and heartbreaking scenes, keeping audiences of all ages entertained. The new characters are excellent, my personal favourite being Ken (voiced by Keaton), a true metrosexual and portrays his relationship with Barbie the way that everyone secretly believed it would be. On the other hand, Big Baby will give me nightmares for years to come. In that sense, Toy Story 3 definitely deals with slightly heavy themes, but children are still able to understand and perhaps even relate to.

The animation is, as expected, beautiful, to the very detail of the texture of the toys and I think is best demonstrated with the scene with Mr 'Tortilla Wrap' Head. A special nod must be given to the Pixar short which plays before TS3 starts. I've always enjoyed Pixar Shorts (and would highly advise others to purchase the Pixar Shorts dvd) but Day & Night has been my favourite by far.

There are lots of subtle references to the first film which ties up the last in the trilogy nicely. We see Andy driving and are reminded of when he helped his Mum fill up the car outside Pizza Planet all those years ago. The final shot of the film is of white clouds against a blue sky, exactly the same as Andy's wallpaper - the very first shot of the first Toy Story film. And did anyone notice the music playing through the end credits? A Spanish version of Randy Newman's 'You've Got A Friend In Me'.

Whilst the final act is still as hilarious as the rest of the film (mainly attributed to Buzz Espanol) but the furnace sequence is both devastating and heartfelt, when all characters join hands marking true friendship. The finale can be described as nothing more than tear-inducing and is an emotional end to a 15-yaer long series.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday, 11 July 2010

I've been waiting 11 years for this....

I've been counting down the days to Toy Story 3 ever since I learnt of the release date a year ago and the abundance of Toy Story-themed adverts are merely fuelling my excitement.

Here are some of my favourites...

And while I'm at it, here's a montage of the best TV spots for the film...


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Book Review: Uglies ~ Scott Westerfeld

Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Year of Publication: 2005

Genre: Fiction, YA, Sci-fi

Blurb: "Tally can't wait to turn sixteen and become Pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from a repellant Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be Pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever."

Opening Sentence: "The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit."


Whilst I wouldn't necessarily class myself as a science fiction fan, I do enjoy a good YA novel about dystopian worlds and Uglies is undoubtedly my favourite so far... despite the fact that I am technically classed as a 'rusty'.

Uglies is a really fun read, and a change from Westerfeld's previous work, which was predominantly aimed at adults. He seems to be just as comfortable writing for a younger audience and creates completely likeable characters and an exciting plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat. An important aspect of dystopian fiction, for me, is the little details that epitomise the futuristic element of the novel - they show much thought the author has put into the story . In this instance, it was how the characters travelled via hoverboards and I loved the idea.

As you can expect from any young adult novel, there are morals and lessons to be learnt. Predictably, this one is that there is more to life than being 'pretty'. Westerfeld also emphasises the importance of individuality in a beauty obsessed world.

When I first started the book I wasn't that attached to it, but I'm glad I stuck at it, because by the end I was hooked and there followed a mixture of emotions at learning it was just the first in a trilogy. I was excited that it continued, but at the same time, impatient at the prospect of having to wait until the next book to discover what happened next...  

Tuesday, 6 July 2010