Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November Pixar Update

There hasn't been a heck of a lot of exciting Pixar news this month, but here's a brief recollection of the little tidbits that have dropped over the past few weeks.


'Good Dinosaur' Delay Leads to Layoffs

Some sad news indeed. After the sudden and tragic closure of Pixar's offices in Vancouver, Canada last month, the studio announced last week that nearly 5% of its current staff will be laid off in the wake of The Good Dinosaur's recent 18-month delay.

The official statement:

"At Pixar, we are constantly re-evaluating the creative and business needs of our studio. With the release date change of The Good Dinosaur, we have realigned our production and support priorities, which includes a small reduction in our staffing levels." 

My condolences to those who have lost their jobs, and best of luck to them in their future endeavors.

Ed Catmull's New Book Gives In-Depth Look At Birth of Pixar

Pixar president and co-founder Edwin Catmull will provide the public with the first ever first-hand account of how a struggling division of Lucasfilm once known as the Graphics Group eventually became the animation empire it is known as today. Co-written by Amy Wallace, Creativity Inc. is 368 pages long and will be available April 8, 2014. You can pre-order it now through Amazon.

'Monsters University' Enters Race For Academy Award Nomination

The fourteenth feature to be pumped out by the animation powerhouse, Monsters University, has been submitted alongside 18 other films, including DreamWorks' The Croods and Blue Sky's Epic, for contention to receive nominations at this year's Academy Awards. The real competition, however, lies in Walt Disney Animation's Frozen, which hits theaters tomorrow (or today, depending on when and where you're reading this) and has received wildly enthusiastic reviews thus far, many going as far as calling it the studio's best since The Lion King. Pixar will have to once again butt heads with their sister studio to claim the title of Best Animated Feature; Brave's win in February over Wreck-It Ralph stirred controversy and outrage among many who believed that WDAS had produced the better film.

Read Scripts For 'Monsters University' & 'The Blue Umbrella'

If you're interested in becoming a screenwriter some day, or you just like going through the scripts of awesome movies and shorts, then you'll be thrilled to hear that the screenplays for both Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella are now up on the Walt Disney Studios Awards website for your reading pleasure. I spent a good while the other day just reading the first 60 pages or so of MU's rather brilliant script, and The Blue Umbrella's is equally delightful - it reads almost like a poem. Check out both scripts here and here.


Like I said, nothing particularly thrilling, but the gap between autumn and the awards season is usually pretty quiet anyway in terms of Pixar-related news.

Are you upset by the layoffs at Pixar? Will you be getting Ed Catmull's new book come April? Which film do you think will win Best Animated Feature this year? Do you enjoy reading the scripts for films and short films? Sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monsters University: Blu-ray Review

Pixar's fourteenth feature film made its way onto DVD and Blu-ray late last month, and most Pixar and animation fanatics seem to have picked up a copy. I just recently finished getting through all the phenomenal bonus features on the release (or most of them anyway) and thought I'd have a go at writing my first ever Blu-ray review. If you're a follower of this blog you probably already know that I quite thoroughly enjoyed the Monsters, Inc. prequel back when I first saw it in June (you can read my review here), so I was thrilled to be able to see it again at home in all its high-definition glory, as well as delight in all the fantastic in-depth bonus features that fans have come to expect from Pixar releases. So let's begin...

Picture Quality
Well, there's not much to say here really, other than that this flick looks absolutely stunning on Blu-ray - not that one should expect anything less from a Pixar release. Monsters University is one of this year's most colorful and vibrant films so far, and those colors really pop on the screen; the film's spectacular palette will leave you dazzled. The image is crystal clear, with lots little details, like Sulley's blue and purple fur and Randy's scaly skin, that are quite striking. Simply put, MU's Blu-ray presentation is visually flawless.

3D Quality
I did purchase the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" of the film, which comes with the Blu-ray 3D disc, and while I questioned whether I just get the 3D version for quite some time before buying the film, I am happy to say I do not regret my final decision. The 3D presentation retains the impeccable attributes of the regular 2D version while adding great visual depth to an already ravishing feast for the eyes. The college campus stretches deep into the display, making you feel as if you're really there with Mike as he first steps foot on the university. Like I said in my original review of the film, 3D isn't an essential element of Monsters U, but the film definitely makes for a beaming 3D experience.

Audio Quality
Brace yourself, as your surroundings may start to rumble after Sulley delivers one of his terrifying roars. Much like the visual presentation of the film, MU's audio is impeccable. Dialogue is nice and clear, and the wide array of monstrous sound effects throughout the movie is just as resonant.

As usual with Pixar films, there is an entire disc dedicated entirely to the countless of special features for Monsters University that give you an inside look at the Emeryville-based studio, famous for its fun and wacky antics. The extras should keep you occupied for a good while, and are complete with deleted scenes, some great featurettes, and even a virtual tour of the university campus. Needless to say, MU's bonus features live up to those of previous Pixar releases.

The Ultimate Collector's Edition of Monsters University delivers on all fronts, and not only does it meet its relatively high expectations, it exceeds them. Another bonus is that, as usual for Pixar Blu-rays, all four discs come with artwork on them, something that has become quite a rarity in Blu-ray releases these days. The slipcover is also very nice, and while I originally wasn't crazy about the artwork on this particular edition, I must say I've warmed up to it, even if I prefer the cover art for the regular Collector's Edition.

So if you've got some extra cash to spare and are looking for a superb addition to your movie collection, I strongly recommend you pick this one up!