Buzz Lightyear will welcome visitors to D23 EXPO 2015 as Pixar Animation Studios celebrates the 20-year anniversary of Toy Story, among a host of exciting presentations, demonstrations and panels that pay homage to Pixar’s past while looking ahead to its roster of exciting new films. The fearless space ranger, who appeared in Pixar’s groundbreaking CG-animated feature-film debut Toy Story in 1995, as well as Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010), has taken flight in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® six times as a giant character helium balloon, measuring 67.7-feet long, 39.9-feet wide and 34.3-feet tall. This summer, the Disney•Pixar Buzz Lightyear balloon travels to the West Coast for the first time ever, welcoming guests to D23 EXPO 2015 as it soars outside the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. D23 EXPO 2015 takes place through August 16.
Calendar of Key PRESENTATIONS/ PANELS/ Events:
Every Story Is a Journey: The Upcoming Films of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios
Friday, August 14, 3:00 pm – Hall D23
After meeting the Emotions inside the mind of an 11-year-old, taking a trip to San Fransokyo where a boy genius and his robot save the world, and falling in love with a queen with icy powers who wants to “let it go,” come see where Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios plan to take you next. In what has become a D23 EXPO must-see, host John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, presents “Every Story is a Journey.” Filmmakers will unveil never-before-seen footage from Pixar’s upcoming The Good Dinosaur and Finding Dory and Disney Animation’s Zootopia and Moana. The event will include surprise announcements, musical performances, and appearances by the films’ star voice talent. Cell phones, cameras and all recording devices will be checked for this presentation.
In Conversation with the Filmmakers and the Emotions Behind Inside Out
Friday, August 14, 2015, 11:30 am – Stage 28
Get the inside story on the making of Pixar’s latest summer release Inside Out. Hear from Academy Award®-winning director Pete Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) and producer Jonas Rivera (Up) as they reminisce and share their personal stories of creating a world that everyone knows, but no one has ever seen.
Pixar Secrets Revealed! Hear the Stories They Didn’t Want You to Know!
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 3:00 pm – Stage 28
Ever wonder where your favorite Pixar stories began? Hear the stories you don’t know about the classic films that you love. Pixar senior development executive Mary Coleman hosts this experience, welcoming the storytellers behind some of Pixar’s most successful films, including Darla K. Anderson (A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Cars, Toy Story 3), Mark Andrews (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Brave), Ronnie del Carmen (Up, Inside Out) and Dan Scanlon (Cars, Toy Story 3, Monsters University), as they talk about the twists and turns of crafting a narrative and share some of the crazy story ideas that didn’t make the final cut.
Toy Story: 20 Years Later, the Original Crew Looks Back
Saturday, August 15, 2015, 4:30 pm – Stage 23
From flipbooks to feature films, animation has taken audiences to fantastical new worlds, far beyond the limits of any real-world setting. Pixar Animation Studios has been at the forefront of this evolution, blurring the line between art and technology and bringing beloved characters to life with heart and humor. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of 1995’s Toy Story, the first computer-animated feature film, join members of the original crew, including filmmakers John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, Galyn Susman, Ralph Eggleston, Sharon Calahan, Eben Ostby, Bob Pauley and Bill Reeves as they share their stories and the challenges they faced along the way.
ON THE EXPO SHOW FLOOR:
Animation – Show Floor Exhibition
For the first time ever, Pixar Animation Studios is creating a show-floor experience at D23 EXPO. Pixar teams up with Walt Disney Animation Studios for an unforgettable adventure that showcases magic from both animation studios, featuring live demonstrations, presentations and autograph signings with top filmmakers, free giveaways and interactive displays. With highlights from films like Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Zootopia, Finding Dory and Moana, animation fans will get the inside scoop on their favorite films and characters.
Say Aloha to John Lasseter’s Film-Themed Hawaiian Shirts
Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter takes Disney and Pixar animation to heart—literally. For nearly every film—from Finding Nemo and Wreck-It Ralph to Frozen and Inside Out, Lasseter has commissioned an exclusive movie-themed Hawaiian shirt. And those who know the Oscar®-winning storyteller know that he loves his Hawaiian shirts—and dons one for almost every occasion. Animation fans will see their favorite film characters “materialize” before their eyes in this colorful collection, which will be exhibited on the show floor.
Fans can take home their own shirt, thanks to Disney Store at D23 EXPO. This D23-exclusive Reyn Spooner-design features characters from all the feature films produced under the creative guidance of Lasseter. The simple, appealing collage joins many of Disney’s and Pixar’s most beloved recent characters on one wearable canvas. The shirt will retail for $99.95.
Tickets for D23 EXPO 2015 are available at a discounted price for a limited time. Through June 30, 2015, tickets are $67 for a one-day adult admission and $48 for children 3–12. Tickets for members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club are $58 for a one-day adult admission and $42 for children. Multi-day money-saving tickets are also available. D23 Members can save as much as $188 off the price of admission, based on the purchase of four three-day tickets at the D23 Member rate. For more information on tickets and the ticket pricing structure for D23 Members and general admission, visit D23EXPO.com.
Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life
The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God.
Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes.
Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God.
We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant.
Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed.
Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus.
Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship.
Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care.
The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love.
Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls.
Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now!
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.
The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.
The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.
The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.