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My First Visit To Pixar and ‘Toy Story 4’ Footage Reaction
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eelyajekiM   |  @   |  
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TOY STORY 4

As a reporter, I have opportunities to visit animation studios and get a sneak preview of their upcoming films. It’s an exciting experience to step foot in these studios, to see such their rich histories and marvel at the legacy they are creating. But there’s nothing like visiting Pixar Animation Studios. When one gets an invite to go there, it’s hard to say no. So I was caught off guard when said invite came. Needless to say, I immediately said yes.

As a Pixar fan, I was going to enjoy every single moment and every single second of being on their campus in Emeryville, CA. It goes without saying that it was a life-changing experience. And so, after all the flights and getting settled into the hotel, I joined a group of journalists to take a look at the Pixar campus to see what Toy Story 4 is all about. More on this and reaction to the footage we were shown, below.

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Disney In Depth: 20 Reasons To Appreciate ‘Toy Story’
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Disney In Depth Banner

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Disney•Pixar’s major triumph, a movie that is adored by (nearly) everyone who has a heart and appreciates cinema. Toy Story is 20, which only means one thing: the perfect occasion to share another Disney In Depth list.

Here are 20 reasons to appreciate Toy Story!

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Disney In Depth: ‘The Legacy Collection: Toy Story’ CD Review
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Walt Disney Records’ The Legacy Collection has honored film music celebrating milestones, from The Lion King‘s 20th anniversary to Sleeping Beauty‘s 55th. Finally, this line enters Disney•Pixar territory in honoring Toy Story turning 20. Happily, The Legacy Collection: Toy Story, which reaches for the sky, flies with style.

“Andy’s Birthday,” a six-minute track found on the original Toy Story soundtrack, instead is broken up into several tracks on this new Legacy Collection album. This works in separating the scenes and applies to many of the other tracks, many of which are less than a minute long. The film’s three main songs (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” “Strange Things,” and “I Will Go Sailing No More”) sound as good as ever before, as each of them was remastered for the Legacy Collection.

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Disney In Depth: Blu-ray Review: Monsters, Inc.
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray cover

Monsters, Inc.
5-Disc Blu-ray/3D/DVD/Digital |
3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD
Directed by Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman
Starring John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Frank Oz
Disney•Pixar
Release Date: February 19, 2013

Open the door to an exciting new way to experience Monsters, Inc. Pixar’s fantastic fourth film arrives on a new “Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” among Disney-Pixar’s finest releases.

Enter the monster world and forever be enraptured by the fun and heart of one of Pixar’s finest features. By chance you have never watched a frame of this buddy comedy, let me set up the story. Mike Wazowski and his best friend James P. “Sulley” Sullivan reside in Monstropolis, what seems to be your average city – with the exception that both of these beasts are charismatic monsters living in Monstropolis, the monster society. They are employed at Monsters, Inc., the energy factory where scarers like Sulley produce screams. How so? They generate this energy through frightening human children, accessing their worlds through opening doors. More screams equates to more energy. Simple, right? But when one child, which Sulley affectionately names “Boo” creeps into Monstropolis, chaos erupts. Humans are seen as toxic. They cannot exist here, so it seems. But what happens when you form a bond with a child? Tricky.

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Disney In Depth: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and the State Of Disney Animation
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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Wreck-It Ralph smashed box office records for a Disney animated film in its opening weekend, and won over critics and audiences no less. With its creativity, heart and passionate storytelling, Wreck-It Ralph signals Walt Disney Animation Studios is back in the game, so to speak. This edition of Disney In Depth will explore what has led up to this new hit for the studio, as well as what awaits.

Many individuals say the Disney Renaissance began with 1989’s The Little Mermaid, with following entries Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King reaching even greater heights – everyone seems to leave out the forgotten The Rescuers Down Under. Regardless, this represented a period of unparalleled imagination and inspiration within the studio, continuing for several years to follow. Then came the slump. Audiences were no longer interested in musicals, so it seemed, and Disney animation switched gears into the sci-fi realm with productions like Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. Computer animation emerged, and with that advent Disney entered the new arena with misses like Chicken Little and the awkward-yet-smart Meet the Robinsons. None of these performed all that wonderfully. It had appeared as though Disney lost its touch. But the studio had some exciting developments up their sleeve.

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Disney In Depth: Soundtrack Review: ‘Everybody Wants To Be A Cat’
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Brett Nachman   |  @   |  
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"Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" album coverMore than a year ago, Walt Disney Records released a soundtrack to little fanfare within the general music community, but rightfully deserves some attention. Collect a bunch of famous Disney tunes and gather some jammin’ jazz artists. Spin the two together and your creation is an awesome assortment of standards breathing new energy. Here is my review of Disney Jazz Volume 1: Everybody Wants To Be A Cat.

1. “Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat” by Roy Hargrove: The Grammy-winning trumpeter lends his potent musical skills into mixing up this classic tune from The Aristocats. While the first minute or so of the five-minute cover closely resembles the jazzy piece, he then spins some impressive arrangements. I could imagine listening to this strong instrumentation in a coffeehouse or lounge. Though it steers off in a different direction for much of the entirety, Hargrove returns to the memorable theme toward the end.

2. “Chim Chim Cher-Ee” by Esperanza Spalding: The artist who prevailed over teen sensation Justin Bieber at the 2011 Grammys as the “Best New Artist” adeptly takes control over the Sherman Brothers’ legendary melody. The orchestration possesses a French flair, with some light piano and accordion in the background at different points. Spalding scats with beautiful range in this romantic version that still stirs up a chilling sensation. Guesses are that if Dick Van Dyke has heard Spalding’s take on the piece, he would be pretty proud.

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Blu-ray Review: Toy Story 2
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Vactor   |  
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toy story 2Toy Story 2
Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Directed by John Lasseter
Starring Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 23, 2010

Toy Story 2 had a lot to live up to. The original Toy Story was an instant hit both critically and commercially. It’s success started PIxar down the path of awesomeness that would eventually lead to nine other formidable films that I still cherish. So the question is, how would they follow up such a massive hit? With more of the same, as it turns out.

Where the first film focused on Buzz Lightyear more and was really his story, the sequel gives a similar treatment for our favorite cowboy, Woody. Woody’s friend and owner Andy heads off to cowboy camp leaving his toys to their own devices. Things shift into high gear when an obsessive toy collector named Al McWhiggin (owner of Al’s Toy Barn) kidnaps Woody. At Al’s apartment, Woody discovers that he is a highly valued collectible from a 1950s TV show called Woody’s Roundup, and he meets the other prized toys from that show, Jessie the Cowgirl, Bullseye the Horse, and Stinky Pete the Prospector. Back at the scene of the crime, Buzz Lightyear and the other toys from Andy’s room — Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex, and Hamm — spring into action to rescue their pal from winding up as a museum piece. The toys get into one predicament after another in their daring race to get Woody before Andy returns.

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Blu-ray Review: The Princess and The Frog
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Vactor   |  
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Princess and the Frog blu-rayThe Princess and The Frog
Three Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Directed by Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring Bruno Campos, Jennifer Cody, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis, Jim Cummings
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 16, 2010

With 3D animated films suffocating the market these days, it truly is a breath of fresh air to watch The Princess and The Frog. Walt Disney Studio’s eagerly awaited return to traditional animation is an impressive 2D animated feature for the studio that mastered the art form so many decades ago.

Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), The Princess and the Frog moves the classic fairy tale setting to a stylish version of 1920s New Orleans (finally an American fairy tale!). Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), the first African-American Disney heroine, is not a princess, but a young woman who hopes to fulfill her father’s dream of opening a restaurant to serve food that will bring together people from all walks of life. Tiana may wish upon a star, but she believes that hard work is the way to fulfill your aspirations. Her dedication clashes with the visiting prince Naveen (Bruno Campos). A voodoo spell cast by Dr. Facilier (Keith David) (in a showstopping number by composer Randy Newman) initiates the events that will bring the mismatched hero and heroine together. Tiana finds comfort and support in three supporting characters — Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), a jazz-playing alligator; Ray (Jim Cummings), a Cajun firefly; and the 197-year-old voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis). Spurred on by a little bit of courage and a great big dream, these new friends come to realize what’s truly important in life…love, family, and friendship.

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