Why There Are No Humans In Pixar’s ‘Cars’

We all know that CarsCars 2, and Cars 3 are confusing enough when thinking about how their world works or makes sense compared to ours. But for Pixar Theory fans, we have a lot of great arguments to hang our tin-foil hats on. The following is a transcription of the video you can watch above explaining all of this.

Despite what you may think of them, people love the Cars movies. No, they’re not in love with the stories, characters, or visuals, though some are. They’re just in love with talking about the conceptual implications of an animated movie that raises a ton of questions about its in-universe logic.

The random truth is that dissecting these colorful, magical kids’ movies is actually pretty fun, even for me, someone who was never in love with the Cars movies themselves or all that interested in the question: “did the Cars take over mankind and if they did, how?” I think it’s fairly obvious that the filmmakers at Pixar didn’t have a meta-commentary in mind about A.I. taking over the world through the cars we love or any other idea in that vein…well, maybe they did.

Go on…Why There Are No Humans In Pixar’s ‘Cars’


Breaking Down The First Teaser For Pixar’s ‘Coco’ – The Pixar Detectives

Pixar’s Coco doesn’t come out until November, but the Pixar Detectives are ready to dive right in to the first teaser. We even talk a lot about how it might fit into the Pixar Theory, as well as how the movie differs quite a bit from The Book of Life and Kubo and the Two Strings.

On that note, this week’s giveaway is a copy of The Pixar Theory book, written by Jon Negroni and illustrated by Kayla Savage. We already have a winner,  so be sure to tune in live with us on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific) so you can win next time. Follow the link below or just click the video above. We give away Pixar-related goodies like shirts, books, blu-rays, and tons more. And we’re always open to new suggestions for prizes you all might be interested in!

Hope you enjoy the show, and don’t forget to like Super News on Facebook, so you can check out all kinds of awesome shows and giveaways coming out daily. That includes vide game live streams, other Disney talk shows, superhero news, and plenty more. See you all next week!

Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni

Did Disney Confirm The Pixar Theory? – The Pixar Detectives

As many of you know, I wrote the Pixar Theory several years ago, detailing why I think every Pixar movie might be connected and how they broadly tell an overarching story outside the movies.

A few weeks ago, Disney Pixar shared a video on social media that takes you through a sampling of their Easter eggs in many of their films, and since then, some have called this out as “confirmation” that the theory is totally true…even though that’s clearly not the case.

The video is a lot of fun and definitely celebrates the recent spike in interest over these easter eggs, but there’s no indication made by this video or Disney Pixar that the movies are “connected” or share the same universe. And honestly, it’s a lot more fun that way, in my opinion.

In this week’s episode of Pixar Detectives, Kayla Savage and I dug a bit deeper into this subject, answering a ton of Pixar Theory questions along the way and giving away copies of my book, which expands a great deal on the original blog post from 2013.

Hope you enjoy the show, and don’t forget to like Super News on Facebook to watch our show live, every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific). If you tune in and comment with us live, you might be able to win our weekly giveaway, too!

Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

Review: ‘Allegiant’ Doubles Down On the Worst Aspects of ‘The Divergent Series’

allegiant review

At first glance, Allegiant seems like an attractive step forward for the somewhat stale YA dystopia trope. It eschews the clunky “Part 2” title in favor of a final movie that will receive a new name altogether (Ascendant). And for a book series that has as many structural problems as Divergent, any change to the source material is welcome.

Unfortunately, Allegiant is just a bigger and more chaotic copy of the first two Divergent movies, narrowing in on many of the themes and plot dynamics that have repeated themselves constantly (seriously, how many characters in these movies need to switch sides for no apparent reason just to move the plot forward?)

Now that the factions of Chicago have rid themselves of the malignant Erudite, two sides have risen up to take control: the Allegiant, made up of the people who want to return the city back to five factions; and the factionless, who want to rid the city of this system altogether.

Rather than pay any sort of attention to the obvious war brewing, Tris (played here by a static Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James carrying most of this film’s better moments) gather their friends in order to escape the city in search of the people who put them there in the first place. Eventually, they come across an organization they learn is experimenting on Chicago in order to create a perfect human society. As expected, this comes at a cost that not everyone part of “Team Tris” is on board with.

allegiant review

What kept the first Divergent somewhat breezy and passable was its simplistic plot. You could explain in a few sentences who the main character was and what she wanted. With Allegiant, it’s exhausting trying to understand who any of these characters are, what they actually want, and what needs to be done. This is partly because the movie fails on almost every level when it comes to defining these characters’ motivations.

There is no clear motive behind the conflicts that occur between the various factions ranging from the Allegiant all the way to the Bureau. Exposition is provided of course, but the acting is so stiff and wooden, this dialogue sounds like more white noise piled on all of the nonsense spoken before it. The movie talks at the audience endlessly, but you never get a sense that the these characters are believably communicating with each other.

Four and Peter are notable exceptions, as usual. Their characters seem to have at least some coherent story arc that makes for some interesting drama. Shailene Woodley is mostly pushed to this side this time around, being forced to react tirelessly to the rantings of the Bureau’s leader, David (played by Jeff Daniels).

Some interesting sci-fi elements provide at least a little imagination to this dull, uneventful prologue to the final chapter, but even the production value seems to be slipping from the previous movies. Many of the effects look unfinished, and the attention to detail has never been so obviously lacking. Early on, a character is shot in the head at point blank range. A second later, we see his body dragged with the back of his head in plain view. There’s no indication whatsoever that he was shot.

Odd continuity errors plague Allegiant throughout, and they’re emphasized by an apparent desire to stretch the movie’s running time with pointless, lingering shots of characters either gawking at each other or staring at mundane landscapes. Strange, considering the film feels 30 minutes longer at just a minute past 2 hours.

allegiant review

It’s a shame because there are corners of this series that could allude to some interesting discussions. There’s much to be said about how trying to control the very emotions and genetics of human beings could be manipulated in order to build a peaceful society. But Allegiant lends no moral ambiguity to the villains of this film, instead forcing mindless acts of villainy coupled with repetitive betrayals in order to justify the direction of the plot. As expected, even the younger target audience is a bit too intelligent to get fooled by the artificial recipe of this unimpressive sequel.

Grade: D-

Extra Credits:

  • It’s no secret that I carry a lot of disdain for this franchise, as well as the book trilogy. Still, I can’t believe I expected more from a premise that boils down to someone being too special for a personality test.
  • Not even the camerawork gets a pass. At one point, the camera zooms in on a characters’ face and then abruptly shifts to a medium shot. It’s amateurish to the point of disbelief.
  • Shailene Woodley can, and has, done so much better. Here’s hoping she makes enough money from this franchise so she can go back to films that have craft.
  • Director Robert Schwentke won’t be directing the final Divergent film (he also did Insurgent). I’m glad because after this and R.I.P.D., Schwentke could use another Red.

Review: ‘The Hunger Games — Mockingjay, Part 2’

hunger games mockingjay review

Directed by Francis Lawrence, Mockingjay, Part 2 is the fourth and final installment of the The Hunger Games movie franchise, which kicked off in 2012.

I’ve read all three books by Suzanne Collins, but I happen to prefer the film adaptations made by Lionsgate. I think the books were incredibly flawed, both with tone and how certain plot lines lined up. The movies share some of the problems, but they also fix a lot of issues I had with Mockingjay, which was the third and in my opinion, weakest book.

Of course, this is the second half of a two-parter, and certainly the stronger entry compared to last year’s Mockingjay, Part 1. A lot of the complaints I had for that last movie was how painfully slow it was trying to stretch half of a short book into two hours. But if you stuck with MP1, then you’re going to feel satisfaction after MP2, which is pretty much all action and climax.

A lot of things work in MP2 that have worked throughout all of these movies. The locations are beautiful, the camerawork is nearly flawless, and there are brushes of wow-moments and creativity that set this story apart from other dystopia offerings. At this point, Panem feels like a real place with believable characters, and this movie excels with its incredible supporting cast, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

hunger games mockingjay review

But a major weakness in MP2 happens to be the under-utilization of these side characters, who are quite literally brushed to the side in favor of Katniss and her friends. And while I love what Jennifer Lawerence has done with this character overall throughout the series, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed with her character’s arc, which is really a criticism toward the books.

In MP2, the story is that Katniss is more of a mythical symbol, rather than a dynamic force who can create real change. And the entire movie is her struggle against the leaders of the rebellion that she can do more than just rally the troops with some propaganda videos. But her singular drive to assassinate Snow eventually becomes tiring, especially as her allies drop like flies, perhaps needlessly.

That’s the point, I suppose. And the highest praise I can give MP2 is how brazen it is with its themes, presenting the rebellion as evil and asking real questions about how war can undermine the good intentions behind a movement. You forget quickly that only two movies ago, the Capitol was perceived as an unstoppable force, mercilessly killing any opposition. By the end of MP2, you’ll wonder what it was all for, and that’s an achievement for a movie aimed at the young adult audience.

hunger games mockingly review

Grade: B+

Paired with Part 1, this is a satisfying conclusion in more ways than one, because it manages to elevate was a disappointing book for many fans like myself. The performances are solid, if not a little underused, and not a moment of it is boring.

For a more in-depth look at this movie, come back this Sunday for the Now Conspiring podcast, where we’ll discuss this and other new releases.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Which YA Dystopia Movie Franchise is the WORST?

worst ya movie

This week on the podcast, the Now Conspiring team reviews Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Black Mass. We also play a new game called “Was it a Flop?” and revisit the glory days of Zoey 101.

Plus, we read your comments from last week’s episode and start up this week’s burning discussion.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which book-movie franchise of the young adult dystopia genre is the absolute worst?

Go on…Which YA Dystopia Movie Franchise is the WORST?

First Thoughts: ‘The Jungle Book’ Trailer

jungle book trailer

The Jungle Book is Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of the 1967 animated film of the same name. This, of course, is not a surprise due to the successes of Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent. And with 2015’s live-action Cinderella being such a big hit, remaking the last film Walt Disney ever produced was inevitable.

You may not remember this (I certainly didn’t), but Disney already did a live-action remake for this movie in 1994. It borrowed stories from both The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, and it was actually well-received by both audiences and critics. Yet many people still scolded the film for veering so far away from Kipling’s original stories, not that the animated film did a good job of this.

There was also an animated Jungle Book sequel made by DisneyToon (they make the majority of Disney’s direct-to-video movies) in 2003. I’ve never seen it, and I honestly don’t intend to anytime soon. For context, this is the studio that brought us Planes and Planes: Fire and Rescue.

Oh, and I guess I have to mention that the first Jungle Book movie ever came out in the 1940s, decades before Disney got to work on it. Also, an unrelated movie called Jungle Book: Origins will be coming out in 2017, and it’s being made by Andy Serkis and Warner Bros. We honestly don’t have time to get into that, but I will mention that it has a stellar cast.

jungle book trailer

Now, we have the first teaser trailer for Disney’s next retelling of The Jungle Book, and it provides a lot of information that will intrigue longtime fans of the story. Even if you’re not very interested in the Jungle Book franchise, I think you’ll still find something unique to latch onto as we learn more about this movie. It’s the first Disney remake I’ve come across that seems like it could bring something new to the original story.

Sure, Maleficent and Alice and Wonderland already tried this by extending their stories and putting more emphasis on the villains. And they’re not terrible movies or anything. My only issue with them, honestly, is that they feel like unnecessary accessories to an animated movie that’s already great.

But with The Jungle Book, we have a source material that has so much potential as a live-action movie with updated special effects. It will be a visual spectacle just to see these complex animal characters coming to life on the big screen. And since The Jungle Book hasn’t been retold thousands of times over the years (ahem, Cinderella), this new movie will hopefully feel fresh for many people who see it.

Here’s the trailer below, and I encourage you to watch it at least twice. Afterward, we’ll discuss. 

OK, so to start things off, let’s talk about the cast.

Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man, is helming the film and will probably make a cameo at some point. Mowgli is being played by a newcomer named Neel Sethi, and like the original animated film, he’ll be raised by a family of wolves.

Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) will voice the alpha male, Akela. Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will voice of the mother wolf, Raksha. And the panther, Bagheera, will be voiced by Ben Kingsley (pretty much every movie you’ve ever seen).

Bill Murray is voicing Baloo in this film (yes, that’s the song he’s whistling at the end), and Idris Elba is voicing Shere Khan. When I first heard that Scarlett Johansson would voice the seductively dangerous snake, Kaa, I was less than excited, but she kills it in this trailer as the narrator. And of course, Christopher Walken will be handling the voice of King Louie.

jungle book trailer

I was hoping that this new movie would borrow more from Kipling’s work, and I think this might be the case in some ways. Naturally, Disney is maintaining a lot of what made the original animated film so well-liked, but they seem to be adding some of the darker material that got cut from the original. Pirates of the Caribbean proved that Disney has room for darker and more epic movies, and I hope they apply that here.

So, how is this new film like the old one?

Kaa the snake will apparently be more of a villain who wants to eat Mowgli, at least at first. In the book, she actually saves Mowgli from the Bandar-log after he gets kidnapped, which could also happen here. Pretty much everything related to the Bandar-log and King Louie in this trailer looks more like the animated movie, instead of the book.

Baby Mowgli is found by Bagheera instead of the wolves, just like in the animated movie. And that last scene with Mowgli and Baloo floating down the river is clearly an homage to the 1967 film.

jungle book trailer

But something from the book that appears to be happening in this trailer is Mowgli stealing the “red flower” from the village. He runs across the bridge holding fire, as instructed by King Louie. This could mean that he’s going to fight Shere Khan with the red flower, which is straight out of Compton-er-the book. Toward the end of the trailer, you can see a glimpse of this fight.

It also looks like the film is adding something that neither the book or movie did, which is a fight between Bagheera, Shere Khan, and Baloo. I have absolutely no idea where this is going, so I’m excited to see it go down in the film. It’s the natural progression of the story when you think about it, at least before Mowgli gets his chance to face Shere Khan on his own. Or it could mean that he’s not fighting the tiger alone.

Finally, I want to point out that the look of many of these characters is coming from the book, which is a great thing. This includes Baloo, who is now a brown bear instead of the bluish grey bear from the movie. And Hathi, the old elephant, appears more like the domineering and wise character that the Kipling story portrays. He’s not supposed to be comic relief, like we see in the 1967 film, which I think they added because they already had so many know-it-all animals running around in the script.

jungle book trailer

Like I said before, the movie is so far coming off as darker and more epic than the animated film. That said, some people who’ve seen footage of the movie at D23 claim that it’s actually light-hearted, so this trailer might be a little misleading. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

I don’t know how I feel about this film yet. On the one hand, it’s cool to see that they’re breaking away from the music numbers and treating the source material more seriously. But I’m worried this will take away what people loved about the classic film in the first place. I guess we’ll have to trust that Disney can surprise us once again with something that fits comfortably in the middle.

The Jungle Book opens in theaters, April 2016.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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