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The Pixar Theory Timeline

Pixar Theory TimelineSince the initial release of The Pixar Theory, there have been countless changes and updates to the Pixar Theory timeline. Since it can get a little complicated (and nutty), I put together a new and improved outline that follows the book and includes all of the recent and upcoming Pixar movies. Enjoy!

Go on…The Pixar Theory Timeline

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Review: ‘The Purge’

The makers behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious really understand how to make horror movies, at least financially.

After all, the return on investment for their films is astonishing.

Recall that Paranormal Activity only cost $15,000 to make and brought in almost $200 million. Every sequel since has replicated this, albeit with higher budgets.

This weekend, The Purge, debuted at #1 in the box office, already making its entire budget in the first weekend. In a decade when horror movies aren’t exactly a safe bet for investors, Jason Blum has managed to change that with his high-concept horror movies that seem to really bring in audiences.

So, is The Purge worth watching? You’ve probably heard some bad buzz. It has been panned by critics who were disappointed at the misuse of the film’s interesting concept of what would happen if crime was legal for 12 hours.

Casual film goers have been giving mixed to bad reviews, proving that this isn’t just a critical dismissal.

The problem with The Purge is two-fold for me. The biggest issue is how limited they were with the premise. Here you have this wonderfully original backdrop for a great commentary on laws, utilitarianism, and the actual effects of unrestricted humanity.

The movie does little to address the interesting themes surrounding man’s depravity and our ill attempts at restraining it.

The second issue I had, and many casual viewers had, was the “in-your-face” subtext that sent a clearer message than I think they attempted. They basically could have called it, “This is What Would Happen If the Tea Party Won” and “Class Warfare 101.”

You see, the orchestrators behind this ridiculous “Purge” law are a political party that is eerily alludes to the conservative “Tea Party.” I don’t really have a problem with this concept, except that it is handled so terribly and offensively.

The real message behind this law, if you really think about it, is that the best way to handle the poor is to let criminals wipe them out once a year (hence it is called the “Purge”).

After all, the only people who are safe from the “Purge” are the rich, and the villains of the movie are clearly upper-class maniacs who are letting their true nature shine once a year.

It’s just so obvious and obtuse. Class warfare commentary was already really old when In Time came out. The whole Robin Hood thing is just getting preachy at this point, and this is coming from someone who is far from rich.

So, no I don’t think this movie is very special. It doesn’t have an interesting horror story behind it that you haven’t seen before, and the exhausting subtext does nothing to alleviate that.

There is already a sequel in the works, and I actually look forward to seeing if they can get it right the second time, but for now, this is a “nothing else to watch” rental.

 

Review: ‘Arrested Development,’ Season 4

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I’ll be doing two separate reviews of the new season, starting with a review of the season premiere, “Flight of the Phoenix.”

So, is it worth watching?

The answer to that question actually has very little to do with the actual episode. It really depends on the viewer, of which there are two main types:

The longtime fans: these are the ones that have been through it all. They know all of the inside jokes, have obsessed over the show for years, and are to this day still mad about the show’s “abrupt cancellation” (as the new episode describes it).

A lot of these longtime fans seemed to really dislike “Flight of the Phoenix,” and the entire 4th season in general. I had one friend who referred to the whole thing as garbage. Other longtime fans said that the new episodes just weren’t as good, and they were disappointed.

I’m only speculating, but I believe this has more to do with them than the actual quality of the new season. For the past seven years, Arrested Development has evolved from being a hidden gem to a mainstream meme. I think this has led to fatigue.

A lot of people who have stuck with the show from the beginning have been expecting the worst because they are honestly sick of the show’s rise to popularity that made this new season happen in the first place. I had one friend even admit that his disdain of the new season comes from the fact that this new season was made for the new fans of the show (hence, it’s on Netflix), ignoring the longtime fans who discovered the show in the first place.

Some longtime fans have been a little more forgiving, claiming that the new season, while not as good as the previous, is okay. They were a little more apprehensive going into the new season, but they still gave it a chance.

Which leads me to,

The newer fans: I’m one of these. See, the show came out when I was in high school, so I was too young to know what it is or appreciate it. I was more into Scrubs and Family Guy, to be honest.

Like many people, I didn’t discover the show until much later after the series finale. In 2010, one of my friends let me borrow the first two seasons, insisting that this was “the best show ever.” I was immediately hooked and have been watching the series on repeat via Netflix ever since.

When I first heard about the new season, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to see more of the Bluth gang, so I was pretty confused when a lot of other people were acting like they just found out they have a cavity.

The longtime fans, and even some of the newer fans, were being incredibly pessimistic about the new season, and I think it’s because to them, this show represents more than entertainment. They feel like they have a certain ownership over the show, being the early adopters, and us newer fans sort of swooped in.

I get that to a point, but I feel bad for those who went into the 4th season with such abysmal expectations, because I thoroughly enjoyed “Flight of the Phoenix.”

It was different, for sure, and the timeline of the story was a little difficult to follow at times. But it delivered. Everything I love about the show is still here: the clever writing, easter eggs, perfect delivery, and hilarious story were all present and accounted for.

I was especially surprised by how well the characters fit back into their previous roles. The first episode focused primarily on Michael, and what he’s been up to since the end of Season 3. It was depressing at times, but still lighthearted. The chemistry between the characters has always been the show’s strong point, and I saw that on full display.

Speaking of which, most of the cast showed up in the premiere, including the Bluth parents, Buster, Gob, George Michael, Maeby, and even Barry. But I was glad that they decided to gently bring back Tobias and Lindsey, who are apparently showing up in the second episode. Seriously, Tobias should just have his own show already.

The cameos were amazing, save for Seth Rogen trying to portray  a young George Sr. That just didn’t work, especially when you have Kristen Wiig flawlessly capturing young Lucille. The Workaholics gang was even there, too, which was hysterical.

Is the new season worth watching? Absolutely. It has everything that made fans like me fall in love with it in the first place, and it is still ahead of its time 10 years after the pilot.

If you’re on the fence about diving into the new season, I definitely recommend you give it a chance. Worst-case scenario, you will have made a huge mistake. 

 

Retronalysis: Can We Reboot “The Last Airbender” Already?

2 years ago, we were handed one of the worst movies of all time that was depicting one of the greatest animated series of all time. Our feelings were hurt when The Last Airbender (TLA) failed to capture the greatness of Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA).

With the rising popularity and success of the animated series’ successor, The Legend of Korra, it’s high-time that Hollywood try again with the Avatar series while the timing is still good.

By the way, I spent a lot of time talking about social media last week, so expect this week to be a little more entertainment-heavy.

Now, let’s get some basic points out of the way. ATLA is my favorite animated series of all time. Debuting in 2005, this show had everything I could possibly want in a sprawling epic.

Amazing animation (it is an American cartoon animated in South Korea), deep and interesting lore, a high-stakes storyline (making it accessible for an older audience), some of the most memorable characters on television, and even humor.

So, making a movie out of this show should have been a cinch. As we understand it, the show’s studio gave Hollywood a lot of freedom with the story, over $150 million was put into its production, and the show lends itself very nicely to a trilogy since it was made with three seasons.

The movie even had M. Night Shyamalan directing it.

Well, okay, all of these things ended up being a negative. Hollywood ruined the story because they had too much freedom, they spent way too much money on the wrong things, making three movies meant changing the length of the story to keep up with aging actors, and M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed it.

If you haven’t seen the movie or know what I’m talking about, watch these videos that recap everything wrong with the movie pretty perfectly (SPOILERS from here on out).

The question being asked by some is whether or not Shyamalan will follow-up this disaster of a movie with a sequel the movie begged.

Obviously, no one outright wants it, but the movie did manage make $300 million worldwide. So, the movie does make sense financially, if not critically.

Still, that’s no guarantee the sequel will manage to pull off the same magic, especially if none of the first movie’s mistakes are corrected.

That said, I have two possible solutions that would please everyone.

We should either reboot the first movie or go the way of The Incredible Hulk (Most people did not like Ang lee’s Hulk that came out in 2003, so 2008’s The Incredible Hulk served as an unofficial sequel to the 2003 film).

A reboot is the nice solution, because it would take less effort to rework the movie’s mistakes.

Here’s my wish-list for a reboot:

1. Change the writers. The animated series had different writers for almost all of their episodes. Tapping into their talent for a movie just makes sense, especially since they’re the biggest reason (along with the creators) why the series was successful.

2. Pronounce the names correctly. Shyamalan decided that the names in the show were not pronounced correctly in Asian. That was misguided, considering the show takes place in an alternate world influenced by Asian themes, not Asia. Changing the pronunciation did nothing but annoy all of the show’s fans.

3. Change the casting strategy. In the movie, the Fire Nation was depicted by Indians, the Water Tribe was caucasian, the Earth Kingdom was chinese, and the Air Nomads were diverse. This doesn’t make sense alongside the show at all.

The Fire Nation was clearly influenced by the Japanese, which we see in their culture, architecture, and how we find out later on that “firebending” originated with dragons. So, why not carry that over to the movie? Also, a Japanese actor playing Zuko would be way more interesting.

The Earth Kingdom makes way more sense as the “diverse” nation because they are largest. Even the show implies this, since Zuko and Iroh were able to pass as Earth Kingdom refugees in season 2, and many of the characters in this part of the world look very different from each other.

The Water Tribe is composed of two separate tribes, the North and South Pole. You can get away with having Europeans depict the North Pole, but Katarra and Sokka should just be darker skinned like they are in the show to please the fans. A “white” Katarra is just too much of a change, and our pop culture could really use more diversity anyways.

Also, Dev Patel would’ve made a far better Sokka than Jason Rathbone. Sokka is humorous and very animated. Patel’s “Anwar” in Skins was one of the most animated characters in that show, so why not give him a character with more to do?

Finally, the Air Nomads should be Chinese for the same reason that the Fire Nation should be Japanese. They clearly represent Tibetan monks, and we’d have an easier time casting a child actor for Aang who can handle all of the physical stunts throughout the trilogy.

4. Rework the plot. The first season of Avatar is the most challenging to compress into one movie because almost every episode is “standalone.” It’s basically about a group of friends travelling the world having various adventures.

That said, the movie left a lot of really critical characters out, including the Kyoshi Warriors and King Bumi, who play major roles in the other seasons. 

Here’s how I would break it down: The first act would focus on Aang, Sokka, and Katarra. We needed that more in TLA, which glossed over major character development points.

The second act should introduce us to the Kyoshi Warriors and King Bumi, who could be Aang’s method of receiving his world-saving mission from Roku. This could all culminate with Book 1’s most important episode, The Blue Spirit, which teaches us a lot more about Zuko.

Finally the third act would focus on the North Pole, giving us more time to commit to Yue’s character, Aang’s confrontation with Koh, the fight between Zuko, Katarra, and Zhao, and Aang’s epic fight against the entire Fire Nation navy.

5. Make the movie longer. Yes, this is a kid’s movie, but that didn’t stop us from letting Harry Potter have at least 2 hours, and there’s really no other way to tell the show’s story.

I’d go on, but you get the point. A reboot would be a much-needed, major overhaul of the 2011 iteration.

As I said before, we could also just skip the reboot and do the sequel as an unofficial follow-up to the reboot I just described. After all, season 2 of the show was far more like a serialized saga with major set pieces, making a movie easier to create.

Or we could leave ATLA alone and just skip to a prequel for Legend of Korra. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a young version of Korra mastering water, earth, and fire?

 

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