A Sunday Morning With Pixar’s Brave

December 3, 2012 at 6:00 am

A Sunday Morning With Pixar's Brave | Brave Review


I love cartoons.  I’ve always been fascinated by the amount of work that goes into an animated film be it CG or hand drawn.  I grew up surrounded by Disney classics like Peter Pan, Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty & The Beast and more.  Then Pixar came along and brought us places we never thought animation could go.  Toy Story inspired me like no other cartoon ever had and the hits kept coming.  One after another, Pixar delivered gorgeous new worlds with loveable characters and a imaginative stories.

Pixar’s tales were full of laughter & emotion.  All from the minds of passionate story tellers and dedicated artists.  I’ve said it many times: I really wish I could draw…

XTRA | Confessions of a Wannabe Animator

I never got around to catching Pixar’s Brave when it was in theaters.  (It didn’t help that I wasn’t really that interested) Still, new cartoons are hard to pass up at home on a relaxing Sunday morning.  So my wife and I rented it and once again, Pixar delivered a remarkable world.  The technological leaps they’ve made over the years is simply astounding.  Merida’s flowing red hair is a perfect example of what the studio is capable of.  Brave is a beautiful movie.

A Sunday Morning With Pixar's Brave | Brave Review

However, I felt the characters and story just didn’t have the same impact.  Perhaps it’s not fair to continuously compare Pixar’s current films with the classics of the past but we’ve come to expect so much from them.  I thought Brave’s story was extremely simple almost to a fault.  It’s understandable that Pixar set out to tell a story about the relationship between a mother and daughter but that’s really where it ends.  There aren’t many surprises to be found.  Merida is upset with her mother, acts out, makes a mistake, fixes her mistake and is no longer upset with her mother.

I also felt the supporting cast lacked a real standout.  The closest thing in Brave is the triplets.  They offer a few laughs here and there but they disappear for chunks of time and really don’t contribute much until the end.

A Sunday Morning With Pixar's Brave | Brave Review

To me, Brave set out to tell a story and succeeded.  (I still think they are geniuses.) It just seemed like they found their story and stopped there.  They didn’t push further nor did they take risks.  Here is the story.  Thanks for your time.

Having said that, I still think Brave is one of the best looking animated films of all time and I adore the setting they chose for the film.  The voice acting is spectacular as always and it is a nice little tale.  It just isn’t the classic I hoped it would be.  Bring on Monsters University.

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A Sunday Morning With Pixar's Brave | Brave Review

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Confessions Of A Wannabe Animator

November 19, 2012 at 6:57 am

Confessions Of A Wannabe Animator | Independent Film Blog

Since Toy Story emerged, I’ve been obsessed with computer graphics, 3D modelling and animation.  I’ve always envied the remarkable artists and animators that bring these creations to life.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m jealous of anyone who can sit in front of a blank screen and create an awe inspiring image.  I wish I could turn on programs like Cinema 4D, 3Ds Max or Blender and make a movie.

XTRA | Storyboarding when you can’t draw…

In the old days, there were programs like Microsoft’s 3D Movie Maker that really ate up a ton of my spare time.  I would have given anything for the skill set needed to pull of incredible animations.

At one point, I got my hands on a digital lathe and created some pretty fantastic table legs but that doesn’t count!  Even landscaping or interior design software interested me.  I would use them to plan out locations for movies I never even intended to write.  Sadly, I can’t draw and I don’t understand all the complexities of computer generated images.  I think that’s why Photoshop became an obsession.  It’s the only software that gives me the tools to create images I can be proud of.  I’ll never be able to create new character models or paint mattes but I’ve become pretty good at manipulating existing images.

I’m no artist but it helps fill the void.

I think I just love the idea of mastering a piece of software and creating my own cartoon or elements to blend into live action shots.  Take Killer Bean for example.  It took creator Jeff Lew nearly 3 years to complete.  His last film was a tiny project called Transformers: Dark of the Moon!!!

Movies like ‘In the Rough’ by Blur Studios have always inspired me.  It’s just fascinating to think about how much effort and dedication is poured into every frame.

XTRA | 10 Flicks: Short Films That Inspired Me

Since Toy Story, Pixar has absolutely dominated the feature length animated world.  With each film they push the boundaries of what computer animated films are capable of.  I think what interests me about the entire industry is how it allows for so many unique and creative opportunities that 2D animation couldn’t provide.

Confessions Of A Wannabe Animator | Independent Film Blog

However, that doesn’t mean that 2D animation has been forgotten by this wannabe animator.  I still grew up creating stick figure cartoons and watching all the ‘making of’ documentaries I could find on VHS.  I was particularly fond of the Disney docs where you could get a glimpse at an animator at work.  Watching them flip through those pages as they illustrated a new frame was awesome.  I’d get that amazing ‘pit of your stomach’ feeling where you simply HAVE to do something creative.

XTRA | All Time Best: Pixar Character

Somewhere in my parents home is a box full of old VHS tapes that are full of classic cartoons.  It’s a box I’ll never allow to be thrown away.  The ‘Pixar’ generation of children have grown up along side movies like Finding Nemo, Shrek, Up, Madagascar, Ice Age, Despicable Me & The Incredibles.  I’m sure parents will also show their kids movies like The Lion King, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Beauty & The Beast, The Secret of Nimh, Alladin, An American Tale, Cinderella, The Last Unicorn, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Land Before Time, Pinocchio as well.

Beloved cartoons become family members.  They are the traditions we remember growing up and the traditions we pass along to future generations.  I consider it a privilege to have witnessed animation evolve over the years but I plan to show my children even more than the usual suspects.  I want them to experience the entire history of animated films.  Remember Silly Symphony?

Animated movies have inspired so many people around the world.  It’s an art form that has evolved so much but through the years, it has always been about telling great stories.  I love to write screenplays and short stories.  It’s always been my passion.  I’ll never be an accomplished animator but someday, I hope to realize my dream of producing my own animated film.

I don’t know when that day will come but until then, I’m happy to go back and watch some of my favorites and experiencing new films along the way.  What truly makes me envy animators is the notion that somewhere there is a single artist working on a passion project.

Wherever you are, I’m extremely jealous of your talents… And I can’t wait to see it when you’re done!

PS: I’ve been messing around with Blender 3D lately and I don’t have a clue what’s going on.  It helped me create The Athletic Nerd graphic above but that took me about 2 hours to create.  I’ve got a long way to go.

Disney & Star Wars: 5 Things I Love & A Couple Things I Don’t

November 12, 2012 at 7:53 am

Disney & Star Wars: 5 Things I Love & A Couple Things I Don't | Star Wars Episode VII

Weeks later, I’m still blown away that there is a new Star Wars movie on the way.  Just about every day since Disney announced the purchase of LucasFilm there has been new rumors and news.  Movie fans around the world are speculating on plot, directors, writers and more. We got one answer late last week as screenwriter Michael Arndt has been confirmed to pen the script.  Still, there are plenty of major questions out there to ponder.

XTRA | Star Wars Episode VII Story Round Up

What will Disney do with the Star Wars Universe?  How will they expand on such a massively popular property?

I’m obviously a fan of the deal so I thought I’d share the 5 things that excite me the most and a few things that bug me.



I’ve never been to Disney World or any other Disney theme park for that matter.  I hope to change that someday but even now, I have no plans to make my way down to Florida.  However, a huge Star Wars theme park might speed plans up a bit.  I think this one is a no brainer.  At some point, Disney is bound to announce a massive park full of Star Wars themed attractions.


The long rumored Star Wars live action TV show was recently put on hold.  Perhaps due to the impending purchase?  The thought of a prime time Star Wars drama on ABC is pretty exciting even if it is unlikely.  Forgive the pun but there is definitely a new hope for the TV series.


It’s only been a short time but I’m already devouring every single Star Wars article I see throughout my travels on the web.  We are talking about a new Star Wars movie!  Every tidbit of news will be covered on every major movie news site followed by endless analysis and speculation.  It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan.  Two weeks ago, the thought of a new movie was only a dream.

Following this move’s development is going to be so much fun.


I’m shocked that Pixar hasn’t tackled a Marvel movie since Disney purchased the Superhero stable a few years ago.  Pixar + Marvel is a match made in heaven.  But a Pixar/Star Wars movie would be absolutely insane.  Could it happen?  Probably not in the next few years but you never know.  I’d love to see what those geniuses come up if they were given the keys to the Death Star.


A new Star Wars movie is one thing but a movie directed by someone other than George Lucas is intriguing to say the least.  A new filmmaker will soon be hired and I can’t imagine the pressure.  Somewhere there is a confident filmmaker who will breath new life into one of the most successful franchises of all time.

That’s a lot to take on.  However, the direction they take the series is the single most fascinating element of the big announcement.  What will happen next? Will the original stars return?  Luke, Leia & Han have already said they are open to returning.  What will  Episode 7 add to the Star Wars legacy?

I’m so excited I can’t stand it…

Disney & Star Wars: 5 Things I Love & A Couple Things I Don't | Star Wars Episode VII


Don’t go crazy…

Too much too soon is a mistake.  I just described Theme Parks, Pixar Movies, Sequels and more but I’m also hoping Disney paces itself.  We don’t want Star Wars overload after all these years.

Empire Strikes Back is (arguably) the best for a reason. Let’s get back to that.

I’m a fan of the prequel trilogy to an extent.  I loved Episode 1, tolerated 2 and enjoyed 3.  The biggest complaint I had about the newest films was tone.  They were bright and colorful and featured characters like Jar Jar Binks.  Episode 3 took us to a darker place but it was a little late and didn’t have the same impact of Empire.

When I talk about the excitement surrounding a new director coming on board, I sincerely hope their favorite is Empire Strikes Back.  Whatever direction they decide, I can’t wait to see it.

Develop the movie and THEN discuss the toys please…

I understand that Disney is going to capitalize on the Star Wars toy market.  It was probably one of the main reasons why the purchase was considered in the first place.  A new movie will mean billions of merchandise sold around the world.  The toy tie ins will have to be discussed but I really hope they don’t impact the direction they take the franchise.

I just want the new movie to be good.  That’s all I ask.

2010’s All Time Top 5 Movies

December 31, 2010 at 11:32 am

2010's All Time Top 5 Movies The Athletic Nerd Movie Reviews 2010

Last year, Paranormal Activity won the honor of 2009’s best movie because it stuck with me the longest.

Could Paranormal Activity 2 make an appearance this year?  Nope.  It was definitely a worthy sequel though.

It’s important to note that I’ve missed a lot of notable films that may or may not have cracked 2010’s top 5.

127 Hours, The King’s Speech, True Grit, Let Me In to name a few.

Regardless, I have to go with what I’ve seen and I’m pretty happy about my list.

The Athletic Nerd’s All Time Top 5 Movies of 2010

5. The Fighter

Review: I Showed Up 12 Minutes Late For The Fighter

This film bumped the excellent Monsters from the top 5 right at the last minute.  I loved both films equally but Christian Bale’s amazing performance was unforgettable.

4. Toy Story 3

Review: Toy Story 3 & The Crazy Laughers

What can you say about Pixar? Every year they deliver something new and wonderful.  I love that franchise and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the trilogy.  The last 10 minutes alone almost had me in tears. (Much like Ninja Turtles did back in the day.  What is it with me and toys?)

XTRA: Yeah… But It’s Pixar!

3. The Social Network

Review: Nerds & The Social Network

Everyone thought this movie would fail when it was first announced.  How good can a ‘Facebook’ movie possibly be?  I didn’t think it would be very good.  Now it’s one of my favorites and a serious Oscar contender.

XTRA: 10 Flicks: Movies With Smart Characters

2. The Town

Review: The Town Has It All

Underestimating The Social Network was a big mistake.  I’m happy to say it was a mistake I did not repeat with The Town.  I knew it was going to be fantastic.  Every trailer I saw kept bumping it up my list of must see movies.  It delivered one of the best heist movies I’ve ever seen.  I loved The Town.

XTRA: 2010 All Time Best Movie Moment

1. Inception

Review: Inception Ignites An Idea

Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece will be dissected and studied forever.  Hopefully, it has changed the summer blockbuster for the better and more intelligent and action packed films are coming our way.  From the minute I heard about this film I was fascinated.  How could a film build up so much hype and deliver?  That’s why Nolan is a genius and my favorite filmmaker. Inception is a remarkable achievement.

XTRA: Movie Hype: The Legend Of Inception


Toy Story 3 & The Crazy Laughers

July 5, 2010 at 9:47 am


The Athletic Nerd Movie Reviews

Toy Story 3 will remind you of what it was like to be a kid.  Apparently the two guys sitting behind us forgot to grow up.

Let me get the obvious out of the way early:

Toy Story 3 was a perfect end to an incredible trilogy of movies.

Toy Story 3 Review

I love, LOVE Toy Story and I couldn’t have been happier with the third installment.  It was just as funny and entertaining as I had hoped it would be.  It’s the high quality storytelling you would expect from those crazy geniuses at Pixar.

Yet something else was entertaining me during the 9:30 PM screening last night.

Crazy Laughers!

We’ve all heard them before.  People in the movies who laugh so loud and so awkwardly that you swear they have to be drunk or truly oblivious to how loud they are.

Ahem…  If you have a loud laugh and genuinely know it I’m completely cool with you.  It’s who you are.  There’s nothing wrong with your crazy laugh.


Dear jerks sitting behind me…

There is no way those loud obnoxious laughs were legit.  I can’t imagine a scenario where you found Toy Story 3 THAT funny.  Granted, the film is hilarious. (The pita bit was quite funny.)  But really?  REALLY?

Let me set the scene.

These two guys are about 20 years old and are attending a late show of Toy Story 3 on a Saturday night.  First of all, I will applaud their taste in movies.

The film begins.  Everyone is excited to learn the fates of their favorite Toys.

The movie begins with an entertaining chase complete with explosions and runaway trains.  These two idiots nearly ruptured organs they were laughing so hard it.  At this point, I looked at my big sister and said the same thing everyone else in the theater was thinking…

“Am I missing something?”

We were all watching the same movie and they were the only two erupting with laughter.  Had to be fake.  Which makes them jerks.

Toy Story 3 Review

Here is my Theory

I really thought that these two guys were in it to ruin the movie for everyone else just for kicks on a Saturday night.  Honestly, if that’s the case, I have zero respect for them.  It’s not like they were going to party afterwards.  It was a late show.  There is no way they would put off a glorious house party or a night out to catch Toy Story in 3D.

Even if they did you would assume they were mature enough to laugh normally.  There are kids in the audience guys…

No…  Here is what I think really happened…

I like to think that they got to the party early and got kicked out for spilling rye on the carpet and whipping Wii remotes into picture frames.

“What should we do now?”

“I don’t know…  I’m good with anything.”

“Want to go see Toy Story 3 again?”

“That’s what I was going to suggest!”

“We should laugh super loud throughout this time.”

“Perfect!  That way everyone will realize we are in the theater and pay attention to us!”

Then they high five each other and head to the theater.

Actually, maybe they were drunk and that’s why they laughed so loud…

I haven’t decided yet.

All I know is even though things got progressively worse as they movie went on but they didn’t ruin it for me.

Toy Story 3 was an amazing movie and I highly recommend it to anyone (legit loud laughers included) looking to enjoy a brilliant animated film.

Sorry guys, the movie was too good.  You both failed.

Better luck next weekend.