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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Movie Review of Toy Story 3 by Robert Steven Mack

Ever since their first film Toy Story was released in 1997, Pixar Animation Studios has given us nonstop movie fun by releasing some of Hollywood's most treasured films. These include hits like Cars, Monsters Inc., Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Wall-E, Up, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life and others have intrigued us, enchanted us, bewildered us and have become a part of our lives. Pixar’s Toy Story has been selected into the National Film Registry as being culturally, historically, and esthetically significant.

Pixar was actually founded in 1979 and would be working with Lucas film and other companies that would need their services and their know-how in computer graphics. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan is yet another early work that did not make Pixar any more famous than it was before. However, about 15 years later, when working with Disney - who would buy the studio in 2006 - on a three-part movie deal, Pixar would release a picture that would make the growing company world-wide famous: Toy Story, the first film ever to be animated entirely by computers!

Since then, Pixar sprouted out movies like Old Faithful sprouts out water when the hourly alarm clock goes off. Disney came out of its unbearable 90's slump; and as the movie itself, it has received uninmaginable, critical acclaim. They subsequently sported a sequel, Theme park attractions, unstoppable press and commercial exploits. There even was a spin-off television series about Buzz Light-Years. Yet for eleven long, hard, miserably cold years -if you'll please excuse my overly exaggerated exasperation- we have waited in suspense for a third installment in the saga of toys.

Luckily, our waiting has not been in vain for it is finally hear: Toy Story 3! Taking place congruently with Andy now 17 years of age and ready for college, he never plays with toys any more. What makes matters worse is that his toys not only feel rejected but fear that they will be thrown away when the Big Day finally dawns; despite Woody's attempts to cheer them up. Indeed, Andy intended to put them in the attic and take Woody to college him, but an apparent mix-up make them all end up at "Sunny Side Day Care". Well, with a handsome, suave, pretty-boy sweeping Barbie off her delicate feet, toddlers transform the toys into anything: drum sticks turn to paint brushes or all flavored lollipop, a teddy bear, whose heart was broken, is practically shattered to pieces when a young girl named Daisy “repairs” him after she misplaced him. She then glued him back together with the wrong sort of glue. After dark, the place transforms into a gruesome concentration camp.

The toys only chance is to escape to freedom. But how? Through laughs, bangs and edge- of-the seat suspense and drama to the final scene so perfectly done that the moment will bring tears to your eyes! One of Pixar's redeeming qualities is spoofing well known classic movies. It is done here again. In fact, it is so well done that I believe even Mel Brooks would have applauded…hmm…”would you believe” Buck Henry, Don Adams? Well how about Joey, your next-door neighbor? Sorry about that Mel! These exquisite spoof moments run the gamut of films such as The Great Escape to classic western clich├ęs, from Science fiction classics - a brief moments of Star Trek fun/StarWars! - to the wacky 70's/80's teen comedy's. So many more moments where bits and pieces of classic movie making brought to us in a fresh, new, exciting way. Although it is most probable that there will be a fourth installment, it was said in an interview that there are no current plans for it. If there is a fourth film it is likely to either feature a prequel story, i.e. an adventure either before this trilogy or one preceding the events in Toy Story 3, a continuation of the original trilogy - example: Andy comes home or has a son, or the return of Bo Peep whose absence in this film was never clearly explained -, or a sequel trilogy where they have an adventure with the complete absence of Andy!

Whatever happens, we will be waiting! Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Crusack, Don Deckles, and many others, Toy Story 3 makes you laugh, cry, root for the good guys and ponder the bad guys, in this classic coming of age story.

Robert Steven Mack's movie rating: 100/100

Copyright 2010 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Robert Steven Mack's Book Review of the Week: Project-00 by Dow Kump

Fame and Fortune – so they say – go hand in hand. Still talent and a good script, albeit necessary, are not sufficient ingredients for making a bestseller. Publicity and marketing are essential tools to “spread the word.” Project-00 by Dow Kump is an example of a great story with insufficient publicity. I was lucky enough to fetch one of the few copies in circulation…

It was Saturday when I decided to go to the weekly Library book sale and find some good deals to spend my three dollars with. I bought a total of three books and three movies for 50 cents each, and all of them were extremely good deals. One of the books I acquired was Project-00 by Dow Kump (www.dowkump.com). Although the story is not unusual and there have been hundreds similar to this story, Project-00 is an exciting, absorbing page-turner. The story is about an intelligent 13-year-old boy who goes on a quest to save the family business in a most unusual manner. Through his adventures, the young man learns the meaning of honesty, loyalty, and the power of keeping your promise. In the end he is forced to choose between is own personal happiness or the endangered lives of others.

It is a shame that this book has not been better well known for it is excellent. In fact, it seems that this book had been out of print for some time, and hence I was lucky to acquire it for a few dimes. What was even more amazing is that I found some writing on the front pages of the book. It said "To J. T. R…, follow your dreams!'' and was signed by the author. What treasure! The book was published by Endeavor Publishing Huntington Beach, California. This serves as further evidence that this book was probably written by a local author without a powerful publicity apparatus behind him.

You can tell that the author Dow Kump enjoyed writing this book from the way in which his vivid imagination carried the story in the most delightful way. As the author enjoyed writing it, I am sure that if only it were in stores and if only it had had the proper publicity others would have enjoyed it too!

Copyright 2010 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)