Film Review: Toy Story 4, the “worst” of the bunch

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Until Friday, I firmly put Toy Story as a top 5 trilogy.  As you sit and stare at that last statement in mild shock while trying to process if this is a valid point, I’ll make it easy for you.  Top 5 trilogies (meaning ALL THREE are nothing below fantastic) are:

  1. Star Wars
  2. Dark Knight.  Yes, some of you may not have liked DKR as much but it’s good enough.
  3. Indiana Jones (no one counts the 4th, just like no one counts Godfather 3 as a film.)
  4. Toy Story
  5. Back to the Future. BTTF3 isn’t as bad as some make it out to be and can we please get over the flying train?  He made a Delorean go back in time as well as fly, why the hell can’t he get a train?  Some of you will want to argue LOTR but that 2nd film was just 3 plus hours of WALKING.

Toy Story 1-3 are so goddamn good, I can’t even pick out an order how good they are.  Gun to my head, I pick 3, 1, 2.  3 is first only because it got such a reaction out of the audience and it has to be one of the best finales to a series.  I teared up like I was 6 years old (or even at my current age) again, watching ET and bawling when the flowers die or when ET goes home.  What about Kevin Costner having a catch with his dad in Field of Dreams?  Or when Arnold drops into the molten steel in Terminator 2.  Don’t you dare posture and say that didn’t get you.  Hell, even Rocky 2 gets me when he yells, “Yo Adrian, I did it.”

Toy Story 3 PERFECTLY wrapped everything up with people saying, “there’s no better way to close this out and I hope they don’t reopen the franchise and taint the series.  So imagine my tepid dismay as well as mild happiness when they announce that Buzz, Woody, Ham, the Potato Heads, and the rest of the gang would be returning this summer.  The preview wasn’t really grabbing me but in Pixar, not God, I trust.

We open with Bonnie playing with most of her toys, except Woody, before her first day in kindergarten.  Woody wants to make sure everything goes right (and also to maybe get some one on one play time) and shanghais a ride in her backpack.  He witnesses Bonnie getting her arts and crafts on where out of a few pipe cleaners and googly eyes, a new friend is born.  Forky is just what he sounds like and Bonnie loves him.  But Forky wants to be in the trash more than Bonnie’s toy and Woody tries to convince him that a toy is the life to lead.

Bonnie’s parents declare that it’s the time for a road trip in an RV, which sounds more like something outlawed in the Geneva convention than a vacation.  Camping, vacation for poor people.  Bonnie grabs all of her toys and away we go.  However, Forky feels there’s no better time to do his best Johnny Knoxville impression and jump out of moving RV.  Woody plays the role of Bam Margera and follows suit because he wants to get him back to Bonnie.  Buzz and the other toys run interference while Woody runs his mission.

Woody and Forky reunite with Bo Peep, who hasn’t lost her sheep but has a few new uninteresting friends tagging along with her.  They run into Gabby Gabby, voiced by Christina Hendricks, who runs the roost at a local antiques store.  GG turns out to be quite the naughty girl, as she wants Woody’s voice box as hers was faulty.  Hence why she’s never been selected by a child.  <insert easy boob joke here> But if Gabby had Christina’s cup size, even I would’ve pocketed my masculinity and bought that doll.

Some of the new characters are fun, especially Bunny and Ducky, voice by Key and Peele.     They TRULY steal the show.  Some of the new characters don’t hit the mark, like Bonnie’s originally owned toys and Giggle McDimples.  I wasn’t as crazy as Duke Kaboom, a Canadian motorcycle stunt rider, voiced by Keanu Reeves.  One of the problems with this is that the new film screwed with the perfect formula by the other films, not enough integration with the original characters.  And the biggest crime is a major lack of Buzz Lightyear.  The dynamic duo of Buzz and Woody is sorely missed and rumor has it that the reason for the reduced role of Buzz is because of Tim Allen’s politics.  IF that is the case, that’s truly sad that people can’t look beyond their opinions.  IF it’s because Tim Allen is a raging asshole, well then shame on him.

But to be perfectly frank with you, I didn’t have the same emotions with this one as I have with the previous 3.  There weren’t as many LOL moments.  I read that while Allen and Hanks broke down reading the last scene.  And I was all prepared to lose my shit again at the end of this film like I did with 3.  The problem of course, is facing a bar that’s set INSANELY high.  But although the ending does make that emotional turn, it didn’t grab me.  I was fine with it but it didn’t hit me near as hard as I expected.  Is this a good film?  Yes.  Do I hope they  they end this series to as not to tarnish its near pristine reputation?  Desperately.  You’ll like this, just not NEAR as much as the others.

I give it a 7 out of 10.  And stay for the credits, there are a few scenes worth checking out.

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Review of Star Wars: Rogue One (No spoilers)

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As I have said before, I like to see the schedule of films coming out and I’ll circle the ones I highly anticipate.  Usually, there about 4 per year that I get excited for and this was one of them.  However, being that Rogue 1 isn’t part of the original story, I was a little less excited for this as I was for Episode 7 last year.  Spinoff of the original tend to suck (Scorpion King, This is 40, X-Men Wolverine films are awful, and those god awful American Pie straight to DVD films) so I was slightly hesitant.  I also read that this is the first Star Wars film that John Williams wasn’t doing the score for.  John Williams is as integral to these films (Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jaws, the list goes on) as pepperoni is to pizza.

The story takes place after Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith, when Hayden Christiansen thankfully slides into the lava after Obi-Wan slices his legs off.  I wish Obi-Wan used the force to give Hayden better acting lessons.  Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, whose father (Madds Mikelsen) was the architect behind the Death Star.  Young Jyn is hidden for years by Saw Gerrara (Forrest Whittaker) as the Imperials have been looking for her to ensure her father’s cooperation in the completion of the Death Star.  Jyn is freed by the Rebellion and thus begins her mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The new characters are instantly likable and you feel something for them all.  K2SO is the robot who embraces the newest comedic role. You’ll see a bunch of familiar faces from previous films, even some restored by CGI as their younger selves from Star Wars.  Some characters may take you a second to recall but when you do, a smile will cross your face.  And of course, Darth Vader makes several appearances in the film.  And without spoiling anything, his final scene is bad-assery at its finest. One of my complaints are they take you to several planets/moons all over the galaxy but you won’t need to remember them later on. I wish they showed you the Emperor in some capacity but no luck.  This film flows beautifully while weaving a fantastic tale.  It’s almost sad as we know the fate for most of these characters being that we’ve seen the 7 previous films.  Director Gareth Edwards ensures it ends with a flawless segue for Star Wars, Episode 4.

People ask me how I rank this amongst the other films but I really need to see this again to take it in.  I’m still processing everything but rest assured, it’s damn good.  If I were to give an early ranking, I put it after Empire and before 7.  Here’s the way I rank them as of now.  4, 6, 5, 3.5, 7, 3 (really good, people just hate the shit out of the 2nd trilogy), 2 (the last 1/3 is really good), 1 (an egregious piece of shit).