Incredibles 2 & the Success of Animated Movie Sequels

Sequels are big deals for today’s audiences. We’re willing to watch 19 ( soon 20) films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ve got DC and their endless versions of Batman, an evolving Star Wars franchise, Star Trek reboots, and sequels to things we never asked for, like Hot Tub Time Machine 2. It’s clear we crave sequels  — and it is Big Business.

But do animated movies deserve the same treatment? Usually animated followup films are the “straight to video” type, like The Little Mermaid 2. Those are usually for the young children who are happy to watch more of what they loved the first time.

What animated movies get the sophisticated full cinematic treatment? More than you’d think. We’ve got sequels to Toy Story, Cars, Monsters Inc, Despicable Me, Finding Nemo…all enjoying moderate success at the box office. Pixar has a great formula: they know how to engage adults with sly references, appeals to nostalgia, and jokes that go over kids’s heads. We don’t even have to bring a kid along to make it socially acceptable to see these “cartoons” — no excuse is needed.

We’ll see how Incredibles 2 does its job of luring grownups to the box office. The trailers look fun, although the “Mr. Mom” routine is quite dated by now. I hope they don’t milk that angle too much. It’s not a big deal these days for men to do the child-rearing.

I look forward to seeing what exactly Jack Jack’s powers are about. And I hope they continue the theme of the original film, where the supers are living under massive repression. It would be fantastic to take up the banner of freedom for supers, which, after all, is even something we’ve seen in live action superhero flicks like X-Men 1&2, and Captain America: Civil War.

So it seems that animated sequels are perfectly acceptable, and people are willing to pack the theaters to see them. I know I loved a return to the undersea world in Finding Dory, and folks can’t seem to get enough of Toy Story ( I refuse to watch Toy Story 3 out of self-preservation — I don’t want to watch a movie I know will make me cry). The Minions are reliable for a good time, and the Monsters, Inc prequel was a fun romp. I don’t think I know of any other animated prequels, so that might be a unique category.

We’ll see how my predictions pan out.

Do you watch animated movies? What are your favorites? Comments are below.

Movie Rewatch – The First Incredibles

This movie is really good! I hate using such an imprecise term, but I’m sitting here shocked at how good this animated superhero film is.

I’d seen Incredibles when it came out in 2004, and certainly liked it, but now, in 2018, I have a different mindset. Back then I had no idea how…well, GOOD superhero movies were going to get. Remember, 2004 was still a few years away from Iron Man and the start of the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, which really defined and perfected the superhero experience. I think back then, all we had were some Spiderman movies of various quality, some Batman movies that really didn’t age well, and early X-Men. And Fantastic Four. Which is a perfect segue to my next point.

It’s clear that the Incredibles are a remake/rebooted version of the Fantastic Four, which is interesting: Fantastic Four tried twice to make their series work, and both bombed terribly. I mean, they were simply awful. So who would think that tweaking it into an animated film would be  a good bet?

Well, the answer is Pixar, now owned by Disney. Using the magic Pixar formula —  irreverent humor,  outstanding animation work, attention to character traits, well-known and respected actors for voices, and a real plot with actual jeopardy — Incredibles really showed it could be done. 

Incredibles is good enough to be a Marvel movie, quite frankly. It may as well be one, maybe in an alternate universe. You forget you’re watching cartoons about ten minutes into the film, which starts quite charmingly with an “old news reel” and a flashback to Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl in their heyday.

The movie picks up at a place that would not seem too far from the X-Men Universe: all the supers have been relocated and retired by public demand, due to traumatic collateral damage done in the name of “helping mankind.” The Incredibles family has to hide their powers and try to live normal lives in suburbia. Mr. Incredible works in a dead end insurance job, and ElastiGirl is a stay at home mom. Their kids have to hide their superhero status as well, which chafes them to no end. How can you try to “be your best” when your best can never be tested? How can Mr. Incredible be “normal” when he breaks everything he touches, and has to be constantly vigilant against his own strength? We see him mourning for the good old days, and listens to police scanners at night with best friend FloZone (voiced by Samuel Jackson, clearly enjoying himself), sneaking out to do clandestine hero work.

These are mature themes, and shows why adults flocked to see Incredibles, and will flock again, in 2018, to see Incredibles 2.

I didn’t notice at the time, but in this rewatch, knowing there’s going to be a sequel out soon, I saw how clearly the film demanded a follow-up. When you watch it again, take note of how nothing has actually changed for this family. Well, except for Jack Jack, but we wont go into that here. Basically: at the end of their adventure, the family goes home and back to their “Witness Protection” style life. The supers are still not welcomed by the public, the government, or the world. It’s back to suburban hell. We don’t see that in the movie, because they ended the film on the high note of putting their masks on (which is more symbolic than useful, but just go with it). Their family unit maybe stronger than ever, but now the fun’s over and it’s time to put the leash back on.

So it does demand another film. How has the Incredible family unit been managing, back at mind numbing jobs and public school?  From the trailers it looks like (SPOILER ALERT)….scroll down or not…

 

 

 

Okay, from the trailers it looks like ElastiGirl is back on the job and in the public eye. Mr. Incredible has to be Mr. Mom. So maybe the supers are accepted again? Or is using ElastiGirl a way to slowly ease the public about reintroducing supers? I’ll go with the latter.

Anyway, the sequel looks pretty good, and I know it will pack the theaters, as we’re just not saturated with superhero movies. It’s pretty much a Golden Age for hero movies and we keep lapping them up and asking for more. I’m fine with that.

Incredibles is a fine film, with a lot of heart and humor, charming characterizations, surprisingly good chemistry in a voice-over medium — it’s just enjoyable on every level. The Big Bad is a bit annoying, but creating a great villain is a sticky point for almost every superhero film. You can just ignore whathisname, and get back to marveling at the amazing visuals and snappy banter/bickering.

I recommend seeing Incredibles again, before catching Incredibles 2, just to get back up to speed with these great characters and their family dynamics.

Movie Grade: A

Here’s a link to the blu-ray of the original Incredibles movie, and the logo tee shirt. I’ve seen entire families wearing this shirt, and not just for a family Halloween theme…places like Disneyland, so it’s easy to find each other, or on any family outing to show they are a family unit. It’s fun. 

Tips for Seeing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from Disneyland

Scheduled to open in 2019, Disney will open Galaxy’s Edge, an ENTIRE LAND devoted to Star Wars. You can’t see much of it right now, and the things you can see are a  little hard to parse. Basically, you’re seeing the background spires of a alien city, on an strange new world.

Galaxy’s Edge seems to be a response to the runaway success of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – where they drop you into the entire town of Hogsmead (at the California park) – and let you run “hog”-wild pretending to be a Hogwart’s student on a rare weekend out.

Galaxy’s Edge should be just as exciting, especially if your tastes lean more to sci-fi than fantasy.

Here’s some fun tips if you visit Disneyland in 2018. You can spy the  fantastical construction for Galaxy’s Edge in several locations that don’t require waiting in lines.

 

1. Climb up into Tarzan’s Treehouse in Adventureland. The high viewpoints have great views, and you’ll have the treehouse almost entirely to yourself.

2. Get on the Disneyland Railroad at New Orleans Square. You will need to turn around to face the opposite way, but as you pass through Critter Country, you go right under some of the spires and peaks of the Galaxy’s Edge setting.

3. Go into the Launch Bay in Tomorrowland and you’ll have gave a nice cool, mostly dim place to view star wars props, models, uniforms and then the large and detailed Galaxy’s Edge diorama/backdrop. (See photos.)

4. Another hidden find: If you try to circumnavigate the lake in New Orleans Square (in the direction of Critter Country, going left, past the Haunted Mansion), you’ll hit a wall. Literally, the path ends in a big flat wall — decorated only with a poster of how Galaxy’s Edge will appear, and no signage. It’s a quiet statement of excitement from the Imagineers.  I can’t wait.

(Image Below Owned by RunPee) (<— Click link to embiggen)

Read more about where to find Star Wars fun this year (2018) before Galaxy’s Edge opens next summer.

Universal Builds A Star Trek Land

I recently went to Disney’s Star Wars “May the 4th” overlay of Tomorrowland (it was worth seeing), and from afar spied the rock spires towering above the construction for Galaxy’s Edge – an entire new Disneyland themed park about the world of Star Wars itself. It’s to be an entire immersive city, set on another planet, and I CAN’T wait til it opens next summer 2019 (with Disney World following up their version in the fall of  2019).

My impression is that Galaxy’s Edge will be a lot like Universal’s Wonders of the Wizarding World, which I made a long-overdue first visit to last month. I had my Hogwarts Robes and school clothes on (Proud Gryffindor!) and completely allowed myself to drown in the experience. (I’ll a link here when I’ve reviewed that trip.)

It got me to thinking of other possibilities for immersive fantastical environments and wondering when a land devoted to Star Trek will show up.

A quick search showed me Universal in Florida is indeed planning just that.[

I was able to get a nice Star Trek experience previously in Las Vegas, of all  places, at the Hilton’s Star Trek Experience. It was sort of a cross between being on the set of Deep Space Nine, with an interactive TNG show. (Again, I’ll cover this in detail elsewhere.) It gave me a valid excuse to go with friends to Vegas, at any rate. I went a few times to share Blood Wine with their roving Klingons. Unfortunately, the Hilton shut down the Experience in 2008.

Then a re-booted Trek movie came along in 2009 to fill in the void, experience moderate (if not resounding) success. We at RunPee owe a lot to Trek 2009, as that was the movie propelling the RunPee app to international acclaim.

Now, with  Star Trek: Discovery — a new CBS Trek show on TV — and more Star Trek movies coming up (apparently directed by Quentin Tarantino), the irons are hot enough for somebody strike. Time to follow up on the success of the Wizarding World, and provide a counterpoint to Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge.

Star Trek is still relevant. 

So, to get back to Universal, Screenrant reports that a Star Trek Land is in the works already! And they’re fast-tracking it to compete directly compete with Star Wars Land. I’m fine with that. The more opportunities I get to dress up and play at being something futuristic or fantastical, the better. I’ll do it all.

Related Articles: 

Star Wars at Disneyland

How to See Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Right Now

 

 

Incredibles 2 Poster Looks Like A Marvel Film

I was looking at the poster for the upcoming Incredibles 2 film, and noticed that it looked awfully familiar. And not just because I saw and enjoyed the first Incredibles film in 2004, but because the poster seemed…exactly like a Marvel film. Specifically, one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, AKA, the MCU.

Here’s the poster for Incredibles 2:

Notice the shape, the look, the radial bi-symmetry of the thing, the arms reaching out, the circles on circles.

Now compare that with the current MCU blockbuster…..

 

 

 

Avengers: Infinity War. See the background circle, the hands stretching out, the DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man of the thing?

This is the new look in the last few years for action and superhero movies. I’ll go back a few more MCU films to point this out:

 

 

Black Panther‘s got the circles, the big head at the top, similar character groupings.

 

 

 



Thor: Ragnarok really has the thickly layered Vitruvian Man thing going on, lots of circles, the bilateral symmetry. We can clearly see there’s some branding going on.

 

But wait…another Marvel property followed the look:

Deadpool 2 can get away with this, because a) it’s a Marvel superhero  film (not in the MCU, but still), and b) it’s a parody film that sees no harm in poking fun at the “Avengers thing”.

 

 

Where it gets a little weird is seeing this imagery pop up in non-Marvel, non-superhero films, like Solo: A Star Wars Story.

It’s not exactly the same, but someone definitely got the memo about the symmetry, the circles, and the layered character arrangement. Here the circles actually make sense, in-story, because we’re obviously looking through the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. But the similarities are still there. We know that Star Wars is now owned by Disney, who owns Marvel, and also owns Pixar, which is how we get right back around to Incredibles 2, a Pixar film.

Disney’s probably doing some branding, and us good little audience goers now recognize this poster imagery as a form of code: Adventure Ahead. Universal Studios is, by contrast, not doing this little movie shorthand on their posters. Look at Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for reference:

 

See? There ARE other ways to make an adventure poster. We’ve just gotten used to Disney’s featured look. We’ve been “branded”.

My guess is we will keep seeing this kind of poster until a certain level of saturation sets in. And then Disney will come up with a new stylized code for their big blockbuster properties.

 

Back to Incredibles 2 – this is, like Deadpool 2, a superhero parody that also plays the story straight. (Incredibles is a reworked version of the Fantastic Four, just done right.)

There’s no big meaning to these kinds of things, but it’s still interesting to see how we relate to movie poster images. And the callback to the Vitruvian Man is surely one of the oldest memes. Someone on Disney’s team grabbed that ancient archetype and ran with it.

 

I look forward to what happens when a non-Disney poster unthinkingly follows suit and uses this look. Like maybe when the next DC superhero film comes out. Disney will probably freak and file a lawsuit, but last I heard, DaVinci’s art is royalty-free, and circles are even older.

Star Wars at Disneyland

From May the 4th through the opening weekend for Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has a makeover hailing from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. In other words, The Force has taken over.

With Star Wars now a Disney property, Disney is the upcoming go-to place for immersive SW experiences — and next year, with an entire Star Wars “Land” opening, it should be as exciting as Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While Star Tours (A Star Wars motion-car ride) has been at Disneyland since 1987, that was essentially it for interesting intergalactic mayhem, for a long stretch of time.

Nowadays, fans can buy tickets for exclusive  “May the 4th” night-time parties (this year’s $99 event sold out in mere hours, prompting Disney to open a second evening’s events), a $130 intergalactic shindig on May 27th (celebrating the opening weekend of the young Han Solo movie), and a temporary re-do of several older areas of the now scruffy-looking Tomorrowland.

Tomorrowland desperately needs an upgrade. It may have seemed very futuristic when it opened in 1955, but now just looks like a joke. It’s dated almost beyond repair. For a while that ‘land’ limped along as a sort of nostalgic look back on what the future would bring, but that stopped being relevant when the baby boomers started aging out of attendance. Star Tours went through several different story iterations, and became the only attraction worth seeing in that entire section of the park. Call this area a sci-fi money pit.

Here’s a somewhat exhaustive list of the new attractions and shows to be seen during Tomorrowland’s temporary Star Wars makeover

  • Hyperspace Mountain

For one thing, Space Mountain was getting tired. This ride-in-the-dark roller coaster was amazing for decades, but slowly became a second-tier attraction, like Thunder Mountain Railway and Matterhorn Bobsleds. This month, it’s been glitzed up with a snazzy Star Wars theme, and the signage has been overlaid as Hyperspace

Mountain. The outdoors section of the line is still awful (only grey concrete to look at for however many hours you wait to get inside). Once the line gets inside the building, lots of Star Wars stuff appears. The best part is a video mini-movie featuring Admiral “It’s a Trap” Ackbar, describing your new mission, and a hope that the Force will be with you.

The ride itself seemed more fun than I recall. I think it’s darker inside, which makes the roller coaster part more fun. You don’t know which way the coaster will go next — up, down, sideways, zig zag, etc — and it’s a lot more exciting. And now the coaster starts off with a Star Wars send-off, and a brief passage through the shooting lights of hyperspace.

If they keep the Star Wars elements intact after this month, the ride is again worth doing.

  • Star Tours

The line for this attraction is amazing. It’s almost better than the ride itself – no small feat. Once you get inside the “Spaceport Terminal,” every detail is seen to in a wacky, unbridled creative sense of joy. C3PO and Artoo are in there, as well as Number Five, from 1986 movie Short Circuit, apparently in charge of baggage.  This is how you manage crowds! And the motion-car attraction is a nice experience.

It’s upgraded to cover the sequel trilogy with Kylo Ren, and your shuttlecraft is still piloted by those old counterpart ‘droids. They’ve added 3D glasses to the experience. I’m pretty sure this attraction used to be occupied by Captain Eo (Michael Jackson himself) way, way back in the day. Anyone remember that?

As you leave Star Tours, you transit a huge store full of SW merchandise. If you like Star Wars, drop your cash here for some mighty cool swag.

You can also enter the store without entering Star Tours.

  • March of the First Order 

This little show occurs several times over the course of the day, featuring Captain Phasma and her crack First Order troops marching to fanfare throughout Tomorrowland. Phasma barks out commands, and the troops scan the audience at phaser-point, looking for Resistance spies. I recommend standing in front of, and facing, the Star Wars Launch Bay for the best viewing. If you’re lucky, you’ll get singled out as a spy. It’s a short show, but fun.

  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

This show is mostly for the kiddies, who get to put on Padawan robes and learn lightsaber techniques onstage. It’s got showings all day long, and has a bit of story to it. Fun viewing for every age.

  • Star Wars Launch Bay

This area used to be a cafeteria, if I recall correctly. How…inspiring? I’m glad they turned it into a Star Wars Museum. And it’s the kind of museum that’s immersive – props are treated as actual relics and archival pieces, with fantastic signage, costumes, movie featurettes, and lots of room for more Star Wars additions as new movies roll out. Best thing – there’s no line, and barely anyone was even in there when I visited. It’s a cool and dark refuge for hot days. I really liked this space, and took only a bazillion photos (so I could read the “museum signs” at my leisure).

There’s a section in the Launch Bay that sells some extremely exclusive merch. Like a full-sized Storm Trooper, retailing for $6,000. Or you can get a copy of Rey’s Last Jedi shirt for only around $100.

  • Character Meetings: Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, and Rey

These characters are available all day for photo opps, located in their own private chambers within the Star Wars Launch Bay. Wait times were only 5-15 minutes while I was there. The costumed cast members act in character for you, making it a super cool experience. Plus, you get to hug Chewbacca. He gives great hugs. Seriously, ALWAYS take the time to hug Chewie.

  • Galaxy’s Edge

Scheduled to open in 2019, Disney will open Galaxy’s Edge, an ENTIRE LAND devoted to Star Wars. I assume they will move the Tomorrowland’s SW attractions there…leaving…exactly what in Tomorrowland? There won’t be anything left that’s worth doing. I say they should raze Tomorrowland to the ground and come up with a new and more cutting edge property. (What Disney franchise hasn’t been tapped yet? Pixar is covered already. Personally, I’d love to seeAliens, Star Trek, or Titanic themed areas, but those aren’t Disney owned.

Avatar would be great! Disney World already uses Avatar at their Animal Kingdom Party…so maybe they will import some of that here and revamp an erstwhile Tomorrowland into Pandora. James Cameron’s new Avatar movies are coming along soon, we hear.

The Marvel stuff is all in Disney’s California Adventure Park already – and the are demolishing A Bug’s Land to do their Marvel area right (Story for another time…

Read our easy, no waiting, no-lines tips to viewing the tall and otherworldly spires of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. (From now til the land opens in the summer of 2019)

(Images above owned by RunPee.com)

 

Club 33 – Disney’s Exclusive Hidden Door

On a recent journey to Disney to celebrate “Star Wars Month” (from “May the 4th” through the May 25th weekend release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story“), I looked for the mysterious, mostly unheard of, never advertised, and extremely expensive Club 33.  After much searching, I found the door.

What’s Club 33? I didn’t know it existed until this month. While visiting San Diego’s Intergalactic Brewery for their own May the 4th Star Wars celebration, I mentioned my upcoming Disney trip. The local bar-going geeks promptly told me to look for the “hidden door” to Club 33.

“What’s that?” I asked.  “An exclusive restaurant,” someone chimed in. “You can drink alcohol there,” the bartender helpfully added. I wanted to know more. Disneyland is so thoroughly family-friendly that beer and wine is banned in the park. So I did a little internet searching.

 

 

Online sources report Club 33 memberships charge $50k for an initiation fee, plus annual dues of around $30k. And then there’s the food and drink prices;  a hamburger reportedly costs $42 on the inexpensive, a la carte end. 

My guess is this is a celebrity haven. 

There’s actually a ten-year waiting list for this privileged experience. Because yes, there’s no other way to get alcohol in Disneyland. (Caveat. You CAN buy wine in adjacent Disney’s California Adventure Park.)

I had dinner that night at The Blue Bayou, a themed restaurant located inside the infamous Pirates of the Caribbean ride (another rare dining experience, although more affordable to mortal man) and it’s true, there’s no booze on the menu. Gumbo, yes — Chardonnay, no.

Which leads me back to Club 33. Pirates of the Caribbean is located in New Orleans Square, which was my only clue to locating the unsigned, mysterious  door. Finding that was on my Must-Do list for this trip, the only must-see besides checking out the Star Wars events. New Orleans Square isn’t very big, but it’s packed with the most restaurants and some of the very best rides. It took some time to locate. I’m not even going to tell you how to find it, because, quite frankly, I’ve given you enough clues. Most of the fun is in the seeking. Suffice to say that Club 33 does exist. I even got a quick peek inside when someone used their key card to enter: it looks like an art nouveau-style speakeasy.

I took a few pictures of the entrance to assist you in your quest. And if you manage to get in, let me know if it’s worth the price!

Hint. Look for this: 

 

(Images owned by RunPee.com)

Yep. That’s $500 for a lanyard of Club 33. I don’t understand this either:

Deadpool Musical Parody – Beauty and the Beast

If you’re a Disney Princess fan, you might not exactly appreciate Disney’s Prince of Gab, Deadpool. And here we get a little in-joke about the other Disney Marvel heroic ensembles: with nods to the Avengers, X-Men, and…Betsy? I don’t know which franchise Betsy’s from.

Also, we learn a new term (presumably not new to comic book fans) — the X-Force. The official trailers seem to be about assembling Deadpool’s X-Force entourage, but the term isn’t part of common parlance just yet. I’m sure it will be by this weekend, when Deadpool spurts across America (<—- sorry for that off-color joke. Deadpool’s naughty-ness “rubs off”...)

Beauty and the Beast fans will recognize this as the live-action Gaston Song, which is great in itself, and included below for comparisony fun. Both movies are officially Disney nowadays, so it shouldn’t offend too much. Plus, the news is that Deadpool the Musical won a Webby Award for Best Writing. It’s a nugget of sweet, sweet weirdness:

Read our review of the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, and every Deadpool article on RunPee.com.

Finally, here are some links to both movie soundtracks:

 

Movie Review – Beauty and The Beast (live action version)

I saw the movie with a Disney fan, and she was really impressed with this rendition of Beauty and the Beast. The theater was packed (with several showings sold out), and at least four women attended in formal ball gowns. People applauded at the movie’s end.

I was expecting more, though. More spectacle, more rousing musical numbers, and a better connection to the characters. I’m not sure why I didn’t enjoy this more. It was pretty enough, but nothing to get worked up about. The visuals were kind of dark, the pacing plodded, and I thought the acting was better in the animated version. I love Emma Watson, but she really had to carry this entire film, and I don’t think she was up to the task. Maybe it was a problem with the direction. Hard to say. The titular Beast was a no-show in the charm department, and the guest starring household appliances were essentially props. (Pity – normally actors like Ian McKellan and Stanley Tucci can do a lot with a little.)

Even the effects underwhelmed. The big musical numbers – Be Our Guest, Beauty and The Beast – didn’t hit the full marks I’d anticipated. Things just fell a little short of what they should have been.

I think many people were happy because of what I can call the Disney Effect. I’ve noticed people get really excited about new “princess” films, in the way that I get about science fiction movies. It’s clearly a ‘thing’, and my sense is people were super relieved that the live action outing of B&tB didn’t suck. 😉

Since the target audience seemed pleased, I’ll give the film a solid B. In comparison, I’d give the animated variant an A. That one really hit it out of the ballpark, setting a high bar for Disney Princess films…this one was just sort of there. I hope the live action Little Mermaid film does it better.

Grade: B