Inside Out – Review

Inside Out gets it.

What does it get, you ask?

Well, it gets everything, actually.  Let me explain.

I originally went into this thinking that I was going to write a review about how important it is that female characters are presented to our child audience as complete, multi-faceted, fully capable of growing and changing.  Well, of course Inside Out provided me with that. But! Pixar rarely produces films where the main characters DON’T come equipped with such traits (I’m looking at you Cars).

What I left the movie with instead was an overwhelming sense of comfort that somewhere out there someone understood just how each one of us and all of our intricate emotional cogs work. Here’s where the spoilers come in, so I’ll just skip to the best part:  Inside Out was a fantastic film worth every penny. Take the family, whoever is your family, and see this movie this summer.

We start with Joy.  She’s the first emotion for Riley to have, which gave her the keys to the console, and the console is incredibly important to each and every person because it drives our whole air which we present ourselves.  So from the beginning of Riley, she’s driven by Joy.  Very soon after, Sadness appears, and obviously Sadness is important too, just no one can tell why. As Riley grows, they’re joined by Fear, Disgust, and Anger, helping to round out her individual emotional spectrum.

Joy & Rainbow Unicorn

Joy & Rainbow Unicorn

Riley is now 11 and she’s happy.  All of her core memories are fueled by happiness, her Personality Islands of Family, Friendship, Honesty, Hockey, and Goofball stand strong.  A proper story doesn’t move along without conflict, which is why everything and everyone is shaken by the big move from Minnesota to San Francisco.  The Emotions do their best to keep Joy at the helm, but the panic gets the best of Sadness and her well-intentioned attempts at helping end up skewing the core memories.

With the memories altered, Joy takes it upon herself to fix Riley.  She’s so focused to do so that she completely forgets the other emotions are just as invested in Riley as she is.  Sadness especially feels the need to help and with a very well done scuffle, her and Joy find themselves whisked away from headquarters to the long-term memory bank, core memories in hand.  That leaves Anger, Disgust, and Fear to run the console, making a very sensitive and irritable Riley.  She loses interest in hockey, she skips school, and eventually, those three emotions convince her run away, back to Minnesota.

Joy & Sadness

Joy & Sadness

All this time Riley is going through the most troubling period of her life (remember she’s only 11), Joy and Sadness are on their own odyssey back to headquarters.  The emotional turmoil is causing literal damage to Riley’s psyche, making navigation of the brain an even more daunting task.  Bing Bong, an imaginary friend that’s mostly cotton candy, teams up with them so that he can be remembered and the two can continue on their adventures together.

They make it through Abstract Thought where they almost get broken down into the most basic of concepts that almost destroyed them. They traverse Imagination Land and meet Riley’s new boyfriend, who’s from Canada.  Joy, Sadness, and Bing Bong end up coming across Dream Productions, the Subconscious (it’s a prison for all the troublemakers), and the Memory Dump (the place where we forget).  Those emotions would have done anything to protect their Riley, and that was sure put to the test.

Bing Bong

Bing Bong

Inside Out is one of Pixar’s best, which is more than evident while watching the film.  Every casting choice was spot on.  Every scene was beautifully animated. Every moment was entertaining. But the moral focus found at the center of the film may just be the most important concept Pixar has conveyed yet: Sadness is special.  That’s a huge realization that we often don’t want to admit to ourselves, especially when we’re children.  Yet the truth remains that Sadness is necessary. Sadness makes us feel something at times when we would much rather feel nothing.   We are able to pull ourselves out of the darkest hours of our lives because of Sadness.  The other emotions inside us will do everything they can to fight it; they don’t want us sad either.  The fact that Pixar managed to grasp one of the most intense and complicated lies we as humans tell ourselves as well as unravel it before our eyes in only 102 minutes shows just how high the standard is for not only children’s films, but films altogether.

I’ve seen a lot of movies this summer, this year.  I’m going to see a ton more.  It’s what I do. This movie is by far the most important one out there now.  It’s these emotional affectations that keep Pixar at the top.  They refuse to ever dumb down a movie for children, knowing well enough that everyone, young and old, can relate to the tales they tell.  If their beautiful interpretation of the human mind doesn’t leave you cinematically fulfilled by the ending, I’m not entirely convinced that anything ever could.


Inside Out – Review

The Strangest E3 Conference This Week

At their core, E3 conferences are meant to be press conferences. They are meant to tell video game magazines, sites, etc. about what is coming. However, the bar has been set higher in the past few years. Now, in addition to being press conferences, they also tend to be quite entertaining shows. There is a reason why Ubisoft brings in comedian and actress Aisha Tyler to host their conference. There is also a reason why Nintendo borrows Robot Chicken clips or actually uses puppets to supplement their conference. Both Nintendo, Ubisoft, and others know that they are not just broadcasting to the press anymore. They are also broadcasting to the general public. With all of this in mind, I would like to briefly discuss the strangest E3 conference this week, Square Enix.

What Was Strange?

I admit to being surprised at seeing Square Enix in the lineup. They are a large company that also encompasses the properties of Eidos. However, Square Enix does not usually have a conference. They tend to rely on EA, Microsoft, or another publisher to show off their games. With this in mind, I started to watch…

1. The very first title they showed did not have a title.

Square Enix showed off a number of upcoming games. However, the first one they showed did not even have a title. We were given a very brief clip that told us next to nothing about it. The clip gave no semblance of what sort of gameplay would be featured or even what the story was going to be about. After the clip, some of the development team popped up on stage but didn’t even bother to give us a name. A working title would have sufficed.

2. The head of development for the aforementioned game was wearing an odd maskThe guy in the mask

Ordinarily, in a conference like Ubisoft, this would not be an issue. It would just be part of the show. However, the fellow in the mask only introduced himself, said they were working on the game, and did nothing else. This lead me to believe that perhaps this guy did not want to be seen. If that is correct, though, then why did he come in the first place? Did Square Enix make him come? The mask distracted me from a presentation that was already weak with no title.

3. Everything was so formal…

hitman-io-interactiveFormality in a typical press conference is not a problem. But this is E3! Microsoft, EA, Sony, Ubisoft, and Nintendo all know that they need to do more than just talk about their products. They need to give us a show. With the exception of very brief previews (I’ll get to that in a minute) and the mask, there was no entertainment or very much to hold the audience’s attention. The developers got up before the crowds and spoke very seriously about their games. Some of them did not even seem very excited about the games that they were making.

4. What we saw was brief and not enough to garner attention.

With any sort of preview or presentation, especially with something that has not even been released, it is important to not tell too much. The Force Unleashed II had a good ten-minute making-of video that was released just before the game released. However, most of that video revealed too much of the plot, spoiling the surprise for the players. This is not the case for the Square Enix conference. They actually had the opposite problem. They showed and talked about too little.

Rise of the Tomb RaiderI have already mentioned the game with no name. However, this idea of showing very little was prevalent throughout the conference. The Rise of the Tomb Raider was also presented. Granted, other conferences had already showed the gameplay demo and the preview, but I expected perhaps a behind-the-scenes video. True to my expectations, they did show a video about how much detail was put into the creation of Lara Croft… But that was all they showed off before moving on to their next project. Although finding about all of the detail was interesting, I expected a video about why they chose the myth and setting for Lara’s new adventure or perhaps what they have changed in gameplay. This clip was too brief and did not talk about the components of the game that I wanted to hear about, albeit story and gameplay.

On A Positive Note…deusex

Although Square Enix’s presentation was strange and oftentimes very brief, they had plenty of things to be excited about. Kingdom Hearts III looked to be fairly far along in production, the new Hitman game looked very ambitious and exciting, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided seems to greatly improve on Human Revolution, and then there is that Final Fantasy game, the most renowned in Square Enix’s franchises. Their presentation was not terrible, but it was odd. One would be curious to see if they present again next year.


The Strangest E3 Conference This Week

New Season of Star Wars Rebels Premieres Tomorrow!

That’s right. Star Wars Rebels is back and premieres Saturday, June 20 at 9 PM (ET/PT) on Disney XD. As shown in several clips and the Star Wars Celebration trailer, season 2 will now feature Darth Vader. It will be interesting to see how the Rebels survive since the show takes place in the time period prior to A New Hope where the Empire, and especially Vader, are fairly invincible. One thing to note is that James Earl Jones, the actor who voiced Vader in the movies, is reprising the role for season 2. The one-hour premiere is titled “The Siege of Lothal.” If you need something to tie you over until tomorrow, here’s a clip of the immortal Darth Vader…

New Season of Star Wars Rebels Premieres Tomorrow!