Toy Story 4 – June 20th
I saw the first Toy Story movie in theaters when I was 13 and I distinctly remember feeling really excited to see something that had been promoted as a major milestone in filmmaking (the computer animation was very hyped up in those days). I also remember leaving the theater when it was over and talking to my dad the whole way home about the closing scenes over and over again. The final chase scene is a master class in animated storytelling.
The animation is only a tiny part of why these films are so great. From the score and original songs by Randy Newman to the great voice acting troupe that keeps adding new voices with every film, Pixar’s flagship franchise nailed the toughest part of filmmaking straight out of the gate. Create characters that people simply can’t get enough of. Even the two direct-to-tv specials, The Toy Story That Time Forgot and Toy Story of Terror, are fantastic.
So now there’s a fourth one coming. If I would be nervous about anything having to do with Toy Story 4, it’s that following up such a perfect ending in Toy Story 3 is a tall task. The ending of Toy Story 3 simultaneously blends the melancholy and excitement of growing up in a way so few films before it have.
Based on the limited info we have so far, this one centers on a new character named “Forky”. He is a homemade toy that has the same type of soul and life the other toys in the film do. I’m sure Pixar is going to use this character to explore all kinds of things related to self-identity, fitting in, and being a misfit, and holy crap I’m getting all misty just thinking about it.
I have absolutely no doubt that this will be great. I also have no doubt that it’s going to reduce me and a whole lot of other grown adults to tears while our kids sit next to us and wonder what on earth is wrong with us.
The Lion King – July 19th
The third film in Disney’s 2019 trio of live action remakes of their classic animated films is The Lion King.
As I already wrote in Part 1 of this series, I find that the more these live-action retellings differ from the source material, the more interesting I find them. Though I don’t find Maleficent to be a perfect film, I was thoroughly entertained by the way the used the original Sleeping Beauty as a jumping-off point to tell a new version of the story from a completely different point of view.
The voice cast on this rules. Seriously, look at this link . Disney seems to be doing a pretty great job of making 2019 a diverse year in terms of casting and storytelling. When they released the cast list for this it felt kind of like they were spiking the football, and I think they earned it.
There’s only been one teaser trailer released, and I think it’s pretty good. I will say this – because this film is all animal-centric, this could be one that I’ll dig just because it’s amazing to look at even if they stick real close to the original film. The computer animation in the trailer is pretty great, and John Favreau has evolved into a fantastic large-scale director (He did Iron Man, and the new retelling of The Jungle Book).
Also, John Favreau made Zathura. Have you seen Zathura? It kind of failed at the box office but it RULES. Go watch it and come back. I’ll wait.
Artemis Fowl – August 9th
Ok, I’m in the dark on this one. I know this is based on a series of books that were insanely popular back in mid-2000’s when I worked in a bookstore, but I am totally unfamiliar with what an “Artemis Fowl” even is. I watched the trailer, and I’m still baffled. Is it a person? A cruise ship? Some kind of poultry dish?
According to Wikipedia:
“A teenage genius, Artemis, captures Holly Short, who is a Fairy and a captain of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Recon), in the first book and holds her for ransom (gold) to exploit the magical Fairy People and restore his family’s fortune. In the sequel, Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, he allies with the Fairies to rescue his father from the Russian Mafia.”
Huh. Well I can certainly say I would not have guessed from the title or trailer that this story involved fairies and the Russian mafia, but whatever. Sounds pretty weird!
Frozen 2 – November 22nd
If you’re reading this blog, I can guess with about 98% certainty that you’ve seen the film Frozen. If you have small children, I’m guessing you’ve seen it well into the double digits and heard the soundtrack more than your own voice.
There isn’t much to say about the original Frozen that hasn’t been said a hundred times before – the movie’s great. The songs were instant Disney classics, and it connected with kids in an incredibly special way. It’s a princess movie wherein the princess is not rescued by a handsome prince, but instead by the love and friendship of her sister. It was enormously successful and rightly so.
So now we have one of the very rare cases in which Disney has decided to theatrically release a sequel to one of their “classic” animated films (the only other examples I can think of are The Rescuers Down Under and Ralph Breaks the Internet). Much like in the case of Toy Story 4, Frozen 2 has a ton to live up to, and I’m fascinated with whether or not they can pull it off. As of this writing there is no trailer and no story synopsis, or even any images released. All the stars are returning from the first one as well as the directors, so we’ll see if lightning strikes a second time.
Star Wars: Episode IX – December 20th
I am not much of a religious man, but Star Wars release dates are as close as I come to having high holy days. I am going to try and be spoiler-free for those of you who just emerged from a cave and haven’t seen the new trilogy yet.
I really liked The Force Awakens, and though I think I liked The Last Jedi, I really need to see Episode IX to clarify my feelings on that middle entry. Like a lot of Star Wars fans, The Last Jedi was a lot different than what I was expecting. Now having seen it around 90 times, I am pretty sure I really like most of it. I had mixed emotions about Luke Skywalker’s storyline, as well as the casino planet side story, but I think the film’s legacy is going to solidify one way or another once Episode IX comes out. Without knowing how these characters’ story arcs play out by the end of the Episode IX, how can you really judge the second entry’s cliffhangers?
I am also massively relieved that JJ Abrams is returning to finish the trilogy he started. I was pretty worried with the previous writer and director attached (Colin Trevorrow, director of Jurassic World) mostly because of the “writing” part, but he’s gone and in my opinion Abrams is a huge upgrade.
Adding to the stress of finishing such an anticipated and over-analyzed series of films is the fact that Episode IX was supposed to be “Princess Leia’s film,” just as Force Awakens was Han Solo’s and The Last Jedi was Luke’s. Sadly, Carrie Fisher passed away long before filming could begin, so that’s another thing they’ll have to contend with.
In the end, it’s freaking Star Wars, and I hope Abrams and Terrio smack it out of the park. I’ll be there opening day, because nothing is better than hearing the Star Wars opening theme blaring at you while surrounded by family and friends who are just as nerdy as you.
As with Frozen 2, we got no trailer and no plot details, but does that even matter at this point?