Toy Story 3 was an ideal end to a perfect trilogy, a rare beast among massive movie franchises with obscenely large marketing potential.
But the trailer for Toy Story 4 feels alarmingly underwhelming; overly familiar, full of ideas that were previously explored in the franchise, some very thoroughly indeed. For example …
A false paradise
The previous three films saw Buzz seduced by fictional space adventures, Woody by the allure of celebrity, and the entire gang by the promise of a relaxing life at daycare. These all turned out to be unobtainable fantasies, with the real paradise dwelling in the imagination of a child.
Are we going through the motions with the carnival we see in the trailer? It’s a traveling playground, after all, a potentially perfect place for a toy to retire. If there’s some crazy dark secret hiding under the surface, it’s going to ring a little hollow.
Which brings me to ….
A secret villain
Disney movies have recently adopted an increasingly predictable twist, in which a nice person offering an opportunity reveals themselves to be a villain in the final act. This is fine, but it’s getting to be somewhat overused; I’m starting to miss openly evil villains, one-dimensional as they may be.
There is no antagonist to be seen in the trailer (other than the creepy doll and her gang of ventriloquist dummies, who look to be a secondary threat). If Bo Peep turns out to be secretly unhinged due to her abandonment issues or whatever, it’s going to be pretty disappointing.
We’ve already been there with both Stinky Pete and Lotso, and Lotso was really pushing it.
A toy’s purpose
Woody’s having another “mid-life crisis?” Really? He already had one when Andy ripped his arm, forcing him to acknowledge his age and making the idea of immortality behind a glass case seem very attractive, until Buzz reminded him that toys only exist to make children happy.
And again in Toy Story 3, when Andy went to college and Woody had trouble letting go, even wanting to follow his former playmate. Presumably, he’d be gathering dust on a dorm room shelf, helplessly watching as Andy masturbates and experiments with drugs.
And Toy Story 4 looks to be recycling this concept, with Woody seemingly thinking about adopting Bo Peep’s care-free, independent lifestyle. Like parents that are done raising their kids, and spend the rest of their days getting drunk on cruise ships, Woody might be done with children for good. Or is he?
Separating Buzz and Woody
It’s a bit disappointing that we’ve never seen Buzz and Woody spend much time together since the first film. Since they dealt with their massive conflict, the two are almost always separated by convenient plot devices, with one invariably going on a rescue mission to fetch the other. Again, this looks to be the case with Toy Story 4.
It might just be that the dynamic between the two toys isn’t interesting anymore, now that they’ve worked out their drama. Perhaps a bit of ideological conflict will allow the two to share more than a couple of scenes in this film.
Regardless of how tepid and cliché-ridden this trailer looks, I do have faith that the creative team at Pixar will deliver another animated masterpiece. The studio has been a little shaky recently, but hopefully Toy Story 4 will be closer to Coco than The Good Dinosaur.
I’m going to cry during the credits, regardless.
Anne del Castillo Named New York City’s Commissioner of Media and Entertainment
The film and TV industries in New York City have a new boss: Anne del Castillo, who has been tapped by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Del Castillo had served as general counsel and chief operating officer of MOME since 2015. She succeeds Julie Menin, who left the post in February after nearly three years to become Census Director for the city. Del Castillo had been acting commissioner since Menin’s departure.
“Media and entertainment are central to New York City’s economy and identity. Anne has the vision and experience to continue to strengthen the industry during this time of unprecedented growth and change,” said de Blasio. “Her commitment to diversifying our entertainment sector and piloting innovative programs will ensure New York continues to be the media capital of the world.”
At MOME, del Castillo will oversee all activity in the city related to location shooting, tax incentives and the city’s growing focus on diversity and inclusion programs designed to open doors for film and TV employment opportunities to a broad range of New Yorkers. MOME’s charter also extends to the music, Broadway, advertising and other media sectors active in the city.
In all, media and entertainment account for some 305,000 local jobs and economic output of $104 billion, per the Mayor’s Office. Given the rapid growth of lensing in New York during the past 20 years, the MOME commissioner has influence in Hollywood as well as in the five boroughs.
“This is an exciting time for our agency to engage a broad cross-section of industry, community and other key stakeholders to advance an inclusive, sustainable and thriving creative economy that benefits all New Yorkers and reflects the diversity that defines our city,” del Castillo said.
Under Menin, expanded from supporting the film, TV, and theater industries to supporting the music, publishing, advertising and digital media industries as well. MOME also encompasses NYC Media, the City’s official broadcast network and the Office of Nightlife.
That office — and the institution of former bar owner Ariel Palitz as the city’s first “nightlife mayor” — was one of Menin’s signature initiatives as commissioner, along with an outreach program for the city’s music industry, which included a hearing involving some 75 organizations and companies that do business in the city. Menin was also involved in the city’s hosting of the 2018 Grammy Awards, the first time in 15 years the ceremony was held in New York.
Del Castillo joined MOME in 2014 as director of legal affairs. She was closely involved in the creation of the Made in NY Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund, which is has begun to distribute $5 million in grants to women filmmakers and playwrights.
Before that, del Castillo was VP of development and business affairs at American Documentary, producer of PBS’ “POV,” and she worked as associate director of the Austin Film Society, where she administered the Texas Filmmakers Production fund.
“We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his selection, we welcome Commissioner del Castillo, and look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the great staff of the Mayor’s Film Office,” said Dee Dee Myers, executive VP of worldwide corporate communications and public affairs for Warner Bros.
Del Castillo’s work in the arena of diversity and inclusion makes her well-suited to her new role.
“We have had the privilege of working with Anne on a number of projects, including the innovative Made in New York Writers Room fellowship, which is advancing the careers of talented television writers whose backgrounds and voices reflect the diversity of the city,” said Lowell Peterson, exec director of Writers Guild of America East. “Anne and MOME are great partners to an important industry and we look forward to continuing to work together.”
World War Z Launch Suffers with Connectivity Issues, Server Problems and Bugs
World War Z launched yesterday, but its first day on the market didn’t exactly go smoothly. Players have reported numerous issues such as multiple failed attempts to connect to the game’s servers and problems during gameplay that halts progression.
The biggest issue at launch appears to be a lack of servers for players to join, meaning that the game is only playable in an offline state. For an online-focused co-operative title, this is quite clearly a major issue. To developer Saber Interactive’s credit though, it looks like the team is trying its best to get more servers up and running to alleviate the problem.
What may take a little more time though are the bugs and glitches that have been brought to light. Personally speaking, we haven’t been able to finish the game’s first chapter yet because the game freezes and doesn’t conclude the level correctly. Other players have reported jittery movement, a “Loading Game Logic” message that crashes the game, and being unable to play with friends in different regions.
Dish to Game of Thrones fans: ‘You’ll need to subscribe to HBO Now’
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan and a Dish or Sling TV customer, you’re going to need to subscribe to HBO Now if you want to watch the April 14 premiere of the hit TV show’s final season.
Since Nov. 2018, Dish and HBO have been involved in a dispute which has left the premium TV network blacked out for Dish subscribers. Sling TV, Dish’s streaming platform, has been affected by the dispute as well.
As a result, subscribers to either Dish service have been unable to subscribe to an HBO package through their TV provider.
With the long-awaited final season of Game of Thrones premiering on Sunday night, the satellite television company is directing its subscribers to sign up for HBO Now.
Dish has even gone so far as to set up a website explaining to its customers how to subscribe to HBO Now, which it calls “similar to Netflix.” HBO Now is HBO’s standalone streaming television service, so it doesn’t require a cable or satellite subscription. Dish doesn’t receive any compensation for sending its customers to the HBO Now service, though the company obviously benefits by keeping its customers happy.
As of April 2019, the Dish-HBO standoff is in its fifth month, with neither company close to a deal as far as anyone on the outside knows. The channel blackout on Dish is HBO’s first in its history.
Negotiations stalled between the TV service provider and the premium TV network over a “carriage fee” dispute. Dish claimed in a 2018 statement that HBO’s parent company, AT&T, wanted “a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many consumers actually want to subscribe to HBO.”
As of now, it looks like the dispute between HBO and Dish will continue long after winter comes on the final season of Game of Thrones.
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