The Movie Pool takes a long look at the short films of Pixar from their new Blu-ray!
Short films from Pixar, many featuring characters from the studio's feature fims, are presented.
This second collection of short films from Pixar features 12 cartoons in stunning high definition. Many of the shorts were previously available on Pixar home video releases (including "Hawaiian Vacation" and "Air Mater"), and three are Academy Award nominees.
What we get in Volume 2 of the series is an eclectic mix of styles and approaches, and for the most part, it all works well. While some are mildly amusing, others (like "Day and Night") are exceptional, that entertain and manage to be original.
The shorts included in the collection are:
"Your Friend the Rat" Ratatouille's Remy and Emile provide the disgusting yet funny history of rats. Director Jim Capobianco and production designer Nate Wragg provide an optional audio commentary.
"Presto" The Oscar-nominated short about a magician's rabbit who just wants a carrot. Director Doug Sweetland provides an optional audio commentary.
"BURN*E" Featuring a minor character from WALL*E, the trials and tribulations of a dedicated robot are explored. It's a great little companion piece to the film, with the same sharp wit and a bit of heart that the film so great. Director Angus MacLane provides an optional audio commentary.
"Partly Cloudy" This cute little short finally answers the question of where do storks get the babies they deliver. Director Peter Sohn provides an optional audio commentary.
"Dug's Special Mission" Dug, the loveable mutt from the movie Up, gets his own short featuring an adventure not seen in the film. Director Ronnie del Carmen and supervising tehnical director Brad Winemiller provide an optional audio commentary.
"George & AJ" in another short inspired by Up, senior citizens begin their own attempt to take off like Carl, leaving the workers of a retirement village to deal with the chaos. Director Josh Cooley (with a little help) provides an optional audio commentary.
"Day and Night" This cleverly-done cartoon, nominated for an Oscar in 2010, features the meeting of the day and night as actual characters, with an effect that must be seen to be appreciated. Easily the best short on the disc. Director Teddy Newton and layout artist Sandra Karpman provide an optional audio commentary.
"Hawaiian Vacation" The Toy Story gang teams up to give the Ken doll his dream vacation. All the usual suspects return to voice their characters in this very funny short. Director Gary Rydstrom (the 7-time Oscar winner for sound for Saving Pvt. Ryan, Jurassic Park, and T2, among others), story supervisor Jason Katz, and supervising animator Angus MacLane provide an optional audio commentary.
"Air Mater" Larry the Cable Guy brings Mater back to life for an adventure that sees the old tow truck given wings and a jet engine. Hilarity ensues. Director Rob Gibbs, producer Kim Adams, and production designer Bob Pauley provide an optional audio commentary.
"Small Fry" The Toy Story team returns for this very funny short that sees Buzz Lightyear left behind at a fast food restaurant, where he meets a group of discarded fast food meal toys. Director Angus MacLane provides an optional audio commentary.
"Time Travel Mater" Mater finds a magic clock that takes him back in time to meet the legendary founder of Radiator Springs, Stanley. Director Rob Gibbs, editor Torbin an Bullock, and production designer Anthony Christov provide an optional audio commentary.
"La Luna" A beautifully animated short, nominated for an Oscar, that tells the story of a young boy, his father, and grandfather, in a tale that involves the moon, stars, and a special task. Director Enrico Casarosa and producer Kevin Reher provide an optional audio commentary.
While cleverly funny and entertaining, the Pixar Shirt Films Collection, Volume 2 is geared for a slightly older kids and adults. Sure, little ones will enjoy the Toy Story short, but others like "Day and Night" are beautifully told and will appeal to an older crowd. For both Pixar and animation fans, it doesn't get any better than this. The only real drawback is a lack of a "Play All" function (you must click on each short title to watch it), but it is a minor gripe for an excellent disc.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The CGI animation presented here is fantastic, and the video transfer gives it a near-perfect presentation. Even across a variety of animation styles produced in recent years, the quality of the video is exceptional. The audio quality depends on the track you choose, as some feature a full 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, while some feature a Dolby TrueHD track, especially the commentary tracks. In nearly every case, I found both the standard, commentary, and descriptive audio tracks to be quite effective.
As extras, the student films of several of Pixar's best creative minds are included here, and they are fascinating to see. Included are:
"Nitemare" and "Lady and the Lamp" by John Lasseter. Produced in the late 1970s, the quality is a bit rough, but it resonates with that early Pixar style of humor that he has now perfected. Nitemare, of course, deal with a child's nightmares, while "Lady and the Lamp" bring inanimate objects to life, something he would revisit with Toy Story. Lasseter provides introductions to both toons.
Also included are the student films of Andrew Stanton (Toy Story, John Carter), "Somewhere in the Arctic," (one of the best of the shorts) and "A Story," as well as Pete Docter's "Winter," "Palm Springs," and "Next Door." Both provide introductions to their shorts.
Parents should note that the student films have some mature content not seen in the standard Pixar material, including harsh language and even a lamp featuring a sculpture of a naked woman. It may be a bit much for very young kids.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Ratings (1-10 scale)
Overall grade: 7.75
Immensely entertaining for kids and adults, The Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 2 is a great Blu-ray set. At the right price, it is a definite must buy for anmation fans. If you're looking for something to keep the little ones entertained, though, you might want to watch it first, as some of the more artistic toons might try the patience of young viewers.
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 75 minutes
Aspect ratio: Varies: most shorts are 1.78:1
Audio: English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English, French, and Spanish 7.1 or 5.1 Dolby True HD; French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English Descriptive Service, English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special Features: Filmmaker commentaries, 7 student short films of Pixar directors (see special features description)
Audio Commentary: Directors for each short provide commentaries (see program description)
Victor is a Dallas-based freelance writer. The former association executive recently served as a Community Voices columnist for The Dallas Morning News and as editor of the North Texas High School Sports Report. His writing credits include SportsIllustrated.com, Yahoo News, Rivals.com, and a number of publications and websites.Website: www.VictorMedina.com