Pixar Mania

Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios

What is it that makes us love animation? Perhaps it is the fact that there is no other artistic creation or sort of moving image that can help us escape reality in the lightest, most cheerful and playful way. The story of animation goes way back in time, at the beginning of the 20th century.  Since animation came into being as a moving image on a screen many things have changed. First of all, what has changed is the way we, adults, watch animation. Animation films have stopped being the main preoccupation of kids alone, as they might have used to be perceived not until long ago. Especially during the last few decades animation became a main entertaining cultural product for adults, just like in the beginnings of it. One of the main factors to have influenced this switch was also the tremendous success of Pixar films.

If we want to be honest and make justice to animation movies, we cannot open a conversation without at least mentioning the Japanese productions. Some of the best animated films, as well as a number of considerable innovations in the field of animation have been introduced due to Japan and the animation industry; the rest of the world just followed.  Hayao Miyazaki might be just the most well known personality and a great ambassador for the Japanese animated films industry. Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke are just a couple of Miyazaki’s masterpieces, which children and adults alike can watch and be fascinated with.

Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki

Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki

However, Japan is just one big chapter of the story of animation. Along with it, there are many other pages of it. Let’s just stop at a more recent page: that one about Pixar! When talking about Pixar films, it is always useful to remember that even Steve Jobs was involved in the whole story, as it was his own company (Apple) that funded Pixar in the very early days. Is it basically as if he could have predicted that twenty years later he would be able to sell Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion, or is it that whatever Steve Jobs made or touched could actually turn into gold? Whatever the situation, the truth is that Pixar makes for a successful story.

The Pixar success story officially started in 1995 along with the release of the first, out of fourteen till this moment, feature-length film, Toy Story. The movie had a tremendous impact on the film industry and it opened the road for Pixar’s latest monumental successes.  If I want to be entirely honest with you, it personally took me a while to get completely fascinated with Pixar films, as I was more into Miyazaki at the time I tried out the Pixar creations. However, it did not take long for me to get hooked. And it was after I watched Finding Nemo for the first time (I watched it numerous times after) that I finally felt that the Pixar creative universe is, indeed, as special as to convince me to stay faithful to it on and on.

The latest film from Pixar to be released is Monsters University, which seems to be doing pretty well at the box office as we speak. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m looking forward to spend another couple of hours lost in one of the most enjoyable and mind soothing parallel universes of our world!

Toy Story

Toy Story

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

Monsters University

Monsters University

For all of those who cannot simply wait to have another taste of Pixar, there is always the chance to plan a trip to the Walt Disney World! Over there, and especially this summer, Pixar-related attractions will make you feel like home; you just need to check on tickets available from FloridaTix and then your only concern will be which Pixar attraction to choose first!

In all of the Disney theme parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), the visitors have the chance to find their favorite Pixar characters and to get to know their world a little bit better. Just to name a few, there is The Seas with Nemo and His Friends, The Laugh Floor featuring Monsters Inc characters, Toy Story Midway Mania, Finding Nemo The Musical and many others…

Toy Story Midway Mania, Disney California Adventure

Toy Story Midway Mania, Disney California Adventure

The Seas with Nemo and His Friends

The Seas with Nemo and His Friends

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Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor, Magic Kingdom

I have watched most of the Pixar films. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, WALL-E and, of course, Ratatouille would be among my favorites, but I certainly don’t want to imply that any of the other Pixar movies is not worth it! Everything indicates that the story will go on and my hunch is that the story is to be continued by also maintaining the quality standards that Pixar have reached during all of these years. Currently, there are three Pixar films in production: The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out and Finding Dory. I can’t wait to watch them all!

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Remembering Asterix

Asteris & Obelix

Asteris & Obelix

Why is it that we love Asterix and his adventures? One could argue that people will always love the spirit of resistance, the idea that they will always be a few who will never surrender, but fight and never give up, as irrationally and stubbornly as one might actually dare to think that it even fringes absurdity at times. Some others would probably say that it was this particular French humor incorporated in the pages of Asterix that made them laugh continuously. Finally, it would be safe to argue that Asterix will always remind us of the good old days of comics when people didn’t die like flies; as a matter of fact, no one ever dies in Asterix! There seems to be a certain degree of innocence in old European comics such as Tintin or Asterix; kids today are exposed to much more violent and cynical comic creations. Every time period imposes its own rules and attitudes and this element transcends through the pages of Asterix.

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Asterix, The Village

I personally grew up with Asterix… and not only! Lucky Luke was also one of my childhood heroes. With Asterix, though, I had a bigger chance of bursting into laughter as Obelix, Asterix’s best friend and companion in all kinds of adventures, was admittedly a hilarious character. Obelix could not take even a step without that reassuring presence of his beloved doggie named Idefix. A charming character, indeed!

Cacofonix & Idefix

What was also of great importance in Asterix’s enormous success worldwide was the importance on the details. Asterix’s village, the only village of Gaul (nowadays France) resisting to the Roman rule, was filled with a number of attractive characters, all of them adding to the general picture. My personal favorite would have been (without a single doubt) the village’s bard, Cacofonix: in the end of each book, he was to be found tied on a tree in order not to sing for yet another time with what was considered by his fellow villages as a terribly annoying singing voice!

But enough with slipping down the memory lane! Now is just about time for some good news: Asterix intends to live forever! The comic was originally created by Rene Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (illustrator), but it continued to reach the audience even after the premature death of Goscinny back in 1977. Uderzo took over and published a few more of Asterix’s adventures in the ancient Roman world and as it seems as definite by now, Asterix will continue to explore new lands and seek for new adventures even without Uderzo’s creative efforts.

There is a new book coming out this year entitled Asterix and the Picts. It will actually be the first Asterix book ever created without Uderzo’s active participation on the project, but it will be released with his full permission. Now, there has been a challenging debate going on lately concerning the fact of whether the new Asterix, which is to be made without the guidance and the creative spirit of at least one of its two original creators, will continue to entertain the readers in the same engaging way that it got its fans used to over the decades.  My opinion is that it was just about time for Asterix to enter a new era, while paying all respect to its particular history. Asterix has grown bigger and bigger over the decades, exceeding expectations. Asterix even has his own theme park! Located just outside Paris, the Parc Asterix receives over 1.5 million visitors per year. You can easily book your own tickets at AttractionTix and live the experience in one of the park’s many roller-coasters and other fun activities.

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I’m personally looking forward to the new Asterix coming out later this year, given the fact that I was slightly disappointed by the last book, entitled Asterix and the Falling Sky, where some… aliens arrive in the village. I do hope that new creators will revive the French legend and new readers and fans will learn about the unbeatable and brave Asterix and Obelix.

Till then, one can always watch one of the four live action movies that have been released over the years, which have met consistent box office success. What is more, there is an upcoming new Asterix animated film expected in 2014. Asterix : The Land of Gods will be the first animated Asterix movie in stereoscopy 3D. Get ready for the new adventures!

Explore the Marvel Universe: Movies, Theme Parks and More

Marvel Comics, Wolverine

As I was growing up, Marvel Comics was just a company publishing comic books for the fans of the “Ninth Art”, as comics came to be recognized today. In other words, it had a specific target group: the readers of graphic novels, which were quite often considered to be a bit geekish and into their own world. These days are long gone. The Marvel of today is a giant of entertainment and its fictional characters dominate the wildest dreams and imagination of kids and teenagers from all around the world. The movies played a huge role, no need to explain this. Ever since Marvel found its way to the big screen, it rapidly transformed, as much as it changed the way we want our super heroes to look like on screen. Ever since Iron-Man, it is true that super heroes look much more humane to our eyes, given the fact that Tony Stark is a guy just like one of us; he is a guy with many flaws that quite often doesn’t really want to learn from his… mistakes!

The Iron Man Giant

The days when Captain America (one of Marvel’s most classic characters) made its debut directly on video tapes back in 1990, missing the opportunity to hit the big screen, are long gone. Today, every single release of a movie based on Marvel characters is a world event for the entertainment industry.  Just take a look at the numbers, if you want further proof: $1,511,757,910 at the box office for last year’s The Avengers!

Iron Man Landing

What is more, Iron Man 3, which was released only last month, has already reached $1.08 billion worldwide, while its cost of production made for only one fifth of this amount; now, this is what I call a goldmine! Fortunately for us, there is more to come. In 2013 we expect the brand new The Wolverine and the return of both Thor and Captain America with the Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Additionally, Spiderman, X-Men, The Fantastic Four and The Avengers are expected to return on screen in the following two years. At the same time, we will also welcome the arrival of some new characters. I am personally looking forward to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Ant-Man in 2015!

Captain America, Marvel Comics

If your love for Marvel characters is unlimited and the movies picturing them are simply not enough to satisfy your hunger, then you shouldn’t really worry about anything, because you can have more of them. Just pack your things and fly away to Florida! The Universal Orlando Resort awaits for you with its spectacular Universal Islands of Adventure.  Marvel’s super heroes have strong competition, as they have to compete with guys like Indiana Jones, boys like Harry Potter and his friends, or even prehistoric monsters such as the tyrannosaurus from Jurassic Park. All of the aforementioned have their place in Universal’s park.

Universal Islands of Adventure in Florida, Marvel Theme Park
Wolverine

Iceman

Fantastic Four

There are plenty of things to do in Orlando, I know! But for all of you Marvel enthusiasts things are quite simple: you only have to make sure that you will book early at the Florida Attractions available at Florida Tix and the rest will come smoothly.

I don’t know if you remember a hilarious scene in a Jim Jarmusch movie titled Down by Law, where Roberto Benigni along with his prison mates John Lurie and Tom Waits started shouting, strangely enough with absolutely no reason, in the middle of the night… “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream”…

Well, at the Marvel Super Hero Island you will be definitely screaming for more – at least for more of  the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man,which is actually a 3-D simulator ride around New York; I guess you will find it hard to forget!

There is also the Incredible Hulk Coaster, a tribute to Hel Storm from the X-Men, with the Storm Force Accelatron and, finally, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall inspired by The Fantastic Four.

While in the U.S. Universal holds all exclusive rights on Marvel characters (and this is the reason you can’t find your favorite super heroes in the Walt Disney World Resort), in the rest of the world things are different. Only a few months ago, it was revealed that Marvel characters will feature the Hong Kong Disneyland sometime in the near future. What is more, in the United Arab Emirates the Marvel Adventure mini theme park (part of the City of Arabia entertainment) is expected to open its gates in late 2013. Finally, the executives of Disneyland Paris have announced that a Marvel theme park is part of their long term future plans.

Apart from all these, one thing is for sure: goodbye, and thanks for the memories, Superman! Long live Iron-Man from now on!