Saturday, November 28, 2015


As of right now (the night of 11/27), I'm pre-typing this up in preparation for our Disney Cruise vacation!! We leave early tomorrow morning for a week's long voyage on board the Disney Fantasy. By the time you read this, we should be leaving port!

Since we won't be paying for internet access there on the ship, I unfortunately won't be able to get to my daily posts- which means this will be the first time I've taken time off from the blog since I started it!

I'll be back at the end of next week...posts will resume Monday, December 7th. Looking forward to sharing our experiences with you :)

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Good Dinosaur: Soundtrack Review

the good dinosaur soundtrack review

With every new Pixar film comes the much anticipated soundtrack release. It's something I look forward to with bated breath each time. It's a magical moment for me, finally being able hit that play button in hopes to hear something memorable, beautiful and iconic. Whoever the composer, whether it's Randy Newman, Michael Giacchino, etc., I know the folks over at Pixar go to great lengths to make sure that each new score is as special as the last. It's extremely important to them, as they truly understand the impact that a score has on a film. It's where much of the heart lies. I know that I can always expect great new musical themes that will be stuck in my head for years to come...

Thankfully, I'm happy to report that Pixar continues to follow their tradition of inspired scores with The Good Dinosaur! They are 16 for 16 in my book.

Of course, since music (like any art form) is completely subjective, I can't promise that you'll love this soundtrack as much as me. I've heard people who love it, hate it, are somewhere in the middle or just don't care. I myself, am a movie score buff. Since I was a young kid, I have always listened to and appreciated many genres and styles of instrumental music; so I might have a different ear than most.

the good dinosaur soundtrack review

For me, The Good Dinosaur score by [the brother team of] Michael Danna and Jeff Danna is nothing short of brilliant. Like the film, it's extremely unique! Since this is the first time Pixar has ever used this duo (and since I've never really followed their past projects), I didn't really know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised.

I absolutely love the feel of the music. It's incredibly different. In fact, it's so unique that I've had a hard time coming up with the right words and terms to describe it. Here's my best shot though...

As reported, the film draws heavily from the western genre, so naturally, so does the music! It fits the images on screen like a glove. I never would have pictured this type of music coming from a dinosaur movie, but it's beautiful and it works so well.

So what's it like? Well, think of the music of the early American settlers; then add some classic old west/American frontier vibes (cowboys and the covered wagon pioneers of the 1800s; Oregon Trail anyone?), a touch of Native American influence, some classic cinematic action pieces, some traditional sweeping melodies and then some of the Danna brothers' own exotic flare... and BOOM! There's the music for The Good Dinosaur. Yah, I guess you just have to listen to get what I'm talking about ;)

the good dinosaur soundtrack review

TRACK LISTING (If you haven't seen the film, spoilers ahead!)-
1. Homestead
2. Hello Arlo
3. Chores
4. Make Your Mark
5. Fireflies
6. Critter Problem
7. You're Me and More
8. Family Struggle
9. Swept Away
10. Mountain Top
11. Lost in the Wild
12. Offerings
13. Unexpected Friend
14. Pet Collector
15. Swimming Lessons
16. Orphans
17. The Storm
18. I'm Never Getting Home
19. Storm Chasers
20. Bloodhound
21. Fight Them Rustlers
22. Run With the Herd
23. Returned Call
24. Sky Sharks
25. Arlo's Vision
26. Rescue
27. Over the Falls
28. Goodbye Spot
29. Homecoming
30. Arlo Makes His Mark

The Danna brothers' choices of unique instruments is what really gives this score its original flavor. There are so many cool sounds from so many different cultures that it ends up being completely its own thing (which is why it's so hard to describe). In addition to the classic instruments found in orchestras (violins, violas, cellos, basses, flutes, oboes, clarinets, french horns, tubas, trumpets and so on), you'll also hear: fiddles, Native American flutes, three different types of piano (toy piano, grand piano & "grandma's porch piano"), hand and mallet percussion, kazoo, mandolin, harmonica, banjo, slide whistle, cittern, cuatro, cumbus, harpolek, saz, lap steel, bouzouki and more. Yah, I have no idea what half those instruments are either.

the good dinosaur soundtrack review

I absolutely love the beautiful, reoccurring themes (and variations on themes) scattered throughout this score. They've been stuck in my head ever since I listened to this for the first time (especially the ones found in my favorite track "Run With the Herd"; you can usually find me whistling that tune these days). For the average listener however, I can understand why they may think this is a more unmemorable/generic collection of tracks. Admittedly, there isn't anything as instantly (and universally) catchy as, say, "Youve Got a Friend in Me" or anything like that; but I think after multiple listens, it will grow on people.  

I wish I could go on in detail about each track, but to keep things on the [relatively] shorter side, here is just a quick list of my favorites: Homestead, Hello Arlo, Chores, Make Your Mark, Fireflies, Swimming Lessons, Orphans, The Storm, Stormchasers, Run With the Herd, Sky Skarks, Arlo's Vision, Goodbye Spot, Homecoming, and Arlo Makes His Mark. Though I do enjoy this entire score, those are the tracks that I repeat over and over. The others are good, but they don't stand out to me as much compared to the half that I listed. I tend to gravitate towards the more emotional cues.

I've had this on repeat for an entire week now. I've lost track of how many times I've listened to it. Whether I'm driving or browsing on the computer, I feel like it's always on! Like right now. Overall, I'm really enjoying this soundtrack. This and Michael Giacchino's Inside Out are in my top three film scores of the year (along with Alan Silversti's The Walk). Though I can't say this is one of my all time favorites (right now), it still lives up to the high standard I hold for the music of Pixar.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Good Dinosaur: My In Depth Film Review

good dino film review

Clear back during the 2011 D23 Expo, Pixar announced that they would be making a movie about dinosaurs. At that point, it was known as, well, The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs. Just with that simple announcement, I was so thrilled! It just seemed to fit in perfectly with Pixar's lineup of beloved and universal topics; things that countless kids have grown up showing interest in- toys, bugs, monsters, fish, super heroes, cars, space, princesses, etc. I know I went through a dinosaur phase when I was younger!

As a Pixar fan, I followed the production very closely through the years. Though I slowly started to realize that the film was going to be totally different from what I initially pictured, I was still excited. Yes I was also a bit worried, especially through the delay (the movie's story, director and actors changed halfway through production), but excited nonetheless. I was rooting for the film to make it from the beginning, as some predicted it would end up like Newt (one of Pixar's cancelled projects). Now, after all that time, it's hard to believe it's finally here!

Ok, ok, you're probably thinking "just cut to the chase already." Did I love the film or not? Well, in short, I'm happy to report that I loved it. Remember though how subjective art is (especially film), so keep in mind that these are just my personal thoughts. I know that The Good Dinosaur won't be everyone's cup of tea. 

Lets dig into it a bit more though, shall we?

Yes, there is a sweet simplicity to the story of The Good Dinosaur...but that's what I love about it! Some forget that a more simple story does not automatically equal a bad story. Some of the most timeless fables and tales out there, ones that have transcended thousands of years, are actually quite straightforward. Conversely, a more complex story does not automatically equal a good story. There are many other factors involved.

Does Good Dino borrow some familiar messages, themes and other traditional story elements? Sure does! But what story doesn't to an extent? It's what Pixar has always done best- taking familiar concepts and putting some kind of creative spin on them to make the story feel fresh. The same is true here with Good Dino. Though familiar in some ways, it was still unlike anything I had ever seen.

I honestly enjoyed the story quite a bit (and I actually didn't predict everything that happened). Sure you know that Arlo makes it home (just like you knew Buzz and Woody would make it back to Andy or that Nemo would be found or that the Incredibles would save the day), but it's all about the journey getting there. It's about spending time with lovable (yet flawed) characters and seeing them grow emotionally. It's about learning important life lessons. It's about, most importantly, the heart (and man does this film have heart).

I was worried, but I ended up loving the whole "boy and his dog" aspect. It was a strange idea, but they really pulled of! It just works. Another thing I wasn't too sure on, but also ended up really enjoying, was the western feel of the film. The cowboy/rancher t-rex, the rustler raptors, the farming apatosaurus, was actually really brilliant! So creative and clever.

Whether you're looking for a classic boy and his dog story, an adventure film, a survival picture, a good old fashioned western, a coming of age tale, a buddy/road trip comedy or just a straight up dinosaur flick...this is the movie has it all!

I loved the characters. I couldn't help but fall in love with Arlo, Poppa, Mamma, Buck, Libby, Spot, the pet collector, the t-rex and others. Interestingly though, I felt that this was Pixar's smallest cast to date. Really there are only about 15 or 16 dinosaurs in the whole film (along with some background animals/critters) and none of them have very much screen time at all (aside from Spot and Arlo of course). This may bother some people, but I totally understand why that decision was made...and it worked just fine for me. When it comes down to it though, sure, I would have liked to see a bit more dinos.

The voice cast was great. Everyone was perfectly cast for me. Arlo was especially adorable; the actor, Raymond Ocho, really captured his fearful and sheltered (yet humble) nature. Another stand out for me was Butch the t-rex voiced by Sam Elliott. He did a fantastic job just being himself. Again, I was hesitant on the characters having that western draw/twang in their speech, but after seeing the film all the way through, I had a better appreciation for it.

I think my only complaint here is that, since I did enjoy the secondary characters so much, I wish they could have had more screen time (especially the hilarious pet collector)!

This is Pixar we're talking about, so of course the animation (everything from character expressions/movements to the lighting) was gorgeous. Some of the best I've seen in an animated feature. The landscapes were breathtaking and very cinematic! I know many people have critiqued the more "photo real" backgrounds with the "overly cartoony" dinosaurs, but that didn't bother me one bit. I don't really get why that has been an issue at all. I didn't think that was too much different than what Pixar has done in the past (look at the scenic shots in Wall·E, Ratatouille, Brave, Monsters University, etc). I think that people have really just jumped on the bandwagon with this critique, ever since it was said by someone back when the first trailer appeared. I personally really liked the contrast!

The character designs was "spot" on. For me, the dinosaurs looked exactly what I pictured Pixar dinosaurs would look like...cute, colorful and cartoony! This is a animated film after all. If I wanted gritty, real looking dinosaurs, I'd watch other films such as Jurassic Park or Disney's Dinosaur.

For my full write-up on the soundtrack, visit my post HERE.

good dinosaur review

This was a very pure and innocent film (which is part of why I loved it)...except for one scene which, I felt, went too far. During Arlo and Spot's adventure, they come across and eat some rotten [fermented] fruit. You'll see what happens, but it crossed the line for me and was very bizarre. Though it's only about 30 seconds to a minute of the film, that scene left a negative impact. I would have left that scene on the cutting room floor.

With that I give the film a B+ (8/10).

Bottom line: All in all, The Good Dinosaur is a fun, emotional, funny, sincere, beautiful and clever film. Simple? Yes, but also poignant. I really enjoyed the overall feel and tone of it. It has all the heart that you expect from Pixar and you can tell the filmmaking team behind it put everything they had into it. My hat goes off to everyone involved! Congratulations on another success. It's truly a film to proud of and a worthy addition to the Pixar lineup.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Toy Story: Alien "Tsum Tsum" Pen

tsum tsum pen

Here we have the newly released Disney Store Toy Story aliens "Tsum Tsum" click pen! This is a simple, yet cute item that my wife just surprised me with as a little "just because" treat. <3 We love us some "Tsums"!

Unfamiliar with what a "Tsum Tsum" is? No's a little info! "Tsum Tsums" (meaning "stack stack" in Japanese) are cute, stylized Disney plush that come in a variety of different sizes. Their elongated shapes make them stackable for display (hence the "stack stack"). They originated in Japan (along with a phone app game of the same name) and have since made their way to the US. Now, other Tsum Tsum style merch, such as pin sets, mugs, dishes, shirts, socks, pencils, pens, etc. are also starting to be released! Tsum Tsum fans rejoice.

toy story tsum tsum pen

Here are some additional details:
  • Retractable
  • Cute, minimal screen art
  • Silvertone metal clip
  • Black ink
  • Part of the Disney Store D/Style Collection
  • Metal / plastic
  • 6'' tall  
tsum tsum pen

If you're a Toy Story and/or "Tsum Tsum" fan looking for a new pen, you can't really go wrong here. Pick it up at the Disney Store HERE for $6.95!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finding Nemo: MagicBandits

pixar magicbandits

Ever since MagicBandits became a thing at Walt Disney World, people have asked me numerous times if there were any Finding Nemo themed ones out there. Well, I'm happy to finally be able to say- "why yes, there are!"

Since I started collecting MagicBandits during our 2014 Disney World vaca (see my other posts featuring Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Toy Story and Cars Bandits), I had also hoped that Finding Nemo ones would someday be released.


If you've never heard of these "MagicBandits", here's the scoop. They're basically just little vinyl charms that snap into the extra holes of your magic band (check out the back of the package above) to add additional pops of color and personality. Many different Disney characters are available!

Honestly, when I first saw these at the parks, I thought they were kind of a pointless way for Disney World to make extra money (I know, not my usual positive outlook). I was like"these are lame, who would buy these." However, that thought didn't last more than ten seconds once I saw Pixar themed ones were available.

Check them out attached to my Magic Band below! They look great.

pixar magicbandits

The first Pixar Bandits I ever saw in the parks were the Monsters Inc. ones, which sold me on the idea of these things. I thought it would be fun to add some of my love for Pixar to my magic band and my overall "ensemble". After finding those, I was hooked and looked for more Pixar related Bandits. I then found a fun Cars 3-pack (featuring Lightning Mcqueen, Mater and Lightning's signature number 95 logo) and then found out there was a rare/sold out Incredibles 4-pack (which I got online once I got home). Earlier this year, a Toy Story themed 3-pack was released.

You may be wondering if these stay on well. Yes, for the most part. Once you pop them on, they're pretty secure. They can snag on things, however, and pop off (I had that happen once or twice, for example getting off of Rockin' Roller Coaster). For the most part though, you won't have to worry about them falling off. Getting these for young kids though may be a different story, since they could easily rip them off and toss them aside. I definitely wouldn't get them for kids under six or seven, but it totally depends on the kid of course. Just in case you do plan on getting these Bandits for very young kids, be aware that they can easily be snagged on something or pulled off and lost. 

You can find these currently at the Disney Parks and gift shops in Orlando, but if you're interested in tracking these down before your next Disney vacation, check them out HERE or be sure to visit this direct link to current eBay listings. Good luck and have fun! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monsters Inc: Boo "Dorbz"

boo dorbz

Note: Today I'll be mainly repeating what I said in yesterday's post (my exact thoughts apply here)- so if you read that one, you're probably good to just skip to the pictures here!

If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, you might know that I'm all about the current vinyl collectible craze right now. From the old school "Mighty Muggs" to Funkos ("POP!", Mystery Minis, "BLOX") to Vinylmations, etc...I love them all!

Well, yet another line of stylized vinyl figures has surfaced and is growing in popularity: "Dorbz" by Vinyl Sugar! Here we have the adorable Boo from Monsters Inc.; #44 of their Disney Series 1. This one (along with Sulley, who I showed off yesterday) were just released.

Take a look at some of the other characters in this collection on the side of the box! So far, Sulley and Boo are the only Pixar characters, but I'm so hoping for more soon! These little guys are so great.

boo dorbz
 boo dorbz

Dorbz stand at about 3" tall and feature one point of articulation (the head can rotate a full 360 degrees). They retail for around $7.99, but that depends on where you purchase them.

boo dorbz
boo dorbz

It was recently announced that Dorbz (along with other Vinyl Sugar collectibles) will be now part of the Funko family (it seems as though Vinyl Sugar was bought out by Funko?). Either way, from now on, Dorbz will be carrying the Funko name! That's pretty neat. 

I found Sulley and Boo at Game Stop this past week (they had one of each luckily), but Dorbz in general can be found at other retailers such as Amazon, Hot Topic, Barnes and Noble, etc.. Be sure to use the direct link below if interested! If you're a Monsters Inc. fan and/or collector, this is a must. Perfect for both kids and adults!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Monsters Inc: Sulley "Dorbz"

sulley dorbz

If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, you might know that I'm all about the current vinyl collectible craze right now. From the old school "Mighty Muggs" to Funkos ("POP!", Mystery Minis, "BLOX") to Vinylmations, etc...I love them all!

Well, yet another line of stylized vinyl figures has surfaced and is growing in popularity: "Dorbz" by Vinyl Sugar! Here we have the adorable Sulley from Monsters Inc.; #43 of their Disney Series 1. This one (along with Boo, who I'll be showing here tomorrow) were just released.

Take a look at some of the other characters in this collection on the side of the box! So far, Sulley and Boo are the only Pixar characters, but I'm so hoping for more soon! These little guys are so great.

dorbz disney
dorbz disney

Dorbz stand at about 3" tall and feature one point of articulation (the head can rotate a full 360 degrees). They retail for around $7.99, but that depends on where you purchase them.

dorbz sulley
disney dorbz sulley

It was recently announced that Dorbz (along with other Vinyl Sugar collectibles) will be now part of the Funko family (it seems as though Vinyl Sugar was bought out by Funko?). Either way, from now on, Dorbz will be carrying the Funko name! That's pretty neat. 

I found Sulley and Boo at Game Stop this past week, but Dorbz in general can be found at other retailers such as Amazon, Hot Topic, Barnes and Noble, etc.. Be sure to use the direct link below if interested! If you're a Monsters Inc. fan and/or collector, this is a must. Perfect for both kids and adults!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cars: Green Ramone Funko POP (Target Exclusive)

Back in July, Funko released their adorable collection of "POP!" vinyl characters from Disney·Pixar's Cars (see post HERE). Well, that line continues today with the brand new Target exclusive green Ramone! This has just started showing up in stores over the past couple weeks.

Since this is considered a Ramone "variant" (just a straight repaint of the standard purple Funko "POP!" Ramone), it's still #131 in the Disney "POP!" Funko line. Even though it uses the same sculpt as the original, this was a must have for me. I'm a sucker for limited/exclusive items in general.

How cool is this though? Like the other cars in this collection, this one has a great design, vibrant colors and some nice little details (love the glitter/sparkly paint job). If you're any kind of Pixar Cars fan and/or collector, than this is for you. What's so cool about the Funko "POP!" products is that they're simple enough that a baby could enjoy them, yet sophisticated enough for adult collectors to display- so whatever your age, you'll appreciate this! The exclusive nature of this one makes it extra cool as well.

Additionally, be sure to check out the two other exclusive variants released earlier this year: Dinoco Lightning Mcqueen (SDCC 2015 exclusive) and "Brand New Mater" (NYCC 2015 exclusive).

If you're interested in picking this up for your collection, definitely check your local Target for availability. I found this one in the store's Funko (not the Cars) section. Or if it's easier for you to just to snag online, check out this direct link to current eBay listings.

Thanks for dropping by! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Events: D23 Expo 2015 (Part 4)

The 4th (and final) part of my D23 Expo 2015 trip! Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 if you missed those. Ok, all caught up? Then lets get to it!

All good things must come to an end...sadly the last day of the phenomenal D23 Expo was upon us! This was a shorter, much more chill day, but there were still some great moments. First of all, and I still don't know exactly how this happened, but we were able to get into the expo as "press" before anyone else! The group I was with had something arranged and I was able to walk right in with them like we owned the place. It was pretty sweet! We were able to walk the entire show floor with close to no one else there. We even got to do/see some things that we probably wouldn't have been able to do later in the day because of the long lines.

Me and Lyla in front of the Disney/Pixar consumer products booth!

For example, we got to check out the Wall·E and Eve full scale replicas up close! I had seen videos of these online (they're pretty famous at this point and have made countless public appearances), but it was [of course] even cooler to see them in action in person. These working, radio controlled robots (with movements, lights and sounds) were made by fan Mike Senna, under the banner "Wall·E Builders Club."

It was a blast having Steve C.'s wife Sarah join in on the fun...she was able to make it for Saturday and Sunday! Our group felt incomplete when she wasn't around, so we were all happy when she was able to make it for that second and third day.

Lyla, Steve, myself and Sarah

Another thing we were able to do (without any crowed) was stop by the TOMY toys booth! TOMY was the company behind many of the Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur toys this year. Though they've all been released since then, it was very cool at the time being able to see an exclusive sneak peek at the Good Dino action figure collection a month or so before the public. No photos were even allowed!

My favorite part of the TOMY booth was the full size Inside Out console set they had there to take pictures well as a bunch of props for dressing up as all the emotions from the film (such as Fear's coffee mug, Sadness's glasses and Anger's "No Dessert" newspaper)! Also, you could enter a contest (to win the TOMY Inside Out toy line) by posting your picture on Twitter or Instagram with the appropriate hashtags. 

Check us out- not a bad looking group!

Here we have a very ecstatic Logan L. who bought the Playstation 4 from me that I won on Thursday (during the Disney Infinity Toy Box Summit event). Since I'm not a gamer, I had no use for it. I was happy to help a brotha out!

The next event we headed off to was the Disney Interactive panel. And since some of the guys I was with were "press", they were able to snag me a press badge as well! I felt pretty official. A big thanks to Will (of Disney Infinity TV) for helpin' out there! 

The presentation touched on some new/upcoming Disney video games, such as Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition, Star Wars Battlefront (from Electronic Arts) and Kingdom Hearts III (from Square Enix)- as well as Disney's new interactive "Playmation" game and the Star Wars Battlepod. It was so much fun watching the guys "Periscope" this presentation to their loyal fans who couldn't be there!

Though this now available, the presentation also had the first official look at one of this year's brand new Infinity 3.0 figures...Spot from The Good Dinosaur! Even though I don't play the game, I might just have to pick this one up for display. Really fantastic design.

Before we took off, I did one more sweep around the Expo for good measure. I didn't want it to be over! While I was visiting the Pizza Planet truck for the last time, I hear "are you by chance Dan The Pixar Fan?" I turned around. A blog/Instagram follower of mine (and fellow Disney fan), Claudia, just happened to be standing near by and had recognized me! A big shout out to her- it was such a pleasure meeting you!

I guess it really is a "small world after all"- what are the chances??

Me and Claudia

It was also super great meeting another Disney fan that I had made "friends" with in the world of social media over the past while...Jenny Y.! It was such a pleasure meeting you in person as well. Such a fun little meet-up. A big shout-out to Jenny for being one of my longest and most dedicated blog followers!

Me and Jenny

Jenny and I were both standing in line trying to get Nick Pitera's autograph. Not only is Nick a YouTube singing sensation, but he also sang the ever so catchy "Triple Dent Gum" commercial in Inside Out! He was signing D23 Expo exclusive prints (featuring a movie still of the Triple Dent Gum memory orb), but unfortunately I missed him by just a couple minutes. By the time I was getting close to the front of the line (there were only a few people in front of me), it was time for him to jet. Oh man!

I was still able to snag a few pics of him signing though. That'll have to do!

At that point it was just about time to get going. You know that feeling you get when leaving a Disney parks/cruise vacation? Walking out those doors I felt that same thing. The magic quickly began to fade as I realized it was back to the real world!

It was such a remarkable time though. Even though it came and went so quickly, I have so many magical memories to now look back on. I saw some great things, purchased some fun mementos and met some fantastic new friends. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to go! A very special thanks to everyone who made it all possible. 

Thanks so much for sticking with me the last few days as I documented this trip. I hope you had fun hearing about all my experiences there at the Expo!

So...Is it 2017 yet? ;)