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Who is Brad Bird?

He’s been called by some Hollywood a modern day Walt Disney. He believes animation is an art form not a genre and he’s the director of the new film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Director Brad Bird with Tom Cruise on the set of M:I – Ghost Protocol. The partnership was started when Bird got a text from J.J. Abrams shortly after the release of   The Incredibles that read “Mission?”

Born Phillip Bradley Bird, Bird started training as an animator at the age of 14. Not only is he good friends with John Lasseter, the head of Pixar, in 2007 he was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as #23 on their 50 Smartest People in Hollywood list.

The Young Animator
At the age of 11, Bird was on a tour of the Walt Disney Studios when he announced he would eventually work there. Soon after his tour he started work on a 15-minute short that he submitted to the company. He so impressed the studio, Bird (at the age of 14) would mentor under animator Milt Kahl, one of Walt Disney’s legendary Nine Old Men and continued to follow his dream as he eventually attended the California Institute of the Arts, after he was awarded a scholarship by Disney.

While at Cal Arts, Bird met and became friends with another future animator, Pixar co-founder and director John Lasseter. The two formed a fast friendship which still continues. Bird would go on to adapt and direct the critically acclaimed The Iron Giant for Warner Brothers in 1999, although he’s best known for The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007).

Brad Bird at Pixar, behind him are storyboards for Ratatouille.

Bird also directed The Simpsons‘ episodes “Krusty Gets Busted” and “Like Father, Like Clown” – which is appropriate since Krusty The Klown is his favorite Simpsons character. On the subject of animation, Bird is pretty protective, “People keep saying, “The animation genre.” It’s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn’t do one thing. And, next time I hear, “What’s it like working in the animation genre?” I’m going to punch that person!”

Brad Bird’s latest is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and the director put his stamp on that movie too - Ethan Hunt’s code number is A113 – a classroom that Bird and Lasseter attended at Cal Arts.

Inspired by Animation
Today Brad Bird is one of Hollywood’s rising stars – and his star is only going to get brighter. For kids who want to learn how to get started in animation and become animators, it’s easy to get inspired. Disney classics are a great starting as well as artist like Mary Blair, or look no further than you’re own local movie theater. Who knows you could be the next Brad Bird.


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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” Movie Review

We’ve seen it, and in short, it’s awesome. Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt in the new film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol directed by Pixar’s Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, The Incredibles).

Tom Cruise performed all his own stunts in the film, including the sequence where Ethan Hunt climbs the Burj Khalifa tower – the tallest building in the world.

Eager to prove himself in the live action genre, director Brad Bird takes a worn-out franchise and supercharges it. M:I 4 – Ghost Protocol is a check-your-brain at the door popcorn actioneer – and much like Bird’s first Pixar film The Incredibles, the action is like the Energizer bunny…it keeps going and going…

Making Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol  couldn’t have been easy, it’s obvious that Bird is out to prove himself – and he does. But this film shouldn’t be this good, the Cold War storyline is played out and the star is too. But instead of making a dud, the cast and crew turn out a blockbuster with both visuals and witty dialogue that are constantly assaulting you. But that’s not all, the ensemble cast, including Jeremy Renner (who is being groomed to take over the franchise from Cruise) and Simon Pegg keep Cruise, and the audience, on their toes.

“You’ll be on the outside of the building, I’ll be…on the computer…” Simon Pegg offers comedic relief in M:I – Ghost Protocol.

Old School Action
Like we said the storyline isn’t going to win an Oscar, it’s just there to propel Cruise and Co. through the eye-popping locales and jaw-dropping stunt sequences. The script is written by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (two former Alias writers) and it does an solid job of keeping your interest. The “mission,” changes as the movie progresses but it doesn’t really make any difference. (Even the villain is forgetful, but don’t get hung up on any of that.) This is a roller coaster ride that plays out like an old James Bond movie.

Thankfully, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. To the writers and directors credit, it plays like a comedy at times with the drama being juxtaposed nicely against the jokes. For example, the first major action sequence plays out to “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head” by Dean Martin. Later, Simon Pegg goes in disguise as a Russian army official. It’s fun to watch Renner and Pegg play of each other too, that’s one of the added treats for M:I 4 – Ghost Protocol, a buddy comedy. Equally ridiculous are the film’s gadgets.

Director Brad Bird reviews a shot with Tom Cruise. 

The Amazing Brad Bird & IMAX
Director Brad Bird, is one of the new generation of digital filmmakers – he’s been called one of the smartest people in Hollywood. In M:I 4 – Ghost Protocol, the director keeps the action focused – and loves the IMAX cameras. He does a great job on keeping the story and characters on a straight line too – you never lose interest or your place. Speaking of places, you’ll visit Russia, Dubai and Mumbai and take in the sites in glorious IMAX – provided you see the film in an IMAX theater.

The signature scene where Tom Cruise climbs the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai) is breathtaking and seeing it in any other format in a theater beside IMAX is ridiculous – especially since the film was shot specially using IMAX cameras. (The Batman Dark Knight preview that preceeds it, is equally amazing.)

In the end what could have become a tired, over worked visual effects spy-thriller is an incredibly enjoyable adventure – this is what the movies are all about. And believe it or not, Tom Cruise is still a great action hero, even though he’s pushing 50. Go see this movie – and if the option is available in your area, in IMAX.


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posted by DMA Jordan in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments