With director Ang Lee’s new film Life of Pi hitting theaters today, we thought we’d take a look at some other films where animals have been inspirational.

Life of Pi is based on a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel. Pi is an Indian boy from Pondicherry, who explores his issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger. This is director Ang Lee’s first film since filming Taking Woodstock and it’s been said to have been a monumental undertaking.

Its visual effects are being hailed as revolutionary and its story beyond inspirational, as Pi and a Bengal tiger have to first learn to simply coexist and end up having to rely upon one another to survive. Because of this, we thought we’d take a look at some other films where animals have inspired us.

‘Free Willy’

Free Willy was released back in 1993, but it’s just as inspirational as it was nearly 20 years ago. The orca (killer whale) was caught in a whaling net and sold to an amusement park with a shady owner.

The films main character, Jesse, is a 12-year-old boy who has been on the streets since he was abandoned by his mother and is ordered to community service where he has to clean the park where Willy is kept. While there, Willy and Jesse become fast friends and together they go on a journey to build themselves back up and learn to trust others. Jesse finds friendship in the unlikeliest place and he begins to heal the wounds left by his destroyed childhood.

One of the most inspirational scenes was when Jesse motions for Willy to jump over the jetty and he jumps to the open ocean to his freedom. While losing his friend, Jesse has now learned to trust others and finally feels at home. Free Willy was also a smash hit in the early ’90s and went on to gross over $150 million at the box office.

‘Seabiscuit’

In 2003 Tobey McGuire starred in a biographical sports drama based on the non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film was based on the story of a horse and a young man (McGuire) who have to learn to be winners again.

McGuire was the jockey that was much too large and Seabiscuit was the horse that didn’t know how small he was – they were a perfect fit. Taking place during the Great Depression, the film had quite a few somber moments. Jeff Bridges starred as a wealthy businessman who loses his family when his son dies in an awful car accident that alternates the course of his life. Bridges meets Red (McGuire) and the two get together to race Seabiscuit.

Red, blind in one eye due to illegal boxing matches he took part in to make enough money to live, was intelligent but very destructive, due to his family abandoning him when he was a young boy. Bridges later meets up with the then unknown Elizabeth Banks, who becomes his love interest. This great cast teamed up to make one hell of a film and instead of them training Seabiscuit to be a winner again, Biscuit ends up teaching them that anyone can succeed if they’re just given a second chance.

‘King Kong’

Peter Jackson had been dreaming of making a King Kong remake even before he started shooting the first Lord of The Rings film, and when word was out that he was doing a remake, fans were ecstatic. Starring Naomi Watts and one big gorilla, we watch the iconic 1933 story unfold as Watts falls for the unlikely beast.

Although this film was a massive 3 hours and 7 minutes long, most would agree it’s well worth it. Ann Darrow (Watts) takes her chances on a shady director (Jack Black) and a rickety ship because she refuses to take the wrong turn in life, despite the curve balls she’s been thrown. She goes on an adventure to see her dream of becoming a film actress and ends up falling for Kong as he protects her from the elements of Skull island.

King Kong is brought to New York and he longs for his blonde beauty, so he breaks away from his shackles and finds Ann. He could have easily made his way away from the city and possibly have lived, but he had to protect Darrow and it sadly results in his death. The lesson learned in this film is that love is always stronger than greed and we’re always too quick to try and make a buck off of one of the world’s biggest wonders.

‘Ratatouille’

Ratatouille (2007) is a movie about a rat. But not just any rat – a rat that loves to cook. The film follows Remy from his humble beginnings where he has a close call with an angry, curler-wearing, shotgun-wielding old lady, to his realization that he lives in France and has ended up near one of the greatest restaurants in all of Paris.

Remy can’t help what he is, and he’s determined not to let that stop him. Sure, he may be a rodent of the generally unclean and feral variety, but he’s not like the rest of his family and friends. He’s got a nose for good food and taste buds that demand the best. But what really sets him apart is his desire and a drive to achieve his goals, no matter how unrealistic they might be.

Remy teaches us that no goal is unachievable. Think you’ve got it tough? Try being a mouse attempting to convince a kitchen full of professional chefs that you want to feed a peasant dish to a famous food critic. That’s tough. Remy inspires us to find any means possible to do what we love, no matter how strange, how crazy, or how improbable it might seem to everyone else.

‘The Chronicles of Narnia’

Aslan is one of the most respected and awe-inspiring creatures in literary and cinematic history. He appears and disappears in the blink of an eye, only stepping forward when his intervention is absolutely necessary. He stays close to the Pevensies in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) because he believes that each of them is important and that each of them will have a hand in finally defeating the White Witch.

Aslan teaches us to believe – in something, anything. Ourselves, each other, him, fate. It doesn’t matter what, as long as we trust in something. As long as we have something worth fighting for. Aslan knew that his life was no more important than anyone else’s.

He was willing to give himself up to save a boy who had betrayed the people of Narnia, simply because it was the right thing to do. Throughout the series, Aslan teaches each of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that they have both strengths and weaknesses, and tells them that whichever ones they decide to give into is what defines them.

‘Tarzan’

Tarzan (1999) sees its title character orphaned at an incredibly young age. A sympathetic gorilla take him in and raises her as his own. He befriends a few other animals, but he’s generally viewed as an outcast – especially in the eyes of the silverback that leads the gorilla troop.

Tarzan grows into a man, but doesn’t necessarily grow into his place within the group. He’s still a little strange, a little different, and a little bit of an outsider. This is only put into even more perspective when other humans show up in the jungle, searching for the gorillas, and Tarzan finally meets someone that looks like him. But never once throughout the entire movie does Tarzan’s mother see him as an outsider. He is her son, regardless of species.

She teaches us to be patient and understanding of someone’s differences, and to never judge a person by what’s on the outside. She looks past the physical dissimilarities and sees only Tarzan’s heart, which is no different than her own.

Do you plan on seeing ‘Life of Pi’ this weekend?

Let us know in the comments which other films you’ve enjoyed where animals have had inspirational roles.

Co-written with Karen Rought.

Quiz: How well do you remember the 2007 Oscars?

3:32 pm EST, January 18, 2017

As the 89th Academy Awards approach, we take a trip back to 2007 to see how memorable the ceremony really was 10 years ago.

Ah, the Oscars. What a night. Glitz and glamour, lots of rich and beautiful people crying and thanking each other. What’s not to like?

Related: 2016 Oscars: Leo finally wins, Mad Max: Fury Road cleans up

Read full article

As the 89th Academy Awards approach, we take a trip back to 2007 to see how memorable the ceremony really was 10 years ago.

Ah, the Oscars. What a night. Glitz and glamour, lots of rich and beautiful people crying and thanking each other. What’s not to like?

Related: 2016 Oscars: Leo finally wins, Mad Max: Fury Road cleans up

In 10 years, will we look back at the 2017 Oscars and remember every detail of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling awkwardly accepting award after award for La La Land while the other nominees politely clap and try not to grit their teeth? Or will the event fade into distant memory?

Maybe we can get an answer to that question by dialling back the clock to 2007 and see just how clearly we remember the 79th Academy Awards.

How did you do? Tell us how well you remember the 79th Academy Awards in the comments!

The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be unveiled Tuesday, January 24.

You may know that one of those dogs-are-so-great-and-warm-our-hearts movies, A Dog’s Purpose, is hitting theaters very soon. Unfortunately, it’s now embroiled in controversy.

TMZ has released a video from the film’s Canadian set depicting a German Shepherd being forced into a fast-moving stream of water. As you can tell, the dog clearly does not want to go in it.

The most upsetting part of the video comes at the very end when we see the dog finally in the fake river but having trouble staying above water. The crew calls cut to rescue him/her.

Read full article

You may know that one of those dogs-are-so-great-and-warm-our-hearts movies, A Dog’s Purpose, is hitting theaters very soon. Unfortunately, it’s now embroiled in controversy.

TMZ has released a video from the film’s Canadian set depicting a German Shepherd being forced into a fast-moving stream of water. As you can tell, the dog clearly does not want to go in it.

The most upsetting part of the video comes at the very end when we see the dog finally in the fake river but having trouble staying above water. The crew calls cut to rescue him/her.

“Sources connected to production tell us eight outboard motors were used to churn the water and recreate a rushing river,” says TMZ. “The dog eventually got in the water — or was forced in — but was quickly submerged.”

At 1:28 in the below trailer you can see a scene that looks similar to what was being filmed in TMZ’s video:

Universal and their partners at Amblin told TMZ in a statement, “Fostering a safe environment and ensuring the ethical treatment of our animal actors was of the utmost importance to those involved in making this film and we will look into the circumstances surrounding this video.”

A Dog’s Purpose stars Dennis Quaid and Britt Robertson. It opens next Friday, January 27.

Update: Josh Gad, who voices a dog in the movie, issued the following statement on Instagram. He speaks highly of the film but says he finds the leaked video “disturbing.”

“While I do not know all of the details and cannot speak to the level of care and caution that went into this moment (as I was never on set for the marking of this film), I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will.”

Since apparently some of you did not see the statement I issued last night, here it is again.

A photo posted by Josh Gad (@joshgad) on

We’re suddenly way less interested in seeing this.

Moviegoers may be getting the Spidey we’ve all been hoping for! A new report reveals that Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, set to hit theaters in 2018, will focus on the Miles Morales Spidey.

Update (January 18, 2017): Sony Animation confirmed on Wednesday, January 18 that their animated Spider-Man movie will star Miles Morales!

Read full article

Moviegoers may be getting the Spidey we’ve all been hoping for! A new report reveals that Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, set to hit theaters in 2018, will focus on the Miles Morales Spidey.

Update (January 18, 2017): Sony Animation confirmed on Wednesday, January 18 that their animated Spider-Man movie will star Miles Morales!

Original story (May 2016): Heroic Hollywood, who has a good record of breaking superhero news, is the source behind the exciting development. As was previously announced, the animated Spider-Man movie will be produced by LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The duo are also set to direct the Star Wars Han Solo spinoff for Lucasfilm.

Who is Miles Morales? As we wrote in a lengthy tell-all about the character last year:

Miles Morales is the current Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics series. Introduced in 2011, Miles is a black-hispanic young man who, like Peter Parker, is a talented scientist and self-proclaimed nerd. However, unlike his predecessor, Morales steps into the superhero’s shoes at the surprisingly young age of 13.

Raised in Brooklyn, Miles was born into a family plagued by criminal activity. Before settling down with his wife Rio, Miles’s father Jefferson used to be crime partners with his brother Aaron (Miles’s uncle). However, where Jefferson tried to shrink away from the lifestyle, Aaron continues to embrace it — assuming the role of classic Marvel villain the Prowler. After pulling off a heist on Oscorp, Aaron unknowingly takes a genetically modified spider home with him. It is at Aaron’s house that Miles is bit by the spider and starts the transformation into Spider-Man.

Where Peter Parker relished the opportunity to become spidey, Miles is reluctant to enter the world of vigilantism. What’s more, his family’s criminal history causes him to question whether or not he can ever be a hero, or if evil is hardwired into him.

Oh, and one other cool thing about him: The guy is immortal, unlike the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man.

Related: Who is Miles Morales? We explain everything

The rumor mill was alive with chatter about the MCU’s Spidey being the Miles Morales version last year, but obviously those reports never panned out. The Peter Parker version of Spider-Man was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, played by Tom Holland. He’s getting his own spinoff film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, next year.

Telling the Miles Morales story on screen may be just the thing the animated Spider-Man movie needs in order for it to draw people into the theaters in December 2018. We’ve had enough Peter Parker stories!

2018 will be a great year for super hero diversity: Marvel’s Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman will be released a few months earlier.