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Soul – Review

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A guide to Philosophy, Psychology and Purpose

Disney Pixar's Soul Spirits 2020
Pixar

So, Pixar’s latest offering Soul has skipped the movie theatres and landed straight onto streaming service Disney Plus. But is the film any good? Here’s our review of Soul.

There are few animations that delve into psychological and philosophical concepts. Let alone attempt to grasp the meaning of life itself. Films like Inside Out and Coco occasionally emerge from the woodwork. Connecting us with the psychological mechanisms of our mind. But to use constructs of psychology and philosophy to determine the purpose of life. Wrapped up in a fun-filled animation? That’s a feat only Disney Pixar could have achieved.

Before its Christmas Day release, Soul was already set to become a member of the Pixar big-league movies. The film caused quite a stir amongst Disney fans. Not only was it to be a story delving into the most elusive of life’s questions. The trailer revealed the lead to be African American, a first for the animation giants.

But does Soul live up to the epic hype it created? Is it as philosophical as we were led to believe? Did we switch off our screens at the credits and feel life’s true purpose? Should Moonwind have his own spin-off purely for his philosophies? The last one is a definite.

Let’s delve into the philosophical and psychological thinking underneath this charming animation as I review Soul.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the movie, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

Introducing Joe Gardener

At first, the movie appears innocent. A middle-aged Joe Gardener (Jamie Foxx). A teacher of an uncooperative group of band students with no passion for their music. In the world of opposites, Joe couldn’t be further from their passionless motives. His dreams are big. He feels he is beyond the every-day stability life of a teacher brings. But when he finally hits his big break, he falls down a manhole, leaving behind dreams of jazz fame.

To the unsuspecting viewer, this is where the movie takes a drastic turn. The cinematography of the “real life” Joe had fallen from changes. No longer is Joe in human form, he becomes a blue blob-like construct. In a spiritualist mind, he becomes an ectoplasm.

After escaping the escalator, desperate to avoid The Great Beyond. Joe’s soul lands in The Great Before, a place of blue and pink. It is also full of Jerrys, who is “the coming together of all quantised forms of the universe.” And all animated as though drawn by a child. The Great Before is where a young soul’s personality is located before entering the earth.

The great beyond

Wait, personalities are pre-determined? For many years this subject has been examined by theorists. John Locke theorised that a child is born with a “tabula rasa” or blank slate without any data. Whereas Jerry Fodor argued that skills and abilities are present in the brain from birth. Pixar has formed their own theory, and it’s hard-hitting.

Pixar’s theory about the formation of life is very to-the-point. It completely hijacks the idea that through life a child develops their personalities. From their parents, families, environment and culture. Instead, a child finds their “spark” before they can enter the earth.

Joe finds himself thrust into the role of mentor. This is ironic in itself. In his haste to avoid The Great Beyond, Joe picks the name tag of Psychology professor Dr Börgensson. What’s more ironic, is that he is given the task of mentoring the notoriously taxing 22 (Tina Fey). A soul who seems to have avoided going to earth for centuries, as shown in her portfolio of mentors. The list contains a collection of philosophical, historical, political, and psychological theorists.

Tackling 22

22 is a complex figure. In this sense, Pixar has stuck to the usual script of “hard to reach” character who finds their way by the end of the story. Though, 22 is complicated in a whole different way. The soul is formless, lacks personality, doesn’t have a purpose and refuses to conform. And yet, as a viewer we can’t help but relate to the little blob. Could this be a piece of philosophical insight? Perhaps we are meant to accept face-value rather than relying on external factors. 22 may be an ectoplasm, but one with many layers.

There is also the problem of The Great Before and its realism. In 22’s deciding speech to Joe, the soul states that “This whole place is hypothetical. You can’t crush a soul here. That’s what earth is for.” Alongside the obvious. Pixar may have laid an easter egg here. A miniature nod to the fact that the whole universe they created is hypothetical. As far as philosophy goes, this is up there with Descartes notions of being.

Regardless of the potential hidden meanings behind Soul simply watching it brings a sense of ease in this review. It’s an easy watch with a fantastic storyline. The cast is phenomenal, and the cinematography is excellent. I would implore anyone to add it to their watch list.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 8/10


Thank you for reading our review of Soul. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read more about Soul HERE.

Read IMDB information about Soul HERE.

Soul is streaming now on Disney Plus.

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Comics & Literature

Book To Movie Adaptations Coming Soon

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The House of Gucci image
Universal Pictures

It seems that Hollywood is on an adaptation bender these days. With the upcoming Dune film to the To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix franchise, there is a lot of money to be made in book to screen adaptations. And there are a ton of them in the works. Here’s 15 book to movie adaptations that will soon be coming to a screen near you.

1. The House of Gucci – November 24th, 2021

You don’t have to wait long to watch this true story unfold. Written by Sara Gay Forden, the book goes into the real-life whodunnit of the murder of Maurizio Gucci. Starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, this film is coming out this November.

2. Where the Crawdads Sing – June 24, 2022

This bestseller is going to premiere next summer on Netflix. The book, written by Delia Owens follows Kya; a young woman with a turbulent life, who becomes the prime suspect in a mysterious murder. Daisy Edgar-Jones is set to play Kya.

3. The Nightingale – December 23, 2022

The Nightingale, written by Kristin Hannah, follows the lives of two French sisters after their lives are torn apart by World War Two. The film stars sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning and is set to be released on 23 December 2022.

4. The School for Good and Evil – 2022

Written by Soman Chianani, The School for Good and Evil is a middle-grade standout. It takes place at twin schools that kidnap two children every year. Alongside the children of famous fairy-tale heroes and villains, these children are then trained at either the School for Good or the School for Evil. Eventually becoming the next generation of fairy tales. This film has big names in the cast, such as Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, and Kerry Washington. The main characters Sophie and Agatha will be played by Sophia Ann Caruso and Holly Sturton. Shadow and Bone mainstay Kit Young will also be in this adaptation. It has wrapped filming and will come out sometime in 2022.

5. All Quiet on the Western Front – 2022

Who else remembers reading this in school? The classic was written by Erich Maria Remarque and chronicles the horrors of World War One. The book is being adapted as a film by Netflix. It’s going to be directed by Edward Berger and will star Daniel Bruhl. This is actually the third time the book has been adapted for the screen and will premier in 2022.

6. House of the Dragon/ Fire and Blood – 2022

Rejoice Game of Thrones fans, there’s more coming your way. Based on the book Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin, this Game of Thrones spin-off follows the Targaryens 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It’s being produced by HBO and will be a ten-part limited series. It’s set to premiere in 2022.

7. Bridgerton (Season 2) – 2022

The pandemic hit Bridgerton has also been renewed for season two. The second season will cover The Viscount Who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn. This love story will centre around Anthony Bridgerton. There’s no official release date, but speculation puts it at 2022.

8. A Discovery of Witches (Season 3) – 2022

AMC +’s Discovery of Witches has been renewed for season three. The show is based on Deborah Harkness’All Souls Trilogy. It centres around actors Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as a vampire and witch who fall in love. It’s set to premiere sometime in 2022.

9. Shadow and Bone (Season 2) – 2022/2023

Netflix’s Shadow and Bone has been confirmed for a second season. It will cover the events of the second book, Siege and Storm. It’s also unclear if it will dip into the Six of Crows duology. You can read more of our coverage of season two of Shadow and Bone here.

10. Ninth House – TBD

Written by the same author of Shadow and Bone, Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s adult fiction series. It follows Yale freshman Alex Stern, who has the ability to see ghosts. She is hired to oversee the dark magical dealings of Yale’s secret societies and gets caught up in forces beyond her imagination. Picked up less than two days after its release in 2019, Ninth House is in the works for an Amazon series adaptation. The show does not have a release date yet and is still in pre-production. Leigh Bardugo is currently writing both the sequel and the show, according to her Instagram.

11. They Both Die at the End – TBD

When Mateo and Rufus are told that they will die, they befriend each other to enjoy their last day. After the project fizzled out at HBO, They Both Die at the End has now been picked up for a tv show by Entertainment One. The show will also be written by the author of the book, Adam Silvera. There is no release date yet.

12. The Selection – TBD

A staple of 2010s dystopian fiction, The Selection by Kiera Kass is right up there with Divergent and the Maze Runner. The Selection follows America Singer, who is selected to compete in a Bachelor-like competition to select the next Queen. What feels frivolous quickly becomes a high-stakes competition for the fate of the country. The Selection is set to premiere on Netflix as a movie. Haifaa Al-Mansour is attached to direct. You can expect to be able to watch The Selection in mid-2021.

13. The Red Queen – TBD

Another mainstay of mid-2010’s dystopia is the Red Queen series, by Victoria Aveyard. The Red Queen is set in a world divided by blood colour. The silver-blooded have superpowers and rule over the kingdom. The red-blooded are powerless; living in poverty and serving as cannon fodder to the war. But when red-blooded Mare Barrow reveals the power to manipulate lightning, everything changes. Elizabeth Banks is executive producing and directing The Red Queen for a TV series at Peacock. She will also play a key role. We’re still waiting on a release date, but Aveyard has co-written the pilot.

14. Blackout – TBD

Blackout is a collection of short stories following black teenagers who stumble upon love in the middle of a blackout in New York City. Authors include Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, and Ashley Woodfolk. The collection is going to be adapted into a six-part anthology on Netflix. The Obamas are actually producing Blackout under their flagship Higher Ground banner and Temple Hill. There is no release date yet.

15. Long Way Down – TBD

Written by Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down takes place in the sixty seconds the main character decides whether or not to murder the man who killed his brother. It’s being adapted into a feature film by Universal and is produced by John Legend and Michael De Luca. There is no release date yet.


That’s our list of 15 book to movie adaptations coming out soon. Which one are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out the five things you missed in Bridgeton Season One HERE.

Read iMDB information on The House of Gucci HERE.

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