How is it that a movie studio that produces kid’s films can be responsible for so many of the best films in cinema?
Twenty years ago, that question would be directed at Disney. Now it’s more likely to refer to Pixar, Studio Ghibli, or even Dreamworks of late. What is it about children’s entertainment that has, time and time again, managed to capture the hearts and minds of adults as much as it has their offspring?
Perhaps it’s a result of these films rekindling our lost sense of childlike wonder and naively adventurous spirit. Perhaps it’s their universally accessible narrative simplicity, always ready to charm away our worries with the awe-inspiring visual splendor through which these tales are so often told.
Whatever the case may be, with thirteen films under their belt, the Pixar formula is one that’s proven itself to leave a lasting impression, transporting us to spectacular, gorgeously rendered and thoughtfully defined worlds — second only to the passionately heartfelt and funny stories of family and friendship embedded within.
What’s more, Pixar is able to achieve this mixture while emboldening children to think for themselves; to challenge the status quo; to recognize their true potential, as well as their limitations. As fun and charming and pretty as Pixar’s films are, it’s the complex ideas and emotions they explore that makes them truly special, affording youths the opportunity to confront the realities of the world around them in a way they can understand and cope with. While everyone else is content to pander to kids, Pixar knows that the best way to communicate with children is to treat them as equals.
But equality is not a trait shared by the current roster of Pixar films. Despite the technical virtuosity on full display with every production, it takes a lot more than stunning animation to make a film great, and that’s not a balance that Pixar always strikes — at least not recently. At one point it may have seemed like the studio could do no wrong, but that was a short-lived romantic notion, and hardly one that merits much deliberation. No, far more instructive would be to scrutinize their missteps in conjunction with their successes, and try to determine what exactly it is that makes any one of their works richer than the other. After all, what better way to understand what makes a story great than to study the best? Read More »
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This week, Dave, Devindra, and Adam discuss the crappiness of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, explore the pleasures of male stripping, and ponder the mediocrity of Brave. Special guest Jen Yamato joins us from Movieline.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. We’ll be reviewing Magic Mike next week.
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This weekend saw the release of Pixar’s latest film, Brave, a movie that easily won the weekend, garnering an overall “A” CinemaScore from appreciative audiences. Still, at only 74 percent on RottenTomatoes (Pixar’s second worst), and a 7 out of 10 from Germain Lussier, it is clear there is a bit of room for dissent.
Out there in audience-land, did you notice something a little “off” about Brave? Perhaps there are lessons that can be learned, or conversations to engage in?
To provide some context, and on the off chance we have completely different taste, here are my top five Pixar efforts:
3. Toy Story
4. Finding Nemo
5. Monsters, Inc.
Until now, the only Pixar film I flat out didn’t enjoy was Ratatouille, though I admit to only having seen it once, and folks say I’d like it much more if I were to re-visit. Even Cars 2 had redeeming qualities. I can truly say I’ve never found a Pixar film entirely lacking, and that statement includes Brave. There’s no question the film had amazing visuals, setting a new standard for excellence within the animation genre. Unfortunately, the story lacked a bit of … what’s the word I’m looking for? Ooomph. As such, I’m compelled to break down where I feel the problems were, if only to restore everyone’s favorite animation house to the glory they so richly deserve.
One final note, just to head off the obligatory “comparing Brave to the rest of Pixar’s work isn’t entirely fair” argument, we’re in complete agreement there. It’s not fair, and in many ways Pixar’s own ambition and commitment to excellence have raised the bar for all movies. So no, Brave isn’t a bad movie on merit, it’s merely an average one, which animation houses make all the time without compelling anyone to write a 3,000 word article on the subject. But within the greater context of Pixar’s previous work, Brave does come up short, and I think we’ve got a bead on the reasons why.
Note: Massive SPOILERS follow, naturally.
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Brave is Pixar’s first overt fairy tale, and the studio’s first film with a female protagonist. Those points, combined with the fairly public development process that saw the title change from The Bear and the Bow, and original director Brenda Chapman replaced with Mark Andrews, has positioned Pixar’s thirteenth film as a film of interest for many.
Brave is in theaters now, so how did it turn out? Talk about your experience watching Brave after the break, and keep in mind that spoilers are welcome in the comments below. Read More »
Pixar’s latest film, Brave, is a beautifully-constructed, entertaining journey with well-developed characters set in an interesting world. That much we’ve come to expect from the company behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up. What we’ve also come to expect are complicated adult themes and situations portrayed in a kid-friendly computer-generated environment. There Brave doesn’t feel like a Pixar movie. The film is filled with ideas and stories that are decidedly more childish than we’ve come to expect. In the end Brave does exactly what it set out to do, but the journey to get there isn’t particularly innovative or compelling. Brave has its moments, but it’s not the movie you think it’s going to be. Read More »
Pixar and Disney started to screen Brave last week, and the first reviews are hitting online outlets now. There’s been a lot of interest in the film, in part simply because it is Pixar’s latest effort, but also because it features the studio’s first female lead protagonist, and because of the complex and relatively public development process that saw a project called The Bear and the Bow turn into Brave.
Reactions so far range from nearly ecstatic to a more measured, mixed take. We’ll have a proper review soon; in the meantime check out a sample below. Read More »
Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012 by Angie Han
Even as we dive into the heart of the summer movie season, some of the most promising imminent releases could be titles that aren’t new at all. Pixar is re-releasing four of its recent hits — Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Up, and Wall-E — into AMC theaters for four days over Memorial Day weekend, from May 25 through May 28. The films will be be up against the horror Chernobyl Diaries and the sci-fi sequel Men in Black 3. Yeah, given those options, I may just opt to revisit one of the Pixar classics too.
Especially since tickets will be going for as low as $6 each. Considering that regular screenings generally cost twice that in my area, that’s quite the bargain. Further sweetening the deal, each screening will also include a classic Pixar short and a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at Pixar’s next project, Brave. Head to the AMC website for more info on locations, pricing, and showtimes.
And speaking of Brave, hit the jump for details on its world premiere, which will coincide with the debut of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.
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Being a first time director at Pixar isn’t the same as being a first time director in other places. Right off the bat there’s the added pressure of following some of the most critically acclaimed movies in recent memory. There’s also a long road before getting to the top.
Mark Andrews, director of Pixar’s newest film Brave, had already worked on The Iron Giant, Spider-Man and more before joining Pixar in 2000. Since then he’s contributed to The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Cars and Toy Story 3 in all kinds of different ways. He also co-wrote and co-directed the short One Man Band. So when Brave‘s original director and creator Brenda Chapman left, Andrews was given the call and he was primed and ready to go.
In our one-on-one interview with Andrews, we talked about the pressure of directing at Pixar as well as the Chapman controversy. We also touched on what he changed about the film, why Brave is so different from the other Pixar films and his disappointment over John Carter, which he co-wrote with Andrew Stanton. Read about all that and more after the jump. Check it out below. Read More »
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