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 »
Please Recommend /Film on Facebook
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.
Read More »
Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2012 by Angie Han
The two Cars films may be Pixar’s worst-reviewed films to date, but the scorn of critics certainly doesn’t stop kids from loving the hell out of Lightning McQueen, Mater, and company. There are Cars-themed lunchboxes, t-shirts, games, even beds — and starting in June, there’ll be a Cars Land as well. Disney has just announced the opening date for the 12-acre attraction, an expansion of Disney California Adventure in Anaheim. Hit the jump for details on the grand opening, as well as pictures and video offering glimpses of the new Cars Land.
Read More »
Whether you’re a Disney superfan like our own Peter Sciretta or more a casual admirer like myself, it’s hard not to get extremely excited when a whole new world is opening up at one of their theme parks. The next one up is Cars Land, based on the popular Pixar films, which is scheduled to open this June at Disney California Adventure. Though plenty of information has been released about some of the rides and other attractions, a video has now come online featuring Disney Imagineers discussing the creation of this whole new world.
After the jump with a 12-minute making of video for Cars Land. Read More »
Posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Angie Han
For the past seven months, Kees van Dijkhuizen‘s been releasing tribute videos for his yearlong “[the films of]” project, each showcasing the work of a different director via a montage, and we at /Film have been with him since the beginning. For his newest installment, however, van Dijkhuizen chose to go a slightly different route: Rather than select one auteur to focus on, he’s chosen an entire company. Watch “[the films of] Pixar Animation Studios” after the jump.
Read More »
Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011 by Angie Han
Cars 2 may not have been anyone’s favorite Pixar flick, but even the critics who were disappointed at its lack of heart had to admit it at least looked gorgeous. On a visual level, the characters and their colorful universe were as dazzlingly, distinctly Pixar-ian as any in the studio’s history. Using their signature style — rich colors, clean lines, big friendly eyes — the animators brought a wide variety of vehicles to life. From beat-up tow trucks to Japanese racecars to rugged military Jeeps, cars of all stripes were given lives and personalities.
Now, a bevy of famed cinematic cars have received the (totally unofficial) Pixar treatment as well. Old Red Jalopy isn’t actually associated with the studio, but their reimaginings of notable movie vehicles look so good, we’re almost fooled. Check out the gallery after the jump.
Read More »
Last year, it was revealed that Disney was developing a film called Planes, a direct-to-DVD computer animated spin-off from Cars. Its notable that while the trailer mentions the story takes place “from above the world of Cars”, the teaser has no mention of Pixar AT ALL. Even the Disney-Pixar production company logo above the movie title only reads “Disney”. The movie was produced by Disney Toon Studios, the outfit behind many DVD sequels for Disney films.
Remember the last time Disney began doing direct-to-dvd spin-off/sequels of their classic animated films? Yeah, that was a disaster — a disaster that John Lasseter ended in 2007. Well it looks like the mouse house needs more money and Lasseter is on board.
I’m sure Pixar wants no credit what-so-ever. I have no interest what-so-ever in seeing this movie. Watch the one and a half minute teaser trailer embedded after the jump. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Read More »
Cool Posts From Around the Web:
Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Angie Han
We’ve featured a handful of director montages here on /Film recently, and while this “25 Years of Pixar” compilation isn’t quite that, it’s actually pretty similar. In terms of look, tone, and quality, I’d say Pixar is as consistent as many directors.
For the video, NkMcDonalds pulled scenes from works spanning over decades — from ’80s shorts to this year’s Cars 2. If you like Pixar as much as I do, it’ll definitely make you smile and it might even make you tear up a little tiny bit. Watch it after the jump.
Read More »