what makes a sequel good

Since it’s summer, we’ve seen our fair share of sequels from The Avengers: Age of Ultron to Terminator: Genisys to Magic Mike XXL and the pseudo-reboot Jurassic World. Audiences have varying opinions on these sequels, sometime saying they’re not as good as the predecessor, others saying that they’re missing something. But what?

Well, a new video essay aims to answer that question by asking “What Makes a Sequel Good?” The video does this by comparing original films like Toy Story and The Terminator to their sequels, Toy Story 2 and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But those aren’t the only examples, because there’s some bad sequels that need to be discussed too.

Find out what makes a sequel good after the jump!

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Pixar’s 15 Best Female Characters

INSIDE OUT

Inside Out stands out among the Pixar stable for a number of reasons, and one of those is its emphasis on female characters. The two main characters, Joy and Sadness, are both female. So is Riley, the 12-year-old kid in whose mind the whole film takes place. That’s quite a welcome change of pace from Pixar, which didn’t get its first female lead until 2012’s Brave — its 13th film.

But that’s not to say Pixar didn’t have great female characters before that. Though they’re typically relegated to supporting roles, sharp women and interesting girls have always been part of the Pixar canon. To celebrate the studio’s new girl-driven film, here’s a look back at some of their most memorable ladies.  Read More »

pixar-header

For all the hate, garbage and stupidity the Internet brings us on a daily basis, every once in a while it provides a global platform for something awesome. In this case, Jon Negroni‘s Pixar Theory. Negroni wrote a post that has been circulating since last week which goes through every single Pixar movie since Toy Story and surmises they’re all set in the same universe.

So, for example, the theory states Brave sets a precedent for why animals can interact with humans, which explains a lot of Ratatouille, which maybe inspired the characters in Up to invent tech to communicate with their animals, which possibly inspired the beginnings of Buy-N-Large from Wall-E, and so on and so on. It’s obviously much more detailed than that and I totally don’t believe it’s “real,” from Pixar’s perspective, but it’s a fun read that does make some sense.

Below, we’ll link to the original post and even show you a video that details it. Read More »

Pixar films ranked

The release of Inside Out is an invitation to revisit all the films from Pixar, going back to the studio’s 1995 debut Toy Story. That movie changed the landscape of feature animation with stunning immediacy; after Pixar hit the scene nothing was the same. The twenty years since have given us a total of fifteen animated films from the studio, and we can’t resist the urge to do a little comparison between them. Read our own Pixar ranking, below.
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Brave Logo Art

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:

1. WALL-E
2. Up
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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In the Summer of 1994, while deep in production on their first feature film Toy Story, the key Pixar creatives (including John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Joe Ranft) had a now famous lunch in a diner called Hidden City Cafe in Point Richmond. During this lunch meeting they ended up brainstorming the ideas that eventually became the films A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. The story has become mythical, a part of film animation legend and a cornerstone moment in Pixar’s history. It was even featured in the teaser trailer for Andrew Stanton‘s WALL-E.

Sadly, the cafe has closed its doors after over 20 years of service, with unconfirmed reports that it was shut down for rats (Ratatouille anyone?).
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

With three uber-successful features over almost twenty-years, Toy Story and its characters have become an instantly recognizable part of popular culture. It’s hard to even hear the words “Toy” or “Story” without thinking of Woody, Buzz and the gang. Many Pixar fans know that “Toy Story” wasn’t always the title of the film, though. Originally, it was just the working title and Pixar was so stumped as to what to call the 1995 original, they posed the question to the entire company. Lee Unkrich, the director of Toy Story 3, co-director of Toy Story 2 and editor of Toy Story, took to Twitter to reveal some of the good – and bad – titles that could have described the world we’ve come to know as Toy Story. Read them after the jump. Read More »

VOTD: ‘[the films of] Pixar Animation Studios’

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.

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VOTD: ‘25 Years of Pixar’

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.

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