The groundbreaking animators over at Pixar have touched the hearts of many and connected audiences with hundreds of sympathetic characters by taking old tropes and adding a drop of their own unique spin. But even though every dog has their day, they have also fallen short of the standards audiences would come to expect. Diving into the duds, the masterpieces, and everything in-between, this is the second collection of Pixar films reviewed. Let’s get this show on the road!
The Incredibles (2004)
Written and directed by Brad Bird who previously worked The Iron Giant, the movie focuses on Bob Parr, a middle class father and retired “super” . Bob is bored by his modern day American life and discovers an opportunity to relive his heroic golden years as his alter identity Mr. Incredible. Unexpectedly, this seemingly stellar circumstance lands him face to face with an old face seeking vengeance. Meanwhile, Bob’s wife Helen and their kids, also supers, insinuate a rescue mission and must come together with their father to battle against this rising threat.
Right off the bat I’m just going to say that I love The Incredibles for how smart it is. It may be Pixar’s most adult film as of today because it mainly focuses on the inner struggles of a family man. Most folks often put The Incredibles in the top 5, which I definitely understand but for me personally there’s just others that are more well-made or enjoyable. Even despite this, the movie is still includes a tightly woven story with likeable characters and excellent action scenes and dialogue to spare. Michael Giacchino has a excellent, thrilling score that elevates the movie up a whole level for me. While I wouldn’t say it’s his or Pixar’s best score, he still pulls it off like the master he is.
Isn’t that just incredibly nuts? How a studio’s catalog can be so great that even the number 5 or something similar could end up a brilliant piece of work? It has the excellent writing and everything, but I just suppose I like others a bit more. Small details that I didn’t notice back then was that the movie never talks down to the audience as if they’re brain dead. If anything, it respects them. The voice performances are pitch perfect, as is the pacing. Nothing felt out of place or rushed, it all felt accurately depicted. Add on it a great homage to 60s superhero serials and you got a melting pot of, well, incredible genius.
What more to elaborate on, The Incredibles has stood the test of time as a pinnacle of superhero movies and the animation industry in general. It’s fans are dedicated ones, and it continues to be a favorite.
RATING: 8/10 “Brilliant, but not my Favorite”
Pixar has a great franchise under its belt, The Toy Story installments. Even the fourth film, which made everyone at least a bit skeptical, came out just as good as its predecessors. But just like how DreamWorks has their Kung Fu Panda, both studios have there own unimpressive trilogies. For DreamWorks it’s Madagascar, but Pixar’s is Cars. Not a single person I know puts this trilogy of movies on par with any of the studio’s masterwork catalog. Do I? No, or course not.
But first, how does the original hold up? Let’s begin with the premise; a brash rookie racer named Lightning McQueen incidentally ends up in an old-fashioned town occupied by a host of colorful characters, and learns to appreciate the more simpler things in life. The movie is soaked in American nostalgia and whatnot, which gives it a distinct feel from Pixar’s productions. The animation, in traditional fashion, is pleasing to the eyes and grasps a cozy hometown tone.
However, an issue I’ve always had against this movie is that it was primarily written for kids. To further explain, all of the former films felt as if they were written specifically for adults and kids second, though this was their first motion picture to switch it up. Additionally, Cars has hardly any substance for many of you guys reading (by the way, thank you for tuning in!). I can see no grown adult sitting down to watch Cars by themselves. There’s really not much to rag upon here, but then again not much to praise.
So indeed, Cars is an odd film to talk about. There’s nothing about it that stands out or hooks me, it’s just a quaint animated movie that’s best on in the background. It has some good scenes here and there, but it never reaches the finish line.
After the smash success of The Incredibles, Brad Bird took the helm of a new project for the studio, tweaking elements around a bit and writing the entire script from scratch. The film centers on a hopeful rat named Remy, whom has dreams of following in the footsteps of acclaimed chef Auguste Gustaeu and becoming a cook despite his unfortunate upbringing. After losing his clan, Remy discovers Gusteau’s restaurant in Paris and forms a bond with the eatery’s garbage boy Linguini.
Not mentioned in the synopsis is just how Remy and Linguini cook as a unit, without people knowing about the rat. If you haven’t seen the movie it may come as a surprise that Remy hides under Linguini’s toque and controlling the man’s actions by pulling his hair a la marionette. With such a weird story you might be even more stunned that I consider Ratatoullie among Pixar’s best. It is actually a tale of one’s passion vs. societal expectations. Remy represents the passionate side; the one who desires to do what he loves. Linguini represents the fears and insecurities that hold someone back from these things. The subtlety and excellence behind how it’s told is nothing short of divine.
While it is one of the company’s more straightforward formats and characters, it also feels like their most warm and thoughtful. The side-dishes also offer much to the palette by covering the topic of criticism and one’s pride and ego. I adore Brad Bird as much as I do since he can receive a potentially formulaic idea and infusing his own signature writing talent into them. Remember how I said for The Incredibles review that its score isn’t even Pixar’s best? Try and guess which one is my favorite… that’s right! You know you love it, Monsters Inc. Yeah, you know that saxophone is a killer. No, it’s Ratatoullie, of course! Michael Giacchino returns and tops himself with a score that completely compliments the film’s style and is a scrumptious sauce for this dish.
When somebody says that animation is a genre, show them Ratatoullie. It doesn’t feel like it’s exclusively for kiddies, but rather a well-made independent art house film. All of the ingredients the master cooks at Pixar have whipped up come together in a symphony of Partisan flair, amusing characters, wit, and a riveting moral struggle to top it all off. I’ll be revisiting Ratatoullie very soon, hungry for more.
RATING: 9/10 ” Masterpiece”
We’ll return with two more Pixar reviews after these short messages…
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As said in the trailer above, the premise for Wall-E was first introduced in 1994. Better late than never, I suppose. The picture is about a trash compactor robot, a plucky and lonely fellow named Wally. He spends his days on the abandoned, uninhabitable Earth collecting treasures and dreaming of finding something more than sorting out garbage. One day out of the blue, a spaceship called the Axiom arrives and leaves behind a probe, an EVE model. Wall-E falls for the mysterious android, and follows her into the vast galaxy when the Axiom retrieves her again.
As with Cars, this film tackles sweet American nostalgia, with the likes of a live action VHS of Hello, Dolly! Wall-E watches from time to time. But it also includes themes of obesity, consumerism, corporatocracy and waste management in their as well. I love the influence director and writer Andrew Stanton spiced Wall-E with; He took inspiration from Silent Running, Charlie Chaplin’s old silent films, Wall-E himself represents a Woody Allen – esque protagonist, and even Wally’s pet cockroach, Hal, is a reference to both silent film producer Hal Roach and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
My praises for this movie go to its optimistic nature, despite being an apocalyptic setting, the sound design by Ben Burtt, and the love story between our two leading robots. I’m a big fan of science fiction myself, and I must say, Wall-E is among the best sci-fi in animation. I don’t know, there’s something so comforting and warm about Stanton’s creation that just makes me adore it so much. And while I would say that the first third of the film is better than the rest of the film aboard the spaceship, the whole movie really is enjoyable. The imagery Pixar continues to offer and top themselves on are practically a given now, too.
It’s understandable where some complaints about how much this film gets praised may come up. Many people think it’s either a bit too preachy, the runtime is stretched out, it’s too boring, or that the plot and characters fall into the chasm of predictability. It’s kind of a sad thought how much silent films are treated just because they lack dialogue. Not enough audiences nowadays don’t see the magic of these types of movies and just desire entertaining, easy-to-digest blockbuster spectacles.
Yet again Pixar has served up another animated masterpiece, filled with all the heart, humour, and comfort of a great silent film. It continues to be a movie that Pixar does best, enthralling a wide age demographic. Definitely, folks of all ages can enjoy Wall-E, having a likeable main character for the kiddos, thought-provoking questions for adults, and spectacular graphics and charm for everyone. Undeniably out of this world, and one of my favorites of the Pixar lineup.
We know reach the end of our talk today with Up, directed by Pete Doctor whom had previously worked on Monsters Inc. The movie focuses on an elderly gruff named Carl Fredricksen. He decides to escape his drab life and take his home with him on a journey to Paradise Falls, a waterfall in South America, to fulfill a promise of visiting the location to his now deceased wife Ellie. Hm? His house? Oh right, by balloons; Fredricksen brings his house by balloon. Anyway, he soon befriends a stow away, young “Wilderness Explorer” Russell , and they must protect a tall, colorful bird Russell happened upon from an insane former explorer that had been hunting the bird.
I like most of Pixar’s ideas for films; homages to 60s superhero schlock, American Nostalgia, a silent love story in Space, a workplace comedy, and now a satire of those adventure serials. Let’s cover the elephant in the Train (yeah I can hear you, bud!) that is the opening montage of Carl and Ellie’s marriage. The whole sequence is beautiful, elevated again by Giacchino’s music that could make even a scrooge tear up. It marvelously encapsulates these two’s relationship without a word said: just music and moving images. It continues to move me even on repeat viewings and it’s a solid contender for some of animation’s most touching scenes.
But how’s the rest of the movie? For me, I never got into Up as much as most of the previous entries. The characters work well for the plot, the animation is a treat, and the twists and turns of the plot itself are entertaining. I just can’t get sucked into this world or get entirely invested in the leads. The villain, Charles Muntz, feels a bit like the crew felt that they needed an antagonist and not as if he were crucial at all to the emotional crux. To be fairly blunt, I might’ve been more into Carl and Russell if their wasn’t Muntz, or at least he didn’t play as large a role as he did.
This adventure flick from Pixar sticks to the recipe, but never seems to entice me. I absolutely got what I came for, and even some moments like that opening surprised me, but it’s a mostly straightforward Pixar mold. But really, if that ends up being as good as Up, then this studio should be very much proud of their work.
RATING: 7.5/10 “Good”
We’ll be ranking these as we go along…
- Toy Story 2
- Finding Nemo
- Monsters, Inc.
- Toy Story
- The Incredibles
- A Bug’s Life
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