Hi, how’s things! Welcome back to the fourth volume of our review of every single Pixar film. If for any reason you desire to read my thoughts on any of the previous 15 movies from the studio, here are the links:
The groundbreaking animators have touched the hearts of many and connected audiences with a plethora of sympathetic characters by taking old tropes and adding a drop of their own unique spin. Although heir creative genius shines in their earliest features, a sudden influx of tripe sequels throughout the 2010s have staled the studio’s influence. Diving into the duds, the masterpieces, and everything in-between, here’s 5 more Pixar movies reviewed to keep your quarantined life entertaining. Let’s get this show on the road!
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
After the death of his father, a timid Apatosaurus is now wandering aimlessly throughout a dangerous landscape. You see, the meteor that virtually eliminated the dinosaurs never really happened, so they have since adapted and started agriculture. All our protagonist has is a young and rugged caveman for company, but overtime the two develop a bond. Will they return to their homes?
To be clear, I don’t have much to say about The Good Dinosaur. It’s simply a bore to get through. While the photorealistic backgrounds are indeed impressive, it is plain to see that loads more effort was put into the visuals instead of a great story. Pixar is known for their creativity, and watching something so derivative… agh, not a fan. The story is so inconsistent, almost as if somebody took the backbone of this movie ad chopped it up. Beyond that, the climax is so punch-in-the-gut out of nowhere that it’s appalling. Did the writers just forcibly stick in one because they felt is was necessary? My answer is probably yes.
What else can I say besides you can definitely spend your 97 minutes a lot wiser. It isn’t terrible mind you, but I don’t envision myself rewatching this at all in my lifetime. Just typing about this film is slowly making me want to fall asleep. Either that, or I’m genuinely tired. Maybe a blend of both… believe me, these next reviews will be a bit longer.
Finding Dory (2016)
Well, good thing Pixar picked itself up again! A continuation of the classic Finding Nemo, our bubbly blue tank sidekick Dory suddenly recalls buried away memories of her parents. She becomes determined to locate them, which leads to a SeaWorld doppelganger. Meeting old friends and developing new ones, will Dory finally reunite with her long lost family, or will she reach a dead end?
Now, if you read Volume 1, you’ll know that I am quite fond of the original film. I have put that worn-out disc into the DVD player more times then I can count. So obviously the sequel had a lot to live up to. Did it reach my expectations? Yes, and also no. Finding Dory is nowhere near to its predecessor in my books, but it tries its hardest. If you disqualified the entire Toy Story franchise out of the competition, I’d go as far as to say that this stands above all the other Pixar sequels. The shining elements are apparent the more you examine the whole. Let’s do that, shall we…
First, the pros. The fresh additions to the cast are all decent additions, with a standout being the cynical octopus Hank. And he has the most screen time out of the minor cast? Bonus points there. A neat detail that I didn’t even catch initially was how a lot of them have disabilities, similarly to how Dory suffers from short-term memory loss. For instance, Hank lost an arm, Destiny is near-sighted (I think, correct me if I’m wrong), and Bailey for a brief period has his echolocation muted. That’s a smart idea to include here. The animation is stellar per usual, the writing is on-point, and those emotional moments hit a home run. Not to spoil the destination of Dory’s journey, but you’re sure to get a little teary-eyed when a certain image appears on screen. Hopefully if you have seen the movie yourself you are aware of what I mean.
Shifting right along to the cons, I must admit, this outing still falls victim to the trap of modern Pixar films wherein the middle act feels rather disjointed. It always melds together by the finale, but in the moment it feels incoherent to the main plotline. Speaking of that finale, boy is it off the rails. Following such an emotional powerhouse in the scenes prior, the ending we got was a weird choice, without a doubt.
A solid movie overall that is very much one that you will enjoy while viewing, but will fade from your mind that next week. Hah, ironic isn’t it? The works are all present and executed well. Finding Nemo will likely hold a place in my heart forever, but the fact that the sequel didn’t utterly fall flat and impressed even me is nothing to sneeze at. I recommend to all who are interested.
Cars 3 (2017)
Pushed out of racing by a generation of new zealous competitors, Lightning McQueen has been down on his luck. Opportunities arise with an enthusiastic young coach, a handful of surprises, and a lesson or two from the legendary Hudson Hornet. Will Lightning successfully rejoin the sport and prove that even seasoned folks still have the spirit?
Oh boy, Cars 3… the film absolutely nobody asked for. Except for the Disney executives who wanted to dump out the rest of their leftover merchandise, I suppose. The teaser trailer even tried baiting audiences by framing it like Lightning McQueen was possibly going to die, which clearly couldn’t happen in a family movie. However, this installment of the franchise is at least a step above Cars 2. So there’s something to be thankful for. The themes of old vs. new and the value of mentors support the movie rather nicely. This may just be me here, but I can spot a ton of ties and influences from Rocky Balboa. Unlike the additional entries in the series, it tackles more serious ideas then of nostalgia, companionship, and otherwise. While that is all dandy, the plot takes a bit to get the gas pedal going (pun intended…I have no shame).
While this trilogy didn’t exactly have the right footing after a disastrous sequel, Cars 3 still had some steam to end on a satisfying note. It’s nowhere near the studio’s strongest works, that’s practically a given at this point, but it’s got a lighthearted yet intelligent script and I had an enjoyable viewing experience. Ultimately I still have stronger roots with the original, but this handles the job just fine.
Don’t tune out yet, we’ll return with two more reviews in a moment…
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I know many folks who really enjoy Coco, and I understand where they’re coming from. It’s an emotionally rich, colorfully drawn, and totally competent animated feature, but for some reason I never felt as if it were a masterpiece. How is that? Before we transition to that, the premise deserves to be brought up. A young boy named Miguel is passionate about playing music, inspired by what he theorizes to be his long deceased musician great-great-grandfather. However, Miguel is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead and befriends a charismatic trickster to help him return to the Living World and end his family’s restraint on music.
I’m going to throw out, having seen each Pixar film after this one, that Coco was the company’s last truly great picture as of now. Sure, Toy Story 4 excelled over everybody’s admittedly low expectations, but it had it’s fair share of problems. Don’t you fret, we’ll get to that one eventually. The animation deserves my recognition here in my review for its lively and faithful depiction of the Land of the Dead, as well as creating skeleton characters that are appealing to young children. Speaking of such, Miguel and Hector are an entertaining duo to follow throughout the story too. A bit of plot issues such as a couple of inconvenient tangents and a third-act twist villain are less then stellar though…
Spoilers are always lurking, aren’t they? If you have not yet seen this movie, which I recommend without a doubt, I please urge you to skip over this paragraph. There’s your warning. The reveal that so-and-so was related to you-know-who didn’t bother me that much, despite how the chances of them meeting by chance is kind of opportune. And Ernesto actually poisoned what’s-his-face the whole time? Okay, that was one heck of a turnaround. I mean, something did feel off when Miguel at long last completed his goal and the movie kept going. So, you can’t say I didn’t see it coming.
I don’t know if I’ll be capable of offering an answer that’s set in stone regarding why I don’t think Coco is among Pixar’s best works. Perhaps the best bet I could make is against the story issues. Emotional effectiveness are a powerful enough to soften my critical heart however, aided in part by the rest of the filmmaking department contributing its all. It is, for the most part, a breezily charming love letter to Mexican culture as a whole. I can respect that.
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Our final film this evening is the long-awaited sequel of 2004’s The Incredibles, written and directed by the phenomenal Brad Bird. It picks up after the first with the superhero family the Parr’s, who are recruited by an optimistic businessman to rehabilitate the public’s trust in heroics such as themselves. Bob, aka Mr. Incredible, is challenged when he must take on domestic duties, further jealous that his wife Helen is out saving the world from threats. Unfortunately, a new villain named the Screenslaver arises, who begins using brainwashing techniques to decimate the legal status of superheros once more. Can the family reunite as a unit to solve this mystery?
There is something recognizably wrong with this, and it took a bunch of digging — as well as a good amount of common sense — to piece together why. Because I know that Bird is an creative genius and usually has very smart screenplays. The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, and even possibly Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol all work rather nicely. However, to delve into this investigation, I’m going to have to rope Toy Story 4 back for the argument. The latter was intended to be released in 2018, while this film was meant to hit theaters a year later. When the executives noticed that Incredibles 2 was more ahead in production, the release dates were swapped. So therefore, the quadruple installment of Woody and Buzz’s adventures had more time for it’s crew to breathe. On the other hand, Brad Bird was rushed into churning out his movie sooner.
Case closed? Maybe not. The action scenes featuring Mrs. Incredible, particularly the monorail sequence, are choreographed smoothly. Michael Giacchino provides another astounding score that, while mirroring music from the first, is still fast paced and jazzy. I’m not for calling it better then the original, primarily due to its repeated flavors rather then new ones. But that’s the thing; Incredibles 2 is a difficult sequel to analyze without drawing some comparisons to its predecessor. Like how the villain here has no competition against Syndrome’s stage presence, for example. Edna Mode continues to steal every scene she’s apart of, so that’s a plus.
A feature whose high expectations fundamentally ignites disappointment, the return of Brad Bird’s superhero family simply had both too little and too much time to work on. 14 years have definitely changed when all is said and done, as comic book blockbusters are now on the rage more then ever. I only this film’s production had more time in the oven to build a more refined script, because shimmers of clever dialogue appear occasionally here. In conclusion, Incredibles 2 had potential, though came out sadly half-baked.
Thanks for tuning in, friends! Apologies on my massive two week delay; I’m immensely disappointed in my laziness. If you’ve read until here, I hope you have a great day. Later…
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