At some point Pixar films went from a breath of the freshest air to a lungful of the same stale popcorn.
And I’m not sure why. Looking at the list of their films, other than the WTF wrong-turn they took with Cars, it’s all pretty good stuff. The best of the genre, you might even say. Though I’ll always pick Dreamworks’ Antz over A Bug’s Life, my dislike for their films I don’t rate (Wall-E, The Incredibles) has more to do with over-hyping than the quality of the films themselves.
I haven’t seen Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Up simply because when I saw Monsters Inc, I knew Pixar were beginning to spin their wheels and no one else seemed to notice. Mostly that the conveyor belt scene is the same as the conveyor belt scene in the airport in Toy Story 2. Not only that, they relied on the same character dynamics and pranks, just packaged in a new set of creatures.
To compound matters, the Shrek and Ice Age movies jumped on the bandwagon in a big way. At first they gave it some new momentum but ultimately bogged it down into the mire of mediocrity. Shrek 2, unfairly, has more to do with my Pixar hurdle than any Pixar film.
When Finding Nemo came out I’d had it. I didn’t need to see the same quest with the same gags and the same conveyor belt scene at the end. Though there probably isn’t a conveyor belt in the ocean, I suspect there’s some underwater current or a ride down a system of sewer pipes at some point. I still haven’t seen Nemo, the hurdle is that strong.
I did see Wall-E though. People said it was a breath of fresh air; it broke down barriers; it built on Pixar’s original standards set by Toy Story. Sounded good.
I watched it. And, yes, it started strong. Really strong. But what was I treated to? That same fucking conveyor belt scene for the last half the film.
Pixar were dead to me at this point. They were definitely going down. Up looked like a new low, as far as I was concerned. I still haven’t risen to the challenge.
But we did see Toy Story 3. And it is glorious.
Not only does it live up to the standard set by the previous two adventures—again raising the bar and not lowering it—it’s the only 3D film where I’ve said “They got it right.” It’s not a 3-D wankery spectacle like Avatar, it’s an enhanced movie experience.
It’s also a lesson in how to do a sequel that references the previous films without leaning on them. It’s satisfying, not ham-fisted. Sure, there’s a goddamn conveyor belt at the end, but they found a new(ish) way to flog that horse.
Is Pixar back in the game? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t hesitate to see Toy Story 4.
Some nerds made some buzz with Buzz.
We wrap up Season 4.0 in the most spoiler-heavy way possible. But more importantly, who wears pants and who goes comando?