Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pixar's sequels

I noticed the page has gotten quite slow, which is probably due to it having too much YouTube videos. Thus, I will have to start posting more posts which don't have any videos whatsoever. I think I will try to get a free press photo to illustrate these from now on.

One of this summer's biggest blockbusters is surely Toy Story 3, which continues the, Story after ten years absence. Everyone in the world with the right mind loves Toy Story 2. And I as well. But although it is very good, it's still to me one of the lesser Pixars. Basically, it's A Bug's Life for me. And this new sequel makes me a bit nervous, as it deals with the toys getting abandoned, which is something that was dealt with in the first sequel already.

Toy Story 2 came to life as Disney was in its direct-to video-sequel spitting phase at the time. Instead of letting hacks make the cheapo sequel, Pixar took the matter into its own hands and created something vastly better. While I prefer the first one, you can not say that TS2 doesn't expand the world into new directions and also dealing with some pretty deep themes. Such as being immortal vs. being loved. It does everything a sequel should.

But also it feels a bit bloated. The cast of toys was already quite big, and as everything in sequels should be bigger and shinier, so a lot of new toys are introduced. Toy Story 3 brings us even more new toys, including Michael Keaton's Ken and Timothy Dalton's Mr. Pricklepants. This would imply that there will be a lot of fighting for screen time in an hour-and-a-half movie.

The only Pixar film I flat-out don't like is Cars. It was one of those films that had too many characters, an obvious plot, too much speed for ADD kids, and as a cherry on the top, a very unappealing main character. It seemed to fit DreamWorks's movie-churning plan better than Pixar's. Little boys obviously loved it and I suppose its merchandise is the strongest of all Pixar flicks, as I still see some Cars crap everywhere all the time. They don't have many Ratatouille-themed childrens parties any more, I can tell you that.

So, next year's Pixar movie is a sequel again, Cars 2. And that I probably won't see, as opposed to TS3. OK, so one can imagine that when Pixar's and Disney's relationship was in a crisis, and the last scheduled Disney/Pixar movie (Cars) was bringing dough, Disney greenlighted the sequels to keep the brands it owns still poignant. Whereas Pixar greenlighted independently three of its very best films, Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up. All Oscar-winners, all universally appealing, all hugely original. They felt like new stuff, not just re-hashing old ones.

As Pixar has a much bigger saying on Disney animation now, one would think that they would carry on on the same track, creating some brand new, innovative, great movies. But as it happens, a while ago there was an announcement that made me very fearful for this future. Pixar cancelled its upcoming original movie Newt, and opted for Monsters Inc. 2 instead. While I love Monsters, Inc. it is one of those movies I would want to just be left alone. The storyline ended just on the right place. I don't want to see little Boo all grown up and forgetting her monster friends and have that be the sequel's conflict to be solved.

I suppose designing new monsters is fun and the merchandising will be huge. Still, it feels a little like Pixar is taking the Shrek route. And if Shrek has shown us anything, it is that the law of diminishing sequels is well and true. It is sad to see something original to be scrapped because of this. Currently, the only original animation to be released by Pixar is the Bear and the Bow, which itself sounds a little too close to DreamWorks's Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon ground, as it's a medieval hero knight story with a twist.

So I will probably wait for Toy Story 3 before I will make any lasting judgements. Everyone seems to trust Pixar a lot, and rightly so. But there is still a threat that all the success will eventually turn it into a soulless animation studio among others. I just hope it will be later rather than sooner.


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