Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pixar's Nine Lives...


We all know Pixar has an impressive batting average...

The Naysayers were out predicting doom and gloom for the Lamp with the release of "Ratatouille" last summer. Funny, I don't hear them predicting the same with this summer's "Wall-E" release. Perhaps they got burned when the box office results came in and this time they're holding their "see, I told ya Disney paid too much" until they finally have a bona fied dud on their hands. Until then they'll bide the time hiding under rocks looking for the slightest sign that Pixar isn't perfect.

Sigh...

Of course they're only human, but so far Lasseter and his motley crew of directors, animators and story people have been found to have a uncanny ability to connect with humanity. They seem to have taken the torch passed by Walt himself and the Disney animators of the late 80's/early 90's and ran with it. The irony of this situation is that now they're trying to pass the torch back... a little, by infusing the Mouse with a little light from the Lamp. We'll find our first taste of that during Thanksgiving this fall when "Bolt" comes out. Until then we'll have to wait and watch what becomes of Andrew Stanton's final animated film for this decade. All the buzz I've heard about this film is to be expected...

Really, really good. Great even by most who've seen pieces of Pixar's ninth film.

I've talked to several people that have seen footage and even large chunks of it and they can't seem to pile on enough praise. There doesn't seem to be any fear of doom and box office disaster like last year. It looks like Pixar will go forward ending another year with another hit. Well find out soon enough but as of now it the Lamp's nine lives seem not only safe, but successful. Very, very successful...

I guess the negative Nabobs will have to wait and hope "Up" goes down next year. Don't hold your breath on that one.

14 comments:

Spokker said...

Cars.

Anonymous said...

Huh?

What about Cars?

If you didn't like it spokker so be it. It was still a hit with over 400 million at the B.O. and makes about 2 billion a year in merchandising so I don't think it would qualify as a bomb. That's what Honor was talking about. Plus, I go to the parks all the time and it's amazing the number of young boys that have Cars shirts, shoes and other things. When I heard a cast member tell a couple kids that a Cars Land was going to be opening up in a few years they got grins on their faces and started high fiving each other.

Wall-E seems to be more up my alley. I liked Cars, but it was my least favorite Pixar film next to Monster's Inc. I think TS2 and the Incredibles are their best. But an average Pixar film is better than 90% of the live action films out there.

Spokker said...

It wasn't a financial bomb. It couldn't be as long as "From the makers of Finding Nemo" was plastered all over it.

But money isn't the only criteria when judging a movie. If that were true then Cars would be better than Ratatouille when you compare domestic box office returns. Fortunately the rest of the world has better taste than Americans and international box office is higher for Ratatouille.

Artistically Cars is the weakest Pixar film, and a pretty bad movie overall, and not better than "90% of live action films out there" unless Adam Sandler movies were the only other movies ever made. It was Cars starring Owen Wilson the Car. I felt like everything that made Pixar films great was absent from this one. I was wondering if they replaced the Dreamworks Animation logo with a Pixar logo. In fact, the only enjoyable part of the movie for me was John Ratzenberger's usual cameo.

Cars was Pixar's first bomb. Ratatouille was Pixar's most worthy Oscar contender. And Wall-E might just change Disney animation forever.

Anonymous said...

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DCHall said...

I personally think the whole thing about Cars being a bomb is just the "in" thing to say. It "only" got 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, so of course, it must be bad.

I've heard a couple people saying how since Cars was their least favorite Pixar movie, then it must be their first "quality" flop.

Well if we're going on personal tastes, I thought Cars was excellent, better than A Bug's Life in terms of Pixar ranking. Point is - it is definitely better than anything DreamWorks has ever put out. I thought it had more heart than Happy Feet - which I thought was contrived. You can definitely see John Lasseter put a lot of his heart into it, the animation was great and the story was still excellent.

Heck, there were watery eyes in the theater during the scene where McQueen pushes the King across the finish line - and I heard people saying, "I can't believe a bunch of cars made me cry."

Look, if you read some of those negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a lot of them will say, "It was good, but not at the same level as the other Pixar movies," which I suppose is the verdict. But again, if the worst a studio can do is Cars, they've got nothing to worry about.

scissorhands said...

Yeah, I agree with dchall!!

Personally I love Cars more than A bug's life and Toy Story but this is because of personal tastes.
I think that in no ways it can be labeled as a flop, both artistically and financially. If some critic gave a negative review, this was a "relative" negative review because they compared Cars with the other Pixar films. But in absolute it is a very beautifull and entertaining movie in terms of story and graphics.

Spokker said...

I have no explanation for the Rotten Tomato score. It felt like a 50% movie to me. It was a bad movie relative to the entire film industry. It was a REALLY bad movie relative to Pixar's previous efforts.

I'm not sure I would call a movie awful because it's the hip thing to do. No matter how many films I criticize I'll always be a square. I sincerely believe the movie is just terrible.

No, Cars is not better than anything Dreamworks has done. Shrek 1 and 2 were better than Cars (Shrek 3 was worse). Antz was better than Cars and on par with A Bug's Life.

I am a Pixar fan but the undying devotion to the company can be staggering, especially when people say, "Pixar is better than anything (company) has done."

While Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and RAT MOVIE (sorry my dictionary is in the shop) are among the best films of all time, and not just among animated films, I don't think they are infallible.

Anonymous said...

My two cents..."Cars" was not only Pixar's worst film by a long shot, but a crumby film by any standards. Pretty though! Oh, and Honor you've got a little Kool-Aide on your chin there...Give me some Mike & Sully!!!!

Anonymous said...

So is it all about box office or not...? if so, how about Ratatoulli 200 mil in 16 weeks...Chipmunks 200 mil in 7 weeks! Can't have it both ways...I read the Pixies always defending their faves with the "quality over box office" debate. I'm guessing Bob Iger is interested in just one of those when he wakes-up in the morning and reads the "trades".

DCHall said...

Not saying a person would call a movie awful because it was the hip thing to do - I'm saying that a person would think that the general consensus on a movie would be "it was a flop" because it "only" got 74% on RottenTomatoes and the person didn't like it compared to other Pixar films, so most people must think it was terrible.

I'm saying Cars wasn't as "bad" as its reputation, and I thought it was excellent. I loved the nostalgia, a good old American movie.

As for undying devotion to Pixar - sorry, but they haven't disappointed me yet. I personally think a few of their movies have been overrated (Toy Story, Ratatouille), but I still enjoyed all of them for their heart.

And I never said all Pixar flicks are better than all studios' movies, just DreamWorks. Not a big fan of Shrek; in fact I liked Over the Hedge better than any of the Shreks and thought that was their best one (and I thought Bee Movie wasn't as bad as the reviews said either)...

But I'm not being a fanboy by saying I still don't find any of them better than my least favorite Pixar movie, A Bugs Life. And I thought Ice Age and Surf's Up were better than a few Pixar films. I don't try to judge a film by its' studio, but it just seems to me DW has disappointed me most of the time.

Spokker said...

"it "only" got 74% on RottenTomatoes"

It's entirely possible that many critics gave the film a pass because of Pixar's reputation.

And it's entirely possible that the score could be inflated due to pressure from Disney. Not all reviewers are shills and sell outs, but I think there's enough of them to affect aggregate review scores.

Personally I think a lot of these scores on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes are inflated for one reason or another.

Anonymous said...

Well I personally think Cars was an amazing movie. Even if I didnt like it, I wouldnt qualify it as a bomb. I'm really not sure what people were expecting, or what they thought was so gosh darn terrible. Because when I think about it, no one's ever given any specific reasons why they think so. Movie opinions are subjective anyway, either you like a movie or you dont.

Spokker said...

"Because when I think about it, no one's ever given any specific reasons why they think so."

It was a movie made for the Wal-Mart crowd. Nascar, Larry the Cable Guy, how could it NOT be successful?

One of the praises Pixar films get is that celebrity voice overs take a back seat to the story. Not in Cars. As I said earlier it was a movie starring Owen Wilson the car. Even Larry the Cable Guy was transparent as the tow truck.

The story was pretty cliche. Owen Wilson the Car is pretty arrogant, until he learns not to be pretty arrogant. It's a far cry from the unique storyline of a rat chef.

I predicted the ending about halfway through the film. I told my girlfriend, "Owen Wilson the Car will learn that being first place isn't everything and blah blah blah".

There are my reasons.

Anonymous said...

I loved Cars, and so be it. It was a good movie, and that is my opinion. Some people didn't like it, some people did. Like any other movie, it ends there. Even with professional reviewers, it's just a matter of opinion.