Redbrick Critic Alex McDonald looks at Pixar’s future in the wake of the release of The Good Dinosaur.
Pixar has always been the world leader in animation, with their emotionally compelling story-telling, revolutionary ideas, and stunning visuals. It is fair to say that with the release of each new Pixar film there is a definite and distinct buzz, simply because it’s Pixar – when have you ever heard someone say, ‘I can’t wait for that new Dreamworks film’?Following the unanimous praise of Inside Out, the popularity of Pixar is once again on the rise, despite The Good Dinosaur opening to mixed reviews. So what can the studio famed for original concepts do to continue their streak?
Sequels. Two widely demanded. One welcomed but unnecessary. One nobody asked for. Oh, and one original idea.
So let’s get into what we’re getting in the next couple of years: First, we have Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to 2003’s classic Finding Nemo, which will be released in 2016. Following that, we have Cars 3, the newest instalment in no one’s favourite Pixar franchise, and Coco their one original film about the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos, both coming in 2017. After that, Toy Story 4 will be released in 2018, which is slated to be a love story between Woody and Bo-Peep. And finally, in 2019 we will get The Incredibles 2, the long speculated sequel to Brad Bird’s animated superhero adventure.
For some, this slate might be perfectly fine; after all, these are beloved franchises. But to me, this is a disappointing move on Pixar’s part. In a time when sequels and reboots dominate the weekly releases, Pixar always strived to produce new and innovative films. Take Wall-E for example: they took a huge gamble by making the first act completely devoid of dialogue, and that is arguably the most striking part of the film. My main problem with this sequel heavy slate is that it feels too safe – they aren’t pushing the boundaries of film-making with any, but they are all guaranteed money-makers.
I’m not saying that these films won’t be good, because some could even be great: Finding Dory looks to have shaken up the premise of the original, making it not a quest to find her, but her own quest to find herself, which could make for some powerful moments. The Incredibles 2 will be released in a vastly different climate for the superhero genre, with both Marvel and DC fleshing out their cinematic universes even further, and could offer some much-needed satire to the saturated market.
It’s with Toy Story 4 and Cars 3 that I have the biggest issue. The Cars franchise has always been weak, and it’s clear that they only pump them out because they are the biggest money-makers in terms of merchandise. And while this may be an unpopular opinion, I think the Toy Story franchise needs to be left alone now. Pixar created a perfect trilogy that had an emotionally satisfying ending that everyone can relate to. Is it really necessary to make another? Perhaps it is a cynical approach, but it seems like a cash grab to me. Maybe I’m wrong; Cars 3 could be the Citizen Kane of Pixar, but somehow I highly doubt that.
Original and daring film-making is what made Pixar stand out from the crowd, and a departure from that M.O. is disappointing to see. Despite knowing next to nothing about Coco, it is probably my most anticipated out of this line-up, simply because it is something I have never seen before. While the others have beautiful worlds of their own, they are all familiar and will call upon my youthful nostalgia in order to impress, rather than showing me a new world to thrill both my mature and immature side.
I love Pixar, I really do. But if they continue the trend of making sequels to their hits of years gone by and consequently dilute the amount of wholly original films that they release, they could fall from the proverbial pedestal that we all put them on.