Monday, August 19, 2013

Ranked #1: Pixar From Worst to Best

Growing up, I loved the Walt Disney films. I idolised Ariel from The Little Mermaid and watched that movie every day, my family owned dozens of Disney animated films that I watched on a regular basis, and my favorite thing in the world was Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. However, my first film that I ever saw in theaters wasn’t a pure Disney film but from a studio derived from Disney: Pixar. 10 years later, I still clearly remember going to the theater with my mother and younger sister to see Finding Nemo. Everything from waiting in line to get tickets to the lights going down and even the popcorn box that little kids get with a still from the shark bait ho-ha-ha scene is still cemented in my mind. Being a little girl and seeing the wonder of a movie like this on a giant screen for the first time brought so much enchantment to me, and with the announcement of Finding Dory, along with the release of Monsters University, the prequel to another Pixar film that had an emotional grasp on me growing up (although a slightly different one,) it made me think about my opinions on the other Pixar films.

Pixar is (or at least used to be) the king of animation. Winning Oscar after Oscar, earning tons of critical praise, and most of their films being labeled classics. It, to me, is a perfect subject for my first installment of Ranked. As for all of the “Pixar’s reputation is being ruined with every new film while Disney/Dreamworks is coming back and possibly taking its place” assumptions, all I have to say is that I kind of agree but hopefully Inside Out (or whatever the movie about the inside of a girl’s head is called) brings it back to form (I know The Good Dinosaur is next on Pixar’s slate of releases but I could care less about it until the trailers out. Also screw Planes, I know it’s a strictly Disney spin-off/rip-off, but it’s a spin-off/rip-off of Cars so I’m still calling it out.) However, no matter what I’m still going to enjoy their films. I love Pixar and Disney and Dreamworks and most of the other animation companies (especially Laika) so as long they keep making quality films then I’m happy. Now enough with the rambling, let’s begin with the first installment of Ranked: Pixar Edition.

*Note: Along with my future installments of Ranked, my opinions on these films will be kind of short and maybe sweet, depending on what movie.  If you want to know more about my opinions of these films, you can find my past reviews (right now only of Monsters University) and future reviews somewhere else on my blog. Enjoy.

Haven’t Seen: Brave and Cars 2
Let’s start off with ones that I haven’t been able to create a logical opinion on. I have avoided these two like the plague because of the hatred/outrage that has come from both critics and fans. When a Pixar film ends up on a top 10 WORST list, you know your opinion is not going to be a nice one, and since there was a lot of fan outrage that Brave ended up winning best animated feature at the Oscars this year when Wreck-It Ralph (which I did see) was clearly superior, my weariness for a possibly overrated film has gone into overdrive. So for those reasons, I have not seen them and won’t be ranking them today.

11. Cars (2006)
 It was a cute film growing up but now all I can think of when I see it is "why?" I feel like this was an obvious gimmick just to sell toys with a tired storyline that has been used a thousand times before and will be used a thousand times in the future, but this time with zero twists in it to make it fresh and new. The characters are one-dimensional and bland, although only Mater annoyed me to no end. Overall it’s a typical kid’s flick that is obviously meant for young children and certainly did not deserve a sequel.

10. Wall-e (2008)
I never really got why this is considered one of Pixar's crown jewels and held up so highly as a masterpiece in both the animation and overall film world. I found it boring and mundane, with a shoehorned in plot about the evil Hal rip-off and the hammered in messages about keeping the earth clean and staying healthy. The only bright spot was the relationship between Wall-E and Eve, but the second half basically pushed it aside. Maybe now I will enjoy it more than I did when I was 10 but truly I have no desire to see it again.

9. Ratatouille (2007)
While I also don't understand Ratatouille's success, it makes a lot more sense than Wall-E. It was definitely a risk with stunning animation that mixed the realism of The Incredibles with the cartoonish factors of most Pixar films with a non-human protagonist, a gorgeous setting usually only found in French animated films, and complex characters you would most likely find in a dramatic Oscar-bait film, not an animated kids film. The problem though is that like Wall-e, it’s boring. It’s a film that if I do watch it, I need to drink something caffeinated beforehand so I don’t fall asleep. Unlike Wall-e, though, the pros at least make up for a larger part of the cons, but not much more.

8. Monsters University (2013)
I know, I know, I gave this film a four star rating BUT compared to the other 8 films listed, it’s a mixed bag. I have an entire review of this and since it is the only one of these films I have reviewed, I’ll keep this even briefer, but all I can say is that like Cars, it is definitely a more kid friendly than say the aforementioned Wall-e and Ratatouille. Does that make it bad? Well no, it has its moments of wonder that most Pixar films have and while it doesn’t live up to the original, it’s still fun with an amazing final act. However, its clichés and focus more on kiddie humor is its downfall, along with a certain reptilian monsters lack of development and misplacement in this film (yes I’m still pissed about that.) It’s the freshest in my mind of all these films, but it still crumbles compared to what’s coming up.

7. Toy Story (1995)
So like a few Pixar films on this list, this film scared me to death as a kid. Sid and his mutant toys gave me nightmares and like a lot of films that scared me back then like Harry Potter or The Muppets Wizard of Oz, I swore not to watch it. My impression of it now is blurry since it’s been years since I saw it in full, but it’s good for a first attempt. I’m not going to comment on the animation since it was the first computer animated film ever but the characters and story were great. It would be higher if I had seen this film a little while ago, but I have to base it on my knowledge from years ago and with that said, while it isn’t the best, it is a really wonderful film.

6. A Bug’s Life (1998)
I’ll admit it: I loved this movie growing up and I still love it now. I love bugs and bright colors and having them combine was the best thing ever for me as a kid. I know it’s one of the lesser Pixar films but to be honest, out of all the Pixar films, this is my biggest guilty pleasure. It’s a cute film! Really, when it comes to it, it is a film I love to see in repeat viewings, the animation is stunning, and the characters, especially the circus bugs, are great, if a little cliché. What lands it at number 6 though is that it is very childish. I know it’s a kid’s film but Pixar has shown a lot of maturity with films like Up and Finding Nemo and after Toy Story, this does look like a weak follow-up to many. However, to me it is fun and entertaining and I love it.

5. Toy Story 2 (1999)
Unlike the original, Toy Story 2 was a thing of beauty to the younger me. For starters, there was no toy baby head walking around on mechanical spider legs to give me nightmares, so it won me over faster than the first. Second, there was finally a character, a female character, I could love as much as my other childhood icons, Ariel and Kermit the Frog, something I didn’t really find with Woody and Buzz at the time. And finally, something I still love today, the story was something I could latch onto better than the one in the first Toy Story. There’s just this charm in Toy Story 2 that makes me come back and back again. Woody and Buzz are more fleshed out than they already were, which kind of seems impossible since they were so well-thought out in the first one, the animation looks so much better and while the humans still look wonky, everything else is just great, and most importantly, it is just a fun and sweet movie, just like the first one, except, at least to me, elevated to another level.

4. The Incredibles (2004)
Here’s another shocker: I hated this movie as a kid. I remember coming out of the theater bored and disappointed. It was a long movie and I just wasn’t into superheroes at the time, so I guess it was understandable.  I still can’t believe I use to not like this. I watch it every time it comes on TV, I love it that much. It really is the best superhero movie not based on a comic book. I can’t imagine this being a live action film, something Brad Bird originally wanted the script to be. It belongs only as an animated film, and it is a great one at that. The characters are perfect in the flawed, realistic kind of way, the script is witty and smart, and the animation is eye-popping and gorgeous. If it wasn’t for the running time, which still kind of bugs me today, and my bias towards other films, this would be higher than the number 4 spot but for what it truly is, it is an almost flawless film. All I have to say now is Pixar, if you have to make any more sequels, please, PLEASE make one for The Incredibles. You will make a lot of fans, including me, very happy.

3. Toy Story 3 (2010)
For anyone raised on Toy Story or Pixar for that matter, Toy Story 3, the hopefully final film in this franchise (don’t screw this up Pixar), was something that would bookend their childhood. We start off with Toy Story and end with Toy Story 3, and to be honest, despite not really loving the first one, the films got better and better as they went on, leading to this masterpiece. This is what I kind of wanted the first Toy Story to be. If only I had known that I would be getting to see that very film in theaters years later. I love this movie to bits. There is never a moment where boredom starts to set in, the twists and turns here are brilliant. All of the characters, new and old are at their bests, especially Woody. The emotional impact in this film is phenomenal, completing the cycle that Toy Story set in motion: the love you have for your toys even when you get new, shinier ones, making way for new toys to play with and love, and finally being able to move on and give them up for whatever reason so that someone else can have those memories. Hopefully this is the end, not because then I would never see another Toy Story, but because then something extremely close of a perfect trilogy is complete and untouched by something like an unneeded sequel, something that Toy Story 3 is most definitely not.

2. Up (2009)
If the first 10 minutes of this movie was just it, then this movie would be my number one. I still cry at those 10 minutes, starting from the part with Ellie and Carl at the doctors (something that confused me when I first saw it but I now sadly understand,) and to ending when we cut to present day. That opening is one of the bests in my opinion. This film has a heart of gold with many tearful moments and scenarios that will connect with the viewer. It does the perfect balancing act of being a kid’s film that is also geared for adults. I find it interesting that out of all the possibilities, the second Pixar protagonist was an old man, but that creativity is what I love about Pixar, they think outside the box with their films and this is almost the epitome of that creativity. My only reason it is not number one is that, like Toy Story 3 and The Incredibles, I am biased towards my number one choice but despite that, I still find this a flawless film and one of the many Pixar films that I believe will be regarded as classics.

1. Monsters Inc. (2001) and Finding Nemo (2003)
One enchanted me when I was little; the other scared the living daylights out of me when I was little. Now, being almost an adult, they both are some of the most creative, beautiful, and well-made animated movies, let alone movies, I have ever seen.  Everything about these films are insanely perfect, from their characters to their visuals to their re-watch value.
 I’ll start off with Finding Nemo; as I said in the beginning, this was the first film I had seen in theaters. That connection may make me a little biased, but for good reason. It is an extraordinary film. The friendship between Marlin and Dory is hysterical and well-thought, especially since unlike most male/female friendships in film, they don’t end up becoming more than friends which is pretty great. More important though is the relationship between Marlin and his son Nemo, which is handled extremely well. If Up gives us a great view of a friendship between two unlikely people, then Finding Nemo gives us a great view of a relationship between a father and son who are completely different. Marlin’s persistence is incredible and shows just how far that any parent would go to make sure their child is safe. The visuals are the best I have seen from Pixar and story is well-paced and done well. When people say what their favorite Pixar film is, most of the people I know have said this and I can completely understand.

Now for Monsters Inc. Oh Monster Inc, how you have damaged me. I was terrified of this film because, well, I was and still am scared of everything, and for a while I just could not watch this film. Nowadays, it is the one Pixar film that I watch over and over again. My love for this film is indescribable. This is the funniest of all the Pixar films, with almost all of the jokes hitting its target, especially when coming from the voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal. The characters are three-dimensional and wonderful and their designs are brilliant. The monsters are all well-designed and the visuals, while not as great as the ones in Finding Nemo, are still beautiful to look at, especially the chase scene in the door vault. Most of all, the friendships between both Sulley and Mike and Sulley and Boo are great in their own ways. Even without the prequel, Mike and Sulley’s friendship seems real, like they have been friends for a while and even though you don’t see it, you go with it because they are portrayed perfectly as best friends. Better yet, the friendship between Sulley and Boo is sweet and seeing how far a usually terrifying monster will go to return a little girl, something he initially is scared of, is heartwarming. On my list of favorite films ever, this is nice and cozy at the fifth place spot and I don’t see it moving anytime soon.

Overall, my favorites are my favorites because they showcase what Pixar does best: making films geared for kids but that have a great payoff for the older audience members. My hopes for a better future when it comes to Pixar films stay a little brighter whenever I see those two films, hell whenever I see my top 5/6 favorites, and hopefully that soon happens so that I can be proud to say that Pixar is the best with no doubt in my mind.

What is your ranking of the Pixar films? Any hate you want to throw my way for not putting Wall-E or Toy Story 1, 2, and/or 3 as number 1? Tell me in the comments and I hope to see you around some other time. Enjoy my other reviews and I will have more up soon. Thanks and bye!

~Indie Princess

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