Posted Wed Jun 13, 2018 at 08:12 AM PDT by Bryan Kluger
Incredibles 2 marks the 20th Pixar film since the studio debuted Toy Story in 1995, changing the landscape of animated motion pictures forever. In these 20 years, we've seen animation transition from a computer-enhanced 2D hand-drawn medium to 3D CGI renderings capable of photo-real textures. Every other studio followed Pixar's lead, but technically and visually speaking, Pixar remains a pioneer.
Not only has Pixar changed the game as far as visuals go, they weave well-rounded, emotional stories with deeply-developed characters and thematics that connect with audiences young and old. With the release of The Incredibles 2, I thought it would be fun to rank all of the Pixar movies, getting to revisit each movie once again.
Brave stands out as Pixar's first fairytale or princess movie. It also features Pixar's first female protagonist. Yet, while the movie is visually rich, the story and characters are forgettable.
The story is a mother-daughter bit that should play to the heart strings of people of all ages, but somewhere along the way, the creators add in a bit of slapstick humor, which makes the film an uneven balance of sincere emotion and silly comedy. Most of the time, this sort of thing works when Pixar is involved, but it misses the mark by a million feet in Brave's case. What we are left with is a jumbled up mess of comedy and half-cocked emotion with easily forgettable characters. This is my least favorite Pixar movie to date.
Monsters University is Pixar's first prequel to an amazing film from several years before it. The film features two of its most beloved characters back when they were in college, which I imagine is Pixar's attempt at an Animal House type of situation. With Monsters University, we get mostly a funny, silly film without any emotional heft. That's about it. Sure, there is a decent message, but we already know how everyone turns out from the original film, so nothing is at stake nor is there any real conflict.
The film looks great, of course, but this prequel just failed to impress above a silly comedic level that doesn't have a good replay factor at all. Even when you're watching this movie, you can't help but want to watch the original film instead. There are some wink and nod jokes throughout, but other than that, Monster's University doesn't have a lot going for it.
Arguably the worst Pixar movie to date is The Good Dinosaur. However, I moved it up a couple of rankings due to the movie's very sincere ending. There are many things to dislike about this movie, but at the end, Pixar tugs at those heartstrings quite well, which leads to a few instances of forgiveness. First of all, I do believe this is Pixar's attempt at a subtle western movie. There are numerous homages to the western movie genre, which play out great, but the fact remains that The Good Dinosaur fails miserably due to its horrible protagonists.
Arlo the dinosaur and Spot the cave boy are so obnoxious throughout the whole movie that you begin to loathe being with them. Add to that an incredibly slow paced movie that results in snoozes and snores. I do enjoy the fact that Pixar uses real-life settings and backdrops in the movie, but the contrasts of the goofy-looking animated dinosaur is (dare I say it) an eye-sore. This had a lot of potential, but again, it misses the mark.
I'm so torn on this movie. On one hand, Cars 2 is a spy thriller film with Bruce Campbell lending his voice to one of the cars. On the other hand, this is a horrible Mater-centric movie that is unfunny, lacks any emotion, and is quite a chore to even watch with my eyes open, let alone listen to the awful sound of Larry the Cable Guy's voice-acting.
Even with Bruce Campbell being a part of this movie, I just can't in good conscious give it a good ranking. What puts it further up the chain than the others, though, is it's spy thriller side story and excellent visuals that take us out of Radiator Springs and into new worlds. It is simply gorgeous. Other than that, Cars 2 fails to do much of anything else, other than excite the few of us who love the Evil Dead franchise for a few minutes.
Visually, Finding Dory is stunning, and is maybe one of the best looking Pixar films. Every nuance of sea life and underwater scene is intricate with the finest of details and fully immerses you into this world. The voice work is spot on and Ellen DeGeneres shines as Dory, while Ed O’Neill and Albert Brooks pack some good laughs. Even though, a lot of the charm and boldness of the first film is gone here, Finding Dory is still worth your time.
Finding Nemo did everything the first time, where as this sequel just re-hashes the same material with a somewhat different message behind it. That is until the final act where all of the fish actually drive a car on the highway. This is where the film lost me and became low on the totem pole. Finding Dory may have some good moments, but they aren't great.
Cars 3 if a bit better than part 2, but still falls short of the original. This film has some good moments, but I'm not sure why they decided to tell a story about retirement to its core demographic of eight-year-olds. By and large, the Cars franchise is mostly geared to its younger audiences, but in Cars 3, it's all about being old and retiring, or at least knowing when to retire.
It's a good message and storyline for sure, but it's just a strange one to tell. Given the storyline, most of the movie is actually quite slow moving, that is until the third act of the film, when the visuals look exceptionally good. Again, it's nice to see a lot of people return to their voice roles and see Lightning's transformation, but they may have jumped the gun a little bit with this one. All in all, Cars 3 is a decent film, but not a keeper.
Pixar's take on a world inhabited by talking cars is a good one. It's a sweet movie with fun characters and a great message of helping someone new -- with a backdrop of how difficult it is to get a job and keep a business from failing. This film applies to all ages and is a joy to watch. The only thing missing is any real sort of big conflict that would be drastic to anyone.
Sure, we want to see Lightning win the race and Radiator Springs thrive with business, but that's about it. There isn't a sense of urgency to keep our interests up to see these characters save the day or win the race. Instead, the film is just natural and fun, and sometimes that's all you need. Cars is a film that isn't talked about a lot, but is still worth your time. Plus, it's the only Pixar film to have George Carlin in it, and that should count for something.
Before Inside Out was released, Pixar had a few movies that didn't play well and lacked any emotional heft to them. Luckily, Pixar returned with a vengeance with Inside Out, a movie that is as funny as it is sad, which is exactly the point of the film. Pixar tells an amazing story about a little girl who moves from her hometown to somewhere new, with her emotions struggling to accept the new environment.
This message and story is highly intelligent for both kids and adults alike. It tells us that we as humans need to have a healthy dose of not just happiness, but also sadness to help keep us sane and well-rounded individuals. There are some funny moments for sure, but there are also some extremely emotional scenes as well that are done with love and tenderness. The story structure and voice acting is incredible, too. One fault I have with this, is perhaps the emotion characters themselves are a tad bit silly, but still, Inside Out is a fantastic film.
Finding Nemo is a fantastic film through and through. It is the first time in Pixar's career that we get to see life under the sea and what it might be like. Nobody thought that a trio of fish could become household names, spawn sequels, and make you cry and laugh all in the same scene. Finding Nemo does that. It follows a father/son dynamic that is filled with thrills, adventure, big monstrous fish, and even life and death.
It's a powerful story that really connects to its audience, which is just about everyone. The film looks gorgeous and never slows down. If you're wondering why Finding Nemo isn't higher up on the list, that would be due to a few out of place slapstick scenes, which are more or less a staple early on in Pixar's career. Still, it's a fantastic film.
One of Pixar's earliest films is Monster's Inc. and it brought audiences into unfamiliar territory with different dimension where monsters scare human children to power their lives. It could have gone in a horrible direction, but Pixar plays it out beautifully from start to finish. Billy Crystal is a welcome addition to the Pixar family with his unique comedy in the character Mike, and of course the extremely cute toddler named Boo melts everyone's heart.
However, there is more than meets the eye with Monster's Inc. in the character that John Goodman voiced so perfectly. This big monster named Sully is the most famous monster in this Pixar world, but it comes at a cost. He's completely lonely, which I imagine is a satire on the rich and famous in real life. Even though they are respected, wealthy, and successful, some of them are completely alone, and that's how Sully feels -- until he meets Boo. It's a fantastic and heart warming Pixar favorite.
A Bug's Life doesn't get enough credit like it should. It's an amazing film that was the second effort from Pixar and follows an ant colony, which shouldn't be confused with AntZ that was released around the same time. This Pixar film though has a ton of heart, which features an ant who thinks outside the box, but is shunned and looked down upon, because he doesn't follow the pack.
It's a great message about being yourself no matter what obstacles come your way. It doesn't have the emotional weight that other Pixar films embody, but the characters are top notch, the script is tight, and it's a lot of fun still to this day.
What a lovely film from Pixar that probably plays more to grownups than a younger crowd. This film follows a rat who loves to cook in Paris and eventually befriends a fumbling intern cook at a fancy restaurant. The visuals alone of the Paris cityscape and countryside is breathtaking, but it also has an amazing story about family, doing what you love, and great food. Patton Oswalt hit a home run with his voice as Remy the rat, while the animation is some of the best we've ever seen for the time. Ratatouille brings the kid out in all of us with this story of love and food.
One of the most recent Pixar films proves that Pixar still has the juice in the engines to make amazing and important films, such as this one - Coco. The filmmakers completely immerse themselves in Mexican culture for their research for the film in every aspect and it shows flawlessly on screen. Coco will have you in tears every time you think about it, as it tackles subjects of family and warmth as well as sympathy for strangers you might not know yet.
I would also go as far to say that Coco is the most colorful and best-looking Pixar film to date, showcasing the underworld and beautiful villages of Mexico. The score and original songs are perfect and spark emotions that you didn't know were there. This is Pixar at its finest and let's hope they continue with this type of filmmaking.
The movie that started the Pixar movie franchise back in 1995 still holds up after all these years. Nobody knew if Toy Story was going to be good or if the new animation style was going to take off, but the creators made a beautiful film, not only visually, but with iconic and endearing characters that we still talk about today. It is a fantastic simple story of what our toys or think when we humans are not playing with them.
It could have been left at that, but instead Pixar takes two characters with Woody and Buzz who make their way into our hearts forever as they try to stay relevant to their owners. This film brings out the kid in all of us and reminds us of our best friends growing up, which were our toys. There are no forced emotions here, but rather just natural kindness and fun. Toy Story is still magnificent and one of the major milestones in filmmaking and storytelling.
Sometimes you get terrible sequels, however at other times, you get sequels like The Godfather: Part II. Yes, I'm going to do that. I'm going to compare Toy Story 2 to The Godfather: Part II in that it's just as good if not better than the original film. We get more of an insight into the world of these toys and what makes them tick as well as dive head first into the good and sinister world of toy collecting. Each character develops even further, along with some new faces that are instantly likable. Also with Toy Story 2 is the faint hint of a hard hitting, emotional film, which we see in later films, but it's here where it all started.
What an incredible movie for sure. Pixar took a chance on its version of the superhero genre and scored a big win. Not only that, but they set the story in the mid-century modern 1960s in the vein of noir spy thrillers.
The Incredibles centers on a family of superheroes in a world where it's frowned upon. It's a wonderfully told story on just how important family is. The movie doesn't shy away from showing adult problems or arguments within the family, nor does it sugar coat a villain. In fact, the villain -- played perfectly by Jason Lee -- is ruthless and evil, which makes everything relevant and worthy of your time. The Incredibles is an amazing film from top to bottom, and has some room for some emotions and a great score, inspired by the 1960s.
The most recent Pixar film is stunning and highly entertaining. You might be thinking why it took so long for Pixar to make a sequel to one of the most popular films in their wheelhouse, but we can all rest easy now, because The Incredibles 2 is here and it's one of their finest achievements. The Incredibles 2 takes place right where the first film left off and fully develops each character even more with bigger twists and turns around every corner.
The same message is still in play here of family sticking together, but there is more to it than just surface material. There is also an added element that can relate to our own political and social climate these days, which plays out perfectly. The visuals are even better than the first film and the action along with the adventure and thrills are at an all-time high. There isn't an emotional punch in this one like in some other Pixar films, but it's not needed. The Incredibles 2 is utterly fantastic.
Toy Story 3 really breaks the mold and decides to go all out with a super emotional and very dark film. Andy is all grown up and going to college, where all of his toys, including Buzz and Woody, haven't been played with in a long time. They are kept in a trunk, which leads to a garbage bag headed for the attic. This film goes to new territory in a very adult way that tackles situations such as death, abandonment, getting older, and broken relationships.
On top of all that, it's the funniest Toy Story film out of all of them. Pixar took a chance here, and it reaped the rewards on each of those chances. There are two big tear-jerking moments that you'll never forget, in that you've grown up with these toys and they are friends and family and not just pieces of plastic. I really don't know if they can top this one with Toy Story 4.
I've seen this movie no less than 50 times and each time I bawl my eyes out throughout the entire film. The opening several minutes of the film have almost zero dialogue, but tells a story of decades between a couple who fall in love, which brings tears to my eyes as I write this. This is the most mature of Pixar films, but it's told so tenderly that all ages know exactly what's going on in the film, and just how big the stakes are.
The unlikely duo of an elderly man and a young kid who go on an adventure of a lifetime with a talking dog is a visual spectacle to behold. Not only that, this story rips out those heart strings and will cause you to tear up and think of those you love dearly. This is a one-of-a-kind movie and holds up after each viewing. Up is one of Pixar's best ever.
Wall-E is the perfect film. This is Pixar's opus on all levels and is the movie we all need right about now. The film tells a story about a futuristic Earth that has been abandoned due to our own greed and unhealthy ways, leaving a series of robots to clean up our trash on Earth. This is the fall of human kind in a way, which is quite scary and could possibly become a reality sooner than later as the technology in the film is becoming more and more true with each year. After all that said, this movie really is a love story between two robots.
Wall-E is an old soul who is kind, generous, curious, and is struck by the love-at-first-sight arrow when he sees the impressive and technological robot Eve. What's great and poetic about this movie is that Wall-E is the hero of the film, but he's not your typical hero. He doesn't save the day or protect his loved one because he fights for a great cause or wants to impress anyone. Instead, he does these good things, because he wants to be kind and love everyone. This could be billed as the world's sweetest movie.
The emotional charge is here as are the simple funny moments. This love story and two characters are probably the best in-love couple on screen, and they barely talk in the film. In fact, the first part of the film there is no dialogue, but the filmmakers tell a story so intricately and perfectly that you instantly bond with these robots. Again, Wall-E is the perfect film that rounds out this ranking. Now, I dare Pixar to do better than this.
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