With Toy Story 3 coming out swinging today, Mania takes a look back at the incredible run Pixar has had so far. This company, with groundbreaking computer animation and All-Star voice talent, never forgets to tell a great story and makes movies that are entertaining for both young and old. Probably the best and easily the most consistent filmmakers out there, our staff did our best to try and rank these movies. Not so easy when you look at a track record like Pixar's.
Brad Bird’s second Pixar flick found yet another way for the creative team to up the ante; let’s make society’s least favorite rodent, somehow adorable. Ratatouille pushes the story of following your heart all through the perspective of French countryside rat, Remy, who travels to Paris to meet his cooking hero and becomes a culinary Cyrano De Bergerac to Linguini, a hapless garbage boy turned chef. With themes of tolerance and acceptance of people no matter what fur color one may have, Ratatouille never hammers you over the head with the message, but like a fine meal, uses just enough of the to compliment and excentuate. After watching, Ratatoulle just makes you want to go in the alley and hang out with the rats you've judged so harshly in the past.
Did we really know what we were looking at when Woody the cowboy first glared enviously at his spaceman rival from the confines of Andy’s room? Toy Story took years to bring to the screen, and if it had tanked, the cinematic landscape might look very different today. Lucky for us it didn’t, and thus was one of the medium’s most impressive winning streaks born. Toy Story lacks the thematic sophistication of Pixar’s later works, but makes up for it in its elegantly constructed plot and characters. The storytelling skill on display set the tone for every Pixar film to follow, while the figures onscreen have rattled off two additional animated masterpieces without even pausing for breath.
When most people watched the trailer for Up, they probably thought Pixar had lost it. Nobody likes movies about old people. A flying balloon house? Then of course, the first five minutes into the movie, unless you are a heartless bastard, Up had you crying like a newborn. The movie sets up America’s favorite curmudgeon, Carl Hendrickson’s life in such a wonderfully heartbreaking way, he could have been shooting kittens the rest of the film and the audience would have forgiven him. But it doesn’t stop there, Up takes you through an emotional journey without holding the audience hostage dealing with such heavy topics aging, death, life after loss and flying dogs.
2004’s The Incredibles is arguably the best superhero film ever made. While Pixar’s fifth film was not actually based on any comic book, it may stand as the movie that's been the most true to the spirit of the comic book super heroes we all know and love. It proved that powered crime-fighters don't have to be watered down to find acceptance among the broader movie-going audiences. Colorful costumes, super powers, giant robots, secret headquarters, a shared universe of heroes and a rich back story.Creator Brad Bird (The Simpsons, Iron Giant) clearly influenced by The Fantastic Four but blended the Marvel quartet with a late 50’s, jazzy style and themes from Ayn Rand novels, showing how society drags down “super” people.
In the midst of Pixar’s dazzling storytelling prowess and profound insight into human nature, it’s easy to forget how gutsy some of their work can be. WALL*E serves as the ultimate case in point: the world’s first post-apocalyptic romantic comedy, featuring no real dialogue from either of the principle characters. If anyone else attempted such a feat, the studios would stone them to death on sight. But Pixar makes it look so easy, creating a whimsical statement on the power of love set in a chillingly plausible world which humanity has polluted to near-extinction. WALL*E nails those disparate halves so perfectly that they feel made for each other, a peerless blending of tone and technique that even the greatest directors in history might have struggled with.
Let us know what you think Maniacs. Who is your 10-1. While you are at it, check out our version of Carl Hendrickson, Rob Vaux's review of Toy Story 3.
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