It’s about time I added the final installment for this series of posts and get myself up to date. Admittedly I did not do this in time for Toy Story 4 or even Onward like I wanted but better late than never I suppose. Much like Disney, we’re well into the era of sequels, prequels and remakes and Pixar isn’t exempt to this although the enormous success of Inside Out has opened Pixar’s eyes to dedicating itself more to creating original content. Only three of the six films in this post are original but the fact that Pixar have planned several originals for the future and less franchise releases shows a step in the right direction. Pixar thrives off its originality and it is the imagination of these films that make them stand out.
If you need to catch up with the series, here are the links to the previous posts below:
As I have mentioned before, the films in this post do follow the trend for nostalgia and rebooting franchises by bring back loved films from the Finding Nemo and The Incredibles universe as well as the long-awaited sequel to Toy Story 3. I am glad that Pixar have originals planned for the future because the prequel/sequel trend has worn thin now and the films aren’t bad but they don’t hold their ground against the originals.
Here are the reviews for Pixar films 16-22:
16) The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Set in a world where dinosaurs didn’t go extinct, The Good Dinosaur chronicles the friendship between a shy Apatosaurus named Arlo and a young boy called Spot. Featuring a starry cast including Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright, this film sadly became Pixar’s first box office bomb despite it’s positive reviews. It’s a rare Pixar original during the flurry of franchises and coming after the brilliant Inside Out, it didn’t really stand a chance. I felt really underwhelmed by this film overall. I loved the background design and nature backdrops but the animation of the film’s characters clashed in a way that made for a confusing viewing experience. The film feels as if it doesn’t quite give the emotional punch that it could have done as it explores the deep confusion and complexity of losing a parent at an early age. It’s a film that means well but sadly doesn’t fill its potential.
17) Finding Dory (2016)
Finding Dory follows everyone’s favourite forgetful fish who finds herself swimming across the ocean to locate her parents who she lost when she was younger. Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is just as lovable as ever and it’s great seeing her get her own film. She ventures to the Marine Life Institute in California where she is captured and quarantined leaving Marlin and Nemo in a position to rescue her. Dory is one of the best loved characters in the Pixar universe and the film’s critical and commercial success (which saw the film break $1 billion at the box office) proves this. The film suffers from feeling unoriginal as the situation is identical but on the other side of the world with the characters swapped around. I understand that the title makes that clear and the search for her parents makes it different but I felt underwhelmed by the film as a whole.
18) Cars 3 (2017)
I did not go into this film with high hopes. Anyone who has been following my Pixar rankings will know that the Cars franchise is simply not my cup of tea. What baffled me the most about this sequel is that it feels really forced and added on. Like Cars 2, it feels as though protsgonist Lightning McQueen hasn’t actually learned any lessons from the previous installment and must take yet another whole film to his humility and learn the importance of friends and family. It’s not clear what the intention of Cars 3 is as McQueen struggles with the realisation that his racing days may be coming to an end. The character arc from the previous two installments should present a McQueen who is eager to pass on the mantel and train the next generation but what we are presented with is the McQueen from the beginning of the first two films who is arrogant and refuses to accept anything other than a first place win.
19) Coco (2017)
By far the best film in this list and a true testament to Pixar’s love of incorporating different cultures into their films, Coco is a Mexican based tale set on Dios de las Muertos and follows aspiring musician Miguel who longs to sing despite his family’s strict ban on music. It’s a tale that explores the importance of family and identity and is guaranteed to have you in tears at the climatic scene with his Grandma Coco. It also portrays dementia in an accurate way that is educational for children and emotionally relatable for adults. Coco isn’t afraid to delve in darker topics such as death as the majority of the film takes place in the afterlife where Miguel encounters his dead relatives. The soundtrack, written by duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez is even better than Frozen in my opinion. I think the songs really capture the heritage and tone of the film perfectly with songs such as the Oscar-winning “Remember Me” and “Proud Corazon” bringing the film to life.
20) The Incredibles 2 (2018)
One of the Pixar films that I did not imagine would ever get a sequel, The Incredibles 2 follows directly on from the first. As expected, the dialogue was punchy, Mrs. Incredible (voiced by Holly Hunter) is feminist as always and the score is somehow even better than the first. My only problem with this film is that it is pretty much a carbon copy of the first film but the roles are reversed with Mrs. Incredible taking on the challenge and Mr. Incredible staying at home. I also had a bit of an issue with the animation itself. With it being a superhero movie, I expect it to be fast-paced with a lot of colours and flashing lights but there was one particular scene that had so much strobe lighting that it was hard to concentrate and was (literally) painful to watch and gave me a headache. It was an uneasy sequence to watch and ruined the film a bit for me, particularly because it didn’t need to be in there.
21) Toy Story 4 (2019)
I wrote a full review when I went to see this which you can read here so I won’t spend too much time repeating myself. Featuring the star-studded cast lead by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, the fourth installment follows the toys in the care of Bonnie, the lovable little girl who Andy gifts the gang to. Woody finds it hard to belong under Bonnie’s care and what follows is an adventure of identity and family. It’s wasn’t a necessary film but it definitely was worth the wait. Not to mention that Forky is one of the best characters to come from the Toy Story franchise.
22) Onward (2020)
The first of two original Pixar films initially planned to be released this year (I’m not too sure if the release of Soul has been delayed or not), Onward is set in a mythical alternative universe populated by trolls, goblins and pixies among other creatures. Following young elf teenager, Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) as they navigate being seen as outcasts by their peers. When Ian turns 16, their mum Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives the boys a wizard staff that belonged to their father before his passed. Ian finds out he possesses some powers and managers to resurrect his father’s legs and the boys are against the clock as they have to figure out how to resurrect the rest of him within 24 hours. Of course, in true Pixar fashion, the film explores the brothers’ relationship and their relationship with their mother and others. Despite the film’s fantasy setting, I found its depiction of parental loss and its affect on the children to be among the most accurate put to the film. The desperation to see their father again and the pain the brothers go through organic and real as they constantly bicker and argue like siblings but would do anything for each other. I think the film is hugely underrated and feel that it is among the better films Pixar has released in recent years.
So with all of the reviews completed, I am now faced with the task of ranking them. It wasn’t as difficult as previous posts (mainly the second installment) but it’s interesting to see where the likes of Coco and Toy Story 4 rank up against the legendary films. I do think that Coco is the film of this bunch that is likely to become the best known one and with good reason.
Here is the up-to-date ranking:
1) Up (2009)
2) WALL-E (2008)
3) Toy Story 2 (1999)
4) Coco (2017)
5) Inside Out (2015)
6) Ratatouille (2007)
7) Toy Story 3 (2010)
8) Monsters, Inc. (2001)
9) Finding Nemo (2003)
10) The Incredibles (2004)
11) Onward (2020)
12) Toy Story 4 (2019)
13) Toy Story (1995)
14) A Bug’s Life (1998)
15) The Incredibles 2 (2018)
16) Finding Dory (2016)
17) Brave (2012)
18) Monsters University (2013)
19) The Good Dinosaur (2015)
20) Cars (2006)
21) Cars 2 (2011)
22) Cars 3 (2017)
Looking at the final ranking, it seems such a shame that the calibre for Pixar films reaches a slump. They had such a flourishing first decade and dominated cinema but then crippled by Disney’s desire for sequels and prequels. This evidently lowered Pixar’s standards but hopefully they will continue to make the original films that audiences really love.
What do you think of my final ranking? Which Pixar film is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!