Category Archives: Animation

Gone But Not Forgotten

The only problem that plagues Coco is that it takes a while to get there. The moments that define it and make it stand out among the delightful myriad of masterful Pixar animations are all tucked away in its second half, making what comes before it feel like a long – yet very much enjoyable – buildup. When Coco takes off, it transforms into a Russian nesting doll of plot twists which instead of getting smaller and less significant as they appear, just seem to become bigger and heavier as they pop out. It is a rough journey, but one that – by revealing quite a lot about Miguel’s family’s past – brings them closer together rather than setting them further apart, which is just about the perfect ending for a movie inspired by a celebration where family union and legacies of love are in the spotlight.

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All in all, however, even if it carries an ending that happens through means that may dynamite the experience as a whole to some, Cars 3 is a good movie. It may fall by the lower echelon of Pixar flicks, where Brave, Cars, and Monsters University lie; but, at the same time, it floats far above the cringe-inducing experiences created by Cars 2 and The Good Dinosaur. With Cars 3, Pixar leads its least-admired franchise to a conclusion that comes off as natural and, to some degree, necessary, and therein exists the greatest victory of the movie: instead of making viewers wonder why it was produced in the first place, it takes them on the wheels of a journey that is a pleasant and entertaining ride. With Cars 3, McQueen and his peers can ride into the sun with some dignity, leaving the racing tracks on a sweet note, like a superstar who retires on their own terms and when the time is right.

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Strength of Strings

If Pixar movies cleverly appeal to both adults and children by presenting levels of strong messages under the visual sugarcoating, Laika – here – does something somewhat similar. The difference is that the line they choose to walk is a far more dangerous one, because not only does Kubo and the Two Strings carries its heaviest themes more blatantly on its sleeve, it also deals with emotionally charged subjects; at times, even feeling like a Studio Ghibli work, one that is an adult movie disguised as a beautiful and appealing animation.

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Magic in the South Pacific

Consequently, the key to Moana’s greatness as a movie does not lie in its general format. Its excellence is actually found in the construction of its setting and in how it uses the hearts of two characters, with all their beautiful qualities and weaknesses, as the main roadblocks that separate total doom from the coveted goal. It is, therefore, the Disney fairy-tale with which it is the easiest to connect, because although it does deal with the supernatural in many occasions, the ultimate problems that need to be solved are those that exist within ourselves, and no amount of magic can help us overcome them. In the end, then, Moana’s journey and growth may be a tad cliched, but the way in which it is rolled out is absolutely fantastic, and transforms the movie into yet another great entry in the hall of Disney animation.

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The Unforgettable Second Fiddle

The element that does lift Finding Dory above the “good” threshold is its heart-wrenching emotional nucleus. Dory is always positive and good-hearted, but the world she often encounters in her search for help is one that is indifferent or that often does not know how to, or care enough to, give a hand to the poor friendly fish that wants to find her home but that has trouble figuring out where it is and how to get there. Any relation to a modern world that is way too self-centered and worried about its own problems to pay attention to those of others, which may be much more urgent and grave, is certainly not a coincidence; and Pixar delivers that message with a light and deft touch.

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Through the Looking-Glass

In the end, though, Zootopia is nothing short of impressive. It gets all compliments usual Disney classics achieve: it is funny, enchanting, visually stunning, highly emotional, universally likable, and fun. At the same time, it is a dot far out of the curve for it shows Disney tackling an animation while being armed with a politically engaged soul. It forces audiences to take a good look at the mirror and analyze themselves, their world, their problems, their minds, and their reasoning. Regardless of whether one happens to see their image reflected on the looking-glass, or to simply identify the damage that certain lines of thought and actions can provoke, Zootopia succeeds because it raises awareness and fosters discussions; it is a movie that is fully aware of the world in which it exists and takes a fair shot at addressing its most important issues. Like little Alice, what we see beyond the mirror – a reflection of our world, is an alluring new perspective of problems we have grown used to; and that is what makes it so overwhelmingly revealing.

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Jurrasic Bungle

Some could argue that The Good Dinosaur is Pixar’s attempt at writing a movie directly aimed at the youngsters, especially following the intricate and overly complicated concepts of Inside Out, but even if it does punctually come off as entertainment built for children, it is of the mediocre kind. Instead of reaching for the likes of Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro, two works blatantly produced for kids by Studio Ghibli – a company known for crafting mature animation, that are masterpieces; The Good Dinosaur presents all the bad quirks and goofs of a rushed and uninspired DreamWorks product. For any company, such result would be a major disappointment; for Pixar, a towering giant in the world of animation, it is appalling and, ultimately, sad.

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