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All Three of Pixar’s Billion-Dollar Movies Are Sequels. Now What?

Pixar

From Animation World Network:

Incredibles 2 became just the seventh animated film to cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office. It is Disney’s fifth animated and 18th-ever billion-dollar release and joins Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War as Disney’s third release to reach the $1 billion milestone this year.

Egregious success for Disney in 2018 aside, Pixar is now the first animated studio to release three films with $1 billion worldwide box office. And all three of these films are sequels: Toy Story 3Finding Dory, and now Incredibles 2. And yet people wonder why Pixar continues to make sequels in the first place. Money speaks louder than critics, I suppose.

Go on…All Three of Pixar’s Billion-Dollar Movies Are Sequels. Now What?

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The Real Reason Why Pixar Keeps Making Sequels

sequels

I’ve commented on this topic a lot, particularly this week with the release of Incredibles 2, but Victor Luckerson seriously nails the rise of Pixar sequels with this piece on The Ringer.

How Pixar Became a Sequel Factory:

This decade has been different. Pixar’s next 10 films included six sequels or prequels, among them the newly released Incredibles 2. Its next movie is Toy Story 4, an addendum to a conclusive trilogy that no one asked for. In addition to its two sequels, there has even been a Cars spinoff, Planes, which recalls the low-budget direct-to-video sequels Disney pumped out in the ’90s.

Go on…The Real Reason Why Pixar Keeps Making Sequels

Pixar’s New Short Film ‘Bao’ Is Weird, But Also Kind Of Essential

Bao

I recently wrote up an explainer for Bao on The Young Folks:

Bao was directed by Domee Shi, the first woman to ever direct a Pixar short…Over the course of about eight minutes, we see a dumpling become a baby boy, growing up under his mother’s love until eventually becoming too old to stay home with her. Essentially, Bao is a Chinese retelling of “The Gingerbread Man.”

I saw Incredibles 2 for the second time last night with a large audience, and I was almost more curious about how Bao would come across in front of other people. In case you haven’t seen it, Bao has a very “Pixar” plot with an absolutely shockingly weird twist that almost lampoons Pixar. It’s probably genius?

Go on…Pixar’s New Short Film ‘Bao’ Is Weird, But Also Kind Of Essential

Incredibles 2 Review: Not Every Pixar Movie Can Be Super

incredibles 2

From my official review of Incredibles 2 on The Young Folks:

These are the clearest shortcomings of Incredibles 2, as it fails to be as strong an ensemble piece as The Incredibles, where every main character (even the villain) had a defined, cohesive arc. But in virtually every other respect, Incredibles 2 is just as wonderful, gorgeous, and thrilling as the first, to the point where most super fans of the original likely won’t care about these flaws.

Overall, I liked the movie. It even exceeded some of my expectations, particularly with some of the clever writing surrounding the infant Jack Jack and how he creatively factors into the super family’s heroic antics.

Go on…Incredibles 2 Review: Not Every Pixar Movie Can Be Super

Which is Better: Zootopia or Finding Dory?

zootopia

Disney’s Zootopia is a better film than Pixar’s Finding Dory.

Both 2016 films are competently made. Both films are humorous, well-realized, and stunning to look at. Both films have engaging, wonderful main characters with goals and story arcs that are as insightful as they are entertaining. Both films share many of the same strengths, making it hard to objectively point to one being better than the other on any sort of technical level. But…

Go on…Which is Better: Zootopia or Finding Dory?

Incredibles 2 Will Be Way More Successful Than (Some) Think

I don’t usually dive into the prediction game, but this year I’m feeling uniquely compelled to weigh in on the box office future of Incredibles 2, a Pixar film some are strangely underestimating as we close in on Summer 2018.

Will it be #1 for the whole summer? Not necessarily, thanks to Avengers: Infinity War. But here’s my breakdown on how I envision the summer playing out in general, from Deadpool 2 to Solo. Spoiler alert: it involves Disney making way more money than everyone else. In part thanks to Pixar’s latest sequel based off of one of their most beloved movies.

Go on…Incredibles 2 Will Be Way More Successful Than (Some) Think

The Humans of ‘WALL-E’ Were Probably Better Off Without Him

Have you ever seen Pixar’s WALL-E? No? Then go watch that, come back, and let’s discuss something somewhat troubling about this film.

There are a lot of movies that you can point to and say that the protagonists (i.e. heroes of the film) actually do more harm than good. There are some movies with tragic endings that would have been just fine if the protagonist had done nothing at all.

And I think WALL-E accidentally does the same thing, and not for the reason you may be thinking.

wall-e theory

Let’s recap the story. WALL-E is set 800 years in the future. In this universe, Earth becomes incredibly overpopulated by the year 2105, with 200 billion humans contributing to an environmental disaster for obvious reasons.

In response, a world-dominating organization called Buy n Large (BnL) pledges to clean up the mess, though it’s heavily implied it’s mostly their fault, and they send all humans to space on executive cruise ships called “starliners.” But after only five years, BnL decides to abandon the planet completely because the air has become toxic.

Side note: Soon, my book on The Pixar Theory will be coming out, and it’s packed with theories that concern this movie and BnL in general. What you’re about to read is something that didn’t make it into the final draft, so BONUS!

wall-e theory

Anyway, humans remain in space unbothered for 700 years, which is when the movie’s plot begins with WALL-E. When a probe named EVE arrives to find hospitable life, WALL-E falls in adorable robot love with her, and when she returns to deliver the plant-life she found, WALL-E frantically follows her.

WALL-E ends up on Axiom, one of many starliners running in a lifestyle “loop.” The humans there have been raised from birth to support and trust BnL and it’s routines for their entire lives. The robots satisfy all of their needs, and life is pretty much perfect in their minds, even though they do nothing for themselves.

It’s a strange setup because you’d think the people on Axiom would grow bored and feel stifled, but in contrast, they seem completely intent, until WALL-E arrives and causes a chain of events that leads to their return to Earth.

wall-e theory

 

This brings me to the main point: The people of Axiom are incredibly nice, well-functioning people.

Not once do you see a human on Axiom acting spoiled or rude. Instead, they’re incredibly polite, especially when they meet WALL-E for the first time. John and Mary are two great examples. They’re not used to robots having a personality, and when they meet WALL-E, they are very positive and nice to him. You’d think they’d treat him terribly, but instead they befriend him and get eerily excited when they see him again.

The humans we see have friends, romantic relationships, and excellent living accommodations. The screens they view everything through are translucent, so they have no shame in letting other people see what they’re working on.

wall-e theory

Even life expectancy isn’t a problem. When we see the panel of past Axiom captains, you can see that all of them live well over 100 years.

When the current captain of the ship becomes enamored with Earth, he appears to have the joy of a child. He’s incredibly optimistic, and in many ways, one of the central heroes of the film when it comes down to it.

In some of the final scenes, we see the humans showing a lot of empathy for WALL-E and EVE, even though most have them have no idea what’s going on. They cheer for the captain when he’s fighting Auto, and John and Mary don’t hesitate to risk their lives for the babies falling down the platform.

wall-e theory

What caused humans to be this nice?

Well, BnL apparently did. The society created by this “loop” of never-ending pleasure created a culture of interestingly polite humans, contrary to the spoiled rich kid syndrome you’d expect to see.

So was what WALL-E did for them…for the best?

If he had never followed EVE, the humans would sill be on the Axiom, but when the movie closes, the humans have returned to Earth. It’s depressing, but history repeats itself. Though we see shots of life rebuilding itself peacefully, won’t humans just make the same mistakes again and damage Earth completely this time?

wall-e theory

It’s tricky because the movie is clever about how it makes you hate BnL, despite it being the invention of the very humans we sympathize with. Pixar overtly makes the conditions of the Axiom both horrific and enticing at the same time, but few people walk away from it thinking the humans made a mistake.

From a storytelling perspective, it’s genius on Pixar’s part. They present the humans in a way that makes us want the best for them. If they had made the humans spoiled and insufferable, we wouldn’t care about them as much as we do by the end.

But the weird side-effect of this characterization is that Pixar is unintentionally saying that BnL’s methods created a better society than the one we already have. We know it’s better because Pixar is intentionally saying the society we have is what caused the problems emphasized in the film.

wall-e theory

So, here’s the question: Were the humans better off living in a society that made them the best they could be personally and socially? Or is living on Earth too important to ignore? I’m not convinced either way, to be honest.

Sure, the effects of gravity make you a blob dependent on a chair, but then again, it’s an awesome chair.

In Axiom’s society, there’s no crime from what we see. Everyone has their needs met. There’s likely no poverty, racial injustice, or food shortages. It’s utopia, but we think it sucks because the people aren’t skinny. Isn’t that a little messed up when you think about it?

wall-e theory

Still, the captain makes a good point when he says, “I don’t want to survive, I want to live!”

But does everyone on Axiom want that, or is it just the result of one man who wants to impulse buy something he read about on the Internet? It’s hard to say.

Of course, I’m not saying Axiom would be the best for me or you. We’re accustomed to bike rides, trampolines, and Taylor Swift concerts. But if you told me there was a way to solve all of Earth’s problems in exchange for a few extra pounds, I’d have a hard time saying no.


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