My top 5 Pixar films
Mark highlights his personal choice for Pixar's 5 best films. And you're warmly invited to do the same...
I should state from the off, here: this is a very personal choice, with which many people will disagree. But these are the ones I like most, why they talk to me personally, and stand out in very auspicious company. So without further ado...
Brad Bird came onboard Pixar with a track record that included directing and writing The Iron Giant and producing the screenplay for Batteries Not Included. It's Bird's energy for the fantastic that fills this movie with memorable characters and scenes, and delivers Pixar's most complete feature yet. Other Pixar productions have come close, but none have bettered The Incredibles.
Brad Bird worked his magic a second time for Pixar on this beautifully crafted piece that created a new high-water mark in CGI complexity. In animations terms it presents a master class in character staging, subtle movement and finesse, while telling an engaging story with involving characters and plot. Ratatouille is a great movie, and a timeless classic.
I couldn't leave this out because, without this film, the rest might just have been fleeting notions in the heads of various Pixar people. It entirely re-wrote the rules on what CGI could feasibly do, and paved the way for a new golden era of animated film.
The technology, voice talents, script and characters all fell into place with Toy Story, and the world of motion pictures was never quite the same afterwards.
There is a purity about this movie that hits most adults right under the solar plexus, as it goes to the very heart of what it's like to be a young child. Superb voice casting of Billy Crystal and John Goodman elevate the simple narrative along with some elegant design work in creating the unique look of their characters. The animation of 'Boo' will touch any parent who still remembers their children that young.
Toy Story 2
The rarity of a sequel that in any way is equal to an original film should never be underestimated and, as such, Toy Story 2 deserves to be here. Taking the original concept of what it's like to be a toy to the next level, Buzz, Woody and the gang experience the darker side of rare toy ownership at Al's Toy Barn. More humour and more spectacular action made this a worthy successor to the original.
So what of the others? I like them all to varying degrees, with the possible exception of Cars. In that movie I find the design of the characters - putting eyes inside the windshields - unforgivably lazy.
A Bug's Life is good, but Antz, which came out the same year with a similar story, is actually better. Wall-E starts wonderfully and then goes rapidly downhill once he's onboard the spacecraft, sadly. Up is good, but personally I think that the last third of the film doesn't glue together entirely successfully. And most people's favourite, Finding Nemo, is just too sickly sweet in places for me, and I felt emotionally manipulated in places.
But given the things I've said about other studios work, the worst thing I've ever really said about a Pixar movie is that is isn't quite as brilliant as one of their others. I'm sure they'll make an animated disaster at some point, but I'm not laying odds for when that might be....
Leave your own top 5 list in the comments below...