Waiting for Ice Age 17
Nothing new in cinemas; superheroes and animated movies are competing who’ll have more sequals. The first Avengers have overthrown Titanic form the number two spot of most watched movies of all time, so what else to do but part two, three and as many as needed, and the third Madagascar and fourth Ice Age command the legion of countless animated wonders.
Hollywood studios strive to reduce the human factor and the real world as much as possible, and to establish market domination based on good old reliable pixels. They are simply copying Walt Disneys successful approach. He’d never had any issues with the cast or with locations; he used to say “If I don’t like an actor I rip him up.” Even though the quality of the new Hollywood animations is superb, as well as the mastery of their authors, it seems that the innovative era in digital animation is already behid us. Instead of another great and surprising Shrek, DreamWorks has given us the not so new and not as surprising Puss in Boots, and Fox animators who’d surprised us with the first Ice Age now keep skillfully feeding us the same stuff in endless sequals.
Copy from the Rich
I hoped that the old Hollywood rule “give us something exactly the same, but a little bit different”, wouldn’t apply to Pixar, the (in my opinion) best and most innovative studio. Alas, Cars and Brave have proven me wrong. Pixar gave in to Disneys’ productional machine for conformity and recycling; a machine that had already brought Disney to the very edge of destruction a few times. It first happened in early seventies when Wolfgang Reitherman, author of five animated masterpieces (One hundred and one Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, The Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, The Aristocats), was no longer in charge. Almost two decades of stagnation are ended by Jeffrey Katzenberg who led the Disney renaissance and was responsible for four hit movies (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Alladin, Lion King). After Katzenberg left, five more successful movies were made (Pocahontas, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), after which Pixar took over the title of the best animation studio in the world (at the time owned by Steve Jobs, who will later sell it to Disney). By 1999. Pixar has already created three absolute hits (Toy Story 1 and 2 and A Bug’s Life), and by 2010., eight more innovative, surprising and completely “Pixary” (and completely different than any Disney movie) animated movies were made. But since Cars 2 something has changed in Pixar.
Should you reduce quality after you become famous?
For the first time, after 11 years of playfull, positively arrogant, anti-Disney films, they’ve created something to satisfy the customers, something to make a huge profit. A cold and calculated toy-selling product made to look as if it were created by Disneys’ marketing team. Cars 2 looks as good as any great Pixar film, but in reality it’s really not. Brave has similar, but even more serious problems. It was made masterfully; wonderful animation, dynamic, visually astonishing, with its’ vibrant medieval Scottish scenery and imaginative characters. It all looks fine, but just doesn’t work. Brave is the first really “conformist disneyish” Pixar film with a setting and music of a family fairytale. It’s a typical tamed, childish concept, with a hero who’s fighting to preserve family virtues and never challenges the “silent majority” of the audience. The main line in the story evolves around Merida’s mother being transformed into a bear by a witch (and her father is a bear-killing highlander hero), so Merida has to struggle to keep her mother alive and find a way to bring back her human form.
What’s the Point?
Is there anyone who even questioned whether she will succeed? If the mother will be transformed back, or if Merida will stop her father from killing her mother? Maybe, but they are probably around two years old. What’s the movie about then? In the expectation of the expected. With the addition of good music, songs, childish playfulness, as if the film was made by Pixar’s nanny, and not the makers of Toy Story and Finding Nemo. In other words, Brave is pretending to be Pixar, but under the shiny cover there’s a “neodisney” story and characters. Since the movie’s, same as Cars 2, made a huge profit, we can expect Disney to keep raising Pixar as an obedient child meant to mass-produce more toy-selling products.