Anyone who's already seen Inside Out
already knows the answer is a definite NO. A few years ago Pixar released a sequel to Cars, Cars 2 was viewed as the film that ruined Pixar's streak, resulting in a slew of articles claiming the studio had lost it, as if they wouldn't produce another good film for years. The conversation was repeated after their following films failed to wow critics, which led to many hoping that their most recent film would bring the studio's quality back, it seems the expectations have been met, but I still would argue that the studio never really lost it, it just didn't produce the masterpieces it had been able to do for four films straight (Ratatouille to Toy Story 3) which led to disappointment from fans.
Having been released after what some consider their best work, Toy Story 3
, Cars 2
was considered a huge step backward, a disappointment, and yet once you read the reviews, a lot of them claim that under a different studio it would've easily been labeled the best film, or at least one of the better films of said studio, yet Cars 2 was still bashed, simply because it wasn't "Pixar enough" as if there is more than just being entertaining to be worthy of such a status; but remember some said that about the original, yet that was still praised, unlike it's sequel. Cars was pretty early in Pixar's run, specifically before Pixar's great four known as Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, each of which were by many critics standards worthy of a best picture nomination, and of course with those four, expectations were high, so really anything would've easily been hated after that, Cars 2 happened to be it so it got a lot of hate, so it's not so much of losing their touch as it is "wasn't as good as the most recent films therefore they've lost it" which is an unfair statement.
Of course what does that leave the following films? Well Brave, was to me the first bad Pixar film, it lacked real focus, it felt like there was no passion for the subject which was about a mother and daughter bonding despite their differing ideologies, and the trailers set up a much more interesting adventure, whereas the movie felt like a medieval family sitcom that turns into Brother Bear midway through when it came down to it. It got more praise than the previous simply for not being Cars, yet critics still see it as a weak link, mostly for again not living up to the standards of the great four. Brave, might not have been good, but to say Pixar lost their touch, is a bit of an over dramatization, the movie had a lot of problems getting made within the studio, even losing the director that based the story on her relationship with her daughter at one point, it's surprising that it still managed to be watchable, because even though I didn't like it, the movie isn't as awful as many other films I've seen. Sure one can easily respond by bringing up the problems Ratatouille had before it got made, but that doesn't mean all films with problems throughout the production are as lucky, especially when part of the problem is losing the person who based the entire story on her own life to an extant. Brave was a matter of bad luck, not of lost touch, they kicked off a director who it seems wouldn't comply with suggestions or changes to the story, while the people brought in probably didn't know what to do with it, either way it just seems like a stroke of bad luck.
Coming out after that was Monster's University, a prequel that many suggested as a prime example of doing a prequel right (make it good, as well it's own thing so that it feels like it could have existed without the first film) and yet again people cry foul on it as backwards to what the studio use to do (mostly referring to the great four), many went on to suggest it was only slightly weaker than the original, which was arguably the best in the early run of Pixar, yet that no longer is good enough. If a widely agreed great third act is within the film, why do so many complain, especially when considering some of their previous efforts were largely praised for one act (though to be fair I find the great four to be better than this) because in all honesty, Monsters University is incredibly memorable because it has one of the strongest third acts in Pixar history. If I'm to be honest, I feel the critique unfairly comes from the comparison to the original, which feels wrong when the film isn't really trying to be the original.
It seems like people seem to be over glorifying Pixar, which isn't bad as they've consistently done good, but it sadly does does affect people's views, apparently forgetting that masterpiece has never been their goal, after all it's main pride in doing films is to make it the way they would like, meaning entertaining, they never said their goal was to make masterpieces, or whatever the people who made the claims of Pixar losing their touch tend to claim, just good, entertaining films, for me they've succeeded in doing that for 12 films straight, longer than many other studios, most can't even brag about how good they are for that long, yet Pixar can, so I don't think they ever lost their touch, they just couldn't replicate masterpieces for very long and that's okay, Pixar still seems to care enough to make enjoyable films for everyone, because despite the criticisms of too many sequels coming from them, how many other studios will stop to mention they're trying to create the best film they can out of it, while still seeming honest about it (look up Finding Dory
), because most studios seem to ignore any kind of "this didn't need a sequel" comments that even people with a half a brain make.
Go watch Inside Out
this week, remind yourself that Pixar is still a smart studio, you owe it to yourself. Pixar hasn't lost their touch, nor did they, everyone makes mistakes, even Pixar. The only way this studio could ever lose their touch is if they started making films that completely undermine everything they stand for, insulting your intelligence, lacking any thought and dedication to their subjects, while crafting characters solely out of what they think your kids will buy most, in other words, they'd have to turn into Illumination Studios.
Written By Octaviano Macias
P.S. I don't hate all of Illumination's work, they just haven't made anything decent that didn't feature the Minions
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