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Is Pixar Going Downhill?

Jaspar Lamar Crabb

almost 2 years ago

CARS 2 was one of the very worst movies of last year. Loud, overproduced, annoying, unappealing characters, etc.

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

Just saw Brave today, thought it was great, no decline noticed here.

That is all.

—DiB

CGI Baby

almost 2 years ago

Sorry to come late to the party, and I think it’s too early to tell for me. I haven’t seen Brave yet, but just because two movies are not as good as the rest of the crop (from the looks of it) doesn’t mean that the rest of their output is going to go downhill too. I think they’ll rebound.

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

The compositional elements of Brave are phenomenal, in a manner that bears worth mentioning despite how often people gush about their animation. Partly because their character and object modeling is topping off, I don’t think people are noticing some of the amazing things they’re doing with movement, camera movement, and these virtual spaces they create — and in Brave it’s blink-or-you’ll-miss-it, since the story runs quite fast. This movie flowed like a long multistage dance.

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@DiB

Partly because their character and object modeling is topping off, I don’t think people are noticing some of the amazing things they’re doing with movement, camera movement, and these virtual spaces they create — and in Brave it’s blink-or-you’ll-miss-it, since the story runs quite fast. This movie flowed like a long multistage dance.

I could be one of those people. But put aside the filmmaking for a moment: what did you think about the story, characters and the ideas—and the way the film handled them? You didn’t think they were very cliched? When I think of the people proposing this film in the planning stages, I have a hard time imagining the Pixar people getting excited about this.

@Dude

I haven’t seen Brave yet, but just because two movies are not as good as the rest of the crop (from the looks of it) doesn’t mean that the rest of their output is going to go downhill too. I think they’ll rebound.

Personally, I don’t think the problem is only two films. I feel a little bad about what I’m saying as I sound so negative, but I’m starting to think that a lot of the Pixar films aren’t as good as some people seem to think; and I’m beginning to wonder if the ones I really think are good, aren’t as good as I thought. For example, I really loved The Incredibles, but I feel this way partly because of the ways the film meets some my strong personal preferences for superhero movies. Maybe I’m overvaluing the film because of this. (The story isn’t the greatest, although it isn’t bad, especially for what is an “origin” film; and it does use the theme quite well.) Maybe this happens for other people. When you think about it, almost all the Pixar films have at least a few things that make them appealing. Good-to-great animation? Check. At least a few funny moments or characters? Check. At least a few touching moments? Check.
And perhaps most of the time this is enough to make a film enjoyable. But when I look at the overall story, I think many of the films are not that great. Do people think that most Pixar films have great stories? Now, a good story isn’t always critical for a film to be good, but for a narrative-based film, a good story is generally pretty important. Most, if not all, of the Pixar films are narrative-based. So I think this is a valid question. To be clear, I’m not trying to say that people can’t or shouldn’t enjoy the films if they don’t have really great stories, but I am suggesting that a lack of a good story might be a valid and compelling criticism.

Robert W Peabody III

almost 2 years ago

I am suggesting that a lack of a good story might be a valid and compelling criticism.

Okay, and a good story is one fraught with uncertainty? is it how the story is structured ?
Given there are a finite number of stories to be told, which ones are good?

If good = uncertainty and an effective structure, I would say Morvern Callar and L’intrus are ‘good’ stories.
And yet, you might say they are non-narrative films.

?

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“what did you think about the story, characters and the ideas—and the way the film handled them? You didn’t think they were very cliched?”

Actually, I didn’t. The primary family were all spontaneous thinkers in what I consider to be a purposeful, character driven way. That allowed things like the boys, i.e., to get away with their antics because not a whole lot of people thought ahead, and they could use that energy against them. The witch wasn’t particularly evil, so the heavy was the Bear King narrative underlying what the subtheme was about, a family fighting off the demons of its old traditions while writing a new one. That theme worked on several levels, from the personal (Merida) to the interpersonal (the clans) to the historical (the bear). All in all the story was well-told.

“When I think of the people proposing this film in the planning stages, I have a hard time imagining the Pixar people getting excited about this.”

You’d have to ask them, but I’m sure they’re fine with it. Also, the fact that this one had a female director was one of the big things Pixar was excited about.

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@Robert

Okay, and a good story is one fraught with uncertainty? is it how the story is structured ?
Given there are a finite number of stories to be told, which ones are good?

We can think of a “good story” in at least two ways:

1) in terms of type (e.g., revenge, finding one’s way back home, coming-of-age, etc.)
2.) in terms of execution—e.g., does the characters behavior believable, within the context of the fil? is the story completely predictable and cliched? is the villain formidable and scary, etc.

When I say a story is too cliched, I’m not saying it has to be “fraught with uncertainty.” But if you’re story is cliched, you either have to add something interesting and fresh to the mix or execute the heck out of the film. Raiders of the Lost Ark may be cliched in some ways, but the action set-pieces and its execution bring life and interest to the film. (I would classify Harrison Ford as Indy as part of great execution as well.)

@DiB

I’m guessing I’m thinking of things like: the princess who is actually capable and tough, versus helpless and prissy (the way the film expresses this—i.e., her beating out her incompetent suitors) this with the Queen trying to make her daughter into a conventional princess and the conflict that ensues; the girl’s stubborness getting her family in trouble, etc.

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

Yes the plot points are conventional but they make sense considering the character, who I find to be idiosyncratic and believable enough to allow the conventional plot. One thing I like is how tradition is not entirely dismissed, in fact it becomes a major feature of how the conflict between Merida and her mother are resolved. I would have been much more disappointed in the story if Merida’s rebelliousness won out without her understanding and appreciating her mother’s point of view equally to her mother coming over to the other side — they both become more moderate and more wise versions of themselves. If not ‘good’ at least the movie had the decency to fully realize that.

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

But the fact that the two come to appreciate each other’s point of view also seems cliched. Maybe my bigger problem is the cheesy way the relationship is handled…but I also think the characters and story are pretty bland. (How is Merida idiosyncratic?)

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“Maybe my bigger problem is the cheesy way the relationship is handled…but I also think the characters and story are pretty bland.”

Just didn’t feel bland cheese myself, oh well.

“(How is Merida idiosyncratic?)”

The movie felt more like a slapstick movie from the 20s or a screwball comedy from the 40s than a princess movie from the 80s and 90s to me. Heroes from those genres are typified more by how often the results of their actions create the next problem they have to resolve, often moreso than any outside antagonism.. Characters like these are fun because they’re always racing against themselves, and never give up (they don’t really have time to, at any rate). Merida throws herself into the mix with dedication each time, and then always has to deal with the fallout immediately afterward.

To me the mother didn’t really stand out until she became the bear. But at that point, both from a technical character animation perspective and from how she moves/reacts/acts, I felt Pixar hit the perfect note of both how she would react as human and move/confuse herself as bear. It’s really at that point the cliches stopped and the movie really stood its own, in my opinion.

(One thing Pixar’s really good at and needs to do more often: dialog-less characters that express themselves in movement and babble. The little girl from Monster’s Inc., the mother as bear in Brave, Wall-E, and pretty much 90% or more of their short films work so well because they dispense of the dialog and communicate the same conflicts as if there was dialog.)

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

The movie felt more like a slapstick movie from the 20s or a screwball comedy from the 40s than a princess movie from the 80s and 90s to me.

Actually, you don’t think the slapstick felt more like the silly slapstick in Disney films (including the way the humans turn into animals)?

To me the mother didn’t really stand out until she became the bear. But at that point, both from a technical character animation perspective and from how she moves/reacts/acts, I felt Pixar hit the perfect note of both how she would react as human and move/confuse herself as bear. It’s really at that point the cliches stopped and the movie really stood its own, in my opinion.

It sounds like you liked this part for the technical aspects—something I really didn’t notice (and maybe I’m just “tone deaf” to this sort of thing)—but in terms of the plot twist and the character, the film started to lose me here. Again, it felt like a silly Disney movie (even the way the face of the bear).

(One thing Pixar’s really good at and needs to do more often: dialog-less characters that express themselves in movement and babble. The little girl from Monster’s Inc., the mother as bear in Brave, Wall-E, and pretty much 90% or more of their short films work so well because they dispense of the dialog and communicate the same conflicts as if there was dialog.)

I agree. The silent moment in Up and Wall-E were, hands down, the best parts of both films for me. I’d love to see them use this approach for an entire film. (Some of the shorts are great, too. I love Knicknacks, for example.)

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“Again, it felt like a silly Disney movie”

I guess all I really have to say about this is,

-that then it’s one of the better Disney movies featuring these conventions, at least in my mind.

-and that as I mentioned somewhere on this forum before, I feel sort of like Disney and Pixar should have traded movies, Brave for Wreck-It Ralph. When I saw the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph, I was really confused because it looked like a Pixar concept but the animation was not nearly so good.

Anyway, if you’re still wondering about Pixar going downhill, their

The Untitled Pixar Movie that Takes You Inside the Mind

and

The Untitled Pixar Movie About Día de los Muertos

sound intriguing, if not specifically Monsters University and The Good Dinosaur (I feel that latter one was inevitable eventually). At worst the Mind one should at least be better conceptually than, say, Osmosis Jones (which to be fair, from a distance is a pretty neat concept, execution just simply awful), and the Dia de los Muertos at worst should be a mix of Corpse Bride and Brave. In other words there’s no guaranteeing they’ll be great, but hey, they sound more interesting than Untitled Pixar Movie that Is a Disney Princess Feature.

—PolarisDiB

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

And here’s an interesting article Pixar’s Newt gets cancelled for being ‘similar to Rio. ’ So why didn’t “The Bear and the Bow” get cancelled for being similar to any other Disney Princess story? I think it goes back to development: “The Bear and the Bow” sounded like it was meant to be something more than Brave, but then time hit and the numbers had to be crunched (I mean both executively but also rendering). Newt got scrapped before they put too much into it (and they could always bring it back later, with adjustments.) I don’t know anything about Rio at all actually, but Pixar’s logline sounds better simply because of the social pressure issue of the scientists.

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

@DiB

At worst the Mind one should at least be better conceptually…

The problem isn’t a lack of good concepts or ideas, imo—but it’s putting them all together into a strong narrative or some other framework that makes the film a cohesive whole. Pixar is into entertainment (not meant pejoratively), so their films are narrative-based, but for a company that supposedly prides itself on good stories and storytelling, I think they’re often disappointing. (And I’m not just talking about Brave—although I don’t think the concept of Brave is very interesting.) Again, they have good animation, good moments or ideas, but it’s as if the concepts and technology come before the story. This is similar to action/blockbusters were the effects and stunts come before character and story.

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“Again, they have good animation, good moments or ideas, but it’s as if the concepts and technology come before the story.”

I kinda think they do. Look into the biography of John Lasseter for some perspective on his technical, animation, and conceptual concerns. The story was something they dedicated themselves to in order to support everything they’ve wanted to develop, I think… and once they got branded in that way, they went with it.

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

I kinda think they do.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if they eventually found a strong narrative to provide a meaningful context for those cool ideas. Or they could use some other framework to provide context and unity for these ideas. But sometimes I get the sense that they’re satisfied with these moments or ideas, while forgetting or not caring enough about the story.

Btw, isn’t this basically how it is for most Hollywood (genre) films? If a horror films has a few scary moments; a comedy with a few funny moments; an action film with a few exciting action sequences, etc.—then whether the overall story is really strong or the characters really well-developed and interesting isn’t very important—at least for many viewers. That’s my impression, anyway.

Santino

almost 2 years ago

^Geez. If we’re talking about Dreamworks, I’d agree. Story is not something they’re all that concerned with (they almost seem to pride themselves on this). But Pixar? Really? Compared to the other animation studios, they seem to be putting tons of effort into story and character. I think that’s really been the secret to their success and differentiates themselves from Sony Animation, Dreamworks Animation, Universal, etc.

greg x

almost 2 years ago

Yes, I think you’re going to have to do more to substantiate your claim here Jazz as it seems to be both vague in its meaning and mostly applicable to your tastes rather than some more consensual agreement. It may be that brave isn’t one of Pixar’s best films or even that Pixar isn’t extraordinarily special, but by and large their films to seem to satisfy many more people than most from their direct competitors and even most in Hollywood. I’m not a huge Pixar fan myself, but even I’m not sure where the story problem complaint is coming from exactly, especially since you’ve sort of limited it to being a comparative within “entertainment” films rather than against more radical works.

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“But sometimes I get the sense that they’re satisfied with these moments or ideas, while forgetting or not caring enough about the story.”

Relatively poor/mediocre Pixar narratives in context, from my perspective:

A Bug’s Life —> Just starting out/finding feet, nothing quite so idiosyncratic or bold as Toy Story. Basically just figured they could mix The Ant and the Grasshopper fable with Seven Samurai and call it a day.

Cars —> The concept behind that movie came from one of the studio’s oldest creative talents who just really really liked cars and the genre of film that movie was based on. It was a pure nostalgia piece and I think it pleased him, and had the unfortunate side-effect of having the most marketable ancillaries like toys and stuff which made it one of the best money makers for Disney/Pixar, justifying a sequel.

Cars 2 —> Actually technically a better story than Cars, its main problem is that its theme (“You should be yourself despite what the world thinks of you”) happened to apply to the most obnoxious protagonist in Pixar history, who most definitely could use some self-awareness and growth. I mean, Larry the Cable Guy’s whole comedy schtick is that he’s gross, fat, low-class (and thus crass), and obnoxious. The other problem is that in this case, the world of ‘Cars’ was so filled out it became inadvertently very disturbing. Cars feed each other alternative fuel and then use that fuel to blow each other up? ‘Lemons’ (essentially that world’s version of the chronically ill and disabled) band together to attack the rest of the world for being healthy? Dafuq?! That’s, strictly speaking, even more disturbing than Soylent Green! I would say Cars 2 is where technology gets ahead of Pixar and ‘realizes’ a concept that you have to actually do work intellectually to not think about what it could mean intellectually. I consider that movie a fever dream, and from the production context the main issue was the Pixar crew figuring out what the hell to do with this world that doesn’t fit the rest of the Pixar universe at all. (The rest have humans and the separate ‘levels’ of the world separates the ability for, for instance, animals to communicate with humans). So in context, I can see a lot of what Pixar was trying to do in that one but I still consider it a fever dream result.

Brave —> The whole Chapman/time issue. Who knows what she had planned but it was probably different than Disney Princess. We cannot tell for sure and part of the problem was that it wasn’t fully developed, so there’s an offhand chance that it was a total mess beforehand or at least just wasn’t coming together like expected.

In a different context, I would like to isolate

Ratatouille —> I don’t think this movie’s story is poor or even mediocre (well I think Pixar’s worst movies are merely mediocre, kind of like the Coen brothers), I think it’s quite good, but I cannot claim it’s purposefully that good. It really throws in a lot of spice that’s not needed on that dish, but somehow it all worked out. The only really rough edge that shows is the transition between the paper chase and the rest of the movie. The movie feels like it’s finished, but continues on, kind of like that moment in The Dark Knight when you’re expecting a good lead out to the sequel and instead the movie decides to wrap up Twoface all of the sudden.

Ratatouille suffered many of the issues that Brave did (in fact, Brave’s production changes were informed from what they learned from Ratatouille ), and it also had quite a few areas where it didn’t mesh well with audiences… the title isn’t kid-friendly (hard to spell/rather obscure or not English) or that common knowledge to English speakers to pronounce (it’s always a bad thing when the commercial for a film has to show you how to pronounce the film’s name), people don’t like rats and the rats were ‘real’ enough to bother them, and something something stupid bias against the French. In addition, its expository statement at the end about criticism rankled critics (especially since critics are generally nice to Pixar), and it fails Hitchcock’s “bladder” test for length, which is especially bad as a movie for children (elongating movies trending recently aside).

Ratatouille is thus a very, very interesting part of their studio because even if unintentionally, it’s quite daring. I think it underscores the darkness of the furnace scene in Toy Story 3: by then, they knew they could get away with a lot more shit than the rest.

Brave to me wasn’t very interesting storywise or technical wise, I just thought it was fun and good and well-done. I did notice they did some new things with the virtual camera and how they built the space of the movie (and noticed that actually there are much fewer digital sets in this one than most of their own. Think about it, how many locations did you actually see? Not as many as you think), but overall I found everything satisfactory so didn’t really feel the need to find fault with it? I don’t know, I don’t have an answer to your complaints, one person’s cliche is another person’s convention is another person’s archetype, I guess. Since I only saw it once and was watching for technical stuff as much for story, I guess I had enough occupying my mind on each regard to not be overly worried about dips in Pixar’s general abilities to top themselves.

And really, they aren’t topping themselves as much as they used to, so you could call that ‘going downhill’, but it’s more like a plateau — they’re rate of increase is decreasing. Which begs the question, how far do we really expect them to go?

—PolarisDiB

Jazzalo​ha

almost 2 years ago

But Pixar? Really? Compared to the other animation studios, they seem to be putting tons of effort into story and character.

You could be right. I don’t watch a lot of animated films from the other studios, although I recently watched Madagascar III, which wasn’t very good—pretty good animation and good action scenes, but forgettable in almost every other aspect.

Off the top of my head, I would say several things separate Pixar from other studios:

1. The quality of the animation—although other studios might be closing the gap;
2. The cleverness and cool factor. They do come up with interesting concepts and delightful moments in their films

The early films were so fresh and exciting, and some of them had solid stories and characters, but I think they’ve dropped the ball on the story and character on some of the more recent films. That’s not say that the films don’t have something appealing or even excellent about them, but just the overall story/narrative and it’s execution? I think on that level it’s often disappointing.

There’s one other thing that separates them: a strong brand. Their early track record helped establish a very strong brand and reputation—not only associated with quality, but a cool, hip factor—just like Apple. (The fact that Jobs helped start the company contributed to this aura, imo.)

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“The early films were so fresh and exciting, and some of them had solid stories and characters, but I think they’ve dropped the ball on the story and character on some of the more recent films.”

Well here’s something I do want to point out.

Pixar used to have an absolutely fantastic marketing method where their trailers were all about introducing the characters. From as long as I can remember to around Wall-E, they would have a trailer that featured absolutely no footage from the movie, just some little character quip that would get you interested in questions like, “Who are these people? What are they doing?” Then the Pixar brand would appear and you’d be hooked.

In Wall-E, Pixar was most accurately advertising itself. It started out with John Lasseter, I think, talking about how Wall-E is the final in their initial creative team’s concepts that they wanted to create while showing design elements. Only later did Wall-E get its character intro with the titular character cleaning up some trash and finally looking into space, revealing for the first moment to the audience that it’s self aware. But that trailer didn’t last long and soon it was onto other ones.

Since then their advertising has been horribly conventional. They’ve isolated silly kiddy humor moments and play the audience for the attention-getting laughs. And now that they are doing more and more sequels, the characters appear TADA! instead of gradually. It’s bothering me because it does feel like something’s changing in at the very least their marketing team. On the flip side, the trailers make the movies just look worse and worse, but then I go into the films with bad expectations and am thrilled to find them exceeded. So it’s keeping the actual movies feeling positive in comparison.

“There’s one other thing that separates them: a strong brand. Their early track record helped establish a very strong brand and reputation—not only associated with quality, but a cool, hip factor—just like Apple.”

I do recognize that I’m a total Pixar whore and I try to go into their movies with the sober recognition that a) it could be bad, and b) it could be bad and I will try not to recognize it. So I try to be self-aware of if I’m not just apologizing for it. And somehow this discussion has made me feel worse about what I remember about Brave than I actually felt when I watched it. I think it’s a better movie than this discussion represents.

Maybe I’m just being apologetic for it. But I don’t think so. Thus:

“Off the top of my head, I would say several things separate Pixar from other studios:

1. The quality of the animation—although other studios might be closing the gap;
2. The cleverness and cool factor. They do come up with interesting concepts and delightful moments in their films"

The quality of animation is almost unarguable and yet the closing of the gap is unignorable as well. A lot of Pixar’s newest and most innovative techniques are going right over the heads of the audience. My schtick about the camera movement in Brave is not going to be noticed by most people, not even most film people. It comes from an awareness as well that Tintin really showed them up for what the virtual camera can do, and whereas I don’t think they were responding to that, I think it just goes to show that CG cinematography is becoming more of a concern for animation in the post- Avatar world. Wall-E took on Roger Deakins to discuss landscape photography, for instance.

My whole thing about the trailers above is my response to number 2. To follow up, I want to point out something else about how they distinguish themselves in marketing:

Except for the one on the top right, no actor’s names, no director’s names, no tag lines, nothing but the title and the studio. This is something that’s been observed for some time. They pull off this sense of being assured and self-contained with their graphic design.

And finally, there’s this:

—PolarisDiB

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

By the way, in case you’re wondering, ultimately that arched brow thing Dreamworks gets criticism for probably, though I may be mistaken, comes down to a preset in a standard facial rig they adjust only slightly for each character design. Also criticizing them for it won’t get them to stop as it helps them be aware it makes their films recognizable.

Also I consider Antz to be better than A Bug’s Life. Something about Woody Allen being a worker ant trying to find his identity just hits me right.

—PolarisDiB

greg x

almost 2 years ago

Polaris, I think you are slightly off about the response to Ratatouille and are, perhaps, thinking more of Pixar’s preemptive defense of the movie than the actual response. It received very favorable reviews when released, and while it did open slow, it became Pixar’s fifth biggest money maker overall. (That last bit is according to Wikipedia, which also says there was a 96% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but beyond that I distinctly remember the buzz about the film and how it continued to raise the bar for Pixar. As I mentioned before, I don’t agree and found the film mostly to be a mess, but that is neither here nor there in regards to the larger response.)

CGI Baby

almost 2 years ago

Santino

almost 2 years ago

^Wow.

Yeah, RIP Pixar. You had a good run.

Two things in that article that stood out to me:

“Continuing their decline from the house of original stories to franchise churrner…”

“If you think Stanton is returning to this movie just for the love of it, you’d be mistaken. While parent company Disney loves his concept, Deadline suggests he’s doing this gig so he can get another shot making a live-action movie.”

greg x

almost 2 years ago

Incidentally, here’s an article on Brave that might be of interest as it tackles some of what seems to be Jazz’s, and others, complaints about the story. It might be a little of what Polaris originally had in mind, or not. Anyway, I found it to be worth the reading.

http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/just-another-princess-movie/

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

Here’s the Deadline article then

Things that could stand out if you feel like it:

“I’m told he’s now officially come aboard the Finding Nemo sequel and has a concept the studio loves.”

The article doesn’t mention which studio, Pixar or Disney, but does say that Pixar is notorious about being quiet about development and seems excited.

“As for Disney coming through with another live-action project, I’m hearing that nothing is firm but that the studio is working on it. It looks like the studio is ready to give Stanton a mulligan on John Carter.”

Which shows a particular risktaking streak you wouldn’t expect of Disney. Basically if I were one of the people in charge of the decision at Disney, I’d scrutinize the script and halve Stanton’s budget if it didn’t seem to require it.

But anyway, Pixar’s development is through to 2016, so we won’t even see Finding Nemo 2 until 2017. It puts three original stories in between their first prequel ( Monsters University ) and their next sequel. That’s already an upward lift after the one-two hit of Toy Story 3 (which go figure, was amazing) and Cars 2 (which strictly speaking was better than Cars but was a whole different mess).

It IS unfortunate Pixar does sequels but their track record is good on them as well. And, now we’re in the realm of speculation. “They are getting worse because Finding Nemo 2 might be awful because it may possibly just be a bid to make John Carter 2 which might not work out and may also be awful.”

—PolarisDiB

Santino

almost 2 years ago

I don’t understand the logic in saying Disney is taking a risk. Stanton hit a grand slam with Finding Nemo. Why WOULDN’T Disney pay him a gazillion dollars to do the sequel? The failure of John Carter should have no bearing on whether Finding Nemo 2 will be successful. Stanton has proven twice he can do well with animated films. If anything, this move is the complete opposite of “risky”.

Btw – Thus far, John Carter has made more money globally than Brave (that will change once Brave opens in more territories).

Polaris​DiB

almost 2 years ago

“I would never have guessed, either from the title or the movie poster, that Brave would end with mother and daughter riding off together in importantly modified hairdos.”

DAMN IT I wanted to make this point but avoided it as being too tangential… How their hair at the end wraps up their character changes, most especially with the mother’s hair being loose but importantly still nicely crafted around her crown.

“Many patriarchal societies leave the stressful job of forcing girls to comply with degrading social norms to women, especially mothers. Unlike other movies such as Real Women Have Curves, where sexism-enforcing mothers are painted as villains, Merida’s mother, Elinor, pushes her daughter to perform femininity out of love. As with mothers throughout history who have done everything from put young girls on diets to hold them down to have their clitorises removed at puberty, they are acting not out of hatred but out of a love that leads them to protect their daughters from the price of rebellion. In real life, that price is often exile; in this movie, it’s war. With stakes this high, it’s hard not to feel for a mother in such a bind.”

Ouch. Definitely not what I was thinking of, but an interesting perspective….

Well, the two things I don’t care for much in that review is the zealotry over the title Brave which seemed to me to be a decision to distance themselves just that little degree from the original title, which had ‘princess’ in it, and also probably came about because they couldn’t get Braveheart out of their mind while doing something with Scottish characters. Not that her reading of the title and the different ways concepts of ‘bravery’ play out in the movie wasn’t useful, but I don’t think the movie was about bravery as much as the title would lend you to believe. I think she does a good job once she starts pointing bravery toward what I said about the movie seeming slapstick — the characters are mostly racing against themselves, because they’re too determined to bother planning ahead. I thought that was one of the best aspects of the movie.

Secondly, to the extent that she expanded its themes to deal with contemporary issues, which we’ve already debated here recently, it can misread her intent to bring up the whole Tea Party vs. Occupy dichotomy. The point she means is good “Not This; and Not That” but as regards the tradition vs. new way, free will vs. fate I think the point was stronger when she pointed out how it plays more into female representation vs. female individualism dichotomies which obviously points to part of the problem the movie is going to have regardless of its quality.

And I wished she mentioned that the boys from the other three clans didn’t particularly want to get married too, which was a very significant part to me.

—PolarisDiB