Ryan Hodes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wall-E is amazing, but you all already know that, so I'm gonna use this review to go on a little rant about Pixar (I posted this to Reddit, too, so if you see it there I didn't plagiarize).
Hot take: Pixar is on the decline and may soon be replaced as the king of animation (ok, that last part is a stretch since there are no real competitors).
Let me first say that I'm not trying to hate on Pixar. They've produced some of my favorite movies of all time and will always have a special place in my heart. And they are still a generally solid animation studio.
That being said, it seems to me that recently they've been sacrificing some of their creative edge and ambition in favor of familiarity.
Their first 10 feature films from 1995-2009:
Toy Story (1995): Changed the world of animation forever; brilliant, creative, iconic.
A Bug's Life (1998)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Monster's Inc (2001)
Finding Nemo (2003)
The Incredibles (2005)
Now, in my opinion, they knocked the ball out of the park on damn near all of these films. Each one was innovative and original. Of these 10, only one was a sequel (Toy Story 2).
Fast forward 9 years. Pixar's 9 films since then (and 2 upcoming) are:
Toy Story 3 (2010): Yes, this was a great film.
Cars 2 (2011): A sequel that no one was really asking for and didn't deliver. Cash grab? Maybe
Brave (2012): A fine film, but didn't really do anything new.
Monsters University (2013): Another lackluster sequel to the iconic original.
Inside Out (2015): Not gonna try and pretend this one wasn't brilliant.
The Good Dinosaur (2015): Widely agreed that this is Pixar's worst non-sequel film.
Finding Dory (2016): Some people liked this a lot, but I thought it was more of a retread and not all that special.
Cars 3 (2017): Nope. Just nope.
Coco (2017): Another strong showing, but IMO doesn't quiiite match the magic of their first 10 films.
Incredibles 2 (2018): Time will tell, but I'm actually pretty hyped about this.
Toy Story 4 (2019): Who knows how this will turn out, but the fact of the matter is this is yet another sequel greenlit rather than an original film.
After only 1 sequel in their first 10, SEVEN of the next 11 films are sequels. Does that seem ridiculous to anyone else?
As for quality, the only films of this bunch that come close to those first 10, for me, are Inside Out, Toy Story 3, and Coco. Maybe it has something to do with Disney's acquisition of Pixar in 2006 (although they were heavily involved before then), maybe it's because sequels tend to make bank; it's probably some combination of the two and about 100 other factors.
The thing is, Pixar doesn't have to follow in the footsteps of the rest of Hollywood. They don't have to make sequels just because they know they will make money. Slapping the Pixar logo on a film is enough to bring audiences to the theater. We saw it with Coco. I guess I'm just a little disappointed that Pixar isn't using their power to stay ahead of the curb and try to instill a culture of originality in their movies.
I think if they don't adapt and start getting back to their roots, they might be dethroned as the undisputed king of animation. Maybe it'll be Dreamworks, with their new deal with Guillermo Del Toro. Maybe it'll be someone we've never heard of. Maybe this is just wishful thinking and Disney is too powerful to let any of that happen.
Anyways, end of rant. What do you all think? Is Pixar losing its edge or are they gonna break out the next few years with yet another masterpiece?