That’s Incredible!

entertainment, filmmaking Add comments

I’ve stopped trying to pick which Pixar movie is my favorite. They are all great. And The Incredibles doesn’t disappoint. In what I consider a relatively dull movie year, The Incredibles is a shining star, carried by a great story; great voice acting, stunning animation and guess what? They managed to sneak in a nice message too.

The Incredibles astounds visually, without falling into the same trap so many other CGI based movies do. Films like Final Fantasy and The Polar Express push extra hard to create realistic human characters, but ultimate fail. It is true that the eyes are the windows to the soul, as their CGI characters look lifeless, and downright creepy; highly mobile mannequins with a voice. As humans we know how we act, how we talk, how we convey emotion, giving us a common reference point. There are also subtleties and nuances in a performance we that we perceive, both consciously and unconsciously. Replicating that in CGI is very tricky, making suspension of disbelief all the more difficult. On the other hand characters like Gollum, and Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. are literally of a different breed, and outside our range of experience, so we are better able to buy it, despite any flaws.

Pixar’s approach to creating characters is different. Their hyper-realized characters look little like us, but have broad but universal characteristics/emotions we can identify with. They have exaggerated expressions and physicality owing more to Bugs Bunny than real life. And we are never trying to be convinced that they are real. Plus the backdrop of good story and writing helps, as no matter how good the CGI is, it cannot prop up mediocre writing or a weak story — are you listening George?

In addition to the characters, the worlds and environments they inhabit are so vivid you are frequently fooled into thinking they are real, as if you could reach out and touch them. It would be interesting to visit a world created by Pixar. I might want to even stay there. 🙂

There are many other factors that contribute to Pixar’s continued success: cutting edge technology, people who love films making films they love, a deep understanding of the importance of story, and the geography, as they’ve yet to fall under the spell of Hollywood.

There are no suits at Pixar, at least not in the traditional Hollywood sense. They have a love of good film and stories… not necessarily the bottom line. The recycling old stories and making sequels is rarely offered as alternatives to original ideas. Choices are dictated by good story telling and not demographics. I think as long as Pixar continues to make its own decision, operating outside the bubble of Hollywood, their films will continue to be fresh and unique, and ultimately successful.

Post by ILO on 11/15/04 at 4:57 pm