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UK Release Date: 12th July 2013.

Stars: Dan Scanlon (director), Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julia Sweeney, Helen Mirren.

Plot: A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

In recent years I have questioned whether Pixar have been going off the boil a little bit with recent films Cars 2 and Brave not quite living up to past Pixar films. However, Monsters Inc is one of my favourite Pixar films so I have been looking forward to seeing how Pixar’s first prequel would turn out. Finally we have the trailer and…

… I can’t help but feel disappointed. You don’t get any real storyline or impression of plot, you don’t really get a sense of a funny rivalry between our two heroes like we did in the very first teaser which was hilarious, and most of all you don’t get to see many returning characters despite the cast returning. Instead you have so many new characters thrown in to these two minutes its impossible to make anything of it!

To paraphrase Nick Fury, I still believe in Pixar. And I really hope that there is more to Monsters University than the obvious jokes the trailer throws at us. If this doesn’t do well then the future for Finding Nemo 2 and the rumoured Toy Story 4 does not look good.

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Disney now owns three of the biggest companies in the world of movie making: Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, in particular the Star Wars franchise. So with these three huge franchises all working under the same roof it is inevitable that comparisons will be made, but just which is the biggest and best franchise? I will be ranking Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars out of 10 in categories such as Oscar recognition, box office takings, quality of the films and star quality.

 

Box Office

The box office takings are vital to companies and film franchises such as these three as it indicates whether there is any demand for their films any longer and obviously, at the minute, there is. The Star Wars franchise (the original trilogy and prequel trilogy) have taken $3,793,650,642 at the box office, making an average of around $632million per film. Marvel Entertainment have so far released six films of their own, from Iron Man to The Avengers and have made $3,772,055,196 (with The Avengers making up the most of that) averaging $628million per film. None of this quite matches Pixar who, since releasing Toy Story have amassed an incredible $7,794,770,758 at the global box office, however on average this only amounts to just under $600million per film.

Marks out of 10 for Box Office takings:

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 7

Star Wars: 8

 

“Son?”

Oscars

Each year the Oscars acknowledge the best films and the best efforts in making films. Marvel are really lagging behind in this area with just three nominations, two for Iron Man and one for Iron Man 2. Star Wars have so far managed to win seven Oscars with another fifteen nominations! But still this is far far behind Pixar who have been storming the Oscars with almost all of their films and have won ten Oscars for their feature films with another 30 (yes 30!) nominations!

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 1

Star Wars: 6

 

Film Quality

There is no doubt about who makes the best films out of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Ever since their first release Pixar have continually churned out near perfect, enjoyable family films almost every year. With their recent releases it looks as though they have started to lag but their discography cannot be ignored. Marvel, aside from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, have dominated the superhero genre and continue to bring out fun, light hearted but still very very good films and all of this culminated in one of the best films of 2012: The Avengers. I have never really liked Star Wars but I can appreciate that the original trilogy was good (yet nothing to really shout about) however the prequel trilogy is universally disliked.

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 8

Star Wars: 6

Star Talent

Star Wars made stars out of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford primarily, although they were virtual unknowns at the time. However, they did attract Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness to the franchise. In the prequels they managed to cast some good British talent with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor along with the huge Samuel L. Jackson. Marvel also signed Samuel L. Jackson up along with huge stars Robert Downey Jr, Ed Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Hugo Weaving, Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges and Sam Rockwell (and that’s not even all of them!). Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Kevin Spacey, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi have all provided voices for Pixar characters but a lot of the time the actors are unknown to audiences.

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 9

Star Wars: 4

 

Overall Ratings:

Pixar: 32/40.

Marvel: 25/40.

Star Wars: 24/40.

So overall Pixar comes out on top which is unsurprising to say the least! Although with their two most recent films (Cars 2 and Brave) not going down as well as previous efforts are they on the decline? Marvel have just released the third highest grossing movie of all time this year and their universe of films is only going to continue to grow and get more and more exciting. Star Wars has continued to live on in television shows since the end of the film franchise and everyone is expecting big things from the new instalment. In the next few years it will be interesting to see who Disney is getting the most from.

Pixar are responsible for bringing to life some of the greatest film characters of all time!

For years and years now Pixar have been one of the best studios in the movie business. Pixar have been turning out perfect films over and over again since their first feature length film back in 1995; that film of course was Toy Story. Since then Pixar have continued to make perfect films, some of my favourites including Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-E and that’s not even mentioning Cars, Up, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille or The Incredibles. It is plain to see that Pixar have a knack for creating real works of art with some of the best characters to ever grace the cinema screen. They have often been thought of, especially by me, as one of the best studios making films today because of their originality, their creativity and their lust to tell a story that hasn’t been told before on the big screen in a time where plenty of the biggest studios in Hollywood are relying on sequels, reboots, fairy tale adaptations and even origin stories for famous films. In other words, studios are getting desperate but Pixar always seemed like the bright spark within the industry but are they now turning in to just another studio?

Edwin E. Catmull – Co-founder and current President of Pixar Animations.

This week Pixar have announced plans to make a sequel to 2003 hit (and one of the best and most touching stories Pixar have ever told) Finding Nemo, to be directed by Andrew Stanton, the man behind the original film and Wall-E. This follows the news that there is development for a Toy Story 4 in the pipeline and of course next year a prequel to Monsters Inc called Monsters University will be released. There are also rumours that a sequel is in development for Pixar’s very own superpowered family The Incredibles. This follows the hugely successful Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 and the film seen by many as the worst Pixar have ever made, Cars 2. Obviously, film fans everywhere will be rejoicing at the fact that plans to bring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mike, Sulley, Nemo, Marlin and Dory all back to the big screen because they are characters that were a huge part of so many people’s childhood and there will always be a sentimental connection towards those characters in the hearts of anyone who has ever watched these films. But are these proposed sequels bad news for Pixar and film fans in general?

The Toy Story franchise is a rare example of a trilogy where every film is of the highest quality, you can debate for days and days about which one is the best and why it is better than the other two but never will everyone agree. However, with Cars 2 it is the opinion of many that Pixar got it wrong; it didn’t really need a sequel and it wasn’t as good as the first one, it’s sort of a blotch on an otherwise stainless list of films in Pixar’s history. This means that if Pixar get it wrong with another sequel/prequel it could dampen feelings towards their much beloved characters.

Pixar’s feature length films have won a combined total of 11 Oscars and earned another 30 nominations!

Since 2003 Pixar have released a single film each year and it has done well commercially no matter what because Pixar is a name that will put bums on seats in cinemas, there remains no doubt about that. But with the news of the sequels it could signal one of two things: either Pixar is trying to follow suit of several other major film companies and milk the popularity of their characters for every last penny they can get out of them (something Disney are already managing to do with most of their character history) or rather more sadly, Pixar may just be running out of ideas. However, Pixar have said, although this was many years ago, that they would not consider making a sequel to one of their films if they couldn’t tell a story that was as good as the original, this suggests that a lot of hard work and thought will go into making these films but it will be a shame if this signals a slowing down in the creativity of Pixar because their characters have staying power like no others and everyone will be missing out if Pixar does indeed become ‘just another studio’.

UK Release Date: 12th July 2013.

Monsters University is the upcoming prequel to the brilliant Pixar hit Monsters Inc. and while it may be over a year away from release, here is the first teaser trailer showing all your favourite monsters in their college days.

Monsters University is a look at the relationship between Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends. Other characters are also set to return such as Randall (Steve Buscemi), Fungus (Frank Oz) and The Abominable Snowman (John Ratzenberger).

This is the first prequel that Pixar have ever done and they have chosen some very popular characters to do it with so they’d better get it right and let’s be honest, this is Pixar. About 95% of the time they get it spot on! The teaser does just that; it teases the audience with what to expect from their two heroes with a hilarious trailer and guarantees that things will be different to Monsters Inc. 

Pixar has Brave coming up later this year however anticipation for that film is not as high as some of Pixar’s previous releases and their previous offering of Cars 2 seemed to miss the spot with a lot of people but hopefully this is just a blip on their form and Monsters University will take Pixar back to being the undisputed kings of the animated film world.

Pixar’s Brave Trailer

UK Release Date: 13th August 2012

Brave (originally named The Bear and the Bow) is Pixar’s first original feature length film since Up in 2009. It is Pixar’s first fairytale, however it will be a lot different from Disney’s fairytales where the Princess is just a very poor or stereotypical representation of women. Brave also features Pixar’s first female lead character, Merida.

Brave is set in Scotland during a mythical time and focusses on Merida, an aspiring archer and impetuous daughter of royalty. Merida makes a reckless choice that unleashes unintended peril in the kingdom and forces her to spring into action to set things right.

There is hype around this film as there is for any Pixar production and whilst nearly all of Pixar’s films have garnered huge critical acclaim and they are seen as a studio that always achieves high standards, their most recent offering, Cars 2, failed to impress as much as previous films. Hopefully, Brave takes Pixar back to their best. It will feature the voice talents of Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane and Billy Connolly: not a bad cast at all.

From the trailer I have my doubts whether Brave will really be that good. The animation, as always, is second to none and will be visually pleasing at least, if nothing else. But the trailer really does nothing to hint that any of the audience’s expectations might be met; it all just seems a little lacklustre and below par. Like it or not, every Pixar offering is always going to be compared to Toy Story, and this is far from Toy Story by the looks of things, in terms of character and story but of course, this is only judging from a trailer. By the time summer comes and I have seen this film, I may be inclined to disagree with these comments.