Andy's new look: Is 'Toy Story 3' a bad move for Pixar? (Updated with comments!)
Posted Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:25 PM Central
by Tim Briscoe
No, this isn't another rant against the evils of 3D. Instead I'm debating that this may not be the best direction for computer animation powerhouse Pixar.
I watched the teaser trailer for Toy Story 3. It was cute and fun to reunite with the beloved characters. Then I saw the following comparison of human character Andy from the first film to his more realistic appearance for the upcoming movie. (The photo was posted on the Character Design blog.)
I have no problem that Andy has aged. Quite the contrary. It's actually nice to see that the characters are evolving. I'm concerned in how rendered and real Andy has become. Human characters in Toy Story were more-or-less caricatures.
Sure, Toy Story 2 was a decade ago. Computer technology has improved and animators have gotten better in using their tools. But is better actually better? Shouldn't the visual style of the third film match the previous one?
The same argument can be made for other sequels or prequels. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith in no way matches the quality level of the seminal '77 film that started it all.
But that was different. The game changed in those 28 years. Using the now primitive style of Star Wars for the third movie would not have been practical or responsible. The actors were (almost) entirely different. The film market dictated a special effects movie of current means.
It was also live action. Toy Story 3 is a completely digital creation. There's no reason why Pixar couldn't use the exact same process for its return to the franchise that made the company a household name.
In releasing 3D augmented versions of the first two movies, Disney is helping to prove the point I'm trying to make here. The same, more basic animation style of 1 and 2 is still commercially viable. Keep that style for 3, just make it 3D.
Certainly, I'm overreacting quite a bit here. Andy and the other human characters are presumably minor characters in Toy Story 3's script. And I'm basing this all on one little still image. OK, I accept that. Let's move on to a bigger point.
The more egregious violation is Pixar returning to Toy Story at all. Isn't this the same over commercialization that Dreamworks Animation is guilty of? (See Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After, Shrek the Halls, et al.) Let the first two films keep their position as classics. Don't infringe on their lofty positions by churning out a retread 10 years later.
What do you think? Am I completely off-base here? Was creating Toy Story 3 a good idea? Obviously there's no stopping its release but I would really like to know what you think of Pixar's tactics. Let us know.
Wow, we've gotten a lot of response to this column. While everyone seems to support Pixar as a whole, I'd say only about 40% of the emails agree with my assertions.
And now that I've had some time to reflect, I do feel like I was completely overreacting. I was just a little concerned at this image of Andy.
I still wonder -- as some have emailed to say -- if Pixar would have done Toy Story 3 if Disney had not first threatened to make it without them. Regardless, I think we're all looking forward to spending some new time with Woody and Buzz.
I completely agree with you. Shrek is overdone. Toy Story is in line to be in the same boat. They are resting on their laurals at Pixar. With Cars 2 and Monsters INC. 2 in works it makes me wonder what will happen when Disney takes over Marvel and how much they will run that into the ground. I hope that Disney comes out with fresh ideas for Pixar or Marvel will be a sad, sad site.
I completely agree with your logic, but are you sure that you (along with the rest of us) aren't just spoiled by the last few Pixar movies?
I wasn't one for Nemo, but everything before and since has been golden. The human presence, and design, is generally the same. Even in films such as Wall-E and Up, they are as always have been, lively and cartoonish. In that regard, I dislike the idea.
What would have been more of a crime would have been to change Buzz and Woody, or re-cast them, or something of the sort.
No. Take a look at the last two movies put out by Pixar, Wall-E, and Up. I didn't want anything to do with Wall-E until my girlfriend made me watch it, and it was simply beautiful. But after watching Up (Which is possibly one of my favorites from the studio), I noticed a bit of a trend in maturing. The beginning of the movie was just depressing, and looking back... Wall-E was just as mature. With Toy Story 3, they get to take a break, and go back to do something... completely fun. That is my first reason for why the making of Toy Story 3 is a good idea.
My second? Bare in mind, that this is a chance for Pixar to revisit what got them to where they are today. It makes sense. Are they trying to milk a cashcow? Certainly, but there is some heart left in the idea. Creating an animated movie, you have to have fun, and put your soul into it, or else it will be bad. I remember that from watching the first one. I remember how much, Toy Story meant to me when I was a kid.
Now not only do I get to be a college kid watching Toy Story 3, but the movie grew up alongside me. Sentimentally, I'm a pile of mush over it.
But more so, with the re-release of Toy Story 1&2 in 3D... Disney and Pixar get to test how well received their beloved characters are in 3D, for the price of a ticket. Keep in your head, what the children today grow up with. They don't have Aladdin, Simba, Buzz or Woody. They get bad Ogre Jokes, and... they didn't even get to watch Transformers on T.V...
I think it is a great idea. Now ask me if I think it'd be great to do another Monsters Inc. or The Incredibles? Bad ideas. Those two ended well... Toy Story, and what its about could go on forever. That's just hypothetically speaking of course. It would be nice to think that TS3 doesn't do well enough to merit a fourth outing.
I have never, ever been a fan of sequels, and that especially goes for those within the art of animation. Perhaps, in the days of golden 2-D animation, the days of BUGS BUNNY and TOM & JERRY, animated series and sequels might have worked. After all, you had such terrific animation directors back then, too. Oh, of course, I realize that even the most creative minds have stumbled on a bad idea, but they'd always managed to pick themselves up and dust themselves off and make a hit now and again! Nowadays, animation constantly seems like such a marketing tool rather than another creative medium, even when it hits on something that works, and this is a shame. I'd rather see more and more money spent on streamlining the art form and working harder at making it a truly creative medium, as highly regarded by artistic types as live action film when it comes to awards--wait a minute, what am I saying? Even the live action sequel has become just another marketing tool! Sorry, folks; I don't know what the answer is here, but I don't think we've the true imagination anymore to make sequel after sequel, but I guess that there will always be people who will line up to see what the fuss is about!
I have to say, I don't agree with you at all on this one Tim. I think as long as the concept is the same, and as long as the Toys have the same characteristics (as well as the same voice actors), I think Pixar has earned the benefit of the doubt. In my estimation, they are the only company out there who guarantees you a good show every time you lay a couple of tens on the counter to get into your local movie theatre. I'm heading out to see the first two today, so maybe my opinion will change after I see the trailer, but I really doubt it. Trust in Pixar, and with the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and the incredibly underrated work of John Ratzenberger (who shows up in nearly everything Pixar does), this should be another amazing edition to Toy Story family.
I think Toy Story 3 is a great idea, my kids love the movie. No I do not think it means they are out of ideas. I think Pixar should make more sequels to more of their movies "Monsters Inc." and new ones. This family loves Pixar so i hope they keep up the wonderful work they have been doing!
Toy Story 3 is an odd one. Logically, the third installment should be weak beyond reason. Threequels have never really impressed me, and I seem kinda wary about this one. On the OTHER hand, it's Pixar. They have yet to put out a bad film. But then the flip side to that is...after all these years, they're bound to produce a lackluster film eventually, right? Usual film logic isn't something that can be applied to this scenario. I think we'll just have to wait and see how Toy Story 3 turns out.
I also understand your point concerning making Andy look real. It's hard to explain. I thought Toy Story had amazing graphics for computer animation. When I saw Buzz and Woody flying down the street to catch up to the minivan, I thought wow those are some impressive graphics. Pixar could have found ways to improve, but not in that way. For instance, when I look at Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, I am amazed at the life-like characters. When I look at The Incredibles, I am amazed at how Helen's hair looked wet--not how realistic she looks. Those are the kinds of changes that I think should be made.
Speaking of Pixar and Star Wars, didn't Pixar emerge from LucasFilm? Maybe there should be a Six Degrees of Star Wars.
Poor Pixar is being forced to make this film by the mad mouse (since they were bought by Disney), big mistake.
No, I'm not a Disney hater or basher. Love their original animation & quality work released theatrically. Pixar had such a wonderful creative workplace. I remember reading how Disney tried to do Toy Story 2 without Pixar & it was a mess. Pixar came in, started over & breathed life into it. If this trend continues, it'll drive the creativity out of Pixar to do second rate non needed sequels or direct to video. The Disney studios animators in Orlando, Florida were either transferred back to California or laid off. With the recent purchase of Marvel Entertainment Group, it just continues. Ugh!
I, of course, love the Toy Story movies. I am glad that they are coming out with a third. I would hope that they keep it like the originals so it would flow well. We all want another classic!
What is everyone afraid of? If you don't like Toy Story 3 when it comes out, then you still have the first two. If you do like it, then you have three to enjoy. Don't forget, everyone, including the folks at Pixar, were concerned about doing Toy Story 2 and by your own admission, it is a classic. So try to be optimistic and realize that you actually have nothing to lose. Cheers, F.
When Disney was looking to buyout Pixar, their where already plans at Disney for Toy Story 3. Part of the deal they made back then was that the project would be handed over to them to finish but really doesn't matter how far they go in the look, it's not like their doing Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within or Bewoulf but they are trying to maintain the look of the first two while at the same looking at the story itself and looking at how to close out the series, because unless Woody and Buzz get a new owner or if Andy gives them to his children then don't worry about a Toy Story 4.
I think its the disney influence that was going to take over pixar when disney bought them. It's not just Lasseter that they have to answer to anymore. Pixar loses some creativity for the almighty dollar. There was talk that Disney was upset about movies like Ratatouille, Up, and somewhat Wall-E because of the low merchandising oppurtunities from these films (who wants to play with rats). I wish it was more of a complex explanation, but I believe that is all it comes down to. Just look at what's coming up for pixar with Monsters Inc 2, the rumors that Disney is pushing like crazy for Nemo 2, and I have also heard talk of an Incredibles sequel wanting to be done when the marvel transaction took place. I am worried. To me pixar movies have just been simply amazing and I hope that it can keep its run going under the watchful eyes of Disney accountants.
I think you are over reacting just a little bit. I think the new style of filming will not effect the movie in any way. I think will all films going to bluray they have to make the look of the film crispier/sharper. I loved Ratatouille/Wall-E on bluray and I cannot wait to watch Toy Story 3 on bluray.
Should they have made a Toy Story 3 in the first place? Yes. Should they have made it now? No.
I have been waiting for Pixar to do a sequel for the Incredibles since the first came out in 2004. I think its the best of all their films. I would have rather seen that than Toy Story 3.
Having said that I don't mind watching any Pixar movie as long as its not Cars. I don't know why but I really didn't like it much.
Toy Story 3 is not something they decided to make 10 years later, because of politics it has taken 10 years to get this movie out. This movie should have come out a couple years after the second one like normal, but because of contract negotiations between Pixar and Disney the creative people making it have had to put their creation on hold, I am happy they can finally get their work out.
Lets slow the roll for a minute and give them the benefeit of a doubt considering their bodies of work overall.. Its not like part 2 was a complete peice of garbage but lets sit back and watch it first and then decide if their ideas for sequels suck or not but me personally i want another incredibles!!
I have to disagree with you here. Im pretty sure that were the techniques available to Pixar back then, Andy and his friends and family would look more realistic than they did. In fact, look at the human characters in Toy Story 2 and tell me they weren't more realistically rendered. Sure, they still looked like caricatures, but Andy still does, he's just older, it's the hair which really leads you to think it's more realistically rendered. The STYLE is still the same and that's what matters. On the subject of sequels, well the same could be said for Toy Story 2 and look how great that story was. Toy Story 3 is the logical conclusion to the question posed in TS2: What happens when Andy grows up? We get that answer here. I feel so long as the story raises a valid question it's worth exploring, and you know, even if it doesn't, it's always good to see old friends again. Lord knows I can't wait to see a grown up Boo in Monsters Inc. 2. What does a girl who was friends with Monsters as a child think today? A good thing to explore. Sequels aren't inherently bad; it's whether or not they are MADE poorly that counts and with Pixar, I doubt they will be.