Now that Incredibles 2 has been released, Pixar AnimationStudios has twenty full-length films in its library. This is a good number to rank the Pixar films. Bear in mind that these animated films are among the best films ever made and even those that rank at the bottom have their moments. Be sure to comment below on how you would rank the Pixar films, which are universally considered the gold standard with animated films these days.
It was neck and neck between this and Cars 2 for the bottom spot. What made Brave earn this spot was that ultimately the story was dull and came off as a generic Disney princess-proves-herself yarn we’ve seen too often. The hair animation was nice, though.
19. Cars 2
This is possibly the most unwanted sequel in Pixar’s history. The only thing going for the first sequel to Cars is its above-average animation, but the story about ‘Mater caught up in a spy caper is strictly aimed at kids who won’t know any better.
18. Cars 3
The third film in the Cars trilogy has some good moments about making comebacks and passing the torch for the next generation. Although the animation is up to Pixar’s loftiest standards, Cars 3 cannot shake the stigma of being an unwanted sequel to one of Pixar’s lesser efforts.
17. The Good Dinosaur
It seems as if Disney (and Pixar) has a hard time coming up with a memorable dinosaur film. How hard can it be? This film about a dinosaur and his pet human boy was interesting to watch but it lacked the special Pixar touch. What’s worse is that there isn’t anything remarkable about this film.
This can be considered Pixar’s first misfire, but that is unfair. Cars is not a bad movie, it’s just that it didn’t knock it out of the park as previous Pixar films have done. It’s an enjoyable film though its underwhelming plot about a hotshot racecar finding himself in a backwater town was lifted straight from Doc Hollywood.
15. Monsters University
The prequel to Monsters, Inc. (and the first Pixar prequel ever done) presents the unasked for tale of how the leads Mike and Sully first met as college roommates. It’s a fun watch, and much of the humor was aimed at children, but its message about accepting your limitations in life came off as a downer.
13. Finding Dory
The sequel to Finding Nemo is a worthy followup that further explores the enchanting underwater world and the popular characters from the first film. We also meet great new characters, and overall it’s a fun film with some tender moments, though its message about animal captivity is a bit too-on-the-nose.
13. Monsters, Inc.
The fourth Pixar film introduced a fascinating world of monsters that was quite hysterical at times. The highlights of the film were the voice acting by John Goodman and Billy Crystal who had great chemistry and timing. The relationship between Sully and the human girl “Boo” was simply adorable and would melt any cynic’s heart.
12. A Bug’s Life
The sophomore effort from Pixar kind of got lost among all of Pixar’s other offerings. This is because the animation is a bit rough by today’s standards and other films better captured fans’ hearts. Still, A Bug’s Life is a splendid tribute to Seven Samurai (or The Magnificent Seven) with a great score.
This animated film stood out from the others with its ode to the art of cooking. It’s an unusual tale about a rat that wants to become a great chef which may not resonate as well as other Pixar films. But it’s beautifully animated and the themes about perception and artistry are well executed.
This year’s slate of genre films looks incredibly thrilling for fans. We have the return of Star Wars, the Avengers and many high-profile sci-fi wannabe epics, plus a slew of fantasy, horror and animated films. Of the many scheduled releases, these are the ones to look for in 2015.
15. Jupiter Ascending
This eye-catching space adventure film starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum can be either a magnificent comeback vehicle for the Wachowskis or another in a long string of flops for the directors after their early success with The Matrix. (Release Date: February 6)
14. Inside Out
Pixar is offering two animated films for 2015 and the first one out is about the emotions of a young girl being played out in her mind by distinct characters. Think of that old Fox show Herman’s Head for the younger crowd. (Release Date: June 19)
13. Project Almanac
Usually January is a dumping ground for inferior movies, and found footage films are now considered passé. But Project Almanac has an interesting premise: A bunch of young adults record their discovery of time travel and its negative repercussions. It could go either way. (Release Date: January 30)
12. Monsters: Dark Continent
Even though Gareth Edwards, the director of the first Monsters film, isn’t returning, he is still involved in this sequel that expands the premise of Monsters. Now the alien behemoths have spread throughout the world and this film chronicles a soldier looking for a comrade in monster-infested territory. (Release Date: February 27)
11. Terminator: Genisys
Fans of the Terminator films have been burned by the last two entries in the series. The production team behind this latest entry hope to start afresh with this semi-reboot/sequel that returns Arnold Schwarzenegger as an older version of the killer cyborg. The trailer was a bit offputting, yet somehow intriguing with the idea that the original timeline of the first film has been radically altered and combines elements of Terminator2: Judgment Day with the original film. (Release Date: July 1)
10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part Two
The final film of The Hunger Games saga promises to deliver the ultimate confrontation between the young victor of the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), and the District 13 rebel forces against the tyrant President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his armies of Panem. (Release Date: November 20)
This film is probably a case of any publicity is good publicity. Ant-Man has always been an obscure superhero. The only interest in this film was due to director Edgar Wright’s involvement. Awaresness ratcheted up a thousand fold when Wright quit the film and Marvel Studios went through a very public search for a director, any director to take over. It’s easy to right off Ant-Man because of its behind-the -scenes headaches, but this is Marvel Studios, who were able to sell the just-as obscure Guardians of the Galaxy. (Release Date: July 17)
8. The Good Dinosaur
Out of the two Pixar releases for this year, this film seems the more interesting of the two. It’s about dinosaurs for Pete’s sake! And according to publicity material The Good Dinosaur takes place in world where the mighty giant reptiles never died off, making the film a rare alternate history film. Even though it’s had a troubled production, Pixar should be able to pull off another winner. (Release Date: November 25)
7. The Martian
Based on the book by Andy Weir. Ridley Scott directs this outer space survival tale starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars. Think of Survivorman in space or rather that underrated cult classic Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but with today’s scientific knowledge and special effects. Hopefully Ridley Scott might have better luck with The Martian than he did with Prometheus. (Release Date: November 25)
Neill Blomkamp’s third film stars Hugh Jackman and is about a sentient robot finding his way in the world. From the bits shown in the trailer, Chappie might become the latest endearing robot to capture our human hearts in the mode of WALL-E or R2-D2. In any case, this film offers Blomkamp a chance at redemption after Elysium failed to match the success of District 9. (Release Date: March 6)
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
Everyone’s favorite futuristic Road Warrior is back! In the newest Mad Max film, the titular hero is now portrayed by Tom Hardy and is being directed by series creator George Miller. If what has been shown on the trailers is true, we’re going to be treated by the same high-octane road thrills that defined the original films and make the Fast and the Furious films seem pedestrian. (Release Date: May 15)
4. Jurassic World
Dinosaurs never get old on the silver screen! With that said, we’ve been itching for a return to Jurassic Park even though the last film, which came out in 2001, was a bit disappointing. Chris Pratt stars as a park warden in a perfected dinosaur theme park that has a front-seat viewing of dinosaur genetic experiments gone awry. (Release Date: June 12)
The newest film by Brad Bird is still a mystery at this point and the teaser released served only to bring up more questions and entice us even more. Bird has proven to be a phenomenal director and the imagery shown in the trailer were beyond entrancing. Fingers crossed that Tomorrowland will be as extraordinary and scintillating as the teaser, well, teased. (Release Date: May 22)
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Yes, this latest Star Wars film is on the top of many anticipated lists for 2015. This is just based on director J.J. Abrams’ credentials and an exciting teaser trailer. But remember how we were all excited when the trailer for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out. Then there is the undeniable fact that Abrams has his critics, especially with his overuse of lens flares. And depending on one’s point of view this is the first Star Wars film not under the guidance of George Lucas. Putting all those reservations aside, it’s freaking great that we’re actually getting a brand new StarWars films that takes its inspiration from the Original Trilogy. (Release Date: December 18)
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The Avengers was as influential on superhero films as The Dark Knight and Superman. A large measure of thanks had to go to director Joss Whedon, who crafted a well-balanced character/action piece that was exciting, witty and plain fun. Avengers: Age of Ultron looks like it will take the route of other well-regarded sequels in adopting a darker tone. This came across with the trailer’s use of a chilling rendition of “I Got No Strings”, which accompanied despairing scenes of our distressed heroes as they faced off against the robotic Ultron, voiced unnervingly by James Spader. Also it’s been hinted that the film’s events will lead to 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, which pits superheroes against one another. The takeaway impression is that Avengers: Age of Ultron will not play it safe. (Release Date: May 1)
In addition to this list there are many more genre films currently scheduled for 2015. Some of the more interesting ones include Predestination (January 9–next week!), a time-travel piece starring Ethan Hawke; Seventh Son (February 6) features Jeff Bridges in a medieval knight story with fantastic monsters and witches; The Divergent Series: Insurgent (March 20), the sequel to last year’s Divergent is also an adaptation of Veronica Roth’s second Divergent novel and stars super popular Shailene Woodley; Home (March 27), Dreamworks Animation presents this sci-fi buddy comedy about aliens invaders; Ex Machina (April 10) marks the directorial debut of 28 Days Later writer Alex Garland in a tale about artificial intelligence; Pan (July 24) is a prequel to Peter Pan featuring Hugh Jackman; Pixels (July 24), Chris Columbus directs this sci-fi comedy about 1980s-era video game characters used by aliens to invade Earth; Poltergeist (July 24), a remake of the Tobe Hooper horror classic; Self/Less (July 31) stars Ryan Reynolds as a dying man whose consciousness is transferred into another body; Sinister 2 (August 21), the sequel to the surprisingly scary Sinister; The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (Sept. 18), based on another popular young reader sci-fi book series, it’s the sequel to last year’s The Maze Runner;Victor Frankenstein (October 2), James McAvoy stars as the infamous scientist while Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor; The Jungle Book (October 9) is a live-action version of the Disney classic adaptation directed by Jon Favreau; Crimson Peak (October 16), a Gothic romance directed by Guillermo Del Toro; and Midnight Special (November 25) is a sci-fi chase film about a father and son who go on run after the son develops special powers.
Supernatural monsters have been a mainstay in many cultures going back centuries. They were convenient scapegoats for things that went wrong and filled in the dark void of the shadows. These monsters either won so that a moral could be learned or were vanquished by the forces of good. Lately, stories have appeared where the monsters have triumphed and defeated humanity en masse. Certain monsters are more popular than others and fit into a doomsday scenario more easily than others. Of course, these supernatural monsters are impossible, right? Well science fiction has found ways to make them plausible.
Vampires In The Blood
The stylish and grotesque vampires have populated many blood curdling tales for centuries. As true creatures of the night, vampires arose from their coffins after sunset to prey on the living. The way to become a vampire isn’t to just die but to be bitten by one. That suggests that these creatures probably transmit a virus that transforms a living person into a vampire.
Richard Matheson’s classic novel I Am Legend has a vampiric virus decimating humanity and resurrecting them as vampires and taking over the world. The book and the films based on it (The Last Man On Earth, The Omega Man and most recently I Am Legend) presented us with an empty, decimated world with a sole human survivor and his desperate fight not just against countless vampires but to develop a cure. There are other works about viruses that turns people into vampires and imperils the world. Two books that come to mind are The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan and The Passage by Justin Cronin. The Passage is set in the near future where a virus quickly transforms most of humanity into vampire-like creatures who take over the world. The anthology novel Under The Fang features several short stories about humanity conquered by vampires.
As for films about vampires ruling the world, in addition to I Am Legend, there was Daybreakers, which took place a few years after a virus turned most of humanity into bloodsucking creatures. Daybreakers showed a world literally turned upside down as the vampire denizens populated major cities, but lived underground away from the sun and basically carried on with their lives. They just needed to farm the few remaining humans for nourishment. A variant of the vampire virus is the sci-fi film Lifeforce, which was based on the book The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson. This time vampire-like aliens were brought back to Earth by astronauts and it wasn’t blood that the aliens fed on. It was the titular lifeforce of people. As an added bonus, many of their victims also became vampiric and hunted humans for their lifeforce.
The undead flesh eaters are undeniably the most popular monsters to use for post-apocalyptic tales. Look no further than the hit AMC series The Walking Dead. It wasn’t always so, until the late 1960s zombies were relegated to stale horror yarns usually dealing with voodoo. Then George Romero came along and changed the sub-genre forever. His classic film Night Of The Living Dead gave us a world on the brink of a societal breakdown as undead corpses roamed the countryside and feasted on the living.
Romero directed sequels that were very popular but the zombie apocalypse genre didn’t reach maturation until around the millennium, which coincided nicely with all the jitters about the coming apocalypse. Video games like Resident Evil, comic books like The Walking Dead, books like World War Z and films like 28 Days Later (not technically about zombies but it follows the same route) reinvigorated and amped up the zombie genre. The zombie apocalypse is so prevalent in pop culture that even the CDC put out a comic book detailing how they would deal with such an event. Zombies are perfect metaphors for the chaos and decay that will follow the fall of civilization as humans are displaced as the apex predators. Also these stories are useful for illustrating how we would behave during the downfall of society. Will we return to our savage ways? Will we use our pluck and ingenuity to survive? How much stress can we withstand before we break down completely? And how will we find that perfect Twinkie? (Note: see Zombieland for more on that last question.)
Humanity has always feared monsters as seen in various mythologies. This morbid fascination continued well into modern times with countless books, stories and movies about monsters both large and small terrorizing the world. An often used motif is that of an ancient, slumbering giant that is awoken by modern humans and then wrecks destruction across the world. Godzilla is an excellent example and best personifies the Japanese kaiju films. But Godzilla had predecessors that need to be mentioned. One of the earliest modern imprisoned monsters is the famous Cthulhu first written about in H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Call Of The Cthulhu”. An ancient entity described as part human, part dragon and part octopus, the Cthulhu had a cult that wanted to unleash the giant monster onto our world. This entity has been alluded to in other works by Lovecraft.
In film, the very first giant monster to be unleashed was the fictional rhedosaurus in The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Loosely based on Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Fog Horn”, the rhedosaurus was a dinosaur woken up by a nuclear blast and thus threatened the world not just with its destructive path but by its radioactive emissions. Destructive monsters have since plagued the silver screen with the Japanese kaiju films and American works like Q,Gremlins, John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness, Reign Of Fire, Cloverfield, The Cabin In the Woods and the upcoming Pacific Rim. In these films, the giants were mysterious and awakened inadvertently by humanity. Once unleashed they outmatched our military might and upended civilization as they destroyed cities and killed many people. Often entire cities and famous landscapes are decimated as seen in Cloverfield. And sometimes it was shown that the monsters won as the misshapen horrors from In The Mouth Of Madness or the dragons in Reign Of Fire overran the world.