After watching The Good Dinosaur I couldn’t shake a sense of “Deja Vu”. This film has so many similarities to 1942’s Bambi that I started wondering if this has something to do with Disney and Pixar Animation studios becoming siblings during the last decade.
John Lasseter, current chief creative office of both branches (and also Disney Toon Studios) revealed during the D23 Expo in Anaheim this year that one if his favorite movies is Disney’s Robin Hood from 1973, and he wanted to make more films starring anthropomorphic animals as his beloved aforementioned. That’s how he introduced Zootopia, the upcoming film from Disney Animation studios to be released on March of next year. The film starts (non-coincidentally) a talking thieve fox with a heart of gold (as revealed in teaser footage).
During the same presentation, director Peter Sohn introduced The Good Dinousar. When it was revealed that something unfortunate happens to one of the character’s parents (to a gasping audience), he jokingly added “it’s a Disney film after all” (followed by unanimous acknowledging laughs).
TGD is a film I deeply admire. It might be one of the most visually striking films of the year: it juxtaposes minimalistic cartoonish characters against photo-realistic depictions of nature in a way I’ve never seen before. Some of the shots from this film, when focused only on the backgrounds, look like segments of a Discovery Channel documentary and not an animated film, just absolutely stunning. At the same time the plot is reminiscent (almost identically during certain moments) of a very well known story about a fawn learning (sometimes tough) lessons about life while wondering the forest with new friends.
And as you might know there was a third film also announced during the expo: a remake of 1967’s The Jungle Book, but this time mixing CGI with real actors.
These trends are nothing new in Hollywood, and there’s nothing condemnable about them either when well executed. Nostalgia seems to be common denominator about most to-be-made films, and even when there are misfortunate (and sometimes just inferior) efforts released, there are some worth looking forward to. At the same time, it’s features like Monsters Inc., Frozen and Toy Story what have made both households accomplish some of the most memorable and iconic moments in animation history.
This year Inside Out broke record for opening weekend for an original film, yet the next two upcoming projects for Pixar are sequels with Finding Dory and Toy Story 4. Alongside Zootopia Disney also has Moana on the works, which follows a teenage girl looking to fulfill her ancestors’ quest.
I guess we’ll have to wait to see if the box office numbers for these will make both studios aim for more “originals” or keep the retro trend in the future. As much as I’m anticipating to hear Bill Murray as Baloo, it’s the next Ratatouille (my favorite Pixar film which still blows my mind) what I just can’t wait for.
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