Monday Morning Quarterback Part III

By BOP Staff

November 13, 2014

Don't ask me to teach you how to play defense.

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Kim Hollis: Walt Disney Animation's recent run of films includes Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and now Big Hero 6. Would you rank them as the top animation studio at the moment, or is there another one that compares?

Jason Barney: As stated earlier, their holiday line up seems to do extremely well. This is an interesting question, and some would say that the second Despicable Me film topping the second Monsters film from Disney was a bit of a turning point. Clearly Disney is doing okay with its animated department.

Matthew Huntley: Yes, definitely, though I do wish they'd stop playing things so safe and make a movie that's more daring than all the films Kim listed. Don't get me wrong; I believe that some of them are good, but Walt Disney Animation hasn't quite gotten up to the level of boldness and originality as Pixar. Their films may earn top dollar, but they don't deserve top praise.

Felix Quinonez: I would say they are the top dog but I believe that it's a very close race and an argument could be made for Dreamworks or Illumination. I don't believe that Disney's dominance is as irrefutable as Pixar's was a few years back.


Edwin Davies: Quality-wise, I would say they are definitely up there, right behind Pixar who, despite producing films that haven't been as universally loved as their previous ones, still produce films that are interesting, consistently good and very successful. What's notable about Disney's current run is that they have had huge success with original (well, original-ish, since Tangled and Frozen are both based on fairy tales) projects. The strength of the Disney brand is important in that success, but that brand didn't exactly help their animated films in the early '00s, when they all but abandoned it after some very costly flops.

Since John Lasseter took over as the guiding hand of their animation department, something which may have actually hurt Pixar a bit in the intervening time, the studio seems to have recommitted to producing films that aren't sequels, look beautiful and are actually good. That initially produced films like Meet The Robinsons and Bolt, which were good but didn't really connect with audiences in a big way, and reached its peak with Frozen last year. I'd only count Tangled as a truly great film (though Wreck-It Ralph is very good), but they certainly seem to have benefited from trying to be more like Pixar but with that Disney familiarity. I still don't think that they are risky or daring enough to warrant being placed alongside Pixar 1995-2010, but they certainly a making the case that they could reach that level after a few more films.

Max Braden: I think Disney is enjoying the benefits of what Pixar realized in their beginnings: that although technical achievement and innovation is important, the real success to animation is the sincerity of the story that can really make a connection with audiences. Blue Sky (Ice Age and Rio) films do make a point of family being the essence of their stories, and they might be adventurous or catchy, but I don't think they quite connect at the heart of the story like these films have. DreamWorks and Sony have been making visually exciting or funny animation, but only Hotel Transylvania recently had something I could connect to. LAIKA (Boxtrolls, Paranorman, Coraline) just makes weird animation that isn't for me (or wide audiences).

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