It’s strange to think that it’s only been a little more than thirty years since a small group of CalArts graduates founded the animation studio known as Pixar. While there are a lot of familiar names associated with early Pixar, each of them has had their hand in directing, writing, and producing many of the timeless classics that revolutionized film as we know it. One of these founders was none other than Andrew Stanton. While he has helped to write most of Pixar’s early films, he has also directed a few of them as well. That’s not to say that Stanton hasn’t worked outside of Pixar, but it certainly comprises the majority of his contributions to the world of film. As a Writer/Director, Stanton is able to see his vision come to life in many award-winning ways. This week’s two films highlight some of Andrew Stanton’s work.
Length: 132 minutes / 2.2 hours
One of Stanton’s strengths has been creating stories that resonate on an emotional level with the audience. However, when the source material already exists, it can be difficult to remain true to it while also creating a story that connects with the viewers. Sometimes, in order to do so, a large amount of money is needed to make it happen. This was the case with John Carter (2012). While Disney took a risk with Stanton, who had proven himself as a director and writer many times before, the box office receipts were less than exemplary, thus quashing any hopes for sequel films. It’s a little unclear to me why this film flopped, but perhaps its failure might keep Andrew Stanton working exclusively with Pixar for some time to come. Not that this is a bad thing, but it would be interesting to see Stanton break out of the Pixar mold and succeed in doing so.
The two clans of Martian inhabitants, the Tharks and the Therns, are in conflict over control of the world they both call “Barsoom”. While the native Tharks claim their right to Barsoom based on their claims of first ownership, they are losing the war against the technologically-advanced Therns. However, when a stranger by the name of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) appears, bearing super-Martian strength and agility, the Thark chieftain realizes that their savior has arrived. Meanwhile, after meeting with the Therns, John runs across Deja Thoris (Lynn Collins), the Princess of Mars, and is immediately struck by her beauty. In the ensuing battle between the two Martian clans, Carter does his best to achieve the outcome that suits him, but can this outcome also appease the Therns and the Tharks as well?
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours
It wasn’t long after Pixar was founded until Stanton was picked to co-Direct one of their films. A Bug’s Life (1998) was Pixar’s second film, but the first for Stanton in the co-Director’s chair. Five years later, Stanton would take full Director privileges for the first of his Oscar-winning films: Finding Nemo (2003). Another five years passed before Stanton directed another Oscar winner: WALL-E (2008). Despite the minor setback with John Carter (2012), Stanton followed up his initial success this year with Finding Dory (2016). While we’ll have to wait until the results from the Academy come back, Stanton could be looking at earning his third Oscar through his work with Pixar. Since he directs a film every four years or so, I look forward to the effort that he’ll put forth in 2020 and the amazing visuals he’ll be able to harness by then.
Nemo (Alexander Gould) is the only son of Marlin (Albert Brooks), a clownfish who lives on the Great Barrier Reef. Due to an incident that killed his mother and all of his siblings, Nemo has a deformed fin that makes it difficult for him to swim. While on a field trip, Nemo is captured by a scuba diver and eventually finds himself in a dentist’s fish tank. The “prisoners” there learn of his plight and hatch a plan to return him to the sea. Meanwhile, Marlin learns of Nemo’s capture and sets out to rescue his son. Along the way, he runs across many different fish, sharks, turtles, and pelicans who all help him on his quest to recover Nemo. Sticking with him for most of the journey, Dora (Ellen DeGeneres) ends up linking the father and son together, even if it took some time to do so (due to her memory problem).
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 stupendous Stanton works
Bacon #: 2 (A Bug’s Life / Richard Kind -> Queen’s Logic / Kevin Bacon)