Part one of two – Our Pixar Shorts ranked
This is our Pixar shorts ranking. We’ve grown up loving their cinematic releases, but the original shorts often played before their features, can get overlooked. Many of these shorts have the passion and heart behind them that evokes memories from old Disney and Looney Tunes shorts shown before a film.
We’ve compiled a definitive ranking of all 20 of their original shorts, from worst to best. While shorts can featuring some of Pixar’s beloved characters like Mater and the Ghost Light and Mikes New Car can be hilarious, they’re not quite original enough for this list so we’ve excluded any featuring characters with their own feature-length films.
20. The Adventures of André & Wally B.
1984, shown with Toy Story
Unfortunately, not all of Pixar’s short films have aged the same, and their very first released short film might just be their worst. This is the first entry in our Pixar shorts ranking. While not awful in any sense, it really isn’t much of anything at all. A man, André, finds a bee and runs away. Unlike every other Pixar short well see on this list, this one lacks any kind of inventive concept or interesting storytelling. It might be neat as a novelty of where the animation studio began, but its age lands it at the bottom of the list.
19. Knick Knack
1989, shown with Finding Nemo
This one started the trend that a lot of Pixar short films end up falling into, and it seems the least original or inventive: Two otherwise inanimate Objects falling in love or trying to be together. While cute at first, it doesn’t feel as original as many of the other concepts get, and this one is probably the most simple of them all. The catchy music was written by Bobby McFerrin definitely makes it enjoyable to watch, but there’s not much more here.
18. Tin Toy
1988, a cameo in Toy Story 4
Another of the Disney subsidiary’s first animated short films, Tin Toy is the proto-Toy Story, as it was produced a good while before and the concept shows through. A toy being alive and trying to get the attention of its owner is charming enough, especially considering its age, but the real star of the show is that early-3d animation baby. Maybe the ugliest baby in animated movie history, it definitely steals the show and at least makes the short memorable.
2016, shown with Finding Dory
Playing before Finding Dory, it feels clear that Pixar wanted to make use of the ocean creature theme they already had going for this one. While definitely very cute, Piper doesn’t quite offer anything too memorable or notable compared to a lot of the other shorts in this ranking. An alright story and cute characters definitely make it feel easier to watch than some of the earlier shorts, but there’s just not much here you can’t see in a nature documentary.
16. The Blue Umbrella
2013, shown with Monsters University
This one is kind of difficult to position in our Pixar shorts ranking. On the one hand, it really is one of the most visually impressive Pixar shorts. The animation style feels almost photo-realistic, and the way the objects in the city move feels incredibly believable and charming for inanimate stoplights and vents. On the other though, this is one of the most boring animated shorts story-wise. The theme of two inanimate objects falling in love is at its most eye-rolling here, to the point where it feels like a commercial for an umbrella brand rather than a short film.
15. Luxo Jr.
1986, shown with Toy Story 2
This was the first time we really started to see original and charming concepts played within animation for Pixar. Not only are all the sound effects and characters in this short instantly recognizable, even to those who’ve never seen it before, but it introduces these odd concepts in a way that feels organic and really makes you feel like that baby lamp is just a cute little thing. It definitely feels like The Start of Pixar’s filmography over Andre & Wally B.
14. Reds Dream
One of the first shorts to really embrace creative and silly concepts in an incredibly earnest manner, Reds Dream is just a joy to watch and a really cute point on the timeline of these films. While again, as in Tin Toy, Pixar hadn’t quite mastered making humans look non-creepy, seeing the Unicycle have hopes and dreams of being a performer all on its own just warms your heart.
2003, shown with The Incredibles
Definitely one of the most different films out of the entire catalogue, Boundin feels somewhat out of place. If this was a Dreamworks or Illumination short film, it wouldn’t feel that way at all, but as a Pixar short, it definitely seems quite odd in its tone and setting. Still fun and cute, especially with its fun cryptid cameos, but that’s all it is.
12. For the Birds
2000, shown with Monsters, Inc.
This was the first time the animation in these shorts came up to par with the animation in Pixar’s features, and it shows in how the birds are all animated with their feathers fluffed up. Like many other middle of the road Pixar shorts, there’s not much to offer story-telling wise, just a cute simple story of birds with prejudice and their eventual comeuppance.
2014, shown with Inside Out
Another short of two inanimate objects falling in love, this one might just be the best of that shared idea, as the individual Volcanoes life cycles and geology come into play to bring these two together. While the lava pun might be a little cheesy, as is the story, it at least feels like a different point of view for these kinds of love stories, taking us away from the usual setting of cities and rooms into somewhere new and more visually interesting.
Read the final part of our list HERE.
Do you have a different opinion on Pixar shorts ranking so far? Do you agree or disagree with our list or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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