When someone starts doing truly excellent work, it’s no surprise that others try to follow in their wake. If someone strikes gold, there’s normally an opportunist waiting nearby.
Pixar had to work really hard to take digital animation from, well, nothing to the point where it’s beautifully rendered and enchantingly realistic. I once saw Ratatouille on Blu-Ray on a Samsung 50” LED TV and could not believe the clarity and glory I was seeing. That kitchen, those copper pans, everything looked so magnificent.
But technology wasn’t Pixar’s only weapon. Characters and story were always at the heart of it. Toy Story almost looks clunky next to Toy Story 3 but the tenderness and joy of the characterisations meant it was a delight. Sully’s fur in Monsters Inc. might be a great technical achievement but creating figures of fear and showing that, in fact, they’re more scared of children shows real skill.
At the other end of the scale, there’s the temptation to trot out the same story multiple times (Ice Age 4 *cough*). Even the Shrek films, which started so strongly, tailed off noticeably. It remains to be seen if Pixar can continue hitting the heights. Cars 2 wasn’t as warmly received as previous instalments and with a Monsters Inc prequel in the pipeline maybe we’ll get used to even more revisited characters or can the inventiveness continue?